The Ideal vs. The Reality, Grocery Edition, part 2.
I had intended to make this a post of 10+ Grocery Items I Love, all gluten-free (or, at least, made without gluten ingredients — for additional thoughts about that, please see Part 1). However, I got talky, so we’ll start with two:
- In a recent grocery trip, I spied some organic hot dogs from Applegate Farms, the uncured, no-nitrite kind. I couldn’t believe the price tag: Normally $5 or more, they were on sale for $3.50 a package. Additionally, I had a coupon, $1 off of two. On principle, I won’t spend more than $2 for a pack of hot dogs. But, these were organic. And all beef! It worked out to $3/pack, which isn’t bad. I salved my grocery-budget-conscience by telling myself I could grill them for a dinner, something I don’t normally do with hot dogs.After I got home, I discovered that they rang up at $7 each. SEVEN DOLLARS!! And I had purchased TWO of them!! Even with my coupon, I spent $13 on two stinkin’ packs of hot dogs.
I called the grocery store the next day, and they told me that I could bring them back for a refund, and that I was the second person who had called that day to complain. She said I had purchased the wrong variety, that the all-beef ones weren’t on sale. Well. If I was the second person duped by the sign being in the wrong place, or vague as to what varieties were included in the sale, might not they reconsider their signage??? Hm??
Let’s see… 30 miles for a round trip, at 14 mpg, at $2.75/gallon for gas, I could spend $5.50+ to get my refund. No thanks. We ate our solid gold hot dogs, and they didn’t taste that great, though it might have been due to the fact that they were slathered with several layers of regret.
ENTER OSCAR MAYER INTO THE HOT DOG FRAY. A while back, OM debuted some all-natural hot dogs, which were wonderful. Normal price was around $4.50 a pack, but when they went on sale, and when I had a coupon, I could pick them up at my $2 threshold, or less. Then, they disappeared from existence. Now, they have — sort of — reappeared, as “Premium” hot dogs, in a number of varieties, including “normal“, beef, and Angus, all with NO NITRATES, but… with sodium phosphates. I think sodium phosphate helps with water retention. It’s not as insidious as nitrates, but still a compromise. ~sigh~
Here are the ingredients for the beef ones: BEEF, WATER, CULTURED CORN SUGAR, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF SALT, CORN SYRUP, CULTURED CELERY JUICE, VINEGAR, SODIUM PHOSPHATES, CHERRY POWDER, LEMON JUICE SOLIDS, FLAVOR, EXTRACTIVES OF PAPRIKA.
See? Not organic. But, no nitrates, no artificial colors or flavors… As far as I can tell, the “Classic” ones have nitrates, and the “Premium” ones do not. You win some, you lose some, right?? And as far as readily-available, reasonably-priced TASTY hot dogs, Oscar Mayer Premiums score, big-time.
(Just as a note of annoyance, the Oscar Mayer website, and that of its parent company, Kraft Foods, is ridiculously difficult to navigate. It’s really hard to find what you want there, largely because the search boxes don’t actually produce search results — they produce suggested recipes, or send you to a page for a contest. It’s really frustrating, especially when you’re trying to do something nice, like praise a product. In fact, I can’t really find an Oscar Mayer website, though the above link will send you to a page where you can print out a $1 coupon for Oscar Mayer Selects hot dogs, which are — I think — what are labeled on the package as Premium hot dogs.)
- Would you buy a product labeled “Light”??? I don’t usually. In my grocery-shopping experience, 99% of the time, “Light” is a euphemism for Lots of Artificial Sweeteners. But, a few months ago, I picked up a jar of “Light” pasta sauce. Here are the ingredients: TOMATO PUREE, DICED TOMATOES IN PUREE, ONIONS, SALT, OLIVE OIL, GARLIC POWDER, ONION POWDER, SPICES, BASIL, NATURAL FLAVOR. Would you buy THAT pasta sauce?? I would. I do!
Surprisingly, those ingredients are for Ragu Light No Sugar Added Tomato & Basil. There is an additional variety of Ragu Light, which is… Tomato & Basil. From what I can tell, it subtracts the olive oil and adds sugar, which is not a fair swap, in my book.
Overall, I think Ragu Light No Sugar Added Tomato & Basil is a fabulous, natural pasta sauce, well worth its $1.67 price tag at my local grocery store.
Ninety percent of the time, when I make pasta sauce, it’s semi-homemade. I typically start with a bottled sauce, and add goodies like fresh garlic, fresh rosemary, dried thyme, crushed fennel seed, canned petite-diced tomatoes, minced onion, more olive oil… In other words, I probably don’t need bottled pasta sauce. But, I like it as a base to my sauce, and in a pinch [read: for dinner when my hubby is not at home], I always have it on hand to serve as-is.