Posted by The Frugal Diva on 6th January 2013
When it comes to food, join the club. You may not have gotten into the sorority you wanted, the country club you desired, or that hip night spot. However we can all join Costco, Ralphs, and Vons.
Pay attention to the specials and coupons making them work for you. You don’t make blueberry muffins in the dead of winter when they are $7.00 for a teeny carton, you make them in the summer when there is a bumper crop. Two large cartons for $4.00, means muffins for everyone. Freeze the leftovers and dole them out when school starts.
Everything goes on special at one time or another. If possible stock up every time your brand of laundry detergent, toothpaste, or pickles become a loss leader. Swoop, pounce, hunt down the foods you love. Save time and money by having everything handy for dinners and lunches. For every ready made frozen dinner where you pay for packaging and advertising instead of real food, you can cook up a home made casserole and divide it into freezer containers. Be healthy, be happy, and save money.
Now you don’t have to get fanatical. A rotisserie chicken from the market saves time that might be used for better activities. Paired with a salad, a baked potato, or a cooked vegetable this will save your life when work, kids, and obligations become over whelming. Better to pick a healthy prepared food and dress it up for dinner then to wear yourself out at the end of what is probably a too long day. And use the leftover chicken, to make a bountiful chicken soup the next day with ready made broth, fresh carrots, fresh celery, and potatoes or pasta.
Imagination makes for the best recipe.
Once I forgot to pick up cheese for a cheese cake recipe. Presto, instead of cheesecake it turned into a flan. As long as the ingredients are fresh, you will get something that tastes good. It may not always be great but even professional cooks have an off night.
Now the one thing that makes for good taste and good nutrition is good produce. The best source that I have found are ethnic markets. You will find greens you never knew existed, small local apples, plums that ooze with juice, bok choy that was picked yesterday, and herbs by the armful at prices that are shockingly low. Make friends, ask someone next to you for a recipe. Sample the spices that are priced way below supermarket prices. Interesting breads, new brands of yogurt, beans you never saw before, different kinds of rice, exotic teas, prepared foods at a great price-these are just a few of the new experiences open to you. Indian, Cuban, Asian, Russian, Middle Eastern or check out what your city has to offer. They all provide a unique experience and a window into another culture.
These are some of my favorites in Los Angles:
Nijiya Market at 2130 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025 for ready made sushi, Japanese snacks, Asian vegetables, and a huge selection of soy sauce and miso.
Elat Market at 8730 W Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90035 has fabulous produce and herbs at unbelievable prices and homemade hummus. Please note they are closed on Friday night and Saturdays and all Jewish holidays.
Grand Central Market at 317 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013 is a food court with produce stands or a produce court with food stands. Buy cheap veggies, authentic Latin spices, or pick up from the various ready to go food stands. They are open every day from 9 AM to 6 PM>
Surfas at 8777 W Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232 for all things gourmet. When you need that one special item that will make a meal outstanding, stop at Surfas for sprinkles for cupcakes, all manner of baking tins, exotic cheeses, infinite varieties of chocolate, or dried herbs. They are decently priced for non imported items however this is not bargain shopping.
Explore and let me know what you’ve found in these fun markets and your favorites.