Another Pandemic Shortage: Propane for backyard barbecues tough to find

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about all sorts of food and home supply shortages — try buying disinfectant hand wipes if you don’t believe that. I stumbled across the latest shortage just before July 4th — propane tanks for backyard barbecues are non-existent at most of the usual places.

I went to five places one day, mostly Walgreens that carry the propane brand I usually buy with rebates it offers, and none had any. I then started calling places instead of driving, and was told much the same thing, whether it was a local home center or my neighborhood CVS — tanks are scare and stores never really know when a delivery is coming or how much they’ll receive. Continue reading “Another Pandemic Shortage: Propane for backyard barbecues tough to find”

Covid-19 Pandemic changing how we food shop, and eat, new research confirms

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused major changes in the way Americans shop for their food, and in how they feel about grocery shopping, reports marketing firm Influence Central in new research it recently published.

Among the findings:

• 72% of consumers are going to the grocery store less frequently than they did before the pandemic.
• Consumers now overwhelmingly prefer shopping online with home delivery, followed by drive-by or curbside pickup, as opposed to actually going into a store to shop.
• 56% of consumers say they feel anxious about forgetting to pick up or not being able to find specific foods when shopping in-store.

My local Food 4 Less supermarket ona recent trip. I couldn’t wait to get out because of pandemic fears.

I’ll be doing several posts on this research. It quantifies and reinforces a lot of the anecdotal shopping experiences I’ve already been writing about, plus provides more details about what people are buying.

More than half of families’ eating habits have changed as they’ve been staying at home with 70% snacking and eating more frequently than they did pre-pandemic. And it’s not clear if they’re eating healthier or simply throwing down more junk food.

  • 43% eat more fruit and
  • 42% eat more vegetables,
  • 30% are eating more protein in the form of meat, poultry or fish.
  • 47% are turning to more sweets,
  • 24% have decreased their vegetable intake,
  • 21% east less fruit and 19% are eating less protein.

Continue reading “Covid-19 Pandemic changing how we food shop, and eat, new research confirms”

Pandemic cooking: try these Hawaiian chicken skewers

A dream trip to Hawaii in January was the last vacation we took before the pandemic swept across the U.S. I love Hawaii and miss it daily, so I’m always looking for ways to connect, especially now when I can’t leave my house. So this Mini Hawaiian Chicken Skewers recipe called to me when I saw it.

Luckily, I had a can of pineapple slices in my pantry to it and I’d stocked up on chicken breasts. I substituted lemon for lime juice because that’s what I had available. The same for ground ginger in my spice cabinet instead of the fresh ginger mentioned here. And I used fulls-ze skewers.

My Hawaiian chicken skewers.

Even with those changes, it came out very tasty, the grilled pineapple adding a nice bit of juiciness to chicken that could have veered toward dryness otherwise. I always recommend clicking through to the original recipe, where you can see a preparation video as well. But if you’d rather just see the recipe here (as some readers have told me they would):

Ingredients:

1/2 cup teriyaki sauce (the thick variety) [use sugar-free version]

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

3 cloves garlic, minced

Juice of 1/2 lime

Kosher salt [I left this out, it’s not needed and I’m on a low-salt diet]

4 green onions, sliced

1 1/2 pounds chicken breast, cut into bite-size chunks

2 red bell peppers, cut into chunks the size of the chicken and pineapple

One 20-ounce can pineapple chunks, drained

Freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil, for the grill pan

 

Directions

  1. Add the teriyaki sauce to a bowl and stir in the ginger, brown sugar, crushed red pepper, garlic, lime juice, a pinch of salt and half of the green onions; set aside.
  2. Using wooden skewers that have been soaked in water for at least an hour, assemble your skewers. Start with a piece of chicken, then add a piece of bell pepper and a piece pineapple, then repeat until you 2 pieces of each on the skewer. Continue with the remaining ingredients for a total of 30 skewers. Season the skewers with salt and pepper and brush them with the marinade on one side.
  3. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat and brush with olive oil. Arrange the skewers on the grill sauce-side down (in batches if necessary) and grill for 3 minutes. While the skewers are cooking, brush the tops with the remaining marinade. After 3 minutes, flip and cook the other side for an additional 3 minutes. Remove to a serving platter and garnish with the remaining green onions.

All the chopping takes time, this isn’t a quick recipe to make, but it was worth the effort. I’d also recommend making more marinade than the recipe calls for. I had less chicken than specified and still ran out as I was coating the second side after turning the skewers on my grill.

5 problems with online grocery shopping during your quarantine

Sheltering in place for many Americans has meant trying online grocery shopping and delivery for the first time. Food retailers are clearly overwhelmed by the demand for such services. It’s a bit ironic since they’ve been touting curbside pickup and online ordering for some time, perhaps a case for them of be careful what you wish for.

After several weeks of hit-and-miss service, I’ve put together this list for you of 5 problems you should expect when using online grocery shopping and delivery/pickup.

  1. You’ll pay a lot more. Shopping in stores means you can search out the week’s specials, discounts, etc. to cut your grocery bill. Forget that online. There are specials but by the time your order arrives they’ll likely be unavailable even if you ordered them. Which leads to problem two…
  2. You won’t receive everything you ordered. Retailers are so backed up with orders that they can’t keep items in stock apparently. A recent order I placed at Walmart.com came with half of what I ordered missing (see the photo here of my post-order screen below). That leads to the next issue…

    All these items I ordered from Walmart were unavailable by the time my order was delivered.
    All these items I ordered from Walmart were unavailable by the time my order was delivered.
  3. Delivery fees are high, especially considering you won’t get everything you ordered. Retailers generally have minimum delivery amounts you have to buy, $20 or $30. Walmart charges a $9.95 delivery fee for every order. I recently ordered about $25 of groceries but when it was delivered I received only $10 worth of food that was still available,. That means I paid double for every item when the $9.95 fee is included. I complained about this but never heard back.
  4. Beware substitutions that will drive your bill higher. I’ve used both Walmart.com and Jewel, my local mainline supermarket. But it took me two orders from each to realize I needed to click on a small button on the ordering screens not to allow substitutions for what I ordered. I didn’t see that button on my first Jewel order so instead of getting chicken breasts that were supposed to be on sale for around $3 a pound, I was sent chicken that cost $7.50 a pound because the special I ordered was out of stock. That was a significant price increase I wasn’t expecting and wouldn’t have agreed to. On my first Walmart order, I ordered diet Pepsi only to get diet Coke, again at a higher price.
  5. Speedy delivery doesn’t exist. Need some quick items for tonight’s dinner? Forget it. If you;re lucky you can book delivery a week out from the date you order. To do that, you need to be online when the food store you shop adds a new day to its delivery schedule. Some do that at midnight, others at 6 or 8 a.m., depending on how their shopping software is programmed.

All-in-all I’d say online delivery has been a painful, unsatisfying experience. So much so that my wife decided to venture out to a store today to look for all the items which aren’t available for online delivery, such as low-salt, low-fat products and lean meats and various produce which seems almost impossible to get online.

 

 

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