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.

Happier times — let’s talk about eating in Hawaii

Early this year my wife and I took a long-talked-about dream vacation to Hawaii, spending a week in Honolulu and another week on the island of Kauai. It seems a million years ago now with a pandemic sweeping the globe.

But I hope that reading about wonderful places to eat in Hawaii will brighten some people’s days and turn their thoughts to happier times.

I’ve already written that there’s a lot of junk food in Hawaii, especially in the heavy tourist areas like Honolulu. But there also are some wonderful restaurants featuring fresh seafood.

My Hula Grill dinner.

One we enjoyed was the Hula Grill Waikiki. It’s in a hotel, but much better than the average hotel restaurant. It offers a wide range of seafood option, including nightly specials, and fish you don’t see on the mainland like opah and monchong.

And both mahi mahi and ahi are on the menu, fresher there than you’ll taste on the mainland as well. Pictured here is my dinner, which as I recall was a nightly special, I think of ahi.

Help your local restaurants with a meal Tuesday 3/24

A lot of people have been posting on social media about helping their local restaurants by ordering take-out  and delivery meals. Some of the delivery services are even offering lower or no fees for a few weeks to encourage it.

Now, a large group of national restaurants wants to take the idea across the country with what they’re calling The Great American Takeout on Tuesday, March 24. And yes, of course, there’s a hashtag  #thegreatamericantakeout

Many. many people are out of work right now and likely can’t afford such luxuries, but if you can afford it, ordering from your favorite restaurant with a takeout meal Tuesday is a great way to show support.

I’ve been doing it locally in Evanston where I live with meals from Dave’s New Kitchen and The Celtic Knot, two of my favorite local establishments. Continue reading “Help your local restaurants with a meal Tuesday 3/24”

Healthy eating in Hawaii??? You have to work hard to search it out

My wife recently put together a winter vacation for us that had been a dream of mine for about 40 years — going to Hawaii. I’d been there, alone, in the early 1980s and loved it, vowing at the time to go back someday with someone I would want to share it with.

That’s exactly what I did with my wife in January. But there’s been a major change for me since 1981, my heart issues. And that complicated our eating while there for almost two weeks.

Fast food in Hawaii is inevitably salty and fatty. SPAM on rice anyone? It’s a popular sushi option there as is breaded fish of all kinds, tacos or all kinds and poke, which is highly salted fish. So we had to work hard to find healthy alternatives.

I had expected more fresh fish and fruit, which I remembered from my last visit. We had to search that out, most often in more expensive restaurants. We found some great meals, but had to pay $100 a couple and up for them (and we don’t drink alcohol very much so that was usually without drinks).

I’ll be blogging about our meals the next few days, come read about them. Here’s a tease, a beet salad and sashimi plate I had at Duke’s at the Marriott resort on Kauai.

Always, always read those food labels; here’s why

I wrote recently about finding some private label reduced-sodium canned olives at a local store. I used that term because that’s what was on the can.

It didn’t occur to me at the time that the Kroger reduced-sodium olives I bought would still have more salt than a Lindsay low-sodium olive I usually purchase at another store. But when I got home, I compared the labels and found there was indeed a major difference in sodium content.

Here’s the side-by-side comparison:

The Lindsay olives on the left have 40 mgs of salt in five olives while the Kroger olives on the right have 70 mgs.. And for some reason, the lower-salt olives have more calories! Always read food labels, you never know what you’ll find.

 

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