Everyone on earth is given 24 hours each day. I really do my best to make every second count. As a busy working mom, I work hard to prioritize my time for faith, family and career, and I don't usually have much time left to do things I want to do (or need to do) with such an over-committed schedule. Even grocery shopping has become a chore since the new 124,000-square-foot Kroger Marketplace opened in my little town. This new 63-aisle store (where I know where absolutely NOTHING is located) was overwhelming after a long day at work and two crazy kiddos begging for everything they passed during the two hour shopping trip. There has to be a better way...
Introducing Kroger ClickList!
ClickList is a service offered by Kroger that allows customers to shop online for more than 40,000 items, including meat and produce, and pick up the order at their local Kroger store. After adding items to an online grocery cart, the shopper confirms the order and reserves a pickup time and date, then pulls up to the ClickList pickup area where an associate comes out to load the order into the vehicle and collect coupons and payment (debit/credit cards only). The service fee is waived for the first three orders. After that, Kroger charges a flat fee of $4.95 per order (no minimum order).
I never thought I would use online ordering for groceries. That's something rich people or lazy people would do. I'm so frugal I can make a penny squeal, so paying a fee for someone else to do my shopping wasn't something that crossed my mind, but after buying "big" groceries just one time in the new store, I thought, hmmm...maybe this ClickList is worth checking out.
So, I turned to social media and made a simple statement: Pros and cons of Kroger ClickList. Go!
And the discussion began.
After reading the overwhelmingly positive comments from my friends and colleagues, I decided to give ClickList a try. I signed in to my kroger.com account and found the ClickList page to be very user friendly. Since I use a Kroger card every time I shop, everything I usually purchase was already in my virtual shopping list. I clicked on the items I was running low on, then used the search bar to look for other items I don't buy every week. It was super easy. I was able to order from home after the kids were asleep and pick my order up the next day without ever having to leave my vehicle. The pickup process took six minutes. AMAZING!!!
The PRO's of ClickList from my experience:
I saved money. I didn't have to take my two children in the store who constantly badger me for junk snacks (yes, there are plenty of gluten-free junk snacks). There was no impulse shopping. I only bought what was on my list. I didn't have the temptation to stop by the in-store Starbucks, or pick up the latest and greatest products that I don't really need. They do allow the use of coupons, both digital from the Kroger website, as well as paper coupons, so no worries there. AND I earned Kroger fuel points for every dollar spent, so I will save on gas, too!
I saved time. I didn't have to walk up and down all 63 aisles to find what I needed in a gigantic new store, then stand in line behind the person who has $748 worth of groceries and $200 worth of coupons. Using ClickList saved me about two hours of time that I was able to use doing something else. It seriously only took six minutes.
I saved my sanity. When grocery shopping with two kids after a long day of work, it is frustrating to tell them no every time they ask for something. I usually have one nerve left by that time of day and they're on it. This new service took away that stress. I also didn't have to abandon my full grocery cart to take someone to the restroom on the opposite side of the world.
I helped the local economy. Most online shopping takes away jobs as local businesses close or reduce their workforce when customers choose the virtual shopping cart. The convenience of shopping online at ClickList actually added dozens of new jobs to my local Kroger Marketplace. Although I placed my order online, employees of the local store had to push the cart up and down the aisles to pull my order and I actually picked it up at the local store. This new service required Kroger to add many new associates who select groceries and deliver them to customers' vehicles. The service didn't take work away from stockers, cashiers or baggers who really need their jobs. The leader of a ministry program supported by my church told me that a couple of single mothers who have children in the program were hired by Kroger to fill ClickList associate positions. Living in Mississippi, the poorest state in the country, I am always excited to support businesses that bring jobs to the community. This particular Kroger Marketplace added 200 jobs to the local economy.
CON's of using ClickList from my experience
Kroger doesn't send anyone home with me to cook the groceries I bought, LOL. You're on your own with that. If you want things like rotisserie chicken or sushi (probably not gluten free--just giving an example), you have to go inside the store to purchase those items.
I can't help people with their gluten free shopping if I'm not inside the store. Seriously, I've made some great friends on the gluten-free aisle! It is nice to exchange opinions about products and make suggestions to people newly diagnosed with celiac or autoimmune disease. I also have been able to help shoppers who aren't gluten free, but are trying to accommodate the medically required diet of a dinner guest. I'm able to share how to prevent cross contamination, and save people from buying products that are labeled gluten free, but that we've had bad experiences with (i.e. Cheerios).
Substitutions could be dangerous for people with celiac disease or food allergies. Some items or sizes may be out of stock and the ClickList selector may substitute those products; however, you do have the ability to click "No Substitutions" for items, so if they don't have the item in stock, it will be taken off your order. I ordered a specific candy with instructions for no substitutions. The ClickList associate did substitute the product for the store brand, but they didn't charge me for it. Luckily, this product was also gluten free and I didn't have to pay for it, but I am very careful to not bring products into my home that may contain gluten. I don't want my son to think these products are okay or cause accidental cross contamination.
There's no Clearance Bin on ClickList. I love a bargain! Our store has only been open for a couple of weeks, so there is no clearance bin yet. I thoroughly enjoy finding great deals on gluten free treats that I don't usually buy because they're way too expensive. When I find cookies, cereals and baking mixes at the discounted price, I stock up. I can't dig through the clearance items if I'm ordering online. Many times, it is well worth the time to go into the store to find these treasures!
I'm not sure if this is a pro or a con, but I seemed kind of lost and didn't know what to do with the time I saved by using ClickList. I left work, picked up my ClickList order and had everything put away and dinner in the oven by 6pm. While I could've done something more productive with my time, we binge watched a new show on Netflix with the time I would've spent at the store. I don't ever have time for that!
Will I use ClickList again? ABSOLUTELY!!
I had a great experience with the entire process. My order was correct. Nothing was broken or missing. Everything was the correct temperature (frozen stuff was still frozen, refrigerated items were cold, etc.). This online service offers a convenient new way to shop. Not only will it help busy working moms like myself, but it will also help stay-at-home mommies with cranky babies or multiple children, elderly customers who don't have the stamina to walk around the whole store and load their own groceries into the car, husbands who don't follow shopping instructions (wives can order online and have husbands pick up on their way home from work), or for anyone who needs to save time.
ClickList gets the GFree Genius Seal of Approval!!
How was your ClickList experience? Share in the comments. While you're here, be sure to sign up for my e-newsletter!
A special thank you to Namaste Foods for sending GFree Genius a chocolate cake mix, waffle & pancake mix and sweet brown rice flour to sample and review. While I did receive free products to review, I received no compensation for this post which reflects my own opinion, as well as the opinions of my test panel. BE SURE TO ENTER THE NAMASTE FOODS GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST.
You might be a celiac if... you drive 10 hours to visit your best friend and take your own pots and pans, waffle iron, and ingredients for all meals. Luckily, my bestie, Jan, was willing to allow me to take over her kitchen for a couple of days during our long overdue visit! I packed up my usual travel kitchen necessities and decided to take along the Namaste Foods products to provide a safe food option, but to also get the opinions of a gluten-eating family. I was a little nervous--especially since I had never tried any of Namaste's products. Most of my friends are really skeptical when they know food is gluten free, but these great friends were willing to try something new and give me honest feedback.
Namaste Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Mix
When the kids (Lauren B. 12, Lauren E. 12, Nathan, 10, and Allie, 9) saw me take the Namaste chocolate cake mix and waffle mix out of the bag, there were mixed reactions and lots of questions:
Nathan E.: Mom, are you making chocolate cake for dessert?
Lauren E.: Ooh, yum! When will be cake be ready?
Lauren B: Mrs. Belinda, is this gluten free? How will it taste?
Allie B.: How do you say 'Namaste' as she pointed to the brand name printed on the box.
So I answered their questions in rapid succession.
"Yes, I am making chocolate cake. It will be ready after dinner. I can't wait to see how it tastes and to get your opinions, and it is pronounced Naa-Maa-Stay. It means 'The Spirit within me honors and respects the Spirit within you.' I think it will be really good."
They all seemed happy with my responses and impatiently waited for me to bake the cake. I used a bundt pan for this cake mix and it turned out beautifully. After the cake cooled a little, I drizzled chocolate frosting on top, then served it warm (these kiddos couldn't wait another second). It was super easy to make, only adding eggs, oil and water. Using a cake server, I tried to cut the cake and it was a bit springy and spongy, but after I put it on plates, the texture was fine. The response? Overwhelmingly positive! Eight out of eight test panel members were impressed!
Jan's husband, who doesn't eat gluten free, said, "Gluten free or not, this is a good cake."
My daughter enjoyed the cake so much that she asked for more during the long car ride home. I told her that we left it at our friends' house and she looked at me like I had lost my mind and asked, "Why would you do that?" I reminded her that it is rude to take things back home and that I could always make another one.
The chocolate cake mix is large enough to make a two-layer cake which is what I'm planning to do for Nathan's upcoming birthday!
Namaste Gluten Free Waffle & Pancake Mix
I got up early the next morning and started making gluten-free waffles on the waffle iron I brought from home. The Namaste Gluten Free Waffle & Pancake Mix contains enough to make two batches, so I added eggs, oil and Lactaid milk (what the hostess had on hand) and starting making waffles one by one. When I had four waffles ready, I called the kids downstairs to eat breakfast. They devoured them and said they "tasted like waffles" which is great because that's what I had made! When my friend's husband entered the kitchen, he was afraid that there wouldn't be enough for me to eat all I wanted, so he mixed up a batch of regular waffles to make on their waffle iron. His daughter ate one of each and announced that the Namaste waffle was better in taste and texture! Success!
I was so excited that the two Namaste mixes that I tried were so good! My son and I must eat gluten free and we are always happy when our friends can't tell the difference in the way our food tastes or when they think our food is better!
If you're looking for a great chocolate cake mix or waffle & pancake mix that is gluten free, all natural, whole grain, vegan friendly, kosher, no preservatives, nut free and made in dedicated facility, these products are a must buy!
Namaste Raw Goods Sweet Brown Rice Flour
Namaste Foods also sent me sweet brown rice flour from their Raw Goods line and I wasn't really sure what I was going to make. I haven't had much success cooking with rice flour in the past, and honestly, if a recipe calls for more than one variety of flour, I will admire it, but will probably never make it. But I stumbled upon a recipe for a chocolate mug cake and decided to give it a try using the sweet brown rice flour.
Chocolate Mug Cake
2 Tbsp. sweet brown rice flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 tsp. baking powder (gluten free)
1/2 tsp. vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. coconut milk (or non-fat milk)
A few drops of vanilla extract (gluten free)
*Optional-powdered sugar for sprinkling on top
Whisk together all dry ingredients in a small microwave safe mug (I used a 6 ounce tea cup). Add wet ingredients and use a fork or small whisk to mix until batter is smooth. Cook in microwave for one minute. If cake isn't done, heat for 15 more seconds. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve immediately. Serves 1.
After trying this recipe, I felt guilty for letting Pinterest down for so long for not trying "mug cake" recipes sooner. This was super easy. I already had all of the ingredients at home and it took only one minute to cook. To top it off, it was a single serving so I didn't feel guilty for over indulging or for not sharing.
I still have some sweet brown rice flour, so I am going to find something else to make with it and will update soon!
Namaste is a family-owned, women-operated company and uses a grassroots approach to reach out to people who have a passion for good food for all people by using old fashioned word-of-mouth advertising. Their facility is owned by Namaste and is free from the Top 8 allergens. In addition to baking mixes, Namaste also offeres pasta dinners, soups, coating mixes, and a line of "Raw Goods" that includes an expansive list of flours. Their products can be found in a variety of U.S. independent and chain grocery stores, as well as online.
How would you like to win a Namaste Giveaway Tote filled with four Namaste Food products, a copy of Gluten Free & More Magazine, and an assortment of recipe cards?
There are three ways to win:
1. Comment on this blog post naming which Namaste Foods product is your favorite or which one you'd like to try.
2. Subscribe to my newsletter at www.gfreegenius.com
3. Tag a friend and share my Namaste post on my GFree Genius Instagram or Facebook page.
The deadline to enter is September 17th at 11:59pm. The winner will be selected on Sunday, September 18th and Namaste Foods will ship the prize directly to the winner! This is a giveaway you don't want to miss! Share with your gluten free friends and enter today! This offer is available only in the United States. Mix variety and bag contents vary. Thank you for supporting Namaste Foods and GFree Genius!
Click here to learn more about Namaste Foods and check them out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NamasteFoods.
During the past few weeks, I’ve noticed the news headlines are filled with stories of disaster—the recent flood in Louisiana, wildfires in California, earthquakes in Italy and tropical weather headed toward the gulf coast region. Even government officials in Germany have instructed citizens to get prepared and stock up on food, water and supplies for 10 days.
This really made me think. If there was a disaster and I had to evacuate to a shelter, or even stay at home without help for several days, would I be ready? Sadly, the answer was no.
September is National Preparedness Month and my goal is to bring awareness to families with food allergies or autoimmune disorders (including celiac disease) who need to be prepared for the unexpected. While all families should be prepared, those with dietary restrictions need to take extra steps to make sure they have proper food and supplies as help may not be available for several days in some cases.
If you happened to follow the news coverage of the recent Louisiana flooding, you likely saw images of my friend Barbara Manuel and her children, Elliott, 8, and Emily, 5, as they were being rescued by the National Guard near Walker, LA. CLICK HERE to view the news article and picture. With only what they could carry in backpacks, they left their home with garbage bags duct-taped around their legs to keep their feet and legs dry as they waded through the contaminated flood water.
“As we were walking through the flood water, we saw patches of ants floating about as well as smelled gasoline and saw mice swimming in the water,” Barbara said. “The water was disgusting.”
Barbara had just enough time to grab a couple of changes of clothes for herself and each of her children, as well as a few emergency food items including granola bars, peanut butter, packs of grits and bottled water. She also packed phone chargers, extra batteries and tablets for the kids. Fortunately, after their rescue they were taken to a church shelter that accommodated every need they had, so she didn’t really need many of the things she packed. Several days passed before they were able to return to their home, but when they did, their home was spared. They were the lucky ones.
On that same day in the neighboring town of Denham Springs, another friend, Mollie Baker, waited in the attic with her two-year-old daughter, Skylar, for volunteers with a boat to come to their rescue. The water gushing into the house was already above her knees when she started packing, and was nearly four feet deep when they were finally rescued. Mollie had time to pack a few things—vitamins, wallet, snacks, toothbrushes, and her daughter’s beloved Bitty Baby doll.
“She held her tight for two days after we were rescued by boat,” Mollie said, referring to Skylar’s doll.
Mollie said she wished she would’ve had an emergency backpack ready to go before the unexpected flood.
“That way I wouldn’t be running in knee-high water trying to gather my thoughts and make sure my daughter is safe at the same time,” she said. “I remember running around like a chicken with its head cut off because that is how it felt!”
When Mollie was finally able to return to her home, she discovered that she had lost everything she hadn’t taken with her, including her vehicle. She decided it was best to leave Louisiana and move in with family in another state because she had nowhere else to go.
“In the end, I am just so thankful our Heavenly Father got us out alive,” she said. “Most things can be replaced. Your life is irreplaceable, and you can always build a new one.”
Both of my friends safely made it to higher ground, but they certainly understand the importance of having an emergency kit and an evacuation plan.
Until talking with them about being displaced by the flood, I didn’t have an emergency kit, but I definitely have one now. Ready.gov has a great emergency kit checklist CLICK HERE, but if you have special dietary requirements, you’ll also need to be prepared to provide your own food and medicine for several days in case help doesn’t arrive soon or if you find yourself at a shelter that isn’t set up to accommodate dietary restrictions. Most shelters have very limited options and the risk of cross contamination is very high.
My church held a donation drive for flood victims and collected enough supplies to fill a 52-foot trailer. A lot of non-perishable food was donated, and as I helped sort boxes full of Ramen noodles, mac and cheese, canned ravioli, Spaghetti O’s, and peanut butter crackers to load onto the truck, I realized that my son and I, who are both on gluten-free diets, wouldn’t be able to eat any of it. It really got my attention!
How can you help?
Sign up for my newsletter now to get a FREE copy of the GFree Genius checklist of specific items I packed in my gluten-free emergency kit! Get yours today!