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.

The chore of cleaning and how to avoid doing it on the weekend

Cleaning products
Break down cleaning tasks into segments, vacuum one day, dust the next...

It's therapeutic for some, a sigh of feel-good relief for others once done, but for many, it's a chore that, well, you would rather not do, but know it must be done.

It doesn't matter if it's tidying up the house or apartment, sweeping out the garage, or detailing the car, cleaning things up gives life a sense of order and the unobstructed freedom to focus on other things.

Aside from cleaning some dirty dishes daily, the bulk of cleaning the house is done on the weekends for most folks.  That's how it was in my house growing up anyway.

My mother was a very clean-conscious and orderly woman.  She was always cleaning something it seemed, washing dishes, doing laundry, ironing, dusting, etc.  She was also a divorced mother of four, and money was tight because my father got away with not having to pay much at all for child support.  Working full time, mom started delegating cooking and cleaning chores as she tried to balance work and home life, and one of my chores as a 'youngin' was vacuuming on Saturdays.  We lived in a 1-1/2 story house with a full basement.  After vacuuming the basement carpeting, which was a full shag and included having to rake it after vacuuming, it was time to lug the Kirby vacuum up the stairs to take care of the living room, dining room, two bedrooms, and kitchen.  Yes, even the kitchen was carpeted and no detail was left undone, we're talking about pulling out vacuum attachments and vacuuming under the couch and other big pieces of furniture, vacuuming anything upholstered, moving chairs, and running a brushed attachment all along the baseboards.  I asked my mom if I could take a break from vacuuming after completing that portion of the house before moving upstairs to knock out two more bedrooms, a sitting area, and the carpeted stairs themselves.  Mom's response:  "You can take a break by dusting."  She was no-nonsense, it was a simple life lesson of work before play, and once the work was done, there was still plenty of time to have fun and be a kid.

Being a bachelor living in a modest home, it's just me keeping the house and garage tidy, the grass cut, the garden weeded, and the vehicle detailed.  I appreciate my mother's 'clean' attitude and maintaining an orderly environment.  There are those times when I'm not in the mood for it and let things slide, but then Mother's "Work before play" lesson kicks in again and I'm back at it.

It can be hard to maintain a clean and orderly home by yourself, balancing work, home life, activities, friends, romance, all those things, it ain't easy!   Back in the day, mom had little choice but to pretty much break things down to a work-during-the-week, clean-on-the-weekend approach, so I've taken mom's old-school regimen and tweaked it a bit.  

Spend 15 minutes a day cleaning, it will free up your weekend.

If you like to cook and do that for yourself on a daily and nearly every-meal basis like I do, then cleaning the kitchen is pretty much a daily need, there's no other way around it.  Thank goodness for dishwashers, right?!  But everything else can be broken down into little 15-minute segments of tidiness.  Consider giving a house-cleaning routine similar to this a try, adjusting it to your schedule.

  • Monday, vacuum for 15 minutes.
  • Tuesday, dust for 15 minutes
  • Wednesday, sweep/mop (or dry/wet Swiffer) for 15 minutes
  • Thursday, bathroom duty, for 15 minutes
  • Friday, Windex mirrors, glass 

Spending as little as 15 minutes of cleaning routine on your day can really free up your weekend!  I've also done a 'clean one room a day' routine, but it's not as efficient as the above.  It's much easier and faster to focus on one type of task, such as dusting everywhere, rather than pulling out (and then putting away) all the equipment and items needed to do a complete clean in just one room.  Simple 15 minutes of tidiness can also be done before work, giving you more free time after the workday is done...  Work, before play.

$pend Wisely My Friends...  In this case, time.

~ Mike


Dunkin'_Banana_Chocolate_Chip_BreadEarlier this week we introduced a new line-up of menu items designed to put a spring in your step, including our NEW! Banana Chocolate Chip Bread. Which is perfect timing because today, February 23, is National Banana Bread Day!

Just in time for the holiday, we unveiled our own take on the classic bakery item with our rich new Banana Chocolate Chip Bread, served prepacked to ensure the loaf is extra tender and moist. Take it on-the-go with you no matter where your day is headed – to the office, school or even baseball pracitce... like Alex "Ziggy" Ziegler of the Savannah Bananas - whenever you need a little pick-me-up (or balance!).

Straight On Large

Pair the Banana Chocolate Chip Bread with the NEW! Cinnamon Vanilla Coffee, with flavors of churro and vanilla that provide the perfect complement to Dunkin’s latest anytime treat.

Dunkin’ Rewards members can celebrate National Banana Bread Day by trying the Banana Chocolate Chip Bread today, February 23 to earn an additional 250 bonus points – that’s enough points to redeem for a free donut on your next visit. Banana Chocolate Chip Bread today and a donut for the future–sounds like your Friday just got a whole lot sweeter with Dunkin’!

How will you celebrate National Banana Bread Day with Dunkin’? Let us know on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and TikTok.

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



Dunkin SparkdDunkin’s coffee-loving fans have plenty of ways to fuel their day, but what about those who choose to get their kick a different way and want a caffeinated spark of energy from something other than their favorite coffee? Here at Dunkin’ HQ, we have news for you.

As warmer weather approaches, we’re shaking things up this Spring with a new iced beverage line that packs a punch – SPARKD' Energy by Dunkin’. Available at Dunkin’ locations nationwide, this refreshing beverage is made with vitamins, minerals and a kick of caffeine, and comes in two vibrant fruit-flavored options.

Get your burst of energy by sipping on the Berry Burst, with raspberry and strawberry flavors, or refill your reserves with the Peach Sunshine, featuring juicy peach and lychee flavors. Both are equally delicious new ways to run on Dunkin’.

And to put a little extra pep in your step, we’re offering 2x points* for all Dunkin’ Rewards members who order one of the new SPARKD’ Energy beverages through the mobile app in March.

So forget the canned stuffed- this crafted beverage is poured over ice, and only served for a limited time at a Dunkin’ near you.

Are you sipping on SPARKD’ Energy by Dunkin’ yet? Let us know on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and TikTok!

*Offer valid through 3/31/24. Bonus points can only be earned on eligible SPARKD' Energy by Dunkin' purchases made during the promo period. Bonus points are provided on base points only.

Truong Giang Distributor Corp Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Sulfites in Dried Mango

MangoTRUONG GIANG DISTRIBUTOR CORP of Philadelphia, PA is recalling Golden Owl Dried Mango, because it may contain undeclared sulfites. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to sulfites run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products.

The product was distributed nationwide in retail stores.

No illnesses have been reported to date.

The recall was initiated after routine sampling by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets found sulfites in the product which was distributed in packaging that did not reveal the presence of sulfites. Subsequent investigation indicates the problem was caused by a temporary breakdown in the supplier’s labeling processes.

Consumers who have purchased the product are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 215-456-1883 Monday to Friday 8AM to 5PM EST.

Company Contact Information


New job opportunities with Sedgwick County, 02/18/2024

Sedgwick County LogoJobs
Patient Billing Representative - HEALTH - Wichita, KS, US
Administrative Support I - COMCARE - Wichita, KS, US
Part-Time Customer Service Associate - Front Desk - Health - Wichita, KS, US
Deputy County Tax Administrative Analyst - COUNTY CLERK - Wichita, KS, US
Crisis Integrated Care Specialist III - COMCARE - Wichita, KS, US
Intensive Supervision Officer I -Juvenile Field Services - CORRECTIONS - Wichita, KS, US
Truck Driver - PUBLIC WORKS - Wichita, KS, US
Drug Court Integrated Care Specialist III - COMCARE - Wichita, KS, US
Part-Time Paramedic - EMS - Wichita, KS, US

Fast Food vs. Grocery Shopping, a spin on Subway's #20 - The Elite Chicken and Bacon Ranch Sub

Ingredients for a spin on a Subway sandwich
Ingredients to make a sub, aided by items I already have in my pantry and fridge.

It's another Fast Food vs. Grocery Shopping Challenge!

The typical Friday means eating out for a lot of folks, it's time to unwind after a long work week, and unwinding includes spending a few bucks on some take-out, or the drive-thru.

It's all too easy to fall into such a routine, but those takeout and drive-thru costs every week can start to add up.

This week's Fast Food vs. Grocery Shopping Challenge features a spin on Subway's #20, Elite Chicken and Bacon Ranch Sub.

toasted bread
toasty bread, melty cheese

I'm not sure what makes it "Elite", it's a good sandwich, but I wouldn't call it "Elite."  I picked one up the other day motivated by a desire to sample the new pretzel sidekick, but the participating restaurant I got my sub at, was "Out of Stock."   I'll have to do a pretzel sidekick review another day.

Subway's #20 features rotisserie-style chicken, melted Monterey cheddar cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, and Peppercorn Ranch dressing.  It's a nice combination of flavors and the footlong price using the Subway app is $11.34.  So how much can you buy at the grocery store for about that kind of money?  Shopping at Aldi, I focused on purchasing the ingredients I needed to make a spinoff version of the "Elite" Chicken and Bacon Ranch sub, selecting items I didn't already have in my pantry and fridge.

Building the sandwich
Building the sandwich, adding veggies

Spending $11.52 in the grocery shop, I bought a French Baguette, boneless/skinless chicken thighs, a couple of Roma tomatoes, and a bag of Garden Salad.  For the cheese, Aldi didn't have any Monterey Cheddar, so I picked up a package of deli-sliced Colby Jack Cheddar cheese, along with a package of Pepper Jack cheese as an alternative to Peppercorn Ranch dressing.  I had regular Ranch dressing in my fridge along with everything else I needed to create the sub.  Putting my spin on a popular sub sandwich was fun, but the true beauty of the grocery shop is having all the extra eats beyond the sandwich.

Cost Comparison

  • Subway #20 - Elite Chicken Bacon Ranch Sub, Footlong - $11.34, two servings
  • Grocery Shopping at Aldi - $11.52, can make two 10" sub sandwiches, plus create sides for other meals, snacks
Adding the meat
Thanks to the grocery shop, the portions can be HUGE!

For just $0.18 more with the grocery shop, I've got so much more food!  My sandwich by the way, IS Elite.  I was able to customize my sandwich based on what I already had on hand, such as using low-sodium bacon and spicing up the chicken the way I preferred it, using my signature rub.  In addition to the bagged lettuce, I also chopped up some parsley, crushed up some garlic in a garlic press, and zested a lemon to create a quick gremolata for another punch of flavor.  Before toasting the baguette, I brushed it with a clove of garlic and dressed it with some of the bacon fat.  Just before the toast on the bread was complete, I added the cheese for a nice melt, then assembled the sandwich to include topping it with black pepper, Red Wine Vinegar, and Ranch Dressing.  The sandwich was "Another Dose of YUM!"

Chicken Bacon Ranch Sub
Now THAT is an ELITE sub!

From the shop, I've got plenty of ingredients to make another sandwich.  I've got bagged lettuce and tomato to make a couple of salads, and cheese slices to include in a charcuterie board or simply to snack on.  The best leftover from the shop, is chicken to create an entirely different meal with.  

I was able to prepare this sandwich in about the same time that it will take you to order online, go pick up your sandwich, and then return home.

Build a better sandwich
It's Another Dose of YUM!

So, does the comparison of fast food vs. grocery shopping have you rethinking the drive-thru, pickup, or delivery?  Why spend $11.34 on a not truly Elite sandwich from Subway or any other sub shop for that matter, when you can create not just one, but TWO truly Elite sandwiches for about the same money plus have leftover ingredients to make snacks and another meal to boot?

$pend Wisely My Friends...

~ Mike

Related: Food Review: Subway #20 Elite Chicken Bacon Ranch Footlong hold the Sidekick

Food Review: Subway #20 Elite Chicken Bacon Ranch Footlong hold the Sidekick

Subway Elite Chicken Bacon Ranch
Subway Footlong

After seeing too many of those Subway commercials featuring Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce hyping up "Sidekicks," I decided those sidekicks would be worth doing a review on.

Here's the promo write-up from the Subway restaurant:

  • A new Cinnabon Footlong Churro for $2, is baked to perfection, served warm and topped with Cinnabon's world-famous Makara® cinnamon and sugar.*
  • The Auntie Anne's Footlong Pretzel for $3, reimagines Auntie Anne's buttery and salty classic, served with a side of Subway's Honey Mustard that takes each bite to another level.*
  • The Footlong Cookie for $5*, is back nationwide and better than ever after popping up in select restaurants on National Cookie Day in 2022 and 2023 – it's thick, gooey and packed with chocolate chips.*
Subway Chicken Bacon Ranch
The under-the-lid view

Added to the menu nationwide in late January 2024, I'll pass on the cookie, but have been intrigued by both the Churro and the Pretzel.  So with a review in mind, I pulled up the Subway app yesterday to place an order for lunch while pondering if I was in a salty side, or dessert mood. 

For the sandwich, I went with the #20, the Elite Chicken Bacon Ranch, footlong, toasted.  The combination of rotisserie-style chicken, melted Monterey cheddar cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, and Peppercorn Ranch dressing sounded good.

But when I went to order a footlong pretzel to go with my sub, the app took me to the chip selection.  Huh?  I hit the Sidekicks icon again...  "Out of Stock"  The app when first brought up stated the Subway location I was picking up at was a participating restaurant, but they're out of stock?  UGH!  It was only 2:45 pm, and "Out of Stock?"

The motivation for ordering Subway for a late lunch was to try one of those Sidekicks!


Hungry and not feeling like cooking, I ordered the footlong sub anyway, no side, no drink, with a plan to eat half the sandwich for lunch, and the other half for dinner.

With a pickup time of 3 pm, I arrived at Subway just a bit before that and my order was ready.  I grabbed my order from the convenient pickup order shelf and headed to Aldi to do the comparison buy, another episode of - Fast Food vs. Grocery Shopping.  Story pending, including a spin on the #20.  

Subway Sandwich side view
Side View: I half expected deli sliced chicken, as "rotisserie-style" is kind of a vague description, but pleasantly, it's chunk chicken.

Eating in the parking lot while listening to some classic rock on 104.5 The Fox, this is a good sub.  The sandwich wasn't sitting too long in the wrapper, as the bread still had a good toast on it.  The chicken was tender and juicy, the cheese had a nice melt, the bacon wasn't under-cooked-flimsy, the veggies were fresh, the portion of Peppercorn Ranch was generous and I added toppers of black pepper and Red Wine Vinegar which kicked the flavor profile up a notch.   Subway can be hit or miss, but this sandwich was put together with care, with all ingredient preparation executed well and assembled nicely.

Using the app, I got 20% off my order.  So what is the regular menu price of $13.19 for a footlong sandwich, I got it for $11.34.  I'm giving the Subway Elite Chicken Bacon Ranch Footlong 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap Stars.  It's worthy of a repeat buy.  A review of the Sidekicks will have to wait for another day.  I checked the menu for the same Subway location today by the way, February 16, about 5:30 pm, and got the same "Out of Stock" message.  So either these Sidekicks are that popular and the location runs out, or somebody there sucks at ordering enough to have on hand (the Churro is made by Cinnabon, and the pretzel is made by Auntie Anne's).  

The Subway location visited on this occasion is located at 7934 E Harry St, Wichita, KS 67207.  In a pickup order using the app, the sandwich was ready and on the online order pickup shelf in a timely fashion.  It wasn't put on the shelf too early either, as the bread still had a good toast on it.  The two ladies running the store greeted me warmly when I entered, and they made a good sub.  The only downer was "Out of Stock" Sidekicks, all options.

$pend Wisely My Friends...

~ Mike

Related: Food Review: Subway's Baja Steak & Cheese Sandwich

Cracker Barrel makes a solid fish dinner for Lent

Cracker Barrel on Ridge Road
Cracker Barrel comfort food and charm!

I received a Cracker Barrel gift card for Christmas and today I used that gift to go out for lunch.

Being a Friday and the season of Lent, fish was on my mind.

Cracker Barrel has a great comfort food menu. I've never had a bad meal there, and my favorite is their chicken fried steak, which is hearty and satisfying!  While checking out the Cracker Barrel menu online before heading out to the west side of town, I realized I'd never had a fish dinner at the old Southern Country-themed store and restaurant.  Today was the day to do so.

I arrived at the Ridge Road Cracker Barrel a bit before 11 am, an early lunch, but my first meal of the day.  My between-meal rush timing was intentional, and I was seated immediately.  I was greeted warmly by Tracie, my server, who took my drink order, a lemonade.  In bringing my drink, Tracie went over the Friday Fish Fry Special, which I ordered.  The dish is four Cod fillets hand-dipped in batter and fried. The fish comes with two 'Country Sides,' and buttermilk biscuits or corn muffins.  I went with the buttermilk biscuits and for my sides, I ordered the mac & cheese, and fried okra.  I love fried okra and Cracker Barrel does it well.

Cracker Barrel Friday Fish Fry Special
4 cod fillets, with mac & cheese, and fried Okra sides.

It didn't take long for my meal to arrive, I killed time by troubleshooting why my new phone wouldn't sync up to my truck.  

The plate had a nice visual, complete with tartar sauce and a small wedge of lemon.  The biscuits were warm and flaky, making it easy to spread the butter.  I flipped the lid off the tartar sauce, squeezed some lemon juice over the fish, and took that first bite.  The batter was crispy, the fry was perfect.  The cod though was a bit underseasoned but flaky good.  If not for the tartar and lemon, the fish would have been a bit bland.  The Mac & Cheese was creamy good, with a robust cheese flavor, and the cook on the pasta was nicely done.  Some restaurants serve Mac & Cheese that's mushy, NOT Cracker Barrel.  As for the fried okra, my Cracker Barrel side favorite, it was perfect as always. 

Cracker Barrel Biscuits
Warm, light, flaky biscuits.

Costing me a gift card free $17.58 for the meal and a lemonade + refill to wash it down with, I'm giving the Cracker Barrel Friday Fish Special 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap Stars.  It was a very satisfying meal, the portion of four fillets was huge, and the sides were also nicely portioned.  I couldn't finish the entire meal.  My only knock, and it's slight, was the cod was a bit underseasoned.  It's a meal worthy of a repeat order.

The Cracker Barrel visited on this occasion is located at 619 S Ridge Rd, Wichita, KS 67209.  The service by Tracie was top-notch, she was friendly, and attentive, and asked how my meal was, I didn't have to ask for a drink refill. She did all the little things and then some to ensure I had a pleasurable dining experience.  Thank you, Tracie!  If you're looking for a convenient fish dinner and some great service during the Season of Lent, Cracker Barrel should be on your list of places to try.

$pend Wisely My Friends...

~ Mike

Shopping for a new phone: Reviewing the Samsung Galaxy A15 5G

Samsung Galaxy A15
Purchased directly from my carrier, T-Mobile

With my old phone no longer taking a charge, the port was shot, I begrudgingly started shopping for a replacement phone.

I tend to hang on to whatever model phone I have for as long as I can, I'm not a gotta have the latest trendy phone kind of guy.  My old phone was a Galaxy A32 which I purchased in the spring of 2021 (The A32 was introduced in Feb. 2021).  So I made good use of that phone for almost three years, about my average for replacing a phone.

I'm a fan of the Samsung brand and I'm a mid-range phone person, I simply need a phone that will perform everyday tasks, and has a good camera and decent battery life.  I don't play games or watch movies on my phone, and I don't need a bunch of features I'll never use (or figure out).  The A32 served me well, the charge port simply wore out.  And is it just me, or does cell phone quality lean 'disposable' these days, forcing you to upgrade before you should really have to?  

In shopping for a new phone, I focused my search on what my service provider, T-Mobile, had to offer.  That means I'm buying a "locked" phone, to mean, it's only going to work on the T-Mobile network, but I'm OK with that, as I have no plans to switch carriers. I considered non-Samsung phones, staying in my mid-range comfort zone.  With no need for the latest trendy phones like the Samsung A24 Ultra priced at $1,299 and the iPhone 15 Pro Max costing $1.199 - GAG! - I set my budget at less than $500.  I didn't want a monthly payment and a 24 or 36-month service contract.  Other phones considered were the Google Pixel 7, iPhone SE, Motorola Edge, and OnePlus Nord N30.

I went with the Samsung Galaxy A15 5G, which was introduced in December 2023.

I usually buy a replacement phone by going to a local T-Mobile brick-and-mortar location, but on this occasion, I purchased my phone directly from the T-Mobile website.  Having done my homework online, I didn't need a phone recommendation from a local store employee, and phone activation and data transfer these days is easy-peasy, just follow the prompts.   I received my phone in two days (down to 28% battery on the old phone), the shipping was free and the setup took me about 15 minutes.  One area where T-Mobile has cut costs, is they no longer include a USB plug-in adapter, it's now "sold separately."  They provide you with a USB cable, but not the adapter so you can use a traditional outlet for charging.  I'll have to buy a second one for a backup.  My old backup wore out, another made to be 'disposable' item. 

The A15 features a triple-lens camera and the latest Android operating system, Android14, which was released in October 2023.  Costing me $228, the Samsung Galaxy A15 5G falls into the budget phone category in price but provides good value for the money.  While the camera on this phone isn't quite as good as what I had with the A32 (which had a quad camera and more pixels), it's got better Bluetooth connectivity, better battery life (36 hours vs. 30 hours), faster charge time (full charge time 1:21 hr vs. 2:19hr), a newer operating system (Android 14 vs. Android 11), and faster performance in all the processing benchmarks. 

USB plug in adapter
No longer included with a T-Mobile Samsung phone purchase

While I did sacrifice a bit on the camera, considering the typical still-shot type of pictures I take, the difference is negligible.   The A15 outperforms the A32 in virtually every other category, so although going budget buy, it was still a phone upgrade.

Comparing the price for the A15 vs. other carriers:  Both AT&T and Verizon charge $199.99 for the phone, plus a $35 activation fee.  You can also get 'free' standard delivery and 'free' setup, but those so-called freebies come with nuances, like if you sign up for phone protection plans, an additional monthly expense, or it's a new phone line, another potential expense.   The A-15 is also available at retailers like Walmart ($195), or Best Buy ($199.99) the phone comes unlocked, leaving you free to go to any carrier of your choice.  You'll still have the activation fee to consider.  TIP:  If you are a long-term customer of any carrier, ask to have the activation fee waived.

So far I'm happy with my budget phone with mid-range performance.  It's been a super easy transition and hopefully, the charging port on this one is a little more durable.  A phone that is wireless charging capable would be nice, but it's a feature that drives up the price, and something I don't "need."

$pend Wisely My Friends...

~ Mike