Why you have to read the nutrition label — a barbecue sauce comparison

I have repeatedly harped on the importance of reading food labels so you can stay on a low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar diet. And I’ve created an entire page of low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar products that I use regularly since my heart issues began in 2012.

With summer hear and all of us grilling outside again, reading labels becomes even more important for products you might not be using in winter, like barbecue sauce.

Take a look at these pictures of two brands — Localfolks low-salt, low-sugar barbecue sauce, and a store brand, Signature Select (an Albertson’s house brand). I use nothing by Localfolks now, but happened the get the Signature Select bottle free ina recent store give-away.

A serving of the Signature select, 37 grams, has 260 mgs of sodium and 12 grams of sugar, 14 grams of carbs if you count those as well.

The Localfolks measures one serving as an ounce, which is 28.34 grams, so about a third less. Still, it has only 30 mgs of sodium and 4 grams of sugar, five grams of carbs. Even adding a third to that gets you to only 40 mgs of sodium and about five and a third of sugar.

Salt and sugar hide in all processed foods, that’s wehy most Americans eat more than they should. Read those food labels, and happy grilling!

Another answer for rising food prices — check the dollar stores

Food prices have been going up during the pandemic and continued to do so even as Covid is becoming less of a threat to those of us who have been vaccinated. So how do you cope, especially on a limited budget?

Where do you buy your produce?

Dollar stores are one alternative, and a recent study says dollar store produce is no lower in quality than traditional grocery produce.

“Researchers from this study found no distinct differences between the supermarket and dollar store produce quality, although the dollar stores offered slightly less variety. The only major difference was in the price of the produce, as fruits and vegetables purchased from a dollar store were 84 percent less expensive, on average,” reports CookingLight.com

The study looked at dollar stores and traditional supermarkets in Las Vegas. The farther west you go, the more likely dollar stores are to sell fresh produce. Those in the Chicago area I frequent do not, but I have seen pineapples for $1 in California dollar stores, for example.

So where you live will likely influence how helpful this tip is for your shopping. Also, keep in mind the dollar stores that do carry produce generally do not have organic products, so if you prefer those you still need to pay up.

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.

Super foods? Maybe think again about these 25

I’ve never been a believer in so-called “super foods,” items that someone or other decides will do amazing things for our bodies. Every body is different which is what makes giving nutrition advice so complex.

So when I see articles like Don’t Spend Your Money on These 25 “Superfoods”, Say Nutritionists in Men’s Health UK, I’m not surprised.

Salt is salt, no matter where it comes from, I avoid it to help control my blood pressure.

The story says such offerings as banana bread, a pandemic favorite, cauliflower, raw spinach, Himalayan salt and turkey bacon aren’t all that some have said they are.

It’s a good reminder, no one food is going to turn your life around. Find what works for you and stick with that.

How about eating that freezer-burned food? Yes and no

With everyone stocking their freezers during the pandemic, it’s likely whatever ends up at the bottom or back of your freezer will develop freezer burn. You know, that look, a frosty layer and a bit of discoloration.

Is such food still edible? Mostly yes but sometimes no, according to a recent piece on CookingLight.,com.

What do you do with freezer-burned food like this?

” USDA officials say that any meat affected by freezer burn is safe to eat. While your steak may taste a little ‘off,’ you won’t actually be at any greater risk for foodborne illness,” the article states. 

But don’t let freezer burned meats defrost on a counter and check the packaging.

“You should never leave freezer-burned meat out on a counter for an extended period of time. Bacteria can grow rapidly, thanks to the melting ice that has formed on the exterior of the meat (rather than on the interior, which can preserve the meat for longer periods of time). Continue reading “How about eating that freezer-burned food? Yes and no”

Pandemic Food Storage Tips: Keeping grapes and mushrooms fresh longer

The Covid-19 pandemic sent grocery sales soaring early this year. Reports say that peak has leveled off in more recent months, but sales are still up significantly year-over-year in the supermarket business.

And because we’re buying more, I thought this would be a good time to review how to keep the items we buy fresher longer, especially when it comes to perishable produce.

Trout, with mushrooms as a garnish.

So here are two articles from Myrecipes.com that give tips on storing mushrooms and grapes. Continue reading “Pandemic Food Storage Tips: Keeping grapes and mushrooms fresh longer”

7 pandemic food shopping trends

The food business is keeping a close eye at how people’s food shopping habits are being changed by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

We wrote about an early study of shopping habits. Now, the New York Times has done some good, old-fashioned reporting, talking to a variety of industry sources and looking at a variety of surveys, to come up with its own seven trends of pandemic shopping. Its findings echo those of earlier research.

The Covid-19m pandemic has changed how we grocery shop.

People are taking fewer trips to the supermarket and planning their shopping lists more, the Times reports.

Trips are now very business-like with people wanting to get in and out as quickly as possible.

Stores are responding by cutting down on the variety of products they offer, figuring people are there now for their tried and true choices, not new and unproven products. Continue reading “7 pandemic food shopping trends”

Pandemic summer shopping tip: Carry a cooler or insulated bag when you food shop

The pandemic has changed how we grocery shop, cutting down drastically on the number of trips to the store we make each week. In colder times, you could leave food from one store in your car while you ducked into another to grab a few more items, but summertime is different (as is shopping in perpetually warm climates).

Cooking Light recently had a piece on the dangers of leaving groceries in your car, you can read it by clicking here. One of the tips it suggests is something I’ve been doing for years  – bringing a large cooler filled with ice or reusable ice packs.

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed how we grocery shop.

I started that practice years back when Costco was still selling fat-free chocolate frozen yogurt in its food court and I would stock up on yogurt swirl cups every week. Costco stupidly cut chocolate frozen yogurt two years ago, something I wrote about in a rage, and now has almost no carryout items at its food courts because of Covid-19. Continue reading “Pandemic summer shopping tip: Carry a cooler or insulated bag when you food shop”

More pandemic food casualties: Salt-free teriyaki sauce, low- and no-fat cheeeses

Healthier food options have definitely been casualties of the Covid-19 pandemic. With demand up because people are eating at home more, food processors have stepped up production of their most popular offerings — normally the least healthy ones — and dropped healthier ones. The same is true for mainstream supermarkets which are having trouble keeping their shelves stocked, still today.

Preparing salmon with Mrs. Dash no-salt marinades.
Preparing salmon with Mrs. Dash no-salt marinades.

The latest healthier product that’s become impossible to find in stores near me — Mrs. Dash sweet teriyaki sauce.

Mrs. Dash teriyaki is salt-free, a miracle when it comes to anything with an Asian flavor to it. I use it constantly on fish and in stir fry veggie, chicken and shrimp dishes I create.

In normal times, I could buy it locally at Food 4 Less, a Kroger store in my area.

But the pandemic has wiped it from the shelves here. Checking the store website, it’s not even listed for shipment. Continue reading “More pandemic food casualties: Salt-free teriyaki sauce, low- and no-fat cheeeses”

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