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Metro Vancouver specialty grocery database

If you have food allergies, you quickly realize that alternative food products are much more expensive, let alone harder to find. Here is a listing of some food products for those who are lactose intolerant, allergic to milk, and/or allergic to gluten. This list shows where to find these grocery items in Metro Vancouver and the regular prices at those stores. It is a work in progress. Know of a place to get any of these items cheaper? Let me know!

Last updated September 5, 2015

Amande Cultured Almond Milk Yogurt

Amande Cultured Almond Milk Yogurt

This is no longer a product :(

Silk True Almond Milk


Silk True Almond Milk

3.79 at Superstore
4.95 at Donald’s Market
4.59 at Choices Markets
4.99 at Whole Foods
4.99 at Save-On-Foods

Zen Chocolate Almond pudding

4 x 108g

Zen Chocolate Almond pudding

5.59 at Choices Markets

Nature’s Path Sunrise Crunchy Maple Cereal

300g box

4.99 at Whole Foods
5.29 at London Drugs

Enjoy Life Perky’s Crunchy Flax Cereal

283g box

3.99 at London Drugs

So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt

454g container

4.79 at Choices Markets
4.99 at Save-On-Foods

Gogo Quinoa Penne

227g box

4.69 at Choices Markets

Cascades tissue paper

(not related to food allergies, but listed here while we’re at it…)
2 ply, 130 sheets

Cascades tissue paper

1.49 at Donald’s Market
1.99 at Choices Markets

Los Tacos Cafe Vancouver review: tasty tacos and re-usable drink containers

Today I didn’t have much time for lunch, so I ran to Los Tacos Cafe at Cambie and Hastings Street in Vancouver. They have affordable and tasty tacos, as well as other Mexican food such as tortas and quesadillas.

I can also recommend their colourful drinks, which come in glass bottles. As I was paying for my drink (a refreshing hibiscus tea), the server said: “We like to re-use our bottles, so please try to bring it back when you are done.” So I stopped by on my way home from work to return the drink container. This was a welcome (and admittedly shocking) change from the one-use and recycle or throwaway norm!

Of course, we can’t just wait for the restaurants to implement all of the environmentally responsible initiatives. Patrons can also bring their own re-usable containers :)

Wind Mobile European roaming review: good value, but doesn’t include calls to the USA!

Wind Mobile has the cheapest European roaming plan of any Canadian carrier. You have to activate this plan and it costs $8 per month.

With the plan, you do not get any prepaid minutes, but you get a rate of 20 cents per minute for incoming calls, outgoing calls within Europe, and outgoing calls to Canada. This is compared to the regular rate between $1 and $3.50 per minute, so if you plan on making more than 10 minutes of calls while in Europe, it is worth using.

For texting, the rate is 15 cents per outgoing text instead of 50 cents. For data, this is $1/mb instead of $5/mb.

You can add this plan online to your account, but you have to call Wind customer service to cancel it. You can cancel it at any time, so if could be active for only 1 month if needed.

You keep your Canadian phone number, so if anybody in Europe needs to call you, it is long distance for them (although you can just have them ring a couple of times and then have you call them back).

If you have a SIM card older than June 2012, you have to go to the store to swap it for a new SIM card. Before you do this, make sure you move all of your contacts and other relevant data off your SIM card onto your phone so that you don’t lose them when the SIM is swapped!

One extra note: if you need to make calls to the US while in Europe, the roaming plan does not make such calls any cheaper. The rate is $3.50 per minute, so have them call you, or use a calling card or something like Skype To Go or VoIP if possible!

Screenr review: easy-to-use, end-to-end screencast creation and sharing

Screenr is a screencast creation and sharing website that I highly recommend.

At my job as web developer at Mugo Web, we use Screenr to record screencasts and share them. We use it to demo new features on client sites, record “how-to” documentation, and even facilitate communication within the team when team members are not in the same location. When Screenr is suitable for the task, it saves a lot of time versus writing up instructions and taking screenshots, and clients prefer the richer medium of video.

Screenr’s usage is not limited to the work environment; for example, it is also handy for recording instructions to family members on exactly where to click to perform tasks on their computer!

When I was first looking into creating videos of my computer screen, I assumed that you had to split the steps into: installing a program to create the recording (such as Wink or Camtasia, then uploading the video onto a streaming service such as YouTube or Vimeo (or uploading it to your own hosting account and setting up a video player).

Screenr does the recording, uploading, hosting, and streaming via a seamless process. To use Screenr, you only need to be running Java, therefore you don’t have to install a typical desktop program. It works on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Screenr's recording interface

Once you’ve launched the recorder from their website, you size the recording frame as desired, hit record, do whatever you need to do (with or without audio), then click “Done”. Then it will automatically encode and upload the video for you. The process is incredibly straightforward (so much so that their “just click record” slogan is very representative), and I have never had to waste any time fiddling with the controls or trying to figuring out why some element isn’t working.

You can then share the video by sending recipient(s) a link.

Screenr has a free account that allows you to record 5-minute videos and have them all publicly available. There are business accounts starting at $19 USD / month that have a 15-minute limit per video and allow you to make videos private, among other features.

Recorded videos on Screenr are quite high quality (check out the public stream for a wide assortment of example videos uploaded in the past few hours) and playable via Flash or HTML5. You can download any of your own videos in mp4 format.

Screenr doesn’t have any fancy features such as video editing, but it does the job that it’s designed to do incredibly well.

Savings account investment strategy: what are laddered term deposits / GICs?

I’ve seen the term “laddering” a lot on but many people don’t understand what it means. Many people, if asked whether they ladder their investments, will respond with “What is laddering?”. Here’s a short explanation of laddering in the context of term deposits aka GICs.

Laddering not a special type of account, nor something that is only available to some people, nor something you have to apply for. Rather, it is a simple strategy for increasing the interest rate earned on your savings using standard GICs.

Whether you are heavily invested in stocks or whether you are ultra-conservative and won’t put your money anywhere other than a savings account at a major bank, you’ve probably put money in a GIC or thought about it. There are a couple of common concerns regarding GICs:

  • What if you don’t want to lose access to your money for an extended period of time?
  • What if interest rates rise in the future and you miss out on a better rate?

Typically, the savings account offers the lowest rate, and the longer the term of the GIC, the higher the rate. If you’re looking at a 1.5% savings account and a 1.5% 1-year GIC, especially if you think interest rates have hit rock bottom, there is probably no point to investing in the GIC. With the 1-year GIC, you would be giving up liquidity (easy access to withdraw cash) for an arguably negligible benefit (being guaranteed 1.5% for a year and being better off were the savings account rate to drop during that time). And you might look at a 5-year GIC at 2.75% and decide that it’s not worth stashing away your money for so long. You struggle to try to “time” the market; in other words, how do you know when is the right moment to put all your money in a long term deposit? So your money ends up sitting in your savings account unto forever.

Laddering attempts to address those concerns and is best illustrated with an example. Suppose you have $5,000 in savings. You can split that into 5 x $1,000, and start by opening 5 separate GICs: a 1-year, a 2-year, a 3-year, a 4-year, and a 5-year. (Another common surprise for some is that every major financial institution offers: 1-year, 2-year, 3-year, 4-year, and 5-year GICs, and often shorter and/or longer terms as well.) This means that you can count on some money becoming available again every year. As each term matures, if you don’t need that money, you can invest it in another 5-year term. If you repeat this process (re-investing each $1,000 + interest amount in a new 5-year term when it matures), you will always be invested in the longest term at the highest rate.

In other words, with laddering you split your money into separate investment bundles, all with different terms and maturity dates, so that you can take advantage of higher rates without locking away all of your money. You can vary this approach in a multitude of ways, such as having 3 years as your longest term or making each bundle have unequal amounts. Also, this concept is not limited to GICs; it can be applied to other types of investments as well.