Thursday, March 6, 2014

Don't Overlook These Food Sources

When it comes to finding deals on grocery items, don't overlook your local Dollar Store or Restaurant Supply Store.

We have two restaurant supply stores around here but only one of them carries fresh fruits and vegetables.  Often, unless something is a loss leader at the grocery store that particular week, I can get Fruits and Veg cheaper at the restaurant supply store.

I made a trip up last Saturday and got Strawberries, 3 lbs. for $5.

$1.67 a container beat out even the grocery stores which had Florida strawberries as loss leaders for $2.50 a lb.
Regular price on fresh strawberries around here is $3.99 or higher.

I also picked up a 5lb. bag of carrots for $2.49.

Carrots last a long time so no problem using these up.  Carrots are so versatile in savory or sweet dishes.  I usually shred some to put in meatloaves or meatballs too.  I use to shred carrots into my spaghetti sauce when the kids were little and needed more veggie matter in their diets.....they were never the wiser.

The largest bag the local grocers carry around here is a 2lb. or on occasion a 3lb. bag.  Regular price for a 1lb. bag is $1.49.

I bought some yellow squash on this trip too(though I didn't take a picture of it).  It was $1.29 lb.(regular price at the restaurant supply store)but I usually wait until it goes on special for .99¢.  IF I can get yellow squash at the grocery stores here(as they are usually out unless it's July or so)it goes for $2.99 lb.

I also buy my onions in bulk at the restaurant supply store, if the farm stand is not open when I need them.

I got this 25 lb. bag for $13.49.  That's .54¢ a lb. compared to the .83¢ I have to pay for the regular priced  grocery store variety.  I prefer to buy 50lb. sacks of onions as that is the most economical.  I just finished up the last 50lb. sack I got at the farm stand last September.  Since the garage where I keep my makeshift plastic tub/root cellar is too cold now, this sack will live in the corner of the kitchen until the end of March.
Onions can be cheap and a great addition to dishes when you need flavor.

And Spring time means Asparagus Season.  I picked up 4 lbs. of this tasty weed on Saturday at $1.49 lb.  Regular price at the grocery store here is $3.99 lb. and I've only seen it go as low as $1.99 right around Easter time only.
There is nothing better(or better for you)than a plate of "spear points"!  ;-)
We prefer to grill or roast ours, rather than steam them.  The direct fire brings out the sugars in them. Mmmmm......

Another place I will do some food shopping is at our Dollar Store, the ones that have a refrigerated and frozen section.

I love Gyoza or Japanese Pot Sticker Dumplings.
But what I don't love is paying an outrageous price for them.  A reasonable priced brand disappeared off the market shelves here so I checked out the restaurant supply store and found a bag of approx. 50 dumplings went for $16.99.
So one day while checking the Dollar store I spied Gyoza Dumplings, bags of 10-11 for $1.
Same amount of dumplings as the $16.99 bag for $5.00.

I also buy frozen fruit at the Dollar Store for dessert toppings or fillings, smoothies, or to flavor iced tea or for just thawing and eating.

Recently one of the Dollar stores here started carrying frozen seafood.  These salad shrimp are great for shrimp salad sandwiches(1 3oz. package is the perfect size).  I got some scallops as well. 

There is a specific company that I can't recall at the moment that makes a seafood a crab cake but it has shrimp and scallops in it as well.  It's very tasty but at $9 a box(for 2 cakes), it's quite pricey.  When I can pick up crabmeat on special, these shrimp and scallops will allow me to replicate that seafood cake without spending $30 on the ingredients.
These small shrimp and scallops are also good for adding to dishes like stews or casseroles or stir-frys....dishes were a big nice piece of seafood/fish isn't the star attraction but where you want the flavor of these items to shine through.
I make a fancy pants dish of scallops, mushrooms and asparagus in a cheese sauce inside a puff pastry shell.  It's quite elegant really and decadent.

Ok, I've babbled on enough here.  Just a thought about thinking outside the box when it comes to finding food.



  1. I wish we had a restaurant supply store close here... My best bet is a Mexican store. I usually match their prices because I don't like the stares I get when I go there (or rude cashiers). But I got strawberries for 99c a pound yesterday thanks to it. Kids were ecstatic :)

  2. Great suggestions!!! I was at Aldi's last night and got a lb of carrots for just under a $, so they're an option too. I've got to check the restaurant supply stores. How would I find one?

    1. In the phone book....or ask someone the next time you go out to eat where they get their supplies from.

    2. I found a discount food center west of Des Moines....

  3. I buy boxes of broth at the Dollar Tree. The same size box goes for almost four dollars in the grocery store! I get frozen veggies there too and the green tea bags I use for iced tea. Yes, it's in my regular rotation too!

  4. Sluggy
    Alternative shops/stores as I call them, are great resources. While our dollar stores don't carry produce, they DO carry fzn bags of USA fruit and veg. Just watch the weight of the packages, to compare them to normal sized pkgs, if applicable. Some great deals to be found, absolutely!

  5. I go to the restaurant supply for ricotta cheese, shredded mozzarella and all things Italian. I buy n large quantities and then make 4-6 lasagna and things at a time and freeze. So much cheaper.

  6. I love the dollar stores for pasta, but now I'm going to check for the frozen gyoza because we LOVE those! I've seen the Bird's Eye Steamfresh veggies there for $1 which is a good deal too when compared to the regular grocery store price.

  7. My favorite place to shop now is the Asian food market. 10 lb bag of onions for 2.99; packages of 6 yellow peppers for a $1.00. Cucumbers for 50 cents each. Very cheap. Tons of variety. I do worry about pesticides however so scrub scrub scrub!!

  8. I'm jealous, so jealous... the only things we have around here are Food Lion, Acme, and maybe Walmart if I travel far enough. No warehouse stores, no ethnic stores... meh. We do have a dollar general store near work, but I always thought their prices were high for normal stuff--couldnt imagine them for food, but I'll have to check. I love gyozas too, but I have to either make them myself or take a big indulge fund to it, because they're pricey... I'll definitely take a stroll to a dollar general/store/family dollar next time I'm around.

    1. Don't bother going to those discount stores with Dollar in the name looking for these bargains.....they aren't Dollar stores if everything isn't $1. lol

  9. Love, love, love dollar stores for food. But at ours if you find something you like, you had better get it all and freeze it as it won't be there next time.

  10. Clever!
    I have never thought of buying food in those places.


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