December 13, 2021

What We Have Decided After Your Input


Over the past month or two, I have raised a few questions in some of my posts, asking for your input. I figure you deserve an update on the effect of your comments and thoughts and my time to ruminate (love that word!) over my options.

Why is it so Hard To Buy a New Car? lead to a discussion of several options to resolve my dilemma. Keeping our 11-year-old CR-V for now, leasing a new car or buying out someone else's lease, buying an older car to drive until the hybrid plug-in we wanted becomes available, or using a service like Uber as a fill-in until demand catches up with supply were the primary suggestions. All were workable possibilities in our situation. After a week or two of reviewing our choices, the answer was clear.

Our decision: keep the Honda with 103,000 miles for now as our only car. When the plug-in we prefer makes it to the dealer's lot, we will purchase it and keep the CR-V as the backup second vehicle (assuming it is still running!). When that vehicle dies, we will revert to a one-car family, but now with an environmentally-friendly automobile that will require maybe one tank of gas a month.

Is Food Delivered to my Door...A Good Thing? I was interested in whether you had used the services of local supermarkets or services to have food brought to your home during the worst of Covid. If so, did you plan on continuing with the ability to skip the chore of in-person grocery shopping?  Also, there were some comments that dealt with meal delivery services that became quite popular, either from a local restaurant or the meal prep kits.

There didn't seem to be a clear-cut consensus. Some of us enjoy going to the store to pick our own items from the shelf, while others are very happy to pass that chore on to others. Individual meal delivery fared less well, primarily due to the expense and problems with cold food or incomplete orders. Meal preparation subscription services were mentioned by one reader (Janis).

Our decision: we will continue to go food shopping in person. If the new Covid variant forces us to avoid stores and crowds, the at-home option would be reconsidered. For most, it worked well, particularly as the user become more adept with the ordering procedure. But, we enjoy the shopping experience together and like to be able to make last-minute purchases or change plans on the fly, based on what is in stock and pricing.

One thing we are signing up for is the meal preparation kits. As a break from cooking, a reduction in what we buy at the store, and as a way of trying new main courses, we are going to have two or three meals a week for the two of us delivered. Our daughter has used a few of these options and recommends HelloFresh for our situation and tastes. 

Streaming Services: How "Plus" Are All The Plus Options?. Hulu offers Hulu Plus, Pick Disney or Disney+, HBO or HBO Max, Discovery or the plus version...with streaming the way the majority of us receive entertainment, the companies didn't take long to find a way to further separate us from our recreation dollars. For some, the monthly bills have started to match or even exceed what cable TV used to cost. 

The Lowry household is probably about average. We have Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, PBS Passport, and the ad-supported Hulu. With an antenna, free over-the-air TV is also available; there are nearly 70 channels in the Phoenix area broadcasting in an old-school way. Kanopy is free with library membership.

The post was meant to help us to decide if any of the services we do not receive are worth the cost. There was good support for HBO Max, Britbox (all British shows), and Apple +. After reviewing our options we dropped Disney + and added Britbox. We last subscribed to Britbox in 2017 and were pleasantly surprised to discover several new seasons of shows like Shetland and Vera that we remember liking four years ago.

Since I wrote this post, we have started the meal prep delivery service. The dinners are quite tasty and the directions are simple to follow. The selection is broad enough to have p[lenty of choice.

 The biggest downside is the amount of packaging. The small containers of spices, condiments, and ingredients hold only enough for that one meal. Then the plastic plus the delivery bag goes into the trash and or recycling. It seems all rather wasteful. That rather than the cost may be what ends this experiment.

Thank you for all your thoughts and input. I will let you know if anything changes.


29 comments:

  1. Interesting that some of the responses might have influenced your decisions. On other occasions I find that when people ask they often already have their minds made up but are looking for confirmation that their choice was a good one. Of course usually there is no right or wrong just different ways of getting where you want to go. Enjoy!
    (By the way, we are just finishing up season 6 of Shetland on Britbox)

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    1. I like getting other opinions to give me confirmation or guidance. The Britbox suggestion from a few readers reminded me of that service that had fallen off our radar.

      For cars, I hadn't thought of the possibility of taking over a lease. In the end we decided waiting for the hybrid plug-in we want is our wisest choice.

      I looked at Apple+ but decided we have enough options for the moment.

      FYI: we have finished season Four of Shetland and into 5.

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  2. We did the Pickup option at Kroger during the Pandemic and we only recently started going into the store. I've found it is not possible to watch much with so many online services. I had Paramount for a few months and cancelled it. I cancelled Disney after I watched all the MCU movies. I cancelled Amazon Prime and only recently restarted for the free shipping for Christmas. I find Netflix is still the best for Movies & TV Shows. I enjoy watching Tubi TV and IMDB both are free ad supported. Tubi TV has better movies then Prime and often shows on Prime are also available on Tubi TV. I've found rotating subscriptions seems to give me the variety I enjoy while keeping the cost down. I also use OTA here in Atlanta and still use my VCR to record a few shows I don't want to miss.

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    1. Over the air TV does offer a wide variety of programming in most larger cities. Since TV stations went digital, each major channel has two to four subchannels that offer full programming.

      I haven't spent much time with Tubi but will take a look.

      Rotating subscriptions is an excellent idea. Usually deals for new or returning users are quite attractive. Our Britbox subscription is just 99 cents per month for the first two.

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  3. All the packaging is the biggest reason I've not tried food subscription. I assumed that every ingredient had separate packaging and I just can't in good conscience, create more landfill. Because I grow a big garden and vacuum seal foods, I create enough additional plastic and I cope with that decision already.

    Congrats on the feedback helping you evaluate options and make some decisions.

    Happy Monday to all. :-)

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    1. The packaging issue would be the reason we don't continue with the meal prep delivery. In most cases the tiny packages contain ingredients we already have.

      I understand the company is aware of the problem, but I don't see any simple solution for them.

      We are committed for the next two weeks and then will decide.

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  4. Nice to see feedback on those topics. We just restarted Britbox because I discovered Vera while I was in the UK. Hadn't seen it before, and we both love Endeavour, so this was a good bet. (We tried Inspector Morse, but I didn't like it as well. Not sure why..they are all of a kind.) I think rotating them is a great idea, though. When we're watching Britbox, we're much less likely to use others.

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    1. The character, Vera in the books is an obese woman who is rude to everyone, lives alone in a cabin in the woods, and treats Joe better than on the TV version. It always interests me the way novels and TV shows differ in the details.

      The last time we had Britbox we saw everything that interested us in the first 9 months or so. Rotating services is a good approach.

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  5. I apologize in advance if I am the only one who does not understand how to navigate the new-to-me television world. Ever since you posted about streaming services, I’ve been looking at my Spectrum bill with more skepticism. Am I wrong to think that I must subscribe to a service like Spectrum to get the televised waves into my home and then add on Disney Plus, Discovery, etc? Or is there another way?
    My husband loves news, golf tournaments, basketball, and collegiate football. We are paying hundreds for a very few stations out of the hundreds that come in our "package". I do get that smaller channels piggyback on the more popular ones.
    Once again, I apologize and am (almost) embarrassed to ask what may be a very ignorant question but your readers seem to be very kind (🤞🏼). I’m glad and will be thankful to read any additional articles that would get me out of the dark ages.
    Thank you in advance for your kindness, patience, and shared knowledge…
    Charlene H

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    1. Charlene, don't be concerned with not knowing or understanding streaming. You are not ignorant nor should be embarrassed.

      There are a GLUT of services available and it is an extreme amount of screen time to get through them all to determine what is right for you.

      This article describes all of the options for Hulu. Hulu Plus gives you many news and sports networks as well as your local stations.

      https://www.cordcuttersnews.com/hulu-packages-pricing-channels/

      They offer a free 7 day trial. This is what we did with a note on our calendar to make a decision day 6. Turns out we get everything we watched on our expensive Dish service except AXS which I was willing to give up.

      Scroll down about 60% through the article to find add-on 'channels' each with their own cost.

      This also allows up to 50 hours of "cloud DVR recording" and if you need more you can buy it.

      Like you, we were paying for more than 400 channels and watching less than 10. So we've cut our TV bill in half and lost only 1.

      Here is a "tech-head" review of the most popular services.

      https://www.techradar.com/best/best-tv-streaming-service-cord-cutting-compare

      Best of luck deciding what is best for your household. I know that you can save $$.

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    2. Charlene, no apologies needed. It is a very confusing subject6.

      Basically, what you need to start using all the streaming services we are talking about, is to get a connection to the Internet in your home. This is different from cable TV but often sold by the same people.

      The Internet provider runs a line to your home and install a jack on the inside of your home. Now, you can ditch cable and begin to stream shows.

      There are a few more steps, but the detailed instructions are better left to an email. If you send an email to me at satisfyingretirement at gmail. com (spaced widely to prevent scammers!) I will be glad to give your more detailed instructions.

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    3. Elle and Bob…THANK YOU. Elle, I have read the Techradar article. The different parts are beginning to make sense. Bob, I will email you for more information.
      I am eager to reduce costs and not feel like I’m at the mercy of these big conglomerates.
      Thank you so much for giving time to my question…Charlene H

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    4. I could be wrong, but last I checked the pricing structure of home delivery meals seems significantly geared toward three meals or more a week. Going down to two isn’t as economical it seems. With Every Plate, it works out to about $10 a meal for two people when you order three meals, which is most likely less than what most of us pay at the grocers.

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    5. Doreen, I think you are right. Our decision, though, is based on the amount of chopping and prep. Both my wife and I have some hand limitations that makes lots of chopping time-consuming and painful. Twice a week is fine. Three becomes more of a chore.

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  6. Just curious why you have ad-supported Hulu, rather than paying a little extra per month to have it without commercials? I know $ isn't an issue for you. (I pay $12.99 monthly w/no commercials).

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    1. For $12.99 you don't get live TV. Hulu plus live is $65.

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    2. Sandy, we got the ad-supported Hulu free with our Spotify subscription. The ad-free version is $12.99. So, for $150 per year, I will put up with ads!

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    3. Oh, I see Bob - you got Hulu w/ads free with your Spotify subscription. I don't subscribe to Spotify. I have Amazon Prime, so get music w/out ads with Amazon at no additional charge (other than their yearly membership fee of course). I have Netflix and Hulu, then stream everything else. I cut the cable cord several years ago.

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  7. Hulu without ads is almost double what the free version costs here in Arizona! I am looking at a bundle through my Verizon account which puts Hulu with a couple of other channels,including ESPN, for the same amount that Hulu charges JUST for the ad free Hulu. Hulu plays a TON of ads… when you have the free version and I watch a lot on Hulu— ready to bump up to no ads but will appreciate a few extra channels in the price.

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    1. And, they are the same ads over and over...most targeted and prescription drug users or drinkers!

      As I noted above, we got a special deal to receive ad-supported Hulu free with our Spotify subscription...a promotion they had three years ago that still works! If I were paying for the ad-supported Hulu I would absolutely pay more to dump the ads. They are the worst.

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  8. I "cut the cord" with cable TV, just keeping my high speed internet. The cable company immediately flooded me with discounted offers (all with a contract), which I refused. I have an over the air antenna that allows me access to local stations (all in HD), especially valuable-- the two PBS stations. I have Amazon Prime, so I get Prime Video, although I rarely view it. Since I send money to PBS I am granted access to their streaming service which allows me to catch programs I missed, which I enjoy immensely. I subscribe to Brit Box, primarily for the gardening programing (the Brits are so much more practical than USA broadcasters on this topic. I also was able to find a 3 year for 1 year's subscription for Curiosity Stream, but I will probably let it go when it expires.

    I find that YouTube, (if one steers clear of the nut-job conspiracy theories and political rants) provides a lot of excellent content.

    My overall takeaway is that cutting cable has freed me from many hours of mindless, brain numbing reality shows and cable news networks. I believe I am better for it.

    Rick in Oregon

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    1. We cut the cable 7 or 8 years ago and miss nothing. Of course, the same company provides our Internet, so they are still doing well with me.

      WE also have Curiosity Stream for their $20/year offer. Like you, we aren't likely to renew at the regular rate.

      So, you watch Monty Don? We love his gardening shows.

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    2. Gardener's World is worth the cost of the channel alone to me. It is real gardening tips and techniques. As I said, the majority of what I watch is gardening and some mysteries, but I still enjoy watching the old comedy, "Keeping Up Appearances" as well. Still makes me laugh out loud.

      Rick in Oregon

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  9. At the advice of a trusted friend, we tried hello fresh and were quite happy with it, but then discovered every plate which is their sister company and about 1/3 less. There is slightly less packaging waste (but not enough to make it a non issue) and fewer options (about 13 vs over 20) but it’s fine for now. The food is essentially the same I enjoy cooking but don’t like the planning so it works for me.

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    1. Our order this week was missing an ingredient in one of the meals. It was a small container of rice. I reported it an Hello Fresh gave me $8.20 in credit (for probably 50 cents worth of rice).

      We are happy at this point. The meals are excellent. Once our discount goes away we will see how shocked we are at the weekly tab! We already know we want to cut from 3 to 2 meals a week.

      I will certainly check out every plate! Thanks for the tip.

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  10. I'll be interested in hearing what you think of Hello Fresh going forward. We stopped subscribing for various reasons but may start again at some point. The packaging waste was disappointing but we found the meals quite good. We saved several of our favorite recipes and have made them with our own ingredients multiple times. You can also find the recipes for their sauce and spice mixes on line too. Have fun!

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    1. Like you, we find the meals so far to be excellent. The recipe cards are being saved and certainly we can cook again with our own ingredients.

      I think our final decision will be based on cost: expenses vs savings at the store in both time and money.

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  11. We subscribe to Hello Fresh, Home Chef and SunBasket. Each week we go through the offerings and select meals from one of the three. Then we tell the other two we don't want any meals for that week. I missed the deadline only once in the three years we've been ordering.

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    1. That is an interesting way to get more choices. I an unaware of the other two companies you mention but will take a look.

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