Today I am responding to two very frequently asked questions in one-fell swoop—a phrase I’ve always found to be quite curious but fun to use. This way I get multiple opportunities to kill two birds with one stone. Or something like that.
Q: Air-fryers are all the rage and from what everyone tells me, the new way to enjoy all the deliciousness of deep-fried foods without the calories. Air-frying is supposedly a very healthy way to prepare food so it comes out perfectly crisp without a lot of oil. Which air-fryer do you recommend?
I have been dragging my feet on this matter of air-fryers. That’s because I am not a fan. In fact, I think this fairly new kitchen appliance known as an air-fryer is a rip-off. All it is in a tiny oven with a fan. If that sounds at all familiar you know what a convection oven is.
If you have a convection oven—an oven that has a fan(s) to circulate air around food—you already have an air-fryer. If you don’t have a convection oven, you’d be better off purchasing a countertop model because air-fryers are expensive and so limited in their use.
Rather than an air-fryer, my choice for Best Inexpensive™ convection oven is this Oster Countertop Convection Toaster Oven, about $70. When you check the price of air-fryers you’ll see they are much more. This Oster has many functions including Bake, Convection Bake, Broil, Toast, Pizza, Defrost, and Warm. You’ll be able to “air-fry,” bake cookies and casseroles (it is large capacity) and toast up to 6 slices of bread at a time.
Should you be determined to have a single-use air-fryer appliance, go for the Philips AirFryer, about $200. Just know that I do not recommend it, only that for those who must have one, it has a good reputation for reliability and service.
I do recommend highly the AirFryer Cookbook, which is easily adaptable to use with a convection oven.
You mentioned recently that you save time and money by shopping online for groceries, then you drive through the supermarket pickup line and a store employee loads the groceries into your car for you. How does that work exactly (or as one reader put it, why would you give up making your own choices and trusting someone else to select your produce?)
When a big new KingSoopers supermarket (part of the Kroger family of stores) opened where I live, I was fascinated if not skeptical by the news that this store would offer ClickList, the company’s name for online grocery shopping.
Immediately, I had visions of a small room at the back of the store with a few loaves of bread, a case for milk and cheese, breakfast cereals and a few bins of apples, lettuce, tomatoes—maybe avocados if they’re in season—where someone would throw a few things into a bag and hand them to me at the door. In other words, no thank you. But then the store opened and after a few months began pushing this ClickList thing.
Out of curiosity and my commitment-to-research for you my dear readers, I decided to give it a try. And why not? My first five ClickList orders would be fee-free and after that a flat $4.95 for pick-up.
I went to KingSooopers.com, located my specific location, created an online account, opted for ClickList and started shopping. I was dumbstruck to realize that I had the entirety of this specific supermarket’s mammoth inventory right there on my computer (mobile phone or iPad).
I could type “strawberry jam” in the search bar, hit enter and BAM!, right there appeared every size, brand, and variety of strawberry jam that’s in the jam and jelly aisle of my particular store, with a thumbnail image of each. I can daydream, I can ponder; I can change my mind a dozen times. I can put 1 or 10 into my “shopping cart” and move along to the next item on my list.
About produce: I was, and continue to be, amazed. When I was shopping in-store at KingSoopers it was not always easy or even possible to find, for example, a perfectly ripe avocado and by that I mean one that would have a nice range of edibility of a few days at least, but would not start out rock hard. When I put avocados on my ClickList, I get nearly perfect specimens every time.
I don’t understand why the difference, other than perhaps they hold the best for their ClickList customers? Same for tomatoes, lettuce and right through the produce department. And I get to choose exactly which type of greens, onions or potatoes I want—and that goes for every item of produce in the store. I can order one potato or a 10-lb. bag. I can order one rib of celery—or an entire stalk. And I can see immediately which items are on sale as well as the store’s weekly flyer. That makes comparison shopping a breeze.
Each time I add an item to my ClickList, I have the opportunity to add a note to the deli or butcher shop; the bakery or dairy manager, such as “Please slice the cheese very thin” or “Could you make sure the turkey is sliced to about 1/8th inch?” or “If you have no Honey Crisp apples, my next choice would be Gala.”
Out of curiosity, I stopped into the store once to see how this works. Management was so kind and let me observe the store personnel filling ClickList orders. Each staffer pulling ClickList orders holds a computerized list and a cart with multiple bins. It’s awesome how these people scoot through the aisles filling those orders precisely and with such care, with the customer’s pick-up time in mind.
ClickList accepts coupons of all sorts—digital, cut from a magazine or newspaper, coupons I print on my home computer printer, too.
Once I have my shopping complete, I click on “checkout.” Next, I pick the exact time (a one-hour window) and date I want to pick up my order. I can either pay online (ClickList accepts only credit or debit cards) or opt to pay at pickup. There is a $4.95 pick up flat fee added (after the first five free pickups).
Pickup is so easy. I just pull into a designated parking place, call the phone number on the sign in front of me to announce my arrival. It can be a typically sunny day or the middle of a blizzard; I can be alone or with my grandsons in tow. Within minutes an employee is at my driver’s window with my list and receipt—asking again if I might have coupons.
If I do, he or she quickly adjust my total. Then I open the hatch and they load in the groceries. All of the frozen items are frozen hard and packed together; cold things are super cold and bagged together, and so on. Such care and attention to detail. Only once have I discovered an error: The block of cheese I ordered was dutifully sliced. But I needed a block and the store made the adjustment at their cost with no questions asked accompanied by multiple apologies.
I have not shopped in person at KingSoopers since my first ClickList order and this has saved me so much time and money. That’s because I was born with an overactive impulsive gene. Even with a written list in my hand and cash in my wallet, I’m a disaster just waiting to happen when turned loose in a fancy supermarket with a grocery cart. $4.95 is nothing compared to the runup and overspending that can be wrought by my impulsive shopper. ClickList delivers exactly what’s on my list—nothing more, nothing less.
My time is valuable. I enjoy being able to ClickList at random times and over an extended period of time. Rather than creating a separate grocery list, I use my ClickList account to just keep a running list going. I hit “save” and it’s always there and ready for me when I come back. And I can change my mind a dozen times (and I do).
Good news: Walmart is giving Kroger a run for its money in the area of online/pickup grocery shopping. The store nearest me has rolled out this option and I intend to check it out soon. In the meantime, you may want to find a Walmart location near you using this Walmart groceries online with free same-day pickup store locator. Walmart does not charge a pickup fee but has a minimum order requirement of $30. And Walmart is taking this service one step farther, offering home delivery for a fee starting at $9.95 with a $30 minimum grocery tab.