No Salt, No Fat No Sugar Journal breaks annual views record — and there’s still one month to go in 2022!

This blog, the No Salt, No Fat, No Sugar Journal, has attracted more than 80,970 views as of November 29, surpassing the 80,127 views it had in all of 2021. With December still to come, the blog will likely top 85,000 views for the year, predicted site creator John N. Frank.

“we’ve attracted more than 52,000 visitors this year, another record,” says Frank. “This blog started out of the necessity of learning how to eat after heart surgery but it has turned into much more than that.”

Frank, a retired business journalist, started the blog in late 2013 and had only 4,389 views that first year.

Pause to give thanks, remember those less fortunate

I read a very sad Thanksgiving story recently, namely that one in four people are planning to skip Thanksgiving because of rising food costs. At this time of year it’s easy to forget those less fortunate than we are.

This report from  MoneyTransfers.com changed that for me. Findings included:

  • 45% of all respondents this year felt Thanksgiving was causing them financial stress.
  • 54% of Gen Z and 51% of Millennials feel the strain more so than their older counterparts

Asked how they plan to save money this Thanksgiving, respondents said:

  • 37% Cook more from scratch
  • 36% Have fewer side dishes
  • 35% Have fewer dessert options
  • 27% Cut out alcoholic beverages

I’ve posted about how to save money food shopping during these inflationary times. Think about donating some of your savings to a reputable organization that will help people who need help.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

2022 low-salt turkey update for Thanksgiving

Low-salt turkeys seem a bit more widely available in 2022 than they were in 2021. That means you might actually spend less per pound on a turkey this year than last, like I did, despite inflated food prices.

Whole Foods has low-salt turkeys, the same farm that I bought from last year, for $3.99 a pound. A little steep I thought, especially considering that mainline supermarkets often offer high-salt turkeys for 69 cents a pound as a loss leader to get you to buy other things.

So I checked a local Jewel supermarket and found a low-salt turkey for $2.19 a pound. At just over 15 pounds, that meant a considerable savings compared to what I would have spent at Whole Foods.

I look for turkeys with only 60-70 mgs of salt per four-ounce serving (I normally eat a lot more than four ounces). Turkeys at Jewel and elsewhere can have more than 200 mgs of salt per serving because they’re injected with a salt solution that self-bastes the turkey, making it unhealthy in the process.

Continue reading “2022 low-salt turkey update for Thanksgiving”

Trader Joe’s is dead to me; its low-salt products are gone

Trader Joe's high fiber cereal is my go-to breakfast choice every day, high in fiber, low in sugar and sodium.
Trader Joe’s high fiber cereal is gone, a very, very sad loss for people trying to eat healthy.

I’ve been eating Trader Joe’s High Fiber Cereal for breakfast for longer than I can remember, definitely longer than the 10 years since my first stent was put in. It was lower in sugar and salt than competitors and tastier too.

But I say was because it’s disappeared from Trader Joe shelves for the second time this year and I fear this time its gone for good. I visited three Trader Joe’s in Cook and Lake Counties, Illinois, recently and the cereal is nowhere to be found.

I also discovered that Trader Joe’s has dropped it’s no-salt-added salsa.

The two losses join a string of Trader Joe product disappearances. Here’s what I once bought regularly at Trader Joe’s:

Salt-free whole wheat bread

No-salt-added marinara sauce

No-salt added shrimp sauce

High fiber cereal

No-salt-added salsa

Trader Joe’s has decided to make it easier for Americans to continue eating more salt than is healthy for them.

I have no reason to shop there any longer so #traderjoesisdeadtome.

It’s very sad to see a food store abrogating its responsibility to offer at least some healthy offerings.

Our grocery shopping habits are a’changing

A recent Chicago Tribune story about the planned Albertson’s takeover by rival Kroger included a chart (see below) that was a dramatic reminder of how our grocery shopping habits have changed over the years.

The chart shows that while traditional supermarket Jewel still maintains the top spot in the Chicago area in terms of number of households that shop there, discounter ALDI has the second largest share of the area’s grocery shopping market, followed by Walmart and then Mariano’s, a Kroger brand.

A few decades ago, the Chicago market belonged to Jewel and traditional rival Dominick’s, two supermarket chains that were Chicago born but eventually were bought by national chains (Dominick’s no longer exists, local say Safeway drove it into the ground before shutting it down).

You can see why traditional chains like Kroger want to get bigger. They mistakenly think being bigger will protect them from all the rivals — Walmart, Target, Costco and let’s not forget Amazon which didn’t make this chart — trying to grab more marketshare. Sadly, getting bigger hasn’t worked in traditional retailing, so why would it work in food retailing?

The Pandemic drove many people to try online grocery shopping. Some are abandoning that. Indeed a new survey shows online grocery sales were down 3%, year-over-year, in October. The survey is from brickmeetclicks.com.

But that’s still $7.8 billion nationally being spent online. Expect that to increase as all the stores on the Chicago list try to hold onto or gain marketshare as well.

Aldi, Walmart promise Thanksgiving food price breaks

Aldi and Walmart have captured media attention recently by saying they’re rolling back prices on their Thanksgiving offerings to 2019 or 2020 price levels. The moves come in response to what seems like a public obsession with inflation these days. (That obsession is overblown in my opinion, you can adapt by how and where you shop to still find food deals as I’ve written about here).

Checking their sites for more details, I found that Walmart is very specific in terms of what prices will be held down.

“We’re removing inflation on an entire basket containing traditional Thanksgiving items. We made significant investments on top of our everyday low prices so customers can get a traditional Thanksgiving meal at last year’s price at Walmart*,” according to a press release on the Walmart site.

Having covered Walmart as a food business journalist, I can tell you its senior execs are very serious about always offering the lowest prices. Their buyers get continually pushed to find lower prices. So this move doesn’t surprise me, it fits with the DNA of the brand.

Aldi is less specific about what prices are being rolled back. When you click on its Thanksgiving Price Rewind graphic (on the Aldi website), it simply takes you to an online shopping page. Aldi is claiming to roll back prices to 2019 levels, significant since we did express price increases in 2020 and 2021.

I’m going to be checking both locations to see if either is offering low-sodium turkeys, fat-free gravy, or healthier butter substitutes for prices lower than the local supermarket chains. I’ll let you know what I find.

Burn Pit BBQ spices offer good flavor, kick in the hot offerings

Back in July, I received some spice samples from a Wisconsin company, Burn Pit BBQ. I’ve since had the opportunity to use them, and to get reviews of the spiciest ones from my formerly food-blogging daughter who loves hot sauces. We agreed all our experiences with the samples were positive. We can recommend these to spice lovers.

A sampling of Burn Pit BBQ offerings we tried.

I particularly enjoyed the garlic seasoning, called Ground Pounder, on my steaks. My daughter tried the hot sauce and found it flavorful with a hint of cajun seasoning. We both tried the Fire in the Hole mixture and found it hot but not overwhelming, a plus for someone like me who avoids the hottest of the hot.

Keep in mind these are not salt-free mixtures, but can be considered low-salt (the garlic mixture, for example, has 110 mgs of sodium in half a teaspoon; Fire in the Hole has 95 mgs). Nutrition information for each offering is viewable on the company website.

Continue reading “Burn Pit BBQ spices offer good flavor, kick in the hot offerings”

Trader Joe’s High Fiber Cereal is Back on Store Shelves!

After weeks away, Trade Joe’s High Fiber Cereal is back on store shelves in my Chicago north suburban store. I stocked up on eight boxes Sept. 1 after trying a variety of alternatives during the weeks the TJ’s cereal was not available.

Trader Joe’s High Fiber Cereal is back on store shelves, thankfully.

The shopping trip reminded me of a lot of reasons I prefer the Trader Joe’s to other high fiber cereals. Not the least of those factors is the price, $2.99 a box. For alternatives, I paid $6.99 for Fiber One, $4.99 for All Bran on sale and $4.99 for Buds on sale (each was $1.80 off their regular prices).

Given that I eat a box a week for breakfast, the savings over a year are substantial — $208 compared with Fiber One, $156 with All Bran or Buds (assuming I get those for the sale price all year).

I’m thankful that TJ’s high fiber cereal has not joined all the other low-salt, low-sugar products Trader Joe’s has cut in recent years, such as salt-free shrimp sauce, salt-free whole-wheat bread and no-salt-added marinara sauce.

Keeping your food budget down in inflationary times — here’s a great example

I’ve written about how important it is in these inflationary times to plan your weekly grocery shopping trip or trips based on weekly sales. So I loved coming across this rather long piece on BuzzFeed: I Feed My Family Of Five For $120 A Week — Here’s What A Week Of Groceries & Meals Looks Like For Us.

Pre-planning your shopping can save you significant dollars, as seen on this receipt of mine.

The author is a mother of three form Colorado. She mentions that her weekly budget has gone from $100 to $120, a 20% increase. And she reiterates my point, writing, “I start by looking at my local grocery store’s weekly sales so I know what items will get me the most bang for my buck. This first step has become more important than ever to my planning and budgeting lately.”

There’s a lot more to read, take a look and let me know what you thought of it in the comments here.

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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”

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