September 11, 2012

Mommy is a Reformed Shopper - Well, Sort Of...

We are just coming off of a heat wave here in San Diego.  I've noticed that during that time our house has become increasingly popular amongst our friends and neighbors.  That's probably my fault for having made our house the "fun house" in the 'hood.  We've had a lot of preschoolers jumping in our Jump n Slide bouncer,  practicing their swimming skills in the pool and eating about 36,000 ice pops along the way.

A little over a year ago I bought a fancy pants ice pop maker called the Zoku.  You can pour in whatever juice you like and it makes ice pops in only 7 minutes. It's high tech for an ice pop maker and comes with a matching price tag.  In fact, I have never actually revealed the purchase price ($50) of it to my husband.  I guess this will be the true test of whether he actually reads what I write or not :)

#SFTasteTest, First Street Ice cream, Zoku,  Fast Ice Pops

Last summer I experimented with all different types of juice, added fruit and made layered ice pops.  This summer since I have been challenging myself in the mommy creativity department I decided that I would make some vanilla ice cream filled ice pops in a cranberry juice shell, which is the popsicle making equivalent of skiing a black diamond trail.

My mother-in-law recently reminded me of Smart & Final when I was helping her shop for a massive party she was throwing and I made a mental note to visit mine more frequently.  For me Smart & Final is one of those stores that is a little under the radar. I don’t always remember to go to there, but they have great stuff and in some ways it reminds me of a small Costco but without the hassle of dealing with the ever-present Costco crowds and the option of buying products that aren’t only sold in mass quantities.

#SFTasteTest, Smart & Final, First Street

So, I headed to Smart & Final to pick up my ice pop making ingredients.  I grabbed cranberry juice and some blueberries to up the amount of fruit I'd be feeding the kids.  Then I headed to the Ice Cream section where I saw this:
#SFTasteTest, First Street Ice Cream, Dreyer's Ice Cream

Head scratch...what to do? I'm sure the extreme couponers out there would be saying "are you crazy?  why are you even thinking about this" but not me.  Generally speaking, I buy the name brand by default.  That is unless there is a massive price difference which in this case there was.

So, this time I grabbed both the Dreyer's Vanilla Bean ice cream and the First Street Premium Vanilla Bean ice cream and decided to use this as a test to see if I should really just get over my labels and learn to default to the store brand more often.  It felt pretty risk free because Smart & Final actually has a money back guarantee on their First Street products.  If you don't like them, they'll take them back, period.  You can see my whole shopping trip right here: Shopping for Ice Pop Ingredients at Smart & Final


#SFTasteTest, First Street vs Dreyer's Ice Cream

In my mind the packaging is fancier and more appealing on the Dreyer's but otherwise nutritionally they are nearly the same and once you take away the carton appearance wise they are practically identical.  Can you tell the difference between these two below?  The only thing I saw was slightly more vanilla bean speckles in the one on the left.

#SFTasteTest Vanilla Ice Cream Comparison First Street and Dreyer's, Smart & Final

So I had my crazy little family check it out and give it a taste test.  My husband prides himself on being an ice cream connoisseur and apparently a Knicks fan.  Kayla took on the role of pouty child while waiting for her turn (shocking!) and guess what?

#SFTasteTest Vanilla Ice Cream Comparison First Street and Dreyer's, Smart & Final

Neither of them could tell the difference or declare that one had something over the other.  Kayla's opinion probably doesn't count for much because she just wanted to be handed multiple spoons of ice cream with my blessing.   But, Mr. IceCreamExpert, who you would have thought was tasting fancy wine based on his concentration level even guessed incorrectly which one was which.  The extra speckly one was the First Street ice cream.  It looks like the First Street ice cream had more vanilla beans in it and was about 30% cheaper...a pretty good value!

So, it just goes to show that while I'm not giving up my designer jeans anytime soon, perhaps I should really reconsider my "designer" food and grocery purchases...I'd probably be able to afford more designer jeans too :)

Smart & Final, first street ice cream, #SFTasteTest, zoku ice pops, ice cream comparison

And my ice pops turned out okay after all!  The first batch wasn't the greatest - I didn't make the walls on the sides of the ice pops thick enough.  In order to do that, you have to keep turning the Zoku on its side which I messed up the first time around.  Kayla didn't seem to mind eating my botched version though.

I tried it again and they came out much better!  I've made a bunch since then and the kids (and parents) love them.  Here's my second time around batch, still not perfect, but a pretty good improvement on the first ones!

Smart & Final, first street ice cream, #SFTasteTest, zoku ice pops, ice cream comparison

Did you like what you saw at Smart & Final? Then check out the #SFTasteTest Pinterest party! There are great prizes and you can see a bunch of other great values. Feeling curious? You can read more about me, other bloggers and First Street products here: Smart & Final Community



Just so you know, this shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #CBias but as always my and Mr. IceCreamExpert's input are our own personal and obviously quite fussy opinions.

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