Friday, January 21, 2011

Day 340- Gourmet Food, Super Budget Style

When my family first moved to Charleston, they had a place called Trader Joe's. I was *so* excited. For most of the rest of the country (like California, which we'd just moved from) Trader Joe's is the magic kinda-discounted super grocer to the crunchy types (that'd be me, in case you were wondering).

In Charleston, I was disappointed to learn, it's a cheap-o furniture shop.

Except now. Sometime in the next who knows how many months, we are getting a Trader Joe's. A real one, with frozen veggie meats and 2 buck chuck (which I'm assuming isn't $2 anymore...).

And that is great and amazing, and all sorts of other things. But, while it'll make wine cheaper (sometimes, a little), I've done without so long that it just doesn't show up in my arsenal. Oh, yeah, and it's going to be on the other side of town from where ever I end up. It's probably also going to open after I leave (they always do).

So how and where do I plan to buy these tasty gourmet bits?

They don't have them at Save-a-lot. The most exciting that place gets is avocados and queso fresco.

Anyway, just like knowing that the Circle K usually has the best price on soda (2 for $2.26 incl. tax), or that Dosher's (IGA) has the best deals on meat (usually), a huge selection of food service sized cans, and a really nice dry bean selection. Or that the normally freakishly expensive Harris Teeter puts things on sat at 5 for the price of two, plus double and (sometimes) triple coupons. Or that Publix is the only store around here that lets you get one item at half price if it's on sale buy one get one. Just like all that, it's important to know where to get the stuff that actually *tastes good*.

Earthfare *had* bulk spices. They seem to have gone missing. World market has a whole tiny wall of spice packets for a dollar each (plus UK baked beans... <3), but other stuff there can be crazy expensive. Big Lots, though, that's a magic place. And until yesterday, I thought it was too far away.

Yesterday, though, after most of a year living in this foul suburb, I found a Big Lots no more than 3 miles away. A Big Lots with jars of sundried tomatoes in olive oil for $1, and mango in syrup for $1.20. There were pickles and sauces, and fancy mustards for $1-$2.50. There was a whole *wall* of canned fruit for pies, all less than $1.50 a can. And organic whole wheat pasta for $1.20 a pound. Oh, and Dad's root beer, which I didn't think you could find on this coast ever, at all.

Obviously it isn't a place you can go to with a list- who knows what'll be there- and once you're there you have to be careful with prices, 'cause some things go on sale at lower prices elsewhere. For crazy stuff that normally wouldn't find its' way into a low-budget menu, though, it's a magic place.

What did I get? Well, though the mango and the tomatoes were both calling to me, I hate moving open food *more* than I hate moving dry food, so I picked up a pound of pasta for 82 cents, including tax.


  1. I would die without Trader Joe's. I didn't ever shop there until we had the grocery worker's strike many years ago. Now, it's all the time.

    We have 3 of them.

  2. I know, right? Last time I went someplace with one I went in and just walked around. All the affordable(-ish) yummy stuff. Olives aren't carry on safe, or I'd have grabbed some for sure...

  3. Awesome finds at Big Lots! I wish we had Trader Joe's here. I miss them.

  4. Trader Joe's has a whole bag of frozen mango halves for only $1.29! and frozen blueberries for $1.99! Lots of organic stuff and yummies! It is my FAVORITE place to go for food since I moved here to the Eastern coast. I hope hope you get one there before you would love it!

  5. Frozen mango halves? ZOMG! I hope they open soon! I'll have to check around for a date. I'm sure it's out there somewhere, in the vastness of the internets.

    Really, I heard they (sometimes) have affordable vegan ravioli, and I just want that. The rest would be a bonus.