Being a bachelor and living life well but with a budget in mind, I review Wichita Metro Area businesses, find the great deals and report on the best product and/or services available. I post my shopping experiences online, benefiting customers and businesses alike.

Pasta Dinner on the Cheap

Priano Ricotta & Spinach Ravioli
Available at Aldi

I've really been into pasta lately, Carbonara, Baked Ziti, Shrimp & Pasta, Chicken & Pasta, simple Spaghetti dinners, and lately, easy-peasy Ravioli meals.

The convenience, low cost, and easy prep of pasta dishes is tough to beat, especially the tasty products Priano puts out.

Priano is a private label brand exclusive to Aldi, and they make a full line of Italian goods such as pasta, sauces, pestos, and even a dry-cured prosciutto, among other great products.  I recently reviewed the Priano Mushroom Ravioli (link below) and enjoyed it so much, that I picked up their Ricotta & Spinach version during my last shopping trip.

Priano Ricotta & Spinach Ravioli
Creamy Ricotta & flavorful spinach in every bite

Super convenient, the meal only took about 8 minutes to prepare, heating the ravioli per the package instructions, and topping it with some leftover chicken strips, Priano Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  The pillows of pasta were nicely portioned with Ricotta and spinach stuffing and combined with the pesto, chicken, and Parmesan... Well, as I like to say, "It was Another Dose of YUM!" 

Priano makes a good ravioli! Costing me just $1.79 for an 8.8-ounce package, I'm giving Priano Ricotta & Spinach Ravioli 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap Stars.  Convenient, fast, hearty, SUPER tasty, and Bachelor on the Cheap Wallet-friendly, like the mushroom ravioli, this Priano product is also very much a repeat buy.  Their pasta packs are faster than fast food.  They're tastier and cheaper too!  

$pend Wisely My Friends...


The Aldi visited on this occasion is located at 8011 E Kellogg Dr, Wichita, KS 67207.   If you haven't had the opportunity to check out their pasta section, it's worth a look-see.

Related: Food Review: Priano Mushroom Ravioli

Related: Food Review: Priano Pesto Sauces from Aldi

Update to Palmer Candy Company Recall of White Confectionary Products Because of Possible Health Risk

Snack MixThis press release was updated to include additional best by dates of the products:

Caramel Swirl Pretzels 4oz
Cookies & Cream Yummy Chow 14#
Munchy Medley 4oz
Peanut Butter Snack Mix 12oz
Vanilla Yogurt Covered Pretzels 10oz
Zebra Fudge Cookies 7oz

and to include the following two items:

Patriotic White Fudge Cookies 13.5oz
Drizzled Caramel Corn 5oz and 12oz

The revisions are identified in bolded and highlighted text.

The recalled confectionary items were distributed nationwide in Walmart, HyVee, Target, Dollar General, and to distributors in Alabama, California, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

The product comes in a variety of retail packaging like bags, pouches and tubs.

No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this problem.

Palmer Candy was notified by its liquid coating supplier that there was a potential for contamination with salmonella from an ingredient that was potentially contaminated from one of their suppliers.

Production of the product has been suspended while FDA and the company continue their investigation as to the source of the problem.

Consumers who have purchased White coated confectionary items manufactured by Palmer Candy Company are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-800-831-0828 Monday through Friday 8am – 5pm.

CARAMEL SWIRL PRETZELS 4oz 12/18/24-12/28/24
CARAMEL SWIRL PRETZELS 6oz 12/19/24, 12/20/24 and 1/19/25
CLASSIC YOGURT PRETZELS 28# 12/11/24 – 1/8/25
COOKIES & CREAM YUMMY CHOW 14# 12/6/24 – 1/23/25
FAVORITE DAY BAKERY WHITE FUDGE MINI COOKIES 7oz 4/4/25, 4/5/25, 4/15/25 - 4/18/25
FROSTED PRETZELS 6oz 1/23/2025
MUNCHY MEDLEY 15# 12/14/24, 1/3/25
MUNCHY MEDLEY 4oz 12/25/24 – 12/28/24 and 1/19/25
MUNCHY MEDLEY TO GO 4oz 12/25/24 – 1/19/25
MUNCHY MEDLEY 6oz 12/20/24, 4/25/25
PATRIOTIC PRETZELS 14oz 1/25/25, 1/26/25
PATRIOTIC SNACK MIX 13oz 1/19/25 - 2/1/25
PEANUT BUTTER SNACK MIX 12oz 11/13/24 – 12/22/24
SNACKIN' WITH THE CREW! TIGER TREATS 7oz 12/18/24, 12/19/24
STAR SNACKS CHOW DOWN 25# 12/6/24, 12/7/24
VANILLA YOGURT COVERED PRETZELS 10oz 12/18/24, 1/5/25, 1/22/25
YOGURT PRETZEL 14# 12/14/24 - 12/21/24
ZEBRA FUDGE COOKIES 7oz 3/20/25 – 4/30/25

Original Press Release

Company Contact Information

Palmer Candy Company

Reser’s Fine Foods Announces Voluntary Recall of Single Batch of Aldi Macaroni 32 oz Salad with Use By Date of Jun/03/24 Due to Unlabeled Wheat Allergen

Macaroni SaladBeaverton, OR -- Reser’s Fine Foods is voluntarily recalling a single item with a specific use by date, produced at a regional facility and distributed to ALDI. The product is the Aldi Deli Macaroni Salad 32 oz, with a Use By Date of Jun/03/24 due to an incorrect label. The incorrect label does not include an allergen callout for wheat.

The salad was distributed to ALDI locations in the following states: AL, CT, FL, GA, LA, MA, MS, NC, NH, NY, RI, SC, TN, VA, VT

Consumers who purchased this product who are concerned about allergen labeling may return the product to the store for a full refund or discard the item. Consumers who have questions regarding this product or label may call Reser’s Fine Foods at the following number:

Bottom_container_-_incorrect_ingredient_coleslawCONSUMER INQUIRIES:
Monday – Friday
8:00AM – 5:00PM Pacific Time

Company Contact Information

Consumers:  888-223-2127

Today's Weather Forecast

Today's weather forecast and a four day outlook.  Check this page for the latest weather reports in the Wichita Metro area.  Up-to-date weather conditions are observed at the MADIS station D6055, 3.6 miles WSW of Wichita.  For weather conditions specific to other cities outside the metro area, just type in your zip code below.

Wichita, weather forecast

Type in your zip code for your weatherecast


New job opportunities with Sedgwick County, 05/19/2024

Sedgwick County LogoJobs
Grant Accounting Analyst - FINANCE - Wichita, KS, US
Temporary Warehouse Support - ELECTIONS - Wichita, KS, US
Part-Time EMT - EMS - Wichita, KS, US
Firefighter Recruit - FIRE - Park City, KS, US
Mobile Crisis Clinician - COMCARE - Wichita, KS, US
Volunteer EMT - EMS - Wichita, KS, US
Children's School-Based Clinician - COMCARE - Wichita, KS, US
Corrections Officer Juvenile Services - Full-time/Part-time - CORRECTIONS - Wichita, KS, US
Traveling School-Based Clinician- 12 Month - COMCARE - Wichita, KS, US
Children's Clinician - COMCARE - Wichita, KS, US

Don't use lighter fluid or buy matchlight-style charcoal for grilling, use this instead

Meker Fire

You can start your charcoal several ways, you can use lighter fluid, you can buy those ‘Match Light’ briquettes, or you can do what until recently was the preferred food-friendly way to go, and that’s fire up your charcoal using a charcoal chimney.  There's another option and it's now my preferred option, use charcoal starters.  I'll get into the benefits of those in a bit.

I don’t like lighter fluid for several reasons. I don’t like to store it, I don’t like running out, the smell can get on your hands and clothes, and inexperienced grillers tend to put WAY too much on or start grilling over charcoals that aren’t really ready yet, giving your food that nasty fuel taste.   Then there are those folks that soak coals in lighter fluid for a lengthy period of time, further compounding the fuel-tasting food issue.  Those ‘Match Light’ briquettes are OK, they’re very convenient, but they are more expensive than traditional briquettes and like the charcoal/lighter fluid starting method, can put a fuel taste on your food if cooked over before the coals are really ready. Avoid the fuel taste risk completely and start your charcoal WITHOUT resorting to lighter fluid. 

For years I relied on charcoal chimneys to fire up the grill and after the initial purchase of a quality chimney is also the cheapest way to start traditional charcoal.  All you have to do is crumple up some paper to get things going, which doesn't cost anything to do.  There's no lighter fluid smell, no lighter fluid expense, no "oh shit, I'm out of lighter fluid," no fuel-tasting food risk.  I still use a chimney on occasion for large cooks, but since I don't subscribe to a newspaper anymore, I use brown paper bags, old notes, and documents deemed for the shredder instead.  The paper source has changed, and it's not as readily available as a stack of old newspapers, but it works.  So from a simple paper fuel standpoint, my use of a chimney has declined. 

Enter, charcoal starters, a.k.a., firestarters

Better than a chimney, are charcoal starters.  Weber Cubes, Royal Oak Tumbleweeds, and Meker Fire Starters are all good.  They're every bit as convenient as Match Light briquettes, faster than lighter fluid, and far easier to prep than a chimney.  All you have to do is strategically place a starter or two in with your charcoal, light the starter(s), and in 10-15 minutes your coals are ready to receive the meats.  There's no lighter fluid mess and no fuel-tasting food risk.

If you're still stuck in the lighter fluid world, another reason to go with charcoal starters is the cost.  It's on par with the purchase of lighter fluid, and even cheaper if you're heavy-handed with the liquid stuff.  One Weber Cube, or Royal Oak Tumbleweed, or Meker Fire Starter is enough to get your grill going, two if you're not very patient, vs. multiple squirts of lighter fluid.  It doesn't take long to go through a 32-ounce bottle of the stuff.  

Check out some simple cost breakdowns:

Charcoal starter pricing chart
Charcoal briquets are generally cheaper than lump charcoal, about the only exception is a sale.  Speaking of sales, Kingsford is good at that, they're the ones that started the trend of bundling two bags together at a cheaper price.  As of this writing, you can get two, 16lb bags of Kingsford Original Briquets at Walmart for $17.86.  That breaks down to $8.93 per bag.

Now let's look at some fire-starting setups and the initial cost starting with the classic charcoal & lighter fluid method:

Charcoal set up price comparisonIf you're still into lighter fluid (you shouldn't be at this point), Expert Grill products are the way to go if you want to save a few bucks.  Remember, Expert Grill is made by Royal Oak, the charcoal is a quality product and besides, the savings can go towards meat!

Lump charcoal & lighter fluid:

Lump coal price comparison

Now I could play around with a few more lump coal and lighter fluid combos, but the point here is to show how much more expensive it is to grill with lump coal than briquets.  In my experience, the better flavor argument just isn't worth the price.  The better option is to buy a bag of wood chunks, pecan, apple, mesquite, your choice, and add them to your briquets, but that's a story for another day.  Of note, the B&B price is for a 20lb bag.  The Royal Oak price is for a 15.4lb bag (reference, first chart).  I'm not a fan of Cowboy lump, it can be inconsistent from bag to bag, far more small pieces than big, and I've found unburned pieces of pallet in a bag.

"Match Light" starting:

Match light prices

No lighter fluid required, it's in the briquets

This is the cheapest, initial, out-of-pocket way to start a grill... or is it?  Remember, we're talking a 12lb bag of Match Light vs. a 16lb bag of traditional charcoal briquets.  The more important reason not to go this route though is flavor.  This product, and I don't care how seasoned a griller you are, carries an inherent risk of giving you food with a fuel taste.  It only takes one not-yet-ready-for-food briquet to do that.  Think about it, you might get 6 decent burgers, but the 7th and 8th patties have that slight lighter fluid taste to them because they were on that certain spot on the grill where the coals weren't quite ready...  Is that worth the cheaper price?  


Starter prices

SteakI just reposted the typical firestarter prices here, with no pairing with briquets or lump charcoal.  Yes, the price of firestarters will be a bit more out-of-pocket than a 32-ounce bottle of lighter fluid (Kingsford - $5.49, Expert Grill $4.88), but as I stated before, starters are more efficient in starting your charcoal than lighter fluid, especially if you're heavy-handed with the liquid stuff.  Odds are, and especially as you gain grilling experience, you can make a box of Weber Cubes last the same number of cooks as a bottle of lighter fluid.  The more important factor, is you've got a clean burn using firestarters, with NO risk of lighter fuel-tasting food.  Firestarters are much easier to use, and just as convenient if not more, there are no storage concerns and no potential for a smelly mess.

My preferred setup is Kingsford, using Meker Fire Starters, topping the briquets with a few chunks of pecan wood.  This delivers a clean burn, and great flavor.   Small bags of chunk wood typically run in the $6 - $12 range.  You only need a couple of chunks to put some great smoke flavor on the typical, grilled family meal, so a bag of chunks is going to last for a while.

$pend Wisely My Friends...

~ Mike


Related: Product Review: Meker Fire Starters

Related: Adding more flavor to grilled foods, no seasoning required

Related:  Grilling Good Eats, by Mike Thayer


Product Review: Meker Fire Starters

Meker Fire Starters
You get tumbleweed-style and brick-style starters

Not so long ago, Weber Lighter Cubes and Royal Oak Tumbleweeds were pretty much the only two fire starter products you saw in the grill section of a general merchandise or home improvement store.

Now there are many fire starter choices on the store shelves, including several copycat products.

I used to be a newspaper and charcoal chimney guy, but since fire starter products are readily available, super convenient, and cheap, I hardly use my chimney anymore.

Today I'm reviewing one of those newer products, Meker Premium All Purpose Fire Starters.

You get a mix of tumbleweed-style starters (a copycat version of what Royal Oak makes) and some brick-style starters.  I like the mix, it's multi-purpose.  The tumbleweeds are ideally suited for lighting charcoal, and the bricks are best suited for lighting kindling and logs which means you don't have to buy two products.   The Meker product serves all grilling, campfire, and fireplace needs. Both styles have a burn time of 8 to 10 minutes according to the packaging, but the tumbleweed is larger and puts out a bigger, broader flame, which is what makes it superior to lighting charcoal over the little brick.  In other words, the tumbleweed is going to start a larger number of briquets or lumps vs. the little brick.

Made from paraffin wax and sawdust, it's an all-natural product, so it's non-toxic and there's no risk of fume-tasting food - hello lighter fluid rookies and putting food on the grill before the coals are ready...  I'll just come out and say it, lighter fluid sucks and so does matchlight style charcoal.  There's absolutely no need to use lighter fluid or pay more for matchlight charcoal when there are fire starter products so readily available and every bit as convenient when it comes to starting a fire.

Costing me $10.74 for a 32-count box, I'm giving Meker Fire Starters 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap Stars.  The out-of-pocket expense is a tad higher than other products, but you do get more starters per package.  The popular package count for Royal Oak Tumbleweeds is 16 and Weber Cubes is 24.  The per-use cost breakdown for Meker falls in line with the others, with a window of $0.33 - $0.45 depending on how many you choose to use to start a fire.  Weber for example, recommends you use two cubes, but I say that's just to get you to burn through (pun intended) product faster, hello replacement purchase...  But I digress.  You can't go wrong with these, especially if you're a multi-kind of fire person, who grills, goes camping, and/or has a wood-burning pizza oven or a fireplace.

$pend Wisely My Friends...

~ Mike

Related: No charcoal chimney necessary when using Tumbleweeds to fire up the grill

Related: Using newspaper to start your charcoal is good, but Weber Lighter Cubes are even better

Voluntary Recall of Select Great Value Organic Black Chia Seeds Due to The Possible Presence of Salmonella

Chia seedsNatural Sourcing International is initiating a voluntary recall of one lot of Great Value Organic Black Chia Seeds 32 oz. due to the potential presence of Salmonella that may be in some of the finished products. Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis. While no adverse events associated with the products have been reported to date, products are being recalled out of an abundance of caution and because consumer safety is the company’s highest priority.

Specific information regarding the recalled products is as follows:



Lot Code

Expiration Date


Great Value Organic Black Chia Seeds 32 oz 24095 C018 October 30, 2026 078742300665

These products can be identified by the main label on the pouch and the lot number that is printed on the bottom of the back panel of the packaging – see the example below:

Product was sent to Walmart for distribution nationwide via retail sales.

Consumers are directed to throw away products subject to the recall. Natural Sourcing International will provide replacement product upon proof of purchase. Consumers seeking replacement product or with questions regarding this recall can contact Natural Sourcing International, by calling Customer Service at 1-818-405-9705 Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. EST or emailing the company at [email protected].

This recall is being conducted with the knowledge of and in cooperation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Company Contact Information

Customer Service
 [email protected]

A message to all City of Wichita water customers

Dear City of Wichita Water Customer,

As you may be aware the City of Wichita has been dealing with a Cyber Security Incident that has affected some of our core services. The following Frequently Asked Questions may help explain what to expect as we deal with this issue.

Are water systems in any way compromised by the cyber security event?
No. All water systems are secure and functioning as normal.

How do I pay my water bill?
During the cyber security incident we will not shut off water accounts. Anyone having difficulty paying their bill will not receive penalties or late fees until the cyber incident is resolved. Bills may still be paid via cash, check and money order by coming to City Hall or by mailing payment. Payments may also be made at retail outlets like Walmart and Dillons. Customers looking to set up a new water account may do so by calling 316-265-1300 or by coming to City Hall. Auto payments and scheduled payments may process starting 5/10 for the billing cycle that was processed prior to the cyber security event.

If my water is shut off, how do I get reconnected?
During the data breach, we will not be shutting off any water accounts. Those who have experienced a water shut off may bring a $150 payment or proof of $150 payment to City Hall and their water will be reconnected. 

How can I contact Public Works and Utilities with water account questions?
Although the Water Call Center cannot view account information at this time you can call and speak with a representative at 316-265-1300.

What do I do if I have a water emergency?
In the event of a water emergency call 316-262-6000.