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A Year with the Honor 7X Smartphone: Look Outside of Apple and Samsung to Stretch Your Phone Dollars Farther

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We’re going to go in an opposite direction than normal for this one, and take a look at a budget smartphone that purports to have a lot of features that should cost twice as much. That phone is the Honor 7X, one of the few rare phones released stateside from Huawei, the second largest cell phone manufacturer in the world (only behind Samsung). This isn't some fly-by-night review, though...I've owned it for almost a full year, and purchased it solely for personal use, so this is a completely uninfluenced look at whether or not this phone, and similar offerings from Chinese companies like Xiaomi, can pack useful, high-end tech, within a budget price range. A quick little backstory: I was “raised” on hand-me-down iPhones, and was satisfied considering I didn’t have to pay for them. Then one day I broke mine, and as a temporary replacement while I was waiting for another hand-me-down iPhone to come my way, I got a ZTE Maven. It was absolutely awful, with a camera that couldn’t ha

From Budget Food Review to The Budget Reviews: Blog Title and Focus Update

Greetings all! It doesn't feel like it, but Budget Food Review is nearing its 10 year anniversary (mainly because it's been an off-and-on project for basically the entire time). As many of you may know, doing the same thing over and over--even off an on--can get tiresome after a short while, and ten years is certainly longer than a short while. With that in mind, I now present to you....The Budget Reviews (which is more or less a tentative title, by the way)! To breathe new life--and to renew interest--in the format, we are broadening our focus a little bit to include many other items and products outside of discount grocery stores, from apps, to electronics, and many things in between. The main point of this blog has always been about finding diamonds in the rough while maintaining a small budget, and that won't change in the slightest. However, forcing myself to write about the weird German cookies I just bought from Aldi isn't as exciting as it once was, so this wi

Saving Money with Ibotta: A Long-Winded Essay on the Pros and Cons of the Digital Coupon App

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UPDATE (3/21): Ibotta has quietly added Aldi to its list of accepted stores! This has happened before in the past, before being unceremoniously dumped from its roster, so it's best to treat this like a limited-time offer, and load up on the rebates while you can. As long as this is the case, I'm upping my final rating to 6.5/10. Well isn't this a review out of left field? Instead of looking at specific grocery items from discount grocers today, we're going to change it up a little bit, and take a look at a mobile app that can help you save some money at almost any grocery store that you shop (with the exception of Aldi, so let's get that out of the way right now). It's called Ibotta, and if you have never heard of it and consider yourself a savvy shopper...well then you're about to get even savvier. After all, there are other ways to help you maintain your budget than just buying off-brands every single time you shop! Like everything in life, Ibotta isn

My First Experience with Instacart: Is It (And Other Grocery Delivery Services) Worth It?

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Is this piece-of-shit service worth your time and money? I’ve always avoided the whole idea of grocery delivery, even though it seems to be gaining traction—every supermarket these days offers some sort of delivery program—mainly because it just sounded so expensive. You’re either roped into an annual “contract” through a yearly subscription cost (usually around $99), or you pay a higher monthly charge, on top of higher prices on many items, service charges, tips to the driver, and a delivery charge (if no monthly fee, or if your order is under a certain threshold). I mean, I get that it’s all about convenience and not about savings, but depending on what you buy, that can take up a rather large percentage of the original grocery costs. At what point is the trade-off for convenience just not worth it? A clean, enticing ad for Instacart delivery, from Aldi. And yet, I found myself actually contemplating using the service when we were almost out of diapers one cold, wintr

Chef's Cupboard Gourmet Butternut Squash and Red Pepper Canned Soup (Aldi)

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More of a bisque...and a surprisingly delicious one at that. I’m not really a soup fan, especially pre-canned ones, nor am I much of a fan of butternut squash. But after having a couple of teeth removed due to a massive infection beneath the gumline (perhaps a little TMI, but I don’t care if you don’t), I was naturally on a soft food diet for a few days. It’s times like these that make you realize just how few soft foods you have laying around the house at any given time. Wanting some soup, but not really feeling like going out to get some, my wife was generous enough to offer me her Chef’s Cupboard Butternut Squash and Red Pepper soup. I was initially hesitant, for the specific reasons mentioned in the first sentence, but finally conceded when my laziness got the better of me. And boy am I glad I gave this a chance. Well, I'd classify this more as a “bisque” than an actual soup, which is an idea I can get behind. And it’s a pretty darn good bisque, one that’s surprising

Chef's Cupboard Chunky Baked Potato With Cheddar and Bacon Bits Canned Soup (Aldi)

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It's decent, as far as mass-produced canned soups are concerned. I have denounced at least a couple of Aldi's other soup offerings over the years, and yet here I am, sitting with a bowl of yet another one. Why, you ask? I wanted something simple to make, and if soup is one thing, it's very simple to make. We were at the end of a shopping trip and I realized I didn't have much in the cart for “just me”, that is, lazy stuff that I can make for myself when my wife is gone for the evening. I thought of the usual suspects-- a frozen pizza, TV dinner, sandwiches—but I'd had too many of all of those things lately. And so I ended up staring down several cans of soup, with wildly varying degrees of acceptance: that one looks too gross, that one only looks okay, etc. until one of them spoke back to me and said, “I am the one you should take home with you.” The voice belonged to Chef's Cupboard's Baked Potato with Cheddar and Bacon Bits Soup. Potato soup by itsel

Season's Choice Quinoa Crunch Southwest Veggie Burger (Aldi)

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I think I'll just stick to their regular veggie burgers. As you all probably know by now, my wife leans toward the vegetarian side of life. She'll eat meat if it's around and she's hungry (or if she gets a craving for a burger or steak), but generally avoids it, especially in pre-packaged foods. Even though I am not one, I’m always looking for things in Aldi ads that will appeal to her. My latest find is Season’s Choice Quinoa Crunch Southwest Burger, a veggie patty that, unlike their Veggie Burger and Chipotle Black Bean Burgers, are a limited time Special Buy at Aldi stores. I liked the Veggie Burger and absolutely love the Chipotle Black Bean, so these had some pretty big shoes to fill in my book. I probably could have gotten a much better crunch on these if I had the patience to make them in the oven…but I don’t, so I settled for a much limper patty, courtesy of the ultra-convenient (and quick) microwave prep method. The dusting of quinoa on the outside