Inflation food shopping tip: plan your shopping list based on weekly sales

With food prices likely to rise all year, it’s more important than ever that you go to food stores with a shopping list and a plan. Impulse buys will cost you dearly these days. It’s time to be a smart shopper.

I look at weekly food stores ads each Wednesday when they come out, to see what’s on sale. I then create heart-healthy recipes based on those sales. My goal — save 25% or more off supermarket normal prices by shopping only sales. I want to see something taken off each item I carry out of the store. And usually, I do.

Continue reading “Inflation food shopping tip: plan your shopping list based on weekly sales”

Inflation food shopping tip: bananas are a relative deal

It’s no secret food prices have been soaring the past two years, I’ve warned about that continuing here. So look for more tips on how to cut your food shopping spending on this blog. Today’s tip comes from Eatingwell.com.

Photo by Couleur on Pexels.com

Bananas, it notes, are a relative bargain in the fruit world. “The average price of 1 pound of bananas was $0.62 in the U.S. in 2021. This could give you a week’s worth of fruit to eat as a snack or as a side to a meal for less than $1. Compared to $1.45 for a pound of navel oranges or $4.44 for a pint of fresh blueberries, bananas are an incredibly budget-friendly fruit,” the article states.

In my suburban Chicago market area, bananas ranged from 59 cents a pound at a local Whole Foods to 69 cents at a Jewel (although different Jewel’s here charge only 59 cents, so shopping around pays, even within the same supermarket chain).

Costco has been a low-cost banana seller in the past but the last I check it was not, check your local Costco or Sam’s Club to see how it compares in your area.

“One medium banana contains 105 calories, 1 gram of protein, 27 grams of carbs (including 14 grams of naturally occurring sugar), 3 grams of fiber and 422 milligrams of potassium (about 16% of our daily needs). Bananas contain resistant starch, which can help improve gut health, help with blood sugar control and even promote healthy weight management. This flavorful fruit can also help lower your risk of heart disease, decrease blood pressure, improve mood, reduce risk of anxiety and more,” the article notes.

I eat one to two bananas a day to replace the potassium I lose because of one of the heart medications I take. My other alternative would be taking another pill, a potassium pill. The fewer pills I have to take, the better I like it. Plus I love the taste of a good banana.

Jif products recalled in 12 states, check your pantries & food cabinets

The J.M. Smucker company is recalling several of its Jif products, including crunchy and creamy peanut butter, natural peanut butter, no-sugar-added peanut butter, and squeeze packs of peanut butter.

“The recalled products will have lot codes between 1274425 and 2140425. The first seven digits of any potentially affected product will end with 425, denoting that the peanut butter was manufactured in Lexington, Kentucky,” reports Foodandwine.com.

Here’s where to find the lot numbers on your Jif peanut butter jar label.

You can find the lot codes on the label near the Best if Used By dates.

States impacted are Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, Ohio, North Carolina, New York, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.

The possible presence of Salmonella prompted the recall. At least 14 people have reported health issues because of the products and two had been hospitalized when FoodandWine.com published the news.

For more information, read the Food and Drug Administration release on the recall.

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.

Expect food prices to rise an average 4% this year, USDA forecasts

Expect rising prices at the supermarket this year.

Food prices rose throughout the pandemic and this year will be no different, with average food prices up 4%, predicts the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Looking at specific food categories, the USDA sees dairy products rising 5%, poultry items 7%, cereals and baked goods 4% and restaurant prices 6.5%.

Keep in mind that assumes we don’t change our shopping habits because of rising prices, something we all should be doing.

Check my posts on trying dollar stores and planning every shopping trip to get the lowest prices, among my other suggestions.

Expect Amazon to sell more and more groceries

I may not have enjoyed my shopping experience at a new Amazon Fresh store, but what I think isn’t keeping Amazon from targeting the grocery business for major expansion, according to several recent reports.

Expect to see Amazon Fresh stores opening near you.

Amazon to shut its bookstores and other shops as its grocery chain expands, reports Reuters (an old boss of mine from my reporting days).

How Amazon Plans to Transform Grocery in 2022 from Progressive Grocer goes into detail on Amazon’s plans for this year. It’s focusing on using technology to speed customers through, and out of, stores. Apparently, it thinks that will appeal enough to customers that they won’t try to price comparison shop against other supermarkets, as I did in my recent post.

“Retail analytics firm Placer.ai recently examined the performance of Amazon’s first Amazon Fresh grocery stores in California and Illinois, and found that those stores are gaining market share against traditional grocery operators,” Progressive Grocer reports. Expect that to continue — and expect grocery prices to rise, not fall, as Amazon captures more unsuspecting shoppers.

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.

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”

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”

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