Multi-stop shopping becoming the norm in these inflationary times

Shopping around for the best deals is a must-do strategy as you try to control your food bill in these inflationary times. I’ve offered several suggestions for how to do that, such as pre-planning every trip you make.

This was what awaited me during a Pandemic shopping trip in senior shopping hour at a local supermarket — packed aisles and long checkout lines. The lines are shorter these days.

Now the rest of the country seems to be catching up to me, according to data from IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm.

More than three in four consumers (78%) in April adjusted their grocery-shopping behaviors in an effort to save money amid rising inflation,” reports Winsight Grocery Business. “In comparison, 72% of consumers said they had made one or more changes to their shopping behaviors in March.”

“While the pandemic saw consumers trying to complete their grocery shopping in one trip, it seems the trend is now reversing, as 17% of consumers now visit multiple retailers to get the best deals, IRI found,” the Winsight article reports.

Only 17%? Until more of us do more comparison shopping and go to different places to get deals, prices will stay high. For more tips on finding low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar products during these high-price times, check out my smart shopping page.

A simple dish from days gone by — spaghetti with olive oil and garlic

I’m old enough to remember when Catholics couldn’t eat meat on Friday, a sign of sacrifice we no longer practice. As a child, there were many alternatives for me since I didn’t eat fish then. It was either pizza or an Italian dish called agilo e olio, basically spaghetti with garlic and olive oil.

Spaghetti Agilo e olio — spaghetti with garlic and olive oil

So it was a trip down memory lane for me to find this recipe for it on Cooking Professionally. Even if you don’t consider yourself a great cook, you can make this in minutes and impress your family and friends.

The recipe is simplicity itself.

Ingredients

• 1 pound spaghetti, uncooked 

• 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil 

• 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced 

• 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes 

• 1/4 cup chopped parsley 

• 1 cup parmesan, grated, optional

I use only whole wheat or multigrain pasta these days, too much regular pasta can cause blood sugar issues for you.

Cooking it all is a nine-step process:

Continue reading “A simple dish from days gone by — spaghetti with olive oil and garlic”

If you love salmon, you will love some of these side dishes

Salmon is a go-to main course for anyone trying to eat less unhealthy fat and more healthy fat. I regularly make it now instead of the steaks and burgers I once ate before my heart surgeries. This piece from Myrecipes.com gives you 30 potential salmon side dishes. Match those with the salmon recipes you’ll find on our recipe page.

In another sheet of aluminum foil, place your four pieces of salmon and separate with aluminum foil. Then rub in marinades for each.
Grilling salmon is a luscious experience.

Avoid the ones with cream (bad fat) and if a recipe calls for salt, leave it out or cut it drastically.

You’ll see several asparagus dishes in here, I normally grill asparagus outdoors in the summer to go with salmon.

I’m planning to try the first side discussed, lemon-feta green beans, but will use the fat-free feta I regularly buy at a local supermarket. I love the idea of searing lemons. And kudos to the recipe for not adding salt — the cheese is salty enough.

Baked Halibut with Wine and Herbs — tasty and low-salt (if you leave out the added salt)

I wrote recently about buying some halibut at a new Amazon fresh store. I don’t often cook halibut, so I went looking for a recipe and came across this one: Baked Halibut with Wine and Herbs on Foodnetwork.com.

Halibut on a carrot puree that I had in a restaurant long before Covid limited me to takeout options only.

Ingredients

4 sprigs thyme

8 sprigs parsley

2 bay leaves, preferably fresh

8 cloves garlic, smashed

2 (1 pound) halibut steaks, 1 1/4-inch thick, from tail end of fish

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper [leave out the salt]

3/4 cup dry vermouth [I used white wine instead, its what I had available]

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

12 cherry or pear, red and yellow tomatoes, for garnish

The recipe goes on:

Continue reading “Baked Halibut with Wine and Herbs — tasty and low-salt (if you leave out the added salt)”

Pandemic food casualty: Costco food-court salads are off the menu

I sat down at a Costco food court this week, something I haven’t done since before the pandemic when Costco foolishly eliminated chocolate frozen yogurt from its menu.

Looking at the new ordering touch screens, I realized another of my old Costco mainstay items is also gone now — food-court salads.

The wall says it all — no more salads at Costco, only junk food now.

This picture I took of the menu wall says it all — Costco has nothing even remotely low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar on its menu anymore.

For years, my regular Thursday meal there would be a salad, without the massively fat-filled dressing, and a chocolate frozen yogurt. Both are gone.

I dropped my more expensive Costco executive membership back when the chocolate yogurt disappeared. Now I’m really glad I did that then. I have no reason to eat at Costco food courts. For the stop I made recenty, I only bought a diet Pepsi for the road.

It will be interesting to see if Costco comes back with a simpler salad like McDonald’s did. Its salad joins its sheet cake, the ill-conceived asai it had replaced frozen yogurt with, and its holdout vanilla frozen yogurt as pandemic food casualties at Costco.

As the pandemic winds down, it’s becoming tougher than ever to find healthy, or at least not unhealthy, fast foods.

9 Amazing Broccoli Recipes? Let’s not get carried away, one of these sounds good

Somewhere, P.T. Barnum is smiling at this headline, 9 Amazing Broccoli Recipes Everyone Will Love. It is on a vegan website, but even there, amazing broccoli recipes? Really?

A low-salt broccoli beef recipe from the American Heart Association.
A low-salt broccoli beef recipe from the American Heart Association.

But the headline did its job, it got me to stop and read it. In fact, it’s gotten me to write about it a second time! I wrote this post back in June 2021, picking out the one recipe in nine I thought sounded good, roasted garlic lemon broccoli.

So kudos to the headline writer. As for the other eight recipes, check them for fat and salt content before trying them. And then there are some with nuts, which I never eat. If you’re nut-averse too, eliminate those as well.

McDonald’s other new 2022 salad –chicken Caesar — no hailing Caesar with this one

Brown lettuce in my McDonald’s Caesar Salad, shame on you McD’s.

I’ve been writing about the return of salads to McDonald’s menu in 2022. My first try was its new Southwest salad, a pale reminder of the Southwest salad it once had. Today, I review its other new salad, a Caesar salad.

The packaging is the same as for the Southwest salad and has a use by date on the top, showing these are made somewhere offsite from McDonald’s stores. So they’ve been sitting somewhere waiting to be served. The one I bought had been sitting long enough that lettuce in it was brown, not very appetizing.

Unseal it and you see a tray with ingredients that include chicken, bacon and two compartments of cheese. That has to mean a lot of salt, both in the bacon and the cheese. The bacon bites tasted like real bacon, not some substitute. There are also croutons, likely also high in salt.

Continue reading “McDonald’s other new 2022 salad –chicken Caesar — no hailing Caesar with this one”

Another Pandemic Food casualty: after-Easter candy sales

The day after Easter was always special in my house. That was the day my mother and I got up early to go to a local candy store, Fanny Farmer’s, to buy Easter candy at half-price or even greater reductions. I’ve kept that tradition alive into my 60s now. But sadly, the Pandemic seems to have killed it.

My post-Easter sale find, a giant bunny. I’m showing it here near a Godiva one so you get a sense of how big it was.

Fannie May (local to the Midwest and eventually bought by the same company that bought East-Coast Fanny Farmer’s) had an after-Easter sale in 2020 when the Pandemic was beginning, but didn’t do it last year or this.

Local supermarkets and national drug store chains also had sales in the past, but this year the pickings were extremely slim — mostly white chocolate oddball items. Even the dollar stores had only a smattering of what they once had — coffee-flavored Peeps anyone?

A lot of driving from store to store on the Tuesday after Easter netted me only this mega-bunny from a Walgreen’s — $6, which still seems high for an off-brand of chocolate.

It did take me back to happier times though. I ate it all week, finishing it the following Monday, a small smattering of goodness on my otherwise heart-conscious diet.

First look: McDonald’s 2022 salads – a shadow of what they used to be

McDonald’s has always had a love-hate relationship with salads, offering them primarily for mothers of small children who came demanding Happy Meals. But for me, salads were the only half-healthy item I could eat at McDonald’s, so I modified them to cut salt and carried on.

When the Pandemic hit, McDonald’s pulled salads completely from its U.S. menu. But as this spring arrives, a new McDonald’s salad offering is on store menus. Here’s a first look at the new Southwest Style Salad.

The new McDonald’s salad comes in a deeper plastic bowl than the old one and has a tray of ingredients on top that you add to the salad to build it. I left off the beans.

You can see from my pictures, packaging is radically different than the pre-pandemic Southwest salad. Ingredients are in a little tray that sits atop the lettuce.

Continue reading “First look: McDonald’s 2022 salads – a shadow of what they used to be”

Portion control issues? Here are six hacks to try

How many chips can you eat? Likely the whole bag if you keep it handy. So put some ina small bowl instead.

Portion control is a constant struggle for Americans, we’ve been so conditioned to overeat and always “clean our plates.” I wrote about pre-portioning your snacks as one approach to keep from binge eating treats. Now Cooking Light magazine has tried six other portion control hacks.

These include everything from the color of the plates you use to measuring your portion size with the palm of your hand. There’s also one that counsels to turn off all your screens. Eating while watching TV or being online is a sure way to overeat.

Keeping a food diary also is tried. I used LoseIt for years and it definitely helped, until the point where my daily diet became so repetitious it seemed silly to keep putting it in every day.

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