My Amazon Fresh shopping trip — out-of-stock sale items, odd pricing policies

Amazon Fresh recently sent me a digital deal — $15 off a $35 spend at the Amazon Fresh store that opened in a neighboring suburb. I’d already written about my first impressions of the store but the digital deal provided me a reason to actually set up a shopping trip.

It came the same week Amazon did a print ad insert in our local paper for the store, so I had some idea what was on sale. Always prepare ahead for your shopping trip to maximize your spending power.

The sale chicken I wanted at Amazon Fresh was out-of-stock, as were several other sale items I went to buy. Very disappointing, it reeks of a bait-and-switch approach to selling.

The items in the ad didn’t seem like bargains, the only ones that caught my eye was chicken breasts under $2 a pound. and cooked rotisserie chicken for $4.97. My wife also wanted to check out the fresh fish. So off we went.

We scanned our Amazon app to enter. I’m still not sure why since we did not try doing the checkout-as-you-put-items-in-your-basket option, going to the checkout line instead.

The first thing that disappointed me was that bananas were out-of-stock. At 15 cents each, I wasn’t sure the pricing was any great deal. I get bananas for 59 cents a pound at a local supermarket. But a staple like banas should never be out of stock.

When we reached the meat section, it appeared at first that the sale chicken breasts also were out of stock. My wife found one package in the very back of the shelf, so we bought that.

But odd pricing was in evidence here as well. The package price label on the shelf had a set package price and it was difficult to find the actual weight of the chicken to determine the per pound charge.

And note that other, more expensive chicken packages were well-stocked. If you don’t have sale items displayed but have higher priced ones instead, that reeks of the old bait-and-switch trick — draw people in to buy a sale item and then sell them more expensive substitutes.

Continue reading “My Amazon Fresh shopping trip — out-of-stock sale items, odd pricing policies”

If you must buy pre-made tomato sauce, go low-salt

As an Italian-American, I consider it my duty to make my own tomato sauce (we call it gravy) for the various macaroni dishes I create. But if you’re one of those people who buys pre-made sauce, please, please read the nutrition label before you buy. Most sauces are loaded with salt.

Trader Joe's organic low-salt marinara sauce was a bit peppery for my taste but will do in a pinch.
Trader Joe’s organic low-salt marinara sauce is no longer being sold, a pandemic food casuality.

A recent taste test on Myrecipes.com reminded me how much salt is crammed into the jarred sauce. The winner of this taste test was Mezzetta’s Napa Valley Homemade Spicy Marinara, Looking up nutrition info for it, I found half a cup has 520 mgs of sodium. That compares to 140 mgs for the taste test low-sodium favorite, Engine 2, plant-strong, classic tomato basil pasta sauce.

My favorite low-sodium marinara sauce had been Trader’s Joe’s salt-free version but it was among many low-salt products that have disappeared from store shelves during the pandemic.

I plan to look for this Engine No. 2 variety (the site I found its nutrition info on says it’s sold at Whole Foods) to give it my own taste test.

A great guide to grilling times for almost everything

I use these disposable grilling sheets to keep my main grill clean, but this onion trick sounds like a great alternative.

It’s snowing in Chicago today but my mind is already thinking about spring when I can start using my backyard grill for making heart-healthy meals again. I find myself constantly looking up grilling times for various proteins, so I was excited to see this from CookingLight.com, Here’s Exactly How Long to Grill (Almost) Anything.

It has grilling times for chicken, always tricky, beef, pork, fish, shellfish, even vegetables. I’d take a look and print it out since CookingLight.com limits how many articles you can look at each month for free. This is one you’ll likely want to see again and again.

How to beat rising food costs — plan, plan, plan

Our frozen food inventory this year, The gravy is my home-made tomato sauce for pasta.

The beginning of every year is special in our house because it’s when we clean out our refrigerator’s freezer and the small freezer we have in our basement. What does that have to do with beating rising food costs? Read on and find out and see how you can save on your food bills with a little advanced planning.

The first rule of smart shopping for me has always been to shop sales and stock up on sale items whenever possible. That’s why our freezers are full. When I see salmon go to $6.99 or lower at a local supermarket, for example, I buy several large fillets, cut them into individual portions and freeze them for future meals. The same with another staple of my heart-healthy diet, extra-lean ground beef.

Continue reading “How to beat rising food costs — plan, plan, plan”

10 best foods for heart health — a guest post

February is national heart month, a time to think about our heart health. If you read my About info, you’ll see I’m a two-time survivor of near-fatal heart incidents. I now head a local chapter of Mended Hearts, a support group for those with heart issues. So I was intrigued when I received this piece and decided to run it as a guest post. If you have any symptoms of heart problems, do not hesitate to see a doctor ASAP. Doing that saved my life, twice!

A whole food, plant-based diet low in sodium and free of fats has been conclusively shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. But which foods are the stars and stewards of healthy hearts?

The list below gives our “Top 10” heart healthy foods. Each item has valuable medical attributes that make them integral ingredients to include in any diet that promotes and maintains heart health.

Continue reading “10 best foods for heart health — a guest post”

More people grocery shopped online last year and, no surprise, Walmart led the pack

Walmart came out on top in the online grocery derby with 35% of respondents to a January 2022 survey saying Walmart was where they shopped most for online food items. Amazon was second with 23% followed by Instacart with 10%, according to the survey of more than 1,000 households done by consumer packaged goods/grocery digital commerce platform Chicory.

I still prefer in-person shopping, even when people are doing hoarding shopping as they were here early in the pandemic.

Online grocery shopping continued to grow last year, likely spurred in part by the continuing Covid pandemic but primarily by convenience.

“As of January, 72% of shoppers surveyed by Chicory said they purchased groceries online in the past 90 days. That percentage reflects increased e-grocery use since before the pandemic, as just over 70% of consumers bought groceries online in the previous 60 days as of January 2021 and more than 50% did so as of January 2020,” reported Supermarket News in discussing the survey.

“Forty-six percent of those surveyed named convenience/time constraints as the main reason for ordering groceries online. Consumers also cited product availability/accessibility (19%), price (14%), health/safety concerns (10%), and preference for a digital versus in-store experience (nearly 10%),” reported Supermarket News.

Continue reading “More people grocery shopped online last year and, no surprise, Walmart led the pack”

Finding new meal ideas can be as close as your local supermarket

Remember when supermarkets put out cards with recipes on them? These used to be pretty common at fish counters especially. Well, that function has moved online — you may find it helpful when doing your own weekly meal planning.

I recently got an email from the Jewel supermarket chain (which is owned by Albertson’s) about a meal planning option in its app. My first reaction was that it would feature high-salt, high-fat, high-sugar processed ingredients. But I was pleasantly surprised.

The app let’s you begin by putting in your dietary restrictions. It doesn’t;t include low-salt as one, unfortunately, I put in carb-conscious instead. Other restrictions I included were dairy-free, no nuts, no soy sauce, no eggs and no sulfites.

Continue reading “Finding new meal ideas can be as close as your local supermarket”

Best diets for 2022? Back to basics

A larger dinner veggie plate, very Mediterranean.

Every year starts with a flurry of stories about diets and people making resolutions to lose weight. We’ve all gained Covid weight haven’t we, sitting around these past two years with no particular place to go?

I just wrote a post about the Mediterranean Diet, which constantly seems to rank at the top. So I wasn’t surprised to see this FoodNetwork.com piece rating it among the three top diets for 2022.

The D.A.S.H. Diet, a close cousin of the Mediterranean, is on here too. The third one is the Flexitarian Diet. This involves a “mix of mostly vegetarian foods, with the freedom to eat meat whenever you feel like it,” FoodNetwork.com reports. That sounds a lot like the first two to me. See what you think, just click here to see the complete article.

Looking for a New Year’s Diet — try this 7-day Mediterranean plan

While I’m not a big believer in the idea that what we eat can impact our health to any major degree (I think heredity plays a much larger role), I do follow guidelines for cutting salt, fat and sugar in my diet because of my past heart health issues. figuring I should use all the weapons available to keep my heart ticking. And when it comes to such efforts, the Mediterranean Diet has repeatedly been recognized as healthiest.

Roasted salmon caprese, one of the seven recipes included in this 7-day plan.

Wondering how to follow it? Here’s a seven-day recipe plan from EatingWell.com that puts you well on your way to be a Mediterranean Diet aficionado.

There are a few meals in this plan I wouldn’t eat, such as the one involving white beans. And, as with any recipe, check the nutrition information before you make any of these.

Watch for levels of salt, fat and sugar. Remember, almost no one eats what is defined as one portion in such recipes, so do the math for how much you think you’d eat to get true salt, fat and sugar content.

Salmon is always tasty, I wouldn’t worry about losing weight with it

Salmon is still on the healthy fat list, so you can eat it as much as you like, unlike those fatty beef steaks you once ate. I’ve written before you can never have enough salmon recipes and often get mine from EatingWell.com.

Your salmon feast awaits.
I love making salmon in a variety of ways.

But this latest piece from EatingWell, 17 Salmon Dinners That Can Help You Lose Weight, made me chuckle. If you cut the salt, fat and sugar from your diet, i.e. stop eating everything you like to binge eat, you’ll lose weight naturally, so there’s no need for special diets.

Plus, the intro of this piece talks about sauces and creamy pastas — how much salt, fat and sugar are in those?

Still, all that said, take a look, you might find some fun recipes. And you can likely modify those that have too much salt, fat or sugar, by taking offending ingredients out. You have to click through to the actual recipe and then its nutrition information to get the information you need.

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