Throw It On The Grill!

This weekend we’ll be having people over for a BBQ. I wasn’t sure what to make – we always have hot dogs, hamburgers, some chicken, and oftentimes ribs or other meat.

But this time I wanted something different. There are so many different things you can grill. As my husband always says regarding any type of food, “Just throw it on the grill!”

So I did some research and found a ton of unusual things to grill. Here’s just a small sampling.

According to

  • Bananas (Slice firm bananas in half lengthwise, lightly coat with oil, then place on hot grates for a minute before serving over ice cream.)
  • Watermelon
  • Grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Brie (Place the cold cheese on indirect medium heat with the grill open for a 10 count, turning to create grill marks. Flip and mark the other side then serve with a baguette, which you can also slice and toast on the grill.)
  • Quesadillas
  • Frozen pizza

According to

  • Cake (pound cake, that is)
  • Bread
  • Cocktails (grilling the herbs — such as mint, lavender, citrusy bergamot — for a few seconds coaxes out the herb’s floral qualities. Then just add it to your drink!)

What are some unusual things you throw on the grill? Let me know!

Whatever you may have at your next BBQ – from meat to paper goods and everything in between – don’t forget to record all these purchases.

Have a great weekend everybody!


Celebrate National Ice Cream Month

Did you know that July is National Ice Cream Month? Back in 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of the month (that’s this Sunday, btw) as National Ice Cream Day. Thank you President Reagan!

I LOVE ice cream. So let’s talk about it!

According to the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), an average American consumes 23 pounds of ice cream per year. (I sometimes think I eat that much in just a month!)

The IDFA recently conducted a survey and the results found that America’s top five flavors are the following:

  1. Vanilla
  2. Chocolate
  3. Cookies N’ Cream
  4. Mint Chocolate Chip (my favorite!)
  5. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

What’s your favorite flavor? Let me know.

Now, according to The Nielsen Company, since consumers are becoming more health conscious, 68% of those they surveyed said they’re willing to spend more on foods and drinks that don’t contain “undesirable” ingredients. This means there’s been a surge in sales of ice cream brands that call themselves a “good source of protein,” “vegan,” “low glycemic,” and “contains sugar substitutes,” among other terms.

Consumers are increasingly moving toward non-diary varieties, which has seen the highest dollar sales growth than any other subcategory (49% increase compared with the prior year.), according to Nielsen.

But good old regular ice cream still leads the way, with $6.6 billion in sales for the year ended May 27, 2017.

Ice Cream Facts
We have to include some tasty facts from the IDFA!

  • About 1.54 billion gallons of ice cream and related frozen desserts were produced in the U.S. in 2015.
  • The majority of U.S. ice cream and frozen dessert manufacturers have been in business for more than 50 years and many are still family-owned businesses.
  • The ice cream industry in the United States contributes more than $39.0 billion to the national economy and creates more than 188,000 jobs in communities across the country.

So make sure to celebrate National Ice Cream Day this Sunday. I know I will! And let me know what flavor you get.

Time To Get Away!

I can’t believe the year is (slightly) more than half over! Where does the time go?! So it’s time to start thinking about summer vacations!

My family usually tries to get away for a few days every summer. This year we’re going to Maine and perhaps visiting Acadia National Park. From what I’ve seen of it online, it’s simply beautiful!

While not everyone can go on a vacation, many people will do so this year, and they will end up spending a lot of money. According to, Americans will spend a total of $101.1 billion on vacations this year, which is a 12.5% increase from 2016.

Some interesting vacation info from Generation Xers (those between the ages of 35 and 54) spend the most on a vacation, averaging $2,628 per person. Meanwhile, baby boomers only pay $1,865 on average, and millennials spend the least at $1,373.

According to, 44% of Americans said they are confident that they will be able to take a trip this summer.

What about you? Are you able to get away this summer? (or at least have a nice, relaxing “staycation”?) If you are able to go away, where do you plan on going? Let me know!

Here are some nice family summer vacation locations (either within or close to the United States), according to

  • Ocean City, MD
  • Puerto Rico
  • Whistler, British Columbia
  • Niagara Falls
  • Myrtle Beach, SC
  • New York City
  • Bahamas
  • Minneapolis – St. Paul, MN
  • Vail, CO
  • Virginia Beach, VA
  • Boston, MA
  • Portland, OR
  • Jackson Hole, WY
  • U.S. Virgin Islands

And there are certainly hundreds of other great places to visit! So, if you have any suggestions for our readers, let me know!

Remember: So if you’re traveling and unable to record your purchases, please let us know by contacting the Panel Support Center by phone at 1-800-962-6700 or email

If you’re an NCPMobile App user, you can continue to scan while away on vacation.

Have a great weekend!

How Are You Spending The Fourth Of July?

Independence Day is this coming Tuesday. How will you be spending the holiday? It’s a tradition for my family to have a BBQ and then head out to watch some fireworks.

What are you planning to do? Let me know!

This is how many Americans plan to spend the day, according to the National Retail Federation,

  • Cookout/BBQ/picnic: 65.5%
  • Fireworks/community celebration: 43.6%
  • Travel/vacation: 13.3%
  • Will not celebrate: 11.6%
  • Attending a parade: 13.5%
  • Other: 8.3%

This is also a time when many people go away on vacation. According to, 44.2 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home during the holiday weekend (Friday, June 30 to Tuesday, July 4), an increase of 2.9% compared with last year.

So if you’re traveling and unable to record your purchases, please let us know by contacting the Panel Support Center by phone at 1-800-962-6700 or email

If you’re an NCPMobile App user, you can continue to scan while away on vacation.

Thanks, and enjoy the holiday!

The Mystery Phrase Revealed!

It’s time to reveal the winning phrase in our Mystery Phrase promotion, which ran from June 1 to June 15. The winning phrase is …

Scan every week to earn the most rewards.

Congratulations to those who searched through the past blogs and found all the words and then also solved the Mystery Phrase!

We had thousands of correct responses. We then randomly selected the following five winners:

  • Charles B., Woodburn, OR
  • Lynn H., Pittsburgh, PA
  • Becky J., Muncy, PA
  • Miesha L., Paramount, CA
  • Kathy L., Lamesa, TX

These winners will receive their $50 Amazon Gift Card claim code within the next few days.

I just want to say thank you for the nice comments that many readers posted. We’re glad you enjoyed participating in this promotion!

For those who want to know where to find the words that make up the Mystery Phrase, they were in the following posts:

Scan – May 5, 2017
Every – September 8, 2016
Week – November 18, 2016
To – April 27, 2017
Earn – January 29, 2016
The – April 13, 2017
Most – August 5, 2016
Rewards – January 27, 2017

Thanks again, and have a great day!

Dad’s Day Is Coming

Father’s Day is almost here, and I know sometimes people wonder what to get or do for the dads in their lives.

And there are a lot of dads. In case you ever wondered how many fathers are out there, well the U.S. Census Bureau knows! According to the bureau, there are an estimated 72.2 million fathers across the nation in 2014, the most recent year for which data are available.

My kids and I have been trying to figure out what to do for my husband. He said he doesn’t want anything this year, so I’m working with the kids to come up with some ideas on what activities we can do.

Any suggestions? What will you be doing for Father’s Day? Let me know!

Here are some activities that dad might appreciate, according to the Readers Digest:

  • Fishing
  • Golfing
  • Beer tasting (my husband would definitely like this one!)
  • Visiting an amusement park
  • Having a spa day
  • Going to a car show
  • Attending a sporting event
  • Attending a musical performance
  • Attending a museum or art show
  • Cooking
  • Traveling
  • Volunteering with the kids

For those looking to purchase something for dad, Father’s Day sending is expected to reach an average of $134.75, up from last year’s $125.92, according to the National Retail Federation. Total spending is expected to reach $15.5 billion!

Here are some of the most popular items that people will pick up for dad, according to the National Retail Federation:

  • Greeting cards: 64.3%
  • Clothing: 46.1%
  • Gift certificates/gift cards: 42.6%
  • Books or CDs: 23.9%
  • Consumer electronics/Computer related: 21.2%
  • Personal Care: 20.9%
  • Sporting goods or leisure items: 16.7%
  • Tools or appliances: 16.3%
  • Home improvement or gardening supplies: 16.2%
  • Automotive accessories: 16.1%

While 48% will take dad to a special outing, such as dinner or bunch.

Whatever you do for Father’s Day, I hope you have a great day!


What Are You Snacking On?

It’s late in the afternoon as I write this, and boy could I use a snack! Who doesn’t like a good snack?

According to The Nielsen Company, “the total salty snack category accounted for more than $27.5 billion in sales across Nielsen-measured U.S. retail stores for the year ended Feb. 25, 2017.”

That’s a lot of snacks!

According to Nielsen, despite the fact that consumers want to eat better, snacking trends appear to be shifting away from snack bars, cereal snacks and dried fruits.

In addition, the potato chip category, which has more than $7.2 billion in annual sales, had a sales increase of just 1.7% for the recent year. Pretzels, meanwhile, lost 0.5% in sales in the last year, pulling in just under $1.5 billion.

Any meat snack fans out there? While potato chips and popcorn still lead the way, meat snacks are a growing snack category. Nielsen said the meat snack category – made up of jerky and sticks – has posted annual sales growth of more than 7% over the past four years. During that time, sales totaled $2.8 billion.

To be specific, American households spend an average of $25.81 per year on meat snacks. Other growing areas are pork and seafood snack products. (Yes, seafood snacks!)

What types of snacks do you like best? Are you in to meat (or seafood) snacks? Let me know!

It’s Not Too Late To Play Our Mystery Phrase Promotion
Do you want a chance to be one of five winners who’ll each receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card claim code?

Then take part in our Mystery Phrase promotion. Even if you don’t win, it’s a ton of fun to participate!

Here’s a reminder of what you have to do:

  • Read through our past blogs and look for eight highlighted words. (The words will be in bold and in red font.)
  • Construct a coherent NCP-related sentence – the so-called “Mystery Phrase” – using the eight highlighted words that you found. (The sentence must match NCP’s predetermined phrase. Please do not create your own phrase.)
  • Send your entry to with the subject line, Mystery Phrase, and include your name and phone number (in case we need to contact you). Only one entry per person will be accepted.We’ve had a good response so far, but there’s still time to enter. The contest ends on Thursday, June 15.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Play Our Mystery Phrase Promotion And You Could Win a $50 Gift Card

It’s time for some fun! We thought it would be cool to have a contest. Hopefully you’ll find it fun – and rewarding!

You’ll have to do a little work, but you could be one of five people who’ll each win a $50 Amazon Gift Card* claim code.

Here’s what you have to do:

  • Read through our past blogs and look for eight highlighted words. (The words will be in bold and in red font. Hint: You may have to go all the way back to the early blogs!)
  • Construct a coherent NCP-related sentence – the so-called “Mystery Phrase” – using the eight highlighted words that you found. (The sentence must match NCP’s predetermined phrase.)
  • Send your entry to with the subject line, Mystery Phrase, and include your name and phone number (in case we need to contact you).
  • Five winners will then be selected in a random drawing. Each winner will receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card claim code!
  • The contest ends on Thursday, June 15, so get started soon!

Remember: The eight words could be in any of our past blogs, so you’ll have to do a little searching. (But the words are highlighted.)

Make sure to check out the rules.

If you have any questions, please contact us at with the subject line, Mystery Phrase Question.

Good luck to all, and have fun! is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Gift Cards (“GCs”) cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.

Commemorating Memorial Day

Memorial Day is this Monday, and we always think of it as the unofficial start of summer, a day of BBQing or shopping, a (possible) long weekend away from work and perhaps traveling to see family and friends.

But it is also a day where we remember those who died serving our country.

My family and I will be traveling to see some relatives and enjoy a BBQ. But we’ll also spend some time at a local National Cemetery placing flags on fallen solders’ gravesites.

What are your Memorial Day weekend plans? Let me know.

I came across some fascinating Memorial Day facts from that I’d like to share with you:

  • 75% of Americans plan to BBQ over the Memorial Day weekend
  • 41.4% of Americans are likely to take advantage of Memorial Day deals
  • 39.3 million Americans plan to travel over the Memorial Day weekend (a 2.7% increase over 2016)
  • 88.1% of Memorial Day weekend travelers will drive to their destination (a 2.4% increase from 2016)
  • 2.9 million people are expected to travel by plane over the Memorial Day weekend (5.5% increase over 2016)

And some sobering statistics:

  • 42+ million: The number of veterans who’ve served the country in war time
  • 1.3 million: Members of the armed services have lost their lives in conflict
  • 260,000: Graves at Arlington National Cemetery that are adorned with American flags each Memorial Day

Reminder: Our Panel Support Center will be starting the Holiday Weekend a little early. Our team will be available Saturday from 10 a.m. ET to 2 p.m. ET to assist you. We will be closed on Monday in observance of the holiday. We’ll be back on Tuesday May 30, at 9 a.m. ET.  

Get Out And Garden!

If you haven’t already done so (depending on where you live), now’s the time to get out and work on your garden. My husband and I have spent the last few (dry) weekends raking and cleaning up, getting ready to start our planting.

Gardening is a favorite hobby for many people. And even if it’s not your favorite activity, many people still do it. In fact, according to, 74% of all U.S. households participated in lawn and garden activities in 2016. The average amount spent on gardening per household was $407.

Food gardening and flower gardening were the most popular gardening activities, according to the National Gardening Survey. About one out of three households participated in food gardening (36 percent) or flower gardening (34 percent). Households spent an estimated $3.6 billion growing vegetables, fruit, berries and herbs and $2.7 billion on flower gardening.

Do you like to garden? If so, what’s your favorite thing to do in the garden? What do you not like to do? (For me, it’s weeding. UGH!)

Anyone have any good gardening tips they’d like to share? Let me know, I’m always interested in learning more about gardening.

Don’t Forget To Scan Your Garden-Related Purchases
Please record all your lawn and garden purchases. Many of the items you might buy for your garden or lawn are large or come in big, bulky packages or containers, such as topsoil, fertilizer, wood chips, rakes, wagons, wheelbarrows, and so on. These types of items are typically stored away in garages or sheds before and after use, so before you store these don’t forget to scan them.

Send Us A Picture Of Your Garden
Have a nice picture (or two) of your garden you’d like to share? Well, just send it to and we’ll try to publish it here in the blog or in an upcoming NCP Newsletter! (Please send the photo as a .jpg attachment.)

Enjoy your weekend, and get outside if you can!