Eating on the cheap can be difficult: sometimes you have to forgo interesting meals and top-flight ingredients, skip trendy or well regarded restaurants or limit where you shop. Or at least that’s the conventional wisdom. I’ve found that a little ingenuity, flexibility and investigative shopping can help you limit the hurt and keep you eating organic produce and Whole Foods cheese (at least the mid-grade stuff).
Of course, what I’m talking right now is coupon clipping. Hey, it worked for your Grandmother; it can work for you too. And coupon clipping is slowly becoming a movement: even the young can get behind something like this in a … whatever we’re calling the economy right now.
With that, your editors introduce what we decided to call the Grocery List (a hopefully recurring feature), where we find the deals at local grocery stores so you don’t have to. We’ll even suggest recipes. First up, that well-known bastion of savings, the Logan Circle Whole Foods.
I know that Whole Foods on a budget seems somewhat improbable (or oxymoronic even), but as we’ve written here, the upscale grocery store is trying to remake its image. And in only the few short weeks I’ve been living here, the Logan Circle WF has drastically changed how it presents it food. Little orange signs proclaiming “More of the good stuff for less!” were everywhere. You could barely find the 1/4 pound of dried morels for a mere $22.99. So give Whole Foods points for trying.
There were a number specials this week, many in the fresh fruit section. You could save $1.50/lb on nectarines (only 99¢ a pound). We found dollar off specials in pineapple, papaya, cherries and raspberries as well. But the best combined specials came together to form a more traditional entree: turkey chili.
From Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything
1 lb. ground turkey ($2.99/lb, savings of $2/lb)
2 cups peeled, chopped and seeded tomatoes (99¢/lb, savings of $1.50/lb)
2 cups dried black beans ($1.50 for a bag of about 24oz)
2 onions – one whole, unpeeled and one minced ($1.49/lb)
1 Tbs cumin
1 Tbs chili powder
1 Tbs garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 dried chili ($2.99 for a bag with about 75 chilies)
Cook the beans in a large pot; cover with water. Bring to a boil and skim any foam. Add the uncut onion and turn the heat down so the beans simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender (about 1 to 2 hours). Season with salt and pepper. While the beans are cooking, brown the turkey, and season with salt, pepper and chili powder.
Drain the beans, and reserve some of the cooking liquid. Discard the onion. Add all the remaining ingredients. Cover, turn the heat to low, and cook another 15 minutes, continuing to stir occasionally, until the beans are very tender.
Serve with corn chips, or Kettle Potato Chips (3 for $5.00, a savings of $2.17). Enjoy a Santa Cruz lemonade; at four 32oz bottles for $5.00, you’ve saved $4.96. Or, if you’re looking for something slightly more adult, try a bottle of Green Bridge Zinfandel ($6.99/bottle, a savings of $2).
There you go: a meal for four costs you about $22 (including the wine, and the entire bag of chilies, but presuming you don’t have to buy spices), or $5.50 a person. That’s about the same as getting a Whopper and fries at Burger King, and this comes with booze!