Monday, September 8, 2008

Keeping Track

One thing about following a low sodium diet -- you become very familiar with the items carried by your local grocery stores. That's because you can spend literally hours examining the labels of everything stocked on the shelves. I think I study the jarred spaghetti sauces in all my local stores at least three or four times each year. Turning each jar around until I could read its sodium content. Then putting the jar back on the shelf and grabbing for another jar. Jotting information down in a small notebook. And then when I'm finally finished with one product, moving on to another.
The problem is that not all grocery stores carry the same items. So you've got to come up with a system that keeps track of which store carries which items. And you've got to note the sodium content in case you need to make comparisons.

I realize that I'm pretty fortunate living here in Northern California near Sacramento. I've got three local supermarkets I shop at regularly: Raley's/Bel Air (a Northern California chain); Safeway, & Save-Mart. In addition, there's a Trader Joe's along with a Whole Foods relatively close by along with a Nugget Market (a smaller Sacramento area high-end chain) and it's sister store, ForkLift. And, of course, I'm a card carrying Costco member.

I found great low sodium products at so many different stores and from online sources that I knew I had to do something to keep track of them. So I gathered all my information and entered it into a Microsoft Word table. I could have put it in database form. Or just jotted everything down in a spiral notebook. The method I chose was not as important as just getting the information all together in one place so I could refer to it as needed.

I included the following information: the product description; the brand name; the serving size amount; the sodium content per serving size; where to purchase the product; and any special bits of information that would be helpful.
As I bring home new products, I add them to my list. About twice a year I review my information by printing out my list and taking it with me to the stores. I re-visit every item to see if there are changes. For instance, today I reviewed the products from Raley's/Bel Air and discovered that they no longer carry Saffola Unsalted Margerine. Instead they are carrying Smart Balance 50/50 Butter Blend Unsalted Sticks.

Keeping track of low sodium products is especially helpful when I am running low on something and need to get some more. If I can't exactly remember where I purchased it, my list helps me out. My list is very personalized. I only note the low sodium products that I have found tasty & useful. For example, although all my local grocery stores carry Mrs. Dash marinades, since I don't like them that much, I haven't recorded them.

Keeping track of favorite products helps make the challenge of low sodium cooking just a little bit easier.

2016 Update:
Just this last year my husband, a computer programmer, created a nifty database program specifically for grocery shopping. It includes a list of items I regularly purchase linked to the stores that carry them. I can add or delete products easily and do the same with store links. Here's an example:
Specialized Grocery Store Products Data Base


OhioMom said...

What a great idea! I bought a spice blend several years ago, and have never found it since because I can't remember where I bought it :)

shambo said...

That's exactly what happened to me when I first started this whole low sodium thing. I found some salt free Cavender's Greek Seasoning. And when I ran out, I couldn't remember where I had purchased it. I went to all my local grocery stores but no luck. I think I must have picked it up when I was shopping in another city. Who knows?

After that experience, I knew I had to get better at keeping track of things. Low or no sodium products are often difficult to come by. So when I find them somewhere, I want to be able to go back to purchase them again.

Jacqueline said...

Great information and ideas. Thanks so much.