Here’s a handy heart-healthy cookbook for pandemic cooking

If, like most of us, you’re doing more homecooking during the Coronavirus pandemic, you’re liekly running out of new recipes at this point to give some variety to your daily meals.

The American Heart Associaiotn has a free cookbook available, Cooking in Color, that could help with that dilemma.

Among the recipes in the book, which you can grab as a PDF by clicking here, are:

Fruit Kebabs
Tomato and Ricotta Toast
Teriyaki Salmon with Cauliflower Rice
Couscous-Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Caps
Grilled Cuban Mojo Pork Tenderloin with Plantains
Orange-Glazed Turkey with Potatoes and Carrots

Of course, you’re still on your own trying to find the ingredients you need amidst increasing sparse food stroe shelves but hopefully this book will give you some ideas to vary your menu.

Gaining weight in the pandemic? Here’s some tips to stop

I’ve been reading a lot about people gaining weight as they sit at home and are forced to cook during this Coronavirus pandemic. I actually lost four pounds when I was sick for three weeks in March as it was all beginning. Sadly though, after-Easter candy sales mean I’ve put that weight back on.My Garden Bar salad

So I was interested when an email came my way promising The 6 Best Foods To Stimulate Weight Loss. You might find the article useful if you somehow have never heard of the Mediterrean or similar diets.

The six foods all would fit into such a plan. They are:

  1. Lean meats
  2. Fruits and vegetables
  3. Avocados
  4. Eggs
  5. Leafy Greens
  6. Citrus

I don’t like the taste of avocados plus they upset my stomach, so I never eat them. I also only eat egg whites these days even though the popular thinking about eggs and cholosterol has changed over the years.

The others all are part of my everyday diet. Unfortunately these days, so are cream-filled Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies, so I’m afraid these six won;’ help with the impact of those.

 

 

5 problems with online grocery shopping during your quarantine

Sheltering in place for many Americans has meant trying online grocery shopping and delivery for the first time. Food retailers are clearly overwhelmed by the demand for such services. It’s a bit ironic since they’ve been touting curbside pickup and online ordering for some time, perhaps a case for them of be careful what you wish for.

After several weeks of hit-and-miss service, I’ve put together this list for you of 5 problems you should expect when using online grocery shopping and delivery/pickup.

  1. You’ll pay a lot more. Shopping in stores means you can search out the week’s specials, discounts, etc. to cut your grocery bill. Forget that online. There are specials but by the time your order arrives they’ll likely be unavailable even if you ordered them. Which leads to problem two…
  2. You won’t receive everything you ordered. Retailers are so backed up with orders that they can’t keep items in stock apparently. A recent order I placed at Walmart.com came with half of what I ordered missing (see the photo here of my post-order screen below). That leads to the next issue…

    All these items I ordered from Walmart were unavailable by the time my order was delivered.
    All these items I ordered from Walmart were unavailable by the time my order was delivered.
  3. Delivery fees are high, especially considering you won’t get everything you ordered. Retailers generally have minimum delivery amounts you have to buy, $20 or $30. Walmart charges a $9.95 delivery fee for every order. I recently ordered about $25 of groceries but when it was delivered I received only $10 worth of food that was still available,. That means I paid double for every item when the $9.95 fee is included. I complained about this but never heard back.
  4. Beware substitutions that will drive your bill higher. I’ve used both Walmart.com and Jewel, my local mainline supermarket. But it took me two orders from each to realize I needed to click on a small button on the ordering screens not to allow substitutions for what I ordered. I didn’t see that button on my first Jewel order so instead of getting chicken breasts that were supposed to be on sale for around $3 a pound, I was sent chicken that cost $7.50 a pound because the special I ordered was out of stock. That was a significant price increase I wasn’t expecting and wouldn’t have agreed to. On my first Walmart order, I ordered diet Pepsi only to get diet Coke, again at a higher price.
  5. Speedy delivery doesn’t exist. Need some quick items for tonight’s dinner? Forget it. If you;re lucky you can book delivery a week out from the date you order. To do that, you need to be online when the food store you shop adds a new day to its delivery schedule. Some do that at midnight, others at 6 or 8 a.m., depending on how their shopping software is programmed.

All-in-all I’d say online delivery has been a painful, unsatisfying experience. So much so that my wife decided to venture out to a store today to look for all the items which aren’t available for online delivery, such as low-salt, low-fat products and lean meats and various produce which seems almost impossible to get online.

 

 

Pandemic shopping tip — frozen food cooking tips

You’re likely spend less, or no time, at supermarkets and other food stores during this pandemic. I tried shopping a few times but became too depressed by the dour atmosphere and empty shelves and so have turned to home delivery, for example. That has it’s own challenges which I’ve written about here.

However you’re getting food, you need to think and cook differently now, a nutritionist says in this interview from wpxi.com.

She recommends frozen veggies and other items, being mindful of how much you;re eating, and several recipes she likes. Just click here to see the full interview.

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Grocery delivery in a pandemic — Forget deals or disinfectants

I wrote yesterday about how difficult it’s been to get groceries delivered during the Covid-19 pandemic. Getting a time slot is next to impossible on all the major food store apps like Tagret, Walmart and major supermarket chains.

If you do finally get a time slot, it will likely be a week away from when you order. And the second thing to know is you’ll spend a lot more than you normally would. I’m usually a deal shopper — each week I’ll go to three or four stores to get the best prices on everything I need.

This was what awaited me at a recent senior shopping hour at a local supermarket — packed aisles and endless checkout lines.

That’s impossible now. Some apps do list “Deals” but you’ll find when you click on those, the items are often gone, listed as out of stock.

And forget finding any type of disinfectant for your hands or dishes. Those are universally sold out. Search for disinfectant wipes or anti-bacterial soap and the only things that pop up are toilet bowl cleaners.

Apparently Americans are hording toilet paper but not cleaning their toilets, which is a scary picture.

All the food apps also have minimum spend amounts for delivery, or some for free delivery (some charge even when you get the minimum dollar amount of products). That means you can’t use online shopping to grab one or two things you may have run out of or have a taste for.

So approach online shopping like you would shopping during time of war — expect scarcity, expect to spend up to twice what you normally would, take what you can get to prepare decent meals, and be prepared to wait days or weeks to get your groceries.

Grocery Delivery in a pandemic — for me, it’s close to impossible

I was someone who loved grocery shopping.

Indeed, for part of my career I wrote about the food retailing business and would regularly visit supermarkets to see what they had to offer, how they displayed new items, what their fresh food sections were like and how many prepared items they were offering.

But all my joy of grocery shopping is gone now, crushed by current shopping conditions brought on by this pandemic sweeping the globe.

This was what awaited me at a recent senior shopping hour at a local supermarket — packed aisles and endless checkout lines.

I’ve tried shopping during so-called “senior” hours that food stores have instituted for people like me who are over 65. But I found those horrible beyond description — aisles packed with masked, frightened people walking slowly and unsure of what to do next as they confronted one empty shelf after another.

So now I’m trying to have groceries delivered and I’m finding stores are totally overwhelmed for such orders.

The major chain in the Chicago area, Jewel, routinely has no delivery slots available for the next week — the length of time you;re allowed to book on its shopping app.

I was finally able to get a slot for this coming Saturday by going on line at midnight last Friday when a new day was added and quickly booking a time window.

To do that, I had to have my cart of items ready to checkout.

Walmart, which was promoting its pickup service during this year’s Super Bowl, has a grocery app that only allows you to book pickup times for the current and next day — and all slots for those are always full. I have yet to find the magic time of day when I can schedule a pickup of food at any of their local stores near me.

The Target app for food was no better. Amazon Fresh seems no better.

If you do somehow secure a time slot, your troubles aren’t over. More on that in my next post.

What to buy when you go pandemic grocery shopping

If you are being brave enough to venture out to supermarkets and other food stores, it’s important to use that time wisely and efficiently to minimize your possible exposure to others.

So take a look at this story on basics you should be sure to buy, if you don’t have them already. Oils can be essential to cooking, for example.Grab fresh veggies and fruits when you can, I’ve been finding many in short supply in my Chicago suburban area.

For more tips, just click on this link to read Forget baked beans: How to prepare a healthy ‘pandemic pantry’ in an age of coronavirus.

Some other recent articles on the topic (just click the title to reach the sites):

A Guide to Cooking and Eating During a Pandemic

Grocery rules for your coronavirus lockdown: Buy beans, freeze milk, don’t hoard, and more

Coronavirus: Nutritionist explains what frozen foods you should stock up on during pandemic

 

Ordering groceries online? Here are common mistakes to avoid

Grocery shopping during this pandemic is a sad, sad experience — aisles filled with people wearing masks, not speaking to each other, except to yell at anyone who gets too close.

And the new “senior citizen shopping hours” are even worse. I’ve tried shopping during them twice but will not do it again. Stores are jammed with people having difficulty getting around and truly fearful of getting ill.

So the alternative is ordering food online for delivery or pick-up. That’s easier said than done in some areas where delivery slots book up weeks in advance now. But if you’re lucky enough to be able to order online, I’d suggest you click this link to read 6 Rookie Mistakes to Avoid the First Time You Order Groceries Online.

The number one mistake — ordering too little. If you can capture a precious delivery time, utilize it to the fullest. Stock up on no-perishables and grab any cleaning supplies you can find since store shelves are still largely empty of dish soap, antibacterial hand soap and antibacterial wipes.

Good luck, stay safe.

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