Monday, March 1, 2010

The Grocery Chronicles

Finally got the grocery store over the weekend after putting it off a week past when I SHOULD have gone. Let's just say the kids got a few orders of chicken and fries last week.

On the whole, though, I've been doing a good job overall with the food budget this year. Meal planning has gotten firmed up, thanks to the cool magnetic notepad my sister in law gave me for Christmas that has a little chart to list the week's meals. I actually have been writing down my ideas, and then making purchases appropriately. It makes for a lot less waste, but it has also cramped my improvisational style a bit. If you don't buy things like canned tomatoes "just in case" because they're not on the menu, you can't just throw together a sauce. It should be said that you also do not end up with five giant cans of tomatoes because you can't remember if you have any at home or not.

I've been having a few issues with my beloved Kroger lately -- or maybe my head just hasn't been in the game. All those "rush to stock up before the big snow comes" trips made for some haphazard purchasing.

Anyway, here were some of the thoughts I pondered while I had the time to actually THINK in the grocery store on Saturday. (I left the kids at home with J.)

Will my Parmesan and Garlic Cheezits EVER return to the shelves? The Parmesan/Cheddar duo is not really doing it for me. When what I want is stinky parmesan and its accompanying bad breath, I do not need the Cheddar squares to disrupt the flavor intensity. I should mention that I was able to secure a small case of the real deal via Amazon. I ordered some Pull-Ups for N., too. And I remain convinced that it wasn't the strangest order some dude packaged up all day in Amazonworld.

What is the story on frozen waffles these days? There's been a sign posted about Eggo production issues for six months or so now, and I read a headline about it somewhere or another. I admit I didn't quite care enough to do the required reading to get the full story, but it seems odd that something would take this long to sort itself out. And it means that everyone buys my cheap-o store brand waffles, so the inventory is always low. I'd like to buy these by the case via Amazon, but I don't think they're doing frozen foods yet.

Great little discovery: steel cut oats in the natural foods aisle. In a bag, at least half the cost of the Quaker or McCann brand in the cereal aisle. If I lived closer to a Trader Joe's, I'd be buying mine there, but I don't, so this was a nice little discovery. Loving my slow cooker oatmeal with craisins lately. Except for the time that I forgot to take them out of the crock pot and refrigerate them right away and they grew mold REALLY quickly.

Speaking of mold, onions and I are not getting along these days. I buy a whole bag every time I buy them, because I use them almost everyday, but lately I can't finish a bag without throwing out two or three that have gotten ridiculously moldy on me. I thought at first that it was because I had switched to organic (Trust me, do NOT do any reading on the levels of pesticides in things that grow underground). Not that the fact that they were organic made them more spoil prone, but that they had been sitting there longer because not as many people buy them. But I switched back to regular and had the same problem. So either Kroger is selling me bad stuff, or I need to find a better place to store my onions than my laundry room floor. The gross avocadoes I picked up on Saturday are making me suspect the former.

Whatever happened to the Brach's Pick a Mix section? I know some big grocery stores have the bulk bins of candy, but didn't just about every store used to have the root beer barrels and the caramel cubes, and the sour balls right there in the candy aisle next to the Hershey bars? Mine doesn't. I do not need this to return, just curious.

What is up with California Pizza Kitchen? Used to be hard to find them, and all they had were a couple of flavors in a size that was supposed to be for a couple of people but functioned as personal size for me. Now, there are tons of them in all different crust thicknesses and sizes, but are basically boring. Their barbecue chicken is yucky, and if you're going to spend $6.50, you want a little more than Margherita. Where is my Thai Chicken??

And finally: Kroger, I do not care how long you continue the $1.88 special on the Healthy Choice Entrees, I will never fall for that dirty trick again. The graphics and photography on the boxes are lovely, but Healthy Choice, your food tastes awful. Lean Cuisine, I will never stray again.

What questions have plagued you in the pasta aisle lately?


mep said...

Oh I delighted in every paragraph of this post. I need to ponder on these thoughts and comment again later.

Initial thought though: Healthy Choice is terrible. Terrible.

Anonymous said...

Pasta query: Where, oh, where has my whole wheat elbow macaroni gone??

And I, too, have pondered the Eggo shortage but not quite enough to read up on it. All I know is, our store's waffle freezer is empty as well. Boo.

(Thanks for stopping by today!)

mep said...

I just tried to order you some Parmesan Garlic Cheez-its as a surprise and now Amazon is out too. I promise to check my grocery store.

We've been struggling with the mini pancake situation.

Steel cut oats, oh yes.

Pick a Mix? Yes, think it's gone at my store too.

Thai Chicken? Yes. Where is it? I do like the BBQ chicken though.

Onion storage plagues me as well.

My question: Where is the fat free cool whip? I'm cool with Lite, but is fat free gone for good.

CaraBee said...

I am glad to hear I am not the only one with a canned tomato fixation. I buy one almost every time I go to the store whether it is on my list or not, for the very reason you mentioned. But at least one every month or so, I go to make something with one and I am out.

I had no idea there was an Eggo issue. Clearly I need to pay closer attention to wherever it is you find out stuff like this, because we have bought several boxes of the frozen goodies in recent months. Bad mommy.

LAP said...

I've never once made a successful avacado purchase from Kroger.

I roll with the store brand waffles but have been noting a shortage. I will say the Kroger french toast is a nice change from time to time too, though it is the mini pancakes that make an appearance daily around here.

The Brachs has been gone from my store for years. I used to enter the store with a quarter in my pocket ready to pounce on a jelly nouget, a caramel, and blue wrapper brach's thing (vanilla) from the 3/0.25 sample box.

CPK's confuse seems that there are different sizes based on the toppings. My big thing is that if I can conveniently go through the Little Caesars drive thru for a hot and ready $5 pizza, why would I pay more than that for a not as tasty store bought one?

On the Laura's Lean meat, why is there never an expiration date? There may be a slash through the letter W, but does that mean it was packaged Wed, it should be sold by Wed, or it expires on Wed?

In the pasta aisle, I get so confused...what is the healthiest kind to buy? Does it have to be the wheat kind because that tastes like crap. I prefer the Smart Taste, but I;ve never studied its specs. Also, why do they keep moving my frozen tortellini?

Can you ban people from using coupons or writing a check in the self checkout?

What happened to the free cookies for the kids?

When I tell you I don't need the three cent per reusable bag credit, then don't get mad at me when I you insist and I estimate 6 bags and I only really brought 5. Do you really think I am scamming you out of three cents?

All said, I do love my Kroger. Every time I go to Meijer I am reminded of that.