My husband Chuck is going to kill me. Yesterday we went to Vons Supermarket and spent $143.00 on groceries. We eat at home most of the time, and — aside from his beloved El Monterey Frozen Chimichangas — we eat food mostly cooked from scratch.
After our trip I told him I would need to make a small Trader Joe’s trip for some staples like olive oil, eggs and butter, all relatively cheaper there than at the supermarkets. I told him I would wait until today though, as I had everything I needed for the time being, including dinner that night.
So this morning at work the producer of one of the morning shows offered me some cheese curds. “These are from Wisconsin!” she proudly lauded (she and the whole morning show hail from Milwaukee). “But,” she added, “I got these right over at Sprouts!”
A light went off in my head as I savored the delightful curd, and there was no question that I would be hitting Sprouts on my way to Trader Joe’s — just for cheese curds.
Let me back up by saying that being the avid Foodie that I am, going to the grocery store equals the artist hitting the art supply store. And like most people, I enjoy getting the most bang for my buck, so I will base a whole week of meals on what is on sale.
So after the gym this morning I bee-lined over to Sprouts, which, for those that aren’t familiar, is (to me, at least) the poor man’s Whole Foods. Instead of spending $1.29 for a voluptuous bunch of green onions, I will spend a dollar on two or three average-looking bunches.
As I look over the potted herbs outside the store, I wonder if it’s cheaper to buy the potted plant, take a few snips for a particular dish, then take a chance on my brown thumb not killing it; or simply buying already-cut fresh herbs. I don’t see dill anywhere, and that’s what I need for the Penne with Smoked Salmon and Vodka Sauce I plan to make either tonight or tomorrow. Remembering that Chuck isn’t a big fan of dill anyway, I opt for the dried stuff they have in the bulk department; just a pinch of that in the dish should do it, plus I have some extra dried for something down the road.
I start thinking about homemade hummus. Tahini Paste! Need some! $6.49! Okaaaay. Roasted Garlic Hummus sounds enticing, so at 5 heads for $1.00 let’s do it! Oh yeah, what did I come here for? Cheese curds! After searching the cheese counter I finally find some…the last pack of the ones like I tried this morning. Plenty of the Cajun ones, though, but I pass on those.
I’ll be making a wheatberry salad this week, which always tastes a little more edgier with some crumbled feta, so into my basket goes a small block of that cheese.
My stomach is growling, so I look over the ready-made salads in the deli. I see a Mediterranean-style orzo salad, so I get a small container of that to eat in the car between markets.
I briefly peruse the meat and fish counter and I see a great deal on jumbo scallops, so I order a pound. The gentleman working the counter asks if I planned to wrap them in bacon. I said I loved that idea, and have tried it (with pancetta instead of bacon — the two cook more evenly that way), but I confess that my plan is to sear the scallops, then whip up a butter, white wine and cream sauce, and add that to the seared scallops, then serve it all over roasted-garlic mashed potatoes.
$33.00 later I am sitting in my car in the Sprouts parking lots taking a few bites of this amazing orzo salad. I check out the ingredients and decide I must learn to make it.
Trader Joe’s is right next to a Ralphs Supermarket so I head into Ralphs first for orzo and garbanzo beans. I’m thinking about other salads, ones that Chuck particularly likes, and I decide to throw in some multi-colored rotini for a pasta salad for him, since he’s not a fan of some of the orzo salad ingredients, and I have a stick of good pepperoni at home that would go well in it.
At Trader Joe’s I not only seek out the previously mentioned staples, but I also meander over to their cheese department for some mozzarella to throw into Chuck’s pasta salad, plus some St. Andre cheese — because you just never know when you might get a craving, but even more so, it is one of Chuck’s favorites to have with a baguette.
I collect a few more items, including jars of sun-dried tomatoes and pitted Kalamata olives (for the orzo salad) plus (on a whim, as I hardly ever eat it) some tofu to perhaps make some sort of miso soup with (since I have had a tub of miso paste sitting in my fridge the past 3 weeks). Pine nuts aren’t cheap, but they go a long way, so I grab a bag, with the thought of topping my homemade roasted garlic hummus with a few of those nuts.
I hold off on any breads this trip, as I doubt I’ll be making anything requiring bread within the next day or so. I broke a tooth on a pita chip a couple years ago (almost prompting me to write a letter to the company), and although I have no problem with pita bread, I recently found that there is nothing quite so delightful as a sourdough baguette for schmearing fresh hummus with.
So I come home, unload all the groceries in my cluttered, messy kitchen; then I decide a clean kitchen may help to buffer the extra $80 I spent on groceries just today, so I get busy.
An hour later — with Boz Scaggs’ Dig CD playing 2½ times during — I have a clean kitchen and plans for a plethora of great meals (that we’ll both enjoy) to make this week.
I decide baked chicken breasts and thighs would be a better dinner tonight — with roasted potatoes — as I can chop up leftover chicken breasts to make him chicken salad sandwiches for a couple of his lunches.
Chuck and I disagree on plenty, but he tends to lay a lot of trust in me when it comes to meals. I pride myself in that trust.
The chicken and potatoes are ready. Bon appétit and goodnight!