May 4, 2012

Have You Tried the New Market Basket?

Filed under: Market Basket, review, shopping, Uncategorized — glutenfreebymarriage @ 16:36

It’s a little late for an enabler alert, but we gave in to the hype and went to the new Market Basket on Elm Street last Sunday and thanks to their grand opening sale were able to completely fill the freezer with meat and gluten free bread.  (Serious, I bought no fresh veg and had to run to Hannaford after work on Monday.)  All in all it was an amazing adventure which is  high praise from two people who hate food shopping.

I’m going to sidetrack a bit about the bread.  I don’t usually buy gf bread, but after the great xanthan shortage I had to break down and get a loaf to keep on hand.  Hannaford recently raised the price of Udi’s from $5.99 to $6.99 so when I saw it at Market Basket for $3.89 I stocked up.  (There is a reason we have a stand alone freezer…)

Getting back to the original plot, we were a little disappointed by the gf selection in the bakery, they only had cheesecake when we were there, but were completely blown away by the overall lower prices and fact that they had everything on our list.   I realize that it’s a new store and they should have everything in stock, but I’ve never had the experience of food shopping where every item on my list was checked off.

gluten free bread case at new Market Basket

As you can see from the freezer case they seem to have crammed as many products as possible into one freezer, but don’t be alarmed, this isn’t everything.  Not only are many other gf products distributed throughout the store, but they are conveniently flagged on the shelves with bright green “gluten free” product tags.  (You can see one on the top shelf in the case .)  Checking the small print on every bottle and jar to find hidden wheat is no fun in a crowded store, so you will understand when I say that Mr. GF was thrilled to be have the large green tags to point him to the gf products in every aisle.

After blowing our shopping budget on gluten free bread and meat we discovered that they very thoughtfully stashed some gf items amongst the candy at the check outs for those desperate impulse buys.

Look! GF options at the checkout!

I know it’s impossible to see from the picture, but the peanut butter bar and the cranberry almond bar are both gluten free.

All in all I would have to say that I am hopeful.  After my recent Hannaford experience (it’s been two weeks and they still don’t have xanthan gum) I was starting to worry that the supermarkets were going to treat gf food as a fad and stop carrying it, but now that Market Basket is in town and not only has such a large selection, but goes out of their way to highlight it, I am a little more confident that I won’t have to make everything from scratch.


April 23, 2012

Hannaford Xanthan Gum Update

Filed under: Hannaford, shopping — glutenfreebymarriage @ 12:14

Good News!

I heard back from Hannaford and they said that they will reinstate xanthan gum.  It will take about two weeks to hit the shelves, but it will be a regular stock item.

I couldn’t really wait another two weeks and I had already driven the twenty miles (round trip) to get it at Market Basket by the time I got the email, but at least it will be there the next time I start getting low.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Don’t let your supplies get so low that you run the risk of running out, especially when it’s only available at one or two stores.
  2. Hannaford listens.

April 18, 2012

No Baking This Week

Filed under: baking, Hannaford, shopping, Uncategorized — glutenfreebymarriage @ 12:58

March 27th marked the one year anniversary of Mr. GF being gluten free.

As the person who does the cooking I can honestly say the transition to a gluten free life was not as bad as I was led to believe.  Part of it was because I already made most things from scratch so I wasn’t suddenly overwhelmed by the prospect of cooking everything.   (No boxed mixes or microwave meals in my kitchen!)  The other part was because recent awareness of gluten intolerance has made it a lot easier to find ingredients, or at least easier than it was just a few years ago.  Sadly, the honeymoon is over.

A couple weeks ago I started running low on xanthan.  The supermarket was out.  Hannaford is particularly bad about stocking.  In the past we’ve been unable to find any number of regular everyday items that you would expect them to stock, toilet paper, cooking spray, the list goes on.  You stop by the store every couple days for a week or two and the particular item or items you are looking for are nowhere to be found, then the truck comes and voila, you can now finish last week’s shopping.  Getting back to the xanthan, I knew that Hannaford was not always reliable when it came to restocking so I didn’t think anything about it.  My bad.  My really, really bad.

Hannaford let me down…

It’s been three weeks and my dwindling supply of xanthan has been exhausted.  We went to every Hannaford in the area and nothing.  Again, strange, but not unprecedented.  So I checked the website and xanthan did not come up in a product search.  My mild annoyance suddenly morphed into sheer terror.  Was it possible that they stopped selling xanthan?  How could they do that?  Hannaford has a huge gluten free aisle, why would they carry all the various substitute flours and not sell xanthan.  (They have never sold guar gum, so it’s not like I had a choice for a substitute.)

My next step was to send an email to corporate.  I very politely asked when xanthan would be restocked.  The response was surprisingly quick, they no longer carry xanthan.  I sent another email asking why it was discontinued and what I could do to get it back, but I am doubtful about my prospects.

My gut feeling is that some number cruncher at corporate looked at the sales figures and decided that xanthan was not a hot seller.   To the non-gf baker it would seem like a no-brainer.

At a unit price of almost $38 a pound, xanthan is very expensive and people don’t buy a lot of it.  But the reason for low sales has nothing, or at least almost nothing, to do with price.  The fact of the matter is that even though xanthan is an essential component in gluten free baking, you don’t actually need a lot of it.

I bake several times a week.  Bread, muffins, cookies, biscuits, pizza crusts, anything the rest of the population buys prepackaged is home baked in my kitchen on an unfortunately regular basis.  Yet, even with all that baking I have only used 12 ounces of xanthan in the past year.  I spend about $20 every two weeks on various gf flours, but have only purchased 2 bags of xanthan in the past twelve months.

I do have local options, but I am not happy.  The local health food store carries xanthan, but at $14.59 for a 6 ounce bag they are more than twice the price that Hannaford was ($6.99).   Shaws is even more expensive.   Market Basket has a large gluten free section and tends to be cheaper than Hannaford, but that means either driving twenty miles or waiting until they open here in Manchester.  (The new store was rumored to be opening any day for over a month now…)

I’ll probably wait and see what Hannaford says and if they are unresponsive then I’ll take my business elsewhere.  In the meantime, the kitchen is officially closed and there will be no gluten free baking for the indefinite future.  Maybe I should take advantage of this down time to post all the recipes and pics that have been piling up on my desktop?

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