CK Links--Friday February 12, 2016

Links!

Don't forget: The easiest way to support Casual Kitchen is to buy your items at Amazon using the various links here. Just click over to Amazon, and EVERY purchase you make during that visit pays a modest affiliate commission to support my work here. Best of all, this comes at zero extra cost to you. As always, I welcome your thoughts.

PS: Follow me on Twitter!

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Intriguing interview with the author of the book First Bite on how infants' tastes for food is shaped--even before birth. (NPR)

The big problem with not being a daily cast iron pan user. (Dad Cooks Dinner)

Consumers have no idea what the word "natural" means. (Food Politics)

Big cracks in the view that hunter-gatherers had a much easier life (and diet) than moderns. (Rachel Laudan)

Why it's insanely complicated to switch over to cage-free eggs. (Wired)

Eleven things to know about GMOs. (Jayson Lusk)

Karl Popper and seven essential conclusions to distinguish between science and pseudo-science. (Farnam Street)

"We found a link between green jelly beans and acne." Uh-huh, riiiiight. (BuzzFeed)

How Q-Tips are used exactly as unintended. (Washington Post)

An excellent, extensive and polymathic reading list for those on the road towards greater financial independence. (Early Retirement Extreme)




Got an interesting article or recipe to share? Want some extra traffic at your blog? Send me an email!


How can I support Casual Kitchen?
Easy. Do all your shopping at Amazon.com via the links on this site! You can also link to me or subscribe to my RSS feed. Finally, consider sharing this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to Facebook, Twitter (follow me @danielckoontz!) or to bookmarking sites like reddit, digg or stumbleupon. I'm deeply grateful to my readers for their ongoing support.

How to Use Grocery Store Circulars To YOUR Advantage, Not Theirs

Everybody's familiar with those little advertising circulars grocery stores print and mail out weekly. Most of us dump them directly into the recycling pile without a second thought. In reality, however, your grocery store’s weekly circular is a profoundly useful source of price information for any cost-conscious shopper. In fact, I believe these humble weekly circulars are the most underutilized and underappreciated tools in the empowered food shopper's toolbox.

And yet, if you’re not careful, they can separate you from your money. We'll see why in a moment.

To use a circular efficiently and to your best advantage, you'll want to focus on two key questions:

1) What are the "doorbuster" sale items?
2) What useful information is there on store prices in general?

1) Doorbusters
We discussed doorbuster pricing techniques already in a recent (and brief) post, so I'll refer you there first. To summarize, retailers will, on occasion, offer an item on sale at a ridiculous, hilarious discount in order to lure you into their store.

Stores don't do this out of the goodness of their hearts. They do this because, in general, a significant portion of most retail shoppers' spending consists of impulse purchases--items they did not intend to buy prior to entering the store. The retailer therefore makes back all its doorbuster losses and then some. Sadly, with most shoppers, the store wins simply by getting them to set foot in the store. It goes without saying that an empowered shopper doesn't fall for this common retailing tactic.

Not every retailer uses doorbuster pricing, and not every weekly circular will contain genuine doorbuster items, but this retailing technique offers enormous opportunities to save money, as long as you have accurate context for what grocery items should cost and what really is an attractive sale.

2) Pricing Information
Which brings us to our second point. The most useful aspect of grocery store circulars is they offer you extensive and easily accessible knowledge about prices. The typical circular contains hundreds of items, priced clearly and overtly. This means you can comparison shop from your Lay-Z-Boy just by skimming two or three different store circulars together. No long do you have to stumble from aisle to aisle and from store to store looking at shelf after shelf of products.

And it's not like you have to waste hours every week poring over all your circulars in excruciating detail. Just flip through a couple side-by-side once every few weeks and get a little context for some of the items you often buy ("hmmm, store X generally charges 59c for canned beans while store Y charges 79c").

This helps you determine three things:

1) What are appropriate market prices for items you typically buy,
2) Which of your local stores generally offers lower prices on these typically purchased products, and...
3) Over time, this knowledge gives you an instinctive ability to recognize a really, truly good sale when it happens.

Now you know which store you should generally shop at, and you have the tools to instantly distinguish between a real doorbuster sale and a phony one.

Readers: now it's your turn. Do you use circulars? How, and why? Share your thoughts and ideas below!


Read Next: "When U Know the Cost, You Know the Margins"


How can I support Casual Kitchen?
Easy. Do all your shopping at Amazon.com via the links on this site! You can also link to me or subscribe to my RSS feed. Finally, consider sharing this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to Facebook, Twitter (follow me @danielckoontz!) or to bookmarking sites like reddit, digg or stumbleupon. I'm deeply grateful to my readers for their ongoing support.

CK Links--Friday February 5, 2016

Links from around the internet.

Don't forget: The easiest way to support Casual Kitchen is to buy your items at Amazon using the various links here. Just click over to Amazon, and EVERY purchase you make during that visit pays a modest affiliate commission to support my work here. Best of all, this comes at zero extra cost to you. As always, I welcome your thoughts.

PS: Follow me on Twitter!

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Shame on us wine producers for convincing consumers there's a correct answer to the question "is this wine good?" (Medium)

Eighteen spectacularly wrong predictions made in 1970. (Mark Perry)

More on "p-hacking" and why most scientific findings can't be reproduced. (Bishop Blog)

We now live in an age of anti-hormesis. (Rogue Health and Fitness)

Bonus: Fitness does not always equal health. (Rogue Health and Fitness)

"I learned that nothing good comes without work and a certain amount of pain." (Old Time Strongman)

An anti-capitalist bumper sticker offers some hilarious unintentional irony. (Mackinac Center)

Why does it seem so much harder to focus now than in the past? (Barking Up The Wrong Tree)

John Keats and the profound value of solitude. (Brain Pickings)


Got an interesting article or recipe to share? Want some extra traffic at your blog? Send me an email!


How can I support Casual Kitchen?
Easy. Do all your shopping at Amazon.com via the links on this site! You can also link to me or subscribe to my RSS feed. Finally, consider sharing this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to Facebook, Twitter (follow me @danielckoontz!) or to bookmarking sites like reddit, digg or stumbleupon. I'm deeply grateful to my readers for their ongoing support.

Review: Zodiac Black Cherry Vodka

One of the perks of having a long-lived food blog is you get some intriguing items sent to you by companies looking to do grass-roots marketing.

I protect my readers from the “meh” products (which is most of them, sadly), but I do want to tell you about the products that are actually really good.

With that as backdrop, Zodiac Vodka recently sent me a bottle of some of the best vodka I’ve tasted in years.

We tested out Zodiac’s new Black Cherry Vodka, repeatedly, and loved it. It’s a 100% potato-based vodka, made exclusively from Idaho potatoes and distilled and bottled in Rigby, Idaho. Zodiac is a relatively new brand, and it’s gradually rolling out across the USA right now.

And it’s good. Really good. Easy to drink, smooth, and with a mild, gently sweet black cherry flavor. Readers, this is really, really good vodka.

Finally, and most importantly for Casual Kitchen readers, Zodiac Vodka sells for just $24.99 for a 750ml bottle, which means it’s priced at a surprisingly attractive value. As we’ve seen from our dark chocolate tastings as well as from many other food categories, the best product in any product segment is rarely the most expensive. In fact, the most expensive product is often priced where it is because the producers attempt to appeal to our sense of identity construction, our Veblen-esque subconsicous need for status.

In stark contrast, Zodiac Vodka is a high end vodka at a mid-range price: a quality and price combination where a smart consumer gets maximum value. It’s a pleasure to find an exceptional product like this sold at such a fair value. Try it.

http://www.zodiacvodka.com/




How can I support Casual Kitchen?
Easy. Do all your shopping at Amazon.com via the links on this site! You can also link to me or subscribe to my RSS feed. Finally, consider sharing this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to Facebook, Twitter (follow me @danielckoontz!) or to bookmarking sites like reddit, digg or stumbleupon. I'm deeply grateful to my readers for their ongoing support.

How to Use “Doorbuster” Sales to Your Advantage

Occasionally, retailers will offer an item on sale at a ridiculous, hilarious discount in order to lure you into their stores.

Your grocery store's weekly circular might offer, for example, 3 liter jugs of olive oil at half price, or 28-ounce cans of tomatoes at a third the regular price, and so on. Department stores often offer doorbuster sales on specific appliances or small electric items that they happen to have in excess supply. (To learn more about why products go on sale like this, read this post.)

It's lovely that retailers do this of course, but remember: retailers are not charities. They don't offer doorbusters out of the goodness of their hearts or just to be nice. Far from it. The central idea behind a doorbuster sale is this: the retailer is willing to lose money on this item because it thinks, by luring you to the store, that you'll spend enough money on other things to more than make up the difference.

Everybody already knows this technique, except somehow we still end up picking up several extra items "while we were there"... playing neatly into the retailer's hands.

I always savored the word "doorbuster" because it evokes an image of hundreds, even thousands, of customers swarming a store and literally busting down the doors to get at a sale item. And this image points at why doorbuster sales are both tool and trap for the consumer. To an empowered consumer who understands the rhythm and various cycles of retailing, it's a powerful savings tool--assuming two things:

1) The item is genuinely, substantially discounted, offered at a price well below its value,
2) The customer actually needs the item, and would have bought it anyway.

Otherwise, it's a trap. If it's an item you don't need but buy anyway because it's ON SALE! you've fallen for one of oldest tricks in retailing. And it's an even bigger trap if it draws you into a store to spend money you didn't intend to on items you had no real intention of buying in the first place.

Therefore, as oversimplified as it sounds, the key is to just buy the doorbuster item. An empowered consumer never lets a doorbuster cost her money she didn't intend to spend. Recognize the game and don't fall for it. Go into the store, pick up the item and only that item, and then walk out, metaphorically rubbing your hands with glee* for the legitimately great deal you just got. Don't forget to pay for it.

Readers, what do you think? How do you take best advantage of doorbuster items?


Read Next: Desire Triggering

* If you wish to literally rub your hands with glee, I suggest waiting until you get into your car and no one can see you.


How can I support Casual Kitchen?
Easy. Do all your shopping at Amazon.com via the links on this site! You can also link to me or subscribe to my RSS feed. Finally, consider sharing this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to Facebook, Twitter (follow me @danielckoontz!) or to bookmarking sites like reddit, digg or stumbleupon. I'm deeply grateful to my readers for their ongoing support.