Monday, July 25, 2016

Shopper's Drug Mart Optimum vs. Costco Executive Membership - An update

This post comparing the Shopper's Drug Mart Optimum Rewards program with the Costco Executive Membership generated a lot of traffic.

I wanted to update it with a few more thoughts and money saving tips.

To begin....I still think that Optimum is the better rewards program when it comes to what you spend versus your rewards, however this only applies if you are maximizing your points by making your purchases on bonus points days (such as 20x the points days) and then redeeming your points on bonus redemption days.  What I have noticed since Shopper's Drug Mart was taken over by Loblaw companies is that the bonus redemption days are becoming less and less.  They do still happen though so you just need to save up your points and watch out for them.  

Products: Although Shopper's and Costco carry many vastly different products, they also carry many similar products such as toiletries, household goods, etc.  Things that I like to pick up at Shopper's include items like: pop, toilet paper, Bounty paper towels, Kleenex, Pampers diapers, pads, liners, toothpaste, children's toothpaste, cosmetics, chips, President's Choice bottled pop or water, Mustela baby products, the list goes on.  Things that I like to purchase at Costco include items such as: milk, egg, cheese, flour, sugar, various baking supplies, Spectro Gel, deodorant, craft and office supplies, Neutrogena sunblock, yogurt and yogurt drinks, cheese sticks, POM Wonderful Pomegranate juice, Stonemill Bread, etc.  I could do a more detailed list - but this is just to give you an idea.  The key is to know what products you like for your family and then compare what is available at each location and their prices per unit at Shopper's and Costco.

Price: Again, I have to say that since Shopper's has been taken over by Loblaw Companies I have noticed price increases on certain items such as diapers, pop, toothpaste, and peanut butter (just as a few examples).  When these items are on sale they are still competitively priced, but it is important to read the flyers every week and be aware of the price per unit at competitors.  Again, I stick to my mantra of shopping when it is a 20X the points day and buying almost exclusively sale items.

BeautyBoutique:  Shopper's Drug Mart launched their online store Beauty in order to compete with other online cosmetic retailers such as Sephora.  I have a love-hate relationship with the Beauty Boutique.  I love it because it allows me to shop for cosmetics from my couch while still earning Optimum Points (you can also redeem the points online).  The delivery is reliable and quick.  I don't particularly love it because the brands are limited to what is sold in the Beauty Boutique sections of Shopper's Drug Mart retail locations and does not include all cosmetics.  For example, I purchase a lot of La Roche Posay and Neostrata products for myself and my family at Shopper's - but these are not available through the Beauty Boutique online.

Nonetheless - they do have a large selection of cosmetics and here is where I get to my big Money Saving Tip for this post:
Not only can you earn Optimum Points shopping at, you can also earn CashBack through    Typically, offers 5% cashback on purchases at, but occasionally it is double cashback meaning you earn 10% cashback on your purchases.  This is what is ideal - earning 10% cash back AND 20x the Optimum points on your purchases.  You really cannot beat that.

Finally, despite the recent price changes and fewer bonus point redemption days I still think that Shopper's Optimum is one of the best consumer rewards programs.  I redeem about $1000.00 worth of points every year - and it is hard to find any other rewards program in Canada that offers me the same value.

Friday Night Dinner Project: Fast Food Fish

I realized this afternoon it has been almost a year since I posted an update on the Friday Night Dinner Project.  The cooking has not stopped - in fact I struggled a bit digging through old files trying to find my pictures of these menus.  Life has just been busy, and since this blog is just a hobby....a little outlet for me...getting the posts up has not been a top priority (obviously).  However, I am going to try and get some of the menus I have cooked up over the next few weeks.  Which brings me to today's menu from Bonnie Stern's Friday Night Dinners; Fast Food Fish.  This menu is exactly as it sounds....I LOVE this menu.  Love it.  I will tell you why as I walk you through it.

Marinated Goat Cheese
Yum.  I love goat cheese so this was right up my alley.  This recipe is so simple and easy to prepare - and as Bonnie Stern says in the liner notes it can be made up to a week ahead and stored in the refrigerator.  Her tip to slice the cheese using dental floss saved me a lot of frustration dealing with crumbling goat cheese.
This version of the recipe is slightly different than the one in the book (the book does not call for olives), but it is equally delicious.

Grilled Garlic Bread
This is a simple recipe to make garlic bread at home using a baguette as the bread.  It works well with a meal, but also as an appetizer with some goat cheese on top, or sprinkled with fresh herbs.

Salmon Piccata with Lemon and Asparagus
Let me talk to you about this fish recipe for a minute.  It is amazing.  It is fast, it is simple, it is delicious.  I first made this recipe about a  year ago and I have used it countless times since then.  The recipe calls for salmon but I have also used it with trout and had equally delicious results.  This has become my go-to fish recipe - not just because it is so quick to make, but it is good.  Even my two year old will eat trout fillets that have been cooked using this recipe (although he does also dip them in Ketchup...).  Sadly, I could not find a version of this recipe online (that wasn't copied without permission), and as readers know I do not reprint recipes without permission.  Buy the book!!  Try the recipes.

Roasted Potato Sticks
Well this is exactly what it sounds like.  They are good.

The dessert for this menu is affogato, essentially brownies drowned in hot espresso or hot coffee.  I imagine for some people this would be like heaven - but neither of the adults living in my house like coffee.  I did however, remake Chuck's Chocolate Brownies from the Dinner with Chuck Menu.  Mmmmmm.

That is it for this week's menu.  There is a reason it's called Fast Food Fish.

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