Where food stores are headed — no help and lots of help

Food retailers, from supermarkets to tiny convenience stores, are changing as consumer tastes change and as the pandemic brings about changes in food shopping behavior and at-home eating. Where will it all end?

This piece I read recently looks at two extremes evolving in today’s food retail space — stores with virtually no customer-facing employees and markets that look more like restaurants with lots of employees interacting, and selling, to customers.

No surprise that the store with few employees is from Amazon which is always trying to sell everything faster. Eliminating things like store checkout lines can do that in a supermarket. So Amazon has begun opening stores called Amazon Fresh where people check themselves out as they shop.

At the other end of the spectrum is Dom’s Kitchen in Chicago, started by former executives for the Mariano’s chain (and the defunct Dominick’s chain before that) and embodying a lot of concepts first tried by East Coast-favorite Wegman’s years ago. Dom’s is full of counters where you can buy cooked food to take home and eat. It has some packaged grocery items too, but they definitely play second fiddle to the take-out food.

Continue reading “Where food stores are headed — no help and lots of help”

Pandemic food price gouging – demand advertised sale prices

The continuing increase in food prices throughout the pandemic has been well documented, in posts I’ve written and elsewhere. And I’ve given tips on how to cope, such as shopping dollar stores that stock produce and buying essential items in bulk.

Today, I ran into one of the most egregious examples of pandemic food price-gouging I’ve seen. My local Jewel, an Albertson’s chain in Illinois, had advertised filet mignon for $5.99 for a six-ounce steak.

Filet is normally the leanest cut of steak and so fits in my efforts to minimize my fat intake. Because it is an expensive cut, I’m always watching for deals and so jumped at the chance to buy some 6-ounce fillets for $5.99 each.

When I arrived at the meat counter of the Jewel in Wilmette, Il., a neighboring suburb, however, the signs posted said the filets were $6,99 each, not the advertised $5.99. Asking the meat counter attendant got me no answer, he had to follow what the sign said, he told me.

So I went to the store service counter. The person there had no answer for the disparity and so called the head of the meat department. She replied that store had decided to charge $6.99, not the advertised $5.99. But since I had complained, she would sell me some for $5.99

Continue reading “Pandemic food price gouging – demand advertised sale prices”

Pandemic stock-up: essentials I’m buying online these days

I’ve been writing a great deal about how the Covid Pandemic has impacted people’s food shopping habits and product availability. You can click here to see a roundup of my posts. With low-salt products disappearing from mainstream supermarket shelves these days, I’ve been forced to do more shopping online.

Shipping charges generally make online shopping more expensive, so I’ve responded by buying non-perishable items in bulk. Here’s a look at items I have now — a six-bottle case of Mrs. Dash salt-free teriyaki sauce and Mrs’ Dash sloppy Joe, taco and fajita seasoning packets.

I have stocked up on some items I found locally, like Localfolks low-salt, low-sugar ketchup and barbecue sauces. One Whole Foods in my area carries Localfolks, I’m hoping it doesn’t stop any time soon.

You can also see a giant box of low-salt crackers from Costco.

I wrote some tips for bulk storage back in December, you can review those by clicking here.

The No Salt, No Fat, No Sugar Journal celebrates a milestone — 800 posts!

What you’re reading now is the 801st post in the history of the No Salt, No Fat, No Sugar Journal. When we started in late 2012, we never imagined we’d still be going all these years later.

Our initial goal was to help people who, because of heart disease or other ailments, had to radically change their diets to cut salt, fat and sugar. Those three things are in almost everything Americans routinely eat, so eliminating them is a herculean task.

But we have persisted and you have responded, making our No Salt, No Fat, No Sugar Recipe Page the most popular thing on our site. Do a search for such recipes and we will be at the top of your search page just under the paid placements.

Happy 800 posts to us!!!!

When the Pandemic hit, we pivoted to posting recipes that would work for families stuck at home together. We also starting labeling posts with topics such as Pandemic Shopping, to let you know about which no-salt, no-fat, no-sugar items were disappearing from local stores shelves and how to find them in alternate outlets.

We’re on track for a record year for views, thank you, and keep coming back! And tell your friends.

Eating less salt, fat and sugar can benefit anyone, not just those with health conditions already. Hopefully eating healthier can help you not get some of the health conditions that originally prompted the launch of this blog.

Stay safe, stay masked, get vaccinated and stay no-salt, no-fat, no-sugar.

Stocking your Pandemic pantry — four must-have food products

No-salt, no-fat, no-sugar products have become much harder to find at local food stores during the Pandemic, forcing people like us who want such products to shop online. Online shopping offers more variety, but with shipping it can get very expensive.

So my rule is to buy in bulk to spread the shipping costs over more products. Here’s what I’ve been buying lately:

Essential items in mo no-=salt, no-fat, no-sugar pantry.

Mrs. Dash salt-free teriyaki marinade, by the case via Amazon

Localfolks salt-free ketchup and barbecue sauce — these I can get at one Whole Foods in a nieghboring subrub, so when I buy, I stock up to cut down on individual driving trips there.

Mrs. Dash salt-free taco and salt-free fajita spice mixtures — these are available on Amaxon and the Healthy Heart Market.

Low-salt, low-fat multigrain cracks — I buy them in the large box you see in this picture at Costco.

Pandemic shopping: food prices continue higher, expect more of the same

We reported last year on predictions that food prices would be rising this year and data so far bear out that prediction.

U.S. food prices in April rose 0.4% as overall consumer prices were up 0.8% month-to-month.

“Food prices increased 0.4%, lifted by rises in the cost of fruits and vegetables, dairy products, meats, fish and eggs. Households also paid more to dine out. But gasoline prices fell 1.4% after accelerating 9.1% in March,” reported Reuters.

And before you start thinking about some conspiracy theory against your least favorite politicians for all this, maybe pick up a basic economics book first.

Demand for everything skyrocketed last year as people were forced to stay home and actually cook, or at least defrost and microwave, their own meals rather than going out. Higher demand ran into smaller supplies thanks to difficulties transporting and processing food during the pandemic. When demand rises while supplies remain stable or decrease, prices are bound to rise as well.

The answer in this environment is to be a bargain shopper. If you already look for deals start looking harder.

When you see expensive proteins on sale, stock up and freeze items for future use. Buy bulk packages and repackage into usable portions for yourself. And if your local supermarket has any kind of special contests or deals going on, take advantage of them

Glance as the receipt I have pictured here, you can see I save a sizable amount (46%) when I use all the deals I can find in any given week.

Pandemic Shopping: Food Prices Will Continue Climbing in 2021

It’s no secret that food prices shot up as the pandemic took hold last year. The bad news is you can expect those prices to continue to rise this year. Grocery store prices will climb 1-2%, predicts the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Restaurant/take-out food prices will increase 2-3 percent after climbing 3.9% last year, the USDA says.

The actual impact of the pandemic on your food bills has likely been much more severe than a percent or two. Pandemic shopping has meant shortages of items and an inability to shop for deals from store to store.

Shopping at Trader Joe's
The line I encountered waiting to get into a Chicago-area Trader Joe’s. These were all seniors waiting for the 8 a.m. opening of the store for senior shopping.

How many stores have you gone to in the average pandemic week? Pre-pandemic, I would normally go to three or four different stores, searching for the best deals on low-fat, low-salt and low-sugar products. During the pandemic, I’ve limited myself to one store a week, sometimes two.

The first change I plan in my life now that I’ve had both my vaccine shots is a return to more normal food shopping to combat rising prices.

Pandemic Snacking: Crispy Broccoli at Trader Joe’s

Any list about healthy snacks always gets my attention because normally those words — healthy and snack — are a conflict in terms. Anything you want to snack, i.e. binge, on generally is not healthy because it contains high amounts of salt, fat or sugar, or perhaps all three.

That’s why a recent list of so-called healthy snacks at Trader Joe’s caught my attention with one list, crispy broccoli florets. I eat a lot of broccoli, but had never thought of it as a snack, or as crispy for that matter. So I bought a bag and gave them a try.

The result was mixed. Salt-wise, they’re ok with only 15 mg a bag. Fat content seems high at 20 grams, about half what I’m supposed to have every day on my heart-healthy diet. And there’s 5 grams of transfat, again about half what I can have.

Taste-wise, they taste like broccoli, but having that cold and crisped up somehow just didn’t seem right. The taste of them actually became less palatable the more I had. So I guess that would preclude binging on them.

So my search for healthy snacks goes on, sans broccoli.

Smart Sugar Swaps? Not for me

I’m approaching the end of one month without any sugary snacks, cakes, candy — in short I’m eating nothing that I enjoy. This was a challenge from my wife as she realized we’d been going a bit overboard with such treats during our Covid quarantine.

I’m now four days from the end of the challenge. I’ve lost six pounds and am constantly hungry. So I was intrigued by this headline, 5 Smart Swaps to Make the Next Time You’re Craving Sugar.

Counting the hours until I can have one of these again.

Sadly, the swaps left me disappointed, and still craving sugar. Here they are (or you can click on this link to read the full story).

  • Sugar sweetened beverages: Instead of soda or sports drinks, make unsweetened fruit teas (hot or iced), sip sparkling water, or add fresh fruit or herbs to still or bubbly H20 for flavor.
  • Desserts and sweet snacks: Make fruit dessert, whether that’s combining dates with cocoa powder to make a truffle; dipping fresh berries in dark chocolate; making DIY ice cream with frozen bananas; grilling up fresh peaches or plums in summer; or enjoying cooked apples with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
  • Sweetened coffee and tea: Add flavor by stirring in vanilla, cinnamon, coconut collagen, or cocoa powder.
  • Candy and sugary toppings (like syrup or jam): Use mashed fruit for syrup, DIY your own chia jam, or rely on unsweetened dried fruit like mango to satisfy your need for sweet.
  • Cereals and breakfast bars: Whip up a batch of overnight oats, make your own no-sugar granola, or prep grab-and-go options like protein pancakes so you always have something on hand.

That’s the best they have? I think I’ll wait for my sugar binge day February 1.

2021 Food Trends — breakfast is in, so are cookies

The Food Network is predicting that 2021 will be a year of big breakfasts, cookies and easier ways to find “healthy” foods, although what healthy emans depends on who is using the term, as ever.

The pandemic disrupted the usual breakfast routine for 80% of Americans. Less commuting to work and school meant more time for the most important meal of the day and food manufacturers are adapting. Look out for more convenient breakfast foods that are packed with functional ingredients like protein and fiber, such as Jimmy Dean Casserole Bites and Flourish Pancake Mix. Also expect familiar brands to up their breakfast game with tempting offers like Cinnabon’s CinnaBiscuit Chicken Sandwich,” Food Network reports in a piece entitled The Biggest Food Trends We’ll Be Talking About in 2021.

You can read all the predictions by clicking on this link.

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