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Inexpensive grocery items that are surprisingly good

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A recent posting about buying "better butter" got me to thinking. I buy my butter from Save-a-Lot. The brand is Coburn Farms and costs $1.99 for the pound (4 sticks). While I can't claim to have tried every butter out there, this is the best I've ever had. Really made a difference in my Christmas cookies.
Another "cheap favorite" of mine is Kroger's Neufchatel cheese. It's what Philadelphia brand calls "1/3 fat cream cheese". The Kroger cheese is superior to the Philadelphia brand---we like it even better than any "full fat" cream cheese we've tried. It usually sells for about $1 (less when on sale) for the 8 oz. package.
So, what are YOUR favorite food bargains?

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  1. Mine are

    *TJ's tuscano tomato sauce in the can. Closest to fresh when I can't make my own

    *stop and shop bagged/frozen chopped broccoli. In the winter fresh is pricey so when I just need something to add to recipe that will be cooked down is I buy this stuff. I stick with fresh when eating as is or steamed

    *

    3 Replies
    1. re: foodieX2

      Intresting. I buy frozen broccoli a lot for my pureed broccoli soup, and i usually get TJ's. They haven't had it lately, so I picked some up at S&S...No diff, i figured. But it was almost ALL stem chunks! It really made a differnce in flavor. i have no problem with stems; eat them all the time when I get fresh. But I'd like to know where all the flowerettes went!

      1. re: galleygirl

        Not all frozen Brocc. is the same, apparently...I've seen "cuts," "florets," and just plain frozen broccoli. Depending on what you're doing with it, the prices will be different, too.

      2. re: foodieX2

        Shouldn't broccoli be cheaper in the winter? I just harvested mine last month. And I think I paid .99/lb for crowns last month, too (sale price).

      3. I generally don't go to "regular" supermarkets as they really tend to suck in Manhattan (and I live closer to a Whole Foods than to a supermarket) -- but I used get Cento tomato paste when I lived in Queens. It's really sweet and not as acidic as some of the other brands, including the higher end ones.

        1. When I can't make my own chicken broth, I turn to a store brand, Sunny Select fat-free, low sodium chicken broth. It is nice and light and has truer fresh chicken broth flavor, much better than its expensive cousin, imho.

          Also Mexican pastas are very inexpensive, sometimes lower in calories, and make a decent pasta.

          1. I recently bought Stop & Shop brand Chocolate Chip Mint Ice Cream. I only bought it because they were out of that flavor in Hagen Daz and Breyers. To my surpirise, it was better than Breyers and almost as good as Hagen Daz...and a lot cheaper!

            1. Mojave spices. They're usually with the Mexican food around here. I use the ground cumin, ground oregano, cinnamon sticks, and the dried basil. Also, some of the middle eastern and Indian markets in this area carry spices and herbs at way lower prices than mainstream supermarkets or Whole Foods. Black mustard seed is incredibly cheaper in Indian markets.

              1. A 2006 article in the ny times labeled these as "supermarket gems":

                MCCANN’S STEEL-CUT IRISH OATMEAL
                DIETZ AND WATSON BACON
                TOTAL YOGURT
                PROGRESSO LENTIL SOUP
                RED OVAL FARMS STONED WHEAT THINS
                CABOT SHARP CHEDDAR CHEESE
                BOURSIN PEPPER CHEESE
                B&M BAKED BEANS
                NATHAN’S FAMOUS/HERMANN’S PICKLES
                RAO’S TOMATO BASIL PASTA SAUCE
                WALKERS SHORTBREAD
                KOZY SHACK RICE PUDDING
                BAHLSEN CHOCO LEIBNIZ COOKIES

                11 Replies
                  1. re: Hensley

                    But not all particularly inexpensive. :-) Rao's is outrageously priced, for example, compared to other jarred sauces. Doesn't mean it's not worth it (I've never tried, actually), but it can't be called inexpensive.

                    1. re: CrazyOne

                      You also can't call Cabot's cheese inexpensive... sure you can "buy" it in a supermarket, but it's not an "inexpensive" supermarket find.

                      1. re: Jennalynn

                        nor is fage yogurt. even at TJ's it's more expensive than other brands.

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          nor boursin, nor walker's shortbread cookies....not inexpensive.

                        2. re: Jennalynn

                          Depends where you are. Up here in the sticks Cabot's cheeses seem to be almost always on sale - 2 for $5.00 for the sticks. I've been buying them for years - very nice cheeses!

                          1. re: Jennalynn

                            Yeah, but it's KILLER!!! Nearly as good as the artisnal butter and cheese that I've bought at FairWay in Manhattan. I think Cabot is cheaper and it's really good.

                      2. re: Val55

                        I would add Barilla pasta to this list.

                        1. re: foodiemommy

                          I would agree. We also like Trader Joe's Bucati. It has a great shape and it's a real utility player. I'm not crazy about most fresh pasta that we can get around here, but there's a Safeway Select chicken and prosciutto borsalini that's pretty good. It's not super cheap but it's less expensive than the competitors and better.

                        2. re: Val55

                          thanks for the list! i've found that MacCann's is much cheaper at trader joes than at regular supermarkets

                          1. re: patz

                            I stock up near St Paddys Day at any of the local supermarkets, McCanns is always on sale at rockbottom prices around then.

                        3. Goya canned seafood $1.99/can. I've been using their canned octopus in an arugula, diced tomato, diced potato, olive and caper salad for years. Toss in chili flakes too . . .

                          1. Ralph's Private Selection ice creams... taste just like Thrifty, especially the mint chocolate chip and cookies'n'cream.

                            Ralph's brand Black Bean and Corn Salsa

                            Kroger or TJ's Fat Free Cottage Cheese (I prefer Kroger's, and really don't like Knudsen)

                            Lucerne Pecan Praline ice cream

                            Pepperidge Farm Bourdeaux Cookies (these are addictive... not a grocery item, per se, but...)

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Emme

                              I like Pepperidge Farm's mint milano cookies. Even the sugar-free ones are pretty good.

                              1. re: FoodieKat

                                So are their regular Milano cookies. But they are not inexpensive in my books (unless you go to their outlets).

                            2. Williams original chili seasoning in the foil pouch
                              Musselmann's unsweetened applesauce in a jar
                              Oberweis 1% cottage cheese
                              Bush's canned beans
                              Deming's canned Red Sockeye salmon
                              Riceland long grain white rice

                              20 Replies
                              1. re: sueatmo

                                I buy Demings canned salmon all the time and love it; very cheap at $1.99 per can in our area.

                                1. re: cooknKate

                                  on the topic of canned seafood, both at TJ's - brunswick sardines and alaskan pink salmon.

                                  kirkland balsamic vinegar.

                                  TJ's plain greek yogurt - and i honestly like it better than fage.

                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                    I will also jump on the canned seafood bandwagon with La Sirena Pica Pica Sardines at $1.29 a can. See my review of La Sirena on the Hot Sauce Blog at http://www.hotsauceblog.com/hotsaucea...

                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                      I know you'll know the answer to this, ghg. Is the nutritional info the same for TJ's plain greek yogurt as it is for Fage?

                                      1. re: mollyomormon

                                        of course i do :)

                                        and no, it's not the same. in fact, TJ's has a better nutritional profile.

                                        per ounce...

                                        fage:
                                        15 calories
                                        2.5 g protein
                                        1.1 g carbs
                                        1.1 g sugar
                                        18.7 mg calcium
                                        10.6 mg sodium

                                        TJ's:
                                        12.5 calories
                                        2.5 g protein
                                        0.6 g carbs
                                        0.4 g sugar
                                        25 mg calcium
                                        8.8 mg sodium

                                          1. re: mollyomormon

                                            happy to help. i'll be curious to hear your thoughts if you try the TJ's yogurt...

                                          2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                            I think TJ's greek yogurt tastes better and I like how it has less calories and sugar too.

                                            1. re: Jacey

                                              Once again, a good recommendation.

                                              Trader Joe's plain Greek yogurt is outstanding, too good in fact. Just as too good as Trader Joe's creamy peanut butter.

                                      2. re: sueatmo

                                        Wow, this is an old answer. I no longer use Oberweis cottage cheese. I prefer either Darigold or the WF 365 brand. I finally got serious abut eliminating unnecessary sodium from my diet.

                                        I have recently bought canned white salmon at Costco. Even though the Demings red is salty, I still prefer it for making salmon patties.

                                        I don't buy white rice any more. Riceland makes a perfectly fine brown long grain rice. But I also like buying a long grain rice in bulk at Winco now too.

                                        I don't use Williams chili seasoning any more either, but I would recommend it for someone who only makes chili occasionally. It is a good product with no added salt.

                                        1. re: sueatmo

                                          I prefer either Darigold or the WF 365 brand. I finally got serious abut eliminating unnecessary sodium from my diet.
                                          ~~~~~~~~
                                          The sodium is still pretty high in both of those brands. The only way to *really* cut down on your sodium intake from cottage cheese is to buy one of the no-salt-added products. My favorite is Friendship.

                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                            The salty flavor just got to me with the Obermann's. I don't taste it as much in the Darigold. I don't think I've ever seen the brand Friendship. But I'll have another look sodium contents. I just started eating Darigold when I moved to the PNW. I really rely on cottage cheese.

                                            1. re: sueatmo

                                              Ooh, I didn't realize where you are. Chances are slim that you'll find Friendship by you - Whole Foods may be the only place that carries it. Friendship is an East Coast dairy and their western distribution is really limited.

                                              There are other brands of NSA cottage cheese out there - maybe ask around at your local stores to see what's available?

                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                I checked all the brands I could find at Winco yesterday, and they all had high levels of sodium. The lowest was 380 per half cup. Darigold was over 400 I think.

                                                When I visit WF again, I'll be sure to check their brands.

                                            2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                              maybe i bought the low sodium friendship cottage cheese by mistake-- and wondered how cottage cheese could be so "blah." ha. nothing against your quest for low sodium, of course. i have to go check that container of friendship now in my fridge. (i love cottage cheese with canned pineapple chunks in their own juice. together they are like a lowfat cheesecake to me. my trader joe's no longer has the pineapple, which was fantastic. i guess it is "seasonal" as they told me, but i don't know what is the "season.").

                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                No offense taken, I know my preference for low-salt foods is unusual :)

                                                Friendship overhauled their packaging last year and some of the varieties are now really difficult to distinguish - the colors are way too similar. I was taking care of my mom for a while and bought her the wrong kind a couple of times - she loves the pot-style, but that container looks almost exactly like the "Digestive Health" variety. Oops.

                                                The NSA container is the only red one so it's easy for me to spot.

                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                  ghg, I always get one container of the 'orange' pot-style and two of the 'red' no salt added. :)

                                                2. re: alkapal

                                                  Alkapal, your TJs carries friendship cottage cheese?!

                                                  1. re: ohmyyum

                                                    i bought my friendship cottage cheese at "giant" grocery store, here in northern virginia.

                                          2. Stop & Shop coffee crumb cake.
                                            I can't explain why it would be so good... it just IS.
                                            And when we get it for the kids, i end up eating it all.

                                            1. Trader Joe's marinara sauce in jars, $1.99 ea., and it's the only store bought brand I can bring myself to eat. No Yolks egg noodles. 98% fat free Campbells' soups (when I can't be bothered to make my own). Whole Foods' 365 whole wheat pasta. Canned sardines (can't remember the brand) packed in olive oil. This is great for salads, and I also use it in my homemade tomato-based pasta sauce. Smart balance omega 3 spread and mayo. They taste pretty good and are lower in fat/cholesterol than some other brands. And I buy Jose's Vanilla Nut coffee from Costco (their organic canned tomatoes aren't bad either.)

                                              1. I've said this before and I'll say it again. Walmart's brand "Great Value" spaghetti sauce is the best jarred sauce I've tried. I usually buy the chunky vegetable and it's wonderful. Everyone always comments on it and can't believe where it comes from. $1.00 a jar, you can't go wrong. Their baked beans in the deli section are awesome and my kids love them. Chunck of bacon and onion, they taste like they were cooking all day.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: othervoice

                                                  You are so right about the walmart's sauce! I bought it but didn't want anyone (friends) to see it....but it was GOOD! And their raisin bran is good, too!

                                                  1. re: crn

                                                    wal-mart's "sam's choice" southwestern mustard is good, with a kick. one dollar!

                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                      walmart's pink grapefruit diet soda in the plastic bottles, is ridiculously fake, but also really good - used to drink it in college...

                                                  2. re: othervoice

                                                    I LOVE that sauce. It used to be my go to, alas, the new husband does not like sauces with even a hint of sweetness to them so I've switched. If I were ever going to be just cooking for myself that would be the one I'd use.

                                                  3. My sister swears by Wal-Mart's egg rolls in the deli.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: PDeveaux

                                                      Good to know, I'll give them a try soon.

                                                    2. Walmart had a salsa that my family loved. It was an Ancho Honey...can't remember the name exactly bottled under the Sams name. I bought a jar every week until it disappeared never to be seen again. Their other salsas just don't compare!

                                                      I also like the "Private Selection" ice cream. Is Ralph's a division of Kroger? We don't have Ralph's here but do have Scotts which was acquired by Kroger in the past year and they carry the ice cream.

                                                      Kroger Neufchatel is another one I use and I also use Coburn Farms butter when I shop at SavALot.

                                                      Bush's Beans and No Yolk Egg Noodles are staples in my house, the beans are almost a weekly item in the summer when we cook out or use the smoker a lot.

                                                      I also love to buy the Starkist Gourmet canned tunas.....lemon and dill and the garlic ones are good for lunch with crackers. They have them on sale frequently for $1 a can.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: alliedawn_98

                                                        wal-mart has a good "Sam's Southwestern Mustard" (or close) at 99 cents or so.

                                                        1. re: alliedawn_98

                                                          Ralph's IS a division of Kroger.

                                                          And oh, their chocolate truffle private selection ice cream is SO good!

                                                          1. re: alliedawn_98

                                                            The pouch tunas at Aldi make a nice lunch. They have a lemon one and a spicy one which is my favorite.

                                                          2. In all the supermarkets around Los Angeles, you can find the most inexpensive really good spices in the Hispanic food section.

                                                            A big cellophane bag of ground cumin or coriander or oregano is around 59 cents. Compare that with the teeeeeny bottles in the spice aisle that run around $3.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Jennalynn

                                                              I buy a lot of my spices and dried herbs from Rural King (a farm supply chain in the midwest). Their spices seem a lot stronger in flavor than the ones that cost $5 or more and they're only 89 cents for a decent sized bottle. In summer, when we're smoking and grilling a lot of meats, we buy their larger $1.99 bottles since we go through it a lot faster making rubs. I would guess they have a quicker turnover rate since their prices are so much better than the other stores and that's why their's are better.

                                                            2. I wish I could get a pound of butter for $1.99. The regular kind I buy in my local supermarket is $5.19.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: pescatarian

                                                                I melt butter to make fresh "Ghee" that normally is used in making indian sweets, i normally use CHALLENGE butter available in indian grocery stores like "pioneer cash & carry" or "farm fresh" stores (in Cerritos) i find it better than any other expensive ones ...

                                                              2. I have had real good luck with not-so-well-known brands of bacon. Supermarkets usually make a special purchase and advertise on sale them in their flyer. I have found some of the leanest bacon that way, and I haven't found it to be any different than any other "average bacon."

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: jacquelyncoffey

                                                                  winn-dixie thick cut bacon is quite good --- and a good price. their bulk breakfast sausage roll is good for eating and not too lean (making good gravy).

                                                                2. Kroger makes some good pasta for remarkably cheap...my favorite is their orichiette for both great quality and super-cheapness (99 cents), and the orzo comes in close second. Overall, I think Kroger does a good job with generic foods, as well as things like freezer bags and aluminum foil. If you're cooking super-cheap (in the past few years, I've been a grad student and I've been unemployed, so I know my cheap basics), any beans-and-carbs meal you can put together with kroger generics is going to be good and cheap.

                                                                  Another cheap-cooking-but-impresses-folks favorite of mine is Trader Joe's pizza dough. It works out to about $1 a pound, in white, wheat, spinach, and another flavor or two, and makes great other things like focaccia or calzones, too.

                                                                  A great trick for cheap meats is buying at a huge bulk place where you wouldn't really buy most things. WinCo in the northwest has chicken breasts in huge quantities for $1.19 a pound...freeze them two breasts at a time and they're still pretty damn practical for a single person. In the midwest, Cub is the same company (and Rainbow is comparable). In the mid-north-east, Food Lion is where I'd look first for similar deals. I can't find a great pot roast deal here in the NW, but Cub/Rainbow/Food Lion frequently offered cheap beef roast prices, too (for the marvelous crock-pot cheapo-extravaganzas).

                                                                  Interestingly, the cheapest butter I can get where I live (Portland, OR) is $3 for a pound at the farmer's market. I go through butter really slowly, but if I keep it in a freezer bag, it never gets funky-tasting in the fridge.

                                                                  There is really no better cost savings than buying spices in bulk rather than in a bottle. Whether you go to a Fred Meyer (kroger-owned) or Whole Foods or your local (otherwise super-expensive) co-op, when you pay $12 or even $18 a pound for spices, it's like paying twenty cents for a typical grocery-store plastic bottle that would normally cost you six bucks. If you don't already have a plastic bottle from the last time you bought the spice, you can spend $.99 for a decent glass spice jar at World Market or even Pier One.

                                                                  I also love getting bacon out of the meat case, not because it's cheap, but because I eat so little of it at a time. If you're buying three thick slices for clam chowder or for chili, go to the meat counter and not only will it be cheap, but it will be great, meaty bacon worthy of your chowder.

                                                                  I always have a huge bottle of Knorr's chicken broth powder in the cupboard for quick use in recipes where the broth isn't highlighted. Don't get the low-sodium stuff, you have to use twice as much which makes it twice as expensive. Their Spanish-language spicy chicken broth is also really good. In fact, lots of basics can be super-cheap at Mexican markets if you know the comparison prices (some things are also much more expensive).

                                                                  Dried beans are rarely a huge savings over canned, especially given the soaking time.

                                                                  If you end up with a lot more tomato paste or pesto than you needed, freeze it in ice cube trays, then once frozen, toss it in a freezer bag. I love getting the big, $2.19 tub of fresh basil from TJ's, using what I need for a recipe, then making the rest into pesto that lasts me for months. TJ's extra-virgin olive oil is also a great deal, and while not the top-of-the-line EVOO you'd use to drizzle on a great italian meal, it's better than anything else you can cook with for the same price.

                                                                  1. In Toronto, we have a grocery chain called "No Frills"; they offer a lot of "no name" (i.e. generic) products that I find are just as good as the brand names. Baked beans, salad dressings, bologna, salami, frozen burgers, etc. - about half to 2/3 the price of brand names, and I can't tell the difference when I eat them.

                                                                    But the best deal they have is their frozen turkey TV dinner. Turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and peas for $1.85 Cdn? That's about half the price of a Big Mac, and it's a much more complete meal. I wouldn't call it great cuisine, but for a single guy, when you're tired after a long day at work, popping one of these in the microwave is faster and cheaper than ordering a pizza, and it's surprisingly tasty. I don't like their chicken nugget or sliced beef dinners, so you have to keep your wits about you, but the turkey dinner is a great deal.

                                                                    1. Pickled anything from ZerGüt. Sauces, dips - it's all-kosher, all-Bulgarian goodness.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. chile in adobe sauce. 1.59 and fantastic in black beans, chicken tortilla soup, mixed in with mayo and fresh lime juice...fayefood.com

                                                                        1. Whole Foods Organic Spicy Black Beans-$0.88 a can, just spicy enough, a little saucy and way cheaper than the unseasoned, plain ol' black beans...Good go to when you don't want a whole pot of black beans...

                                                                          1. Anything that is Wegman's store brand. Really, I actually love their canned tomato prodcuts better than the more expensive ones. Their cereals are on par with the name brands and even their peanut butter is good. I have not tried everything, so there may be some that aren't as good, but I don't think of Wegman's as being 'generic' at all.

                                                                            1. pomi strained tomatoes- good no salt added tomato sauce
                                                                              Publix not from concentrate orange juice- better and normally cheaper than national brands
                                                                              Archer Farms bronze cut whole wheat pasta

                                                                              1. I like the La Fe brand Guava Paste sold at most NYC supermarkets. It's $1.79 at my local market. I prefer it to the Goya brand. I'll usually serve the guava paste with the Tropical Queso Blanco that costs $3.99 for 1 lb.

                                                                                I also love Heinz ketchup. I recently bought a bottle of Muir Glen ketchup. It was awful!

                                                                                1. Price Chopper black bean and corn salsa, really good and cheap. One step up in price, Paul Newman's salsa with pineapple. Also Paul Newman's balsamic vinegar --- not cheap like, say, Heinz apple cider vinegar --- but for balsamic, it's a bargain, better than many at MUCH higher prices.

                                                                                  1. Lucrene butter from Safeway is really good. I also am a big fan of the Kroger brand okra, that is cheaper than the other brands.

                                                                                    Sunflower Market here in CO has a lot of great brand named stuff that is sometimes as much as half off the price of the other brands. I had some excellent fresh tortillas for 99 cents, as opposed to paying $2.69 for the mission brand. Their kalamata olives were $3 cheaper per jar, and just as good!

                                                                                    1. Cape Cod potato chips $2.99
                                                                                      DeCecco spaghetti $1.59

                                                                                      Higher quality overall and shows in the taste.

                                                                                      1. Stater brothers hot dog relish. It's relish and mustard combined. Under $2 for a jar.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: Paul Weller

                                                                                          Bargains in Austin stores include Ruta Maya coffee (under $8 a pound for a solid espresso roast), the sourdough baguettes at Central Market, and just about anything from the fruits and vegetable section at Central Market or the Sunset Valley Farmer';s Market (except for weird stuff, like wild mushrooms and gooseberries!) It's astonishing how much further a dollar goes when you are buying produce! Also hit World Market for things in tins (like gingersnaps), cans, and bottles. I also like Espana Olive Oil in the gallon cans (Central Market, but not always available)...cheap enough to use liberally and good enough (but not great like some of those primo bottlings from Italy) to dunk that 99 cent sourdough baguette! Go to a Pakistani meat market on North Lamar that has three AISLES of spices...they are excellent and very cheap. Also their plain old basmati style rice is very inexpensive and quite good. Last but not least I bought a really big jar of Maille Dijon at Wms. Sonoma on their sale table. The expiration date had arrived. $3,00 for about a quart! Since I use a lot of mustard, I have never noticed mustard going bad so it seemed like a great deal to me. (Does mustard go bad?)

                                                                                        2. Lucerne brand (Safeway) 1% Cottage Cheese. I love this so much. The consistency and taste is so much better than most other brands out there.

                                                                                          Whole Foods 365 Brand-Roasted Veggie Pasta Sauce

                                                                                          TJ's Greek Yogurt

                                                                                          Safeway Brand Garlic Salsa-medium

                                                                                          8 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Jacey

                                                                                            Jiffy brand cornbread mix. I try to keep a couple of these little gems in my cupboard at all times. Just used a box for a last minute waffle request from the little one a few days ago..heavenly. (especially with blueberries)........

                                                                                            1. re: powella

                                                                                              I'd second that. I always have a box around. BTW, I keep it in the fridge. I have no idea what the shelf life is, but I've had a few around for a while, and they're still good. I have to admit that I have an extra fridge and store all kinds of grains and other stuff in there, so space is no object :-)

                                                                                              1. re: Judith

                                                                                                And when your zucchini or those gifted by friends arrives- grate/squeeze- use as maybe 80% of the liquid plus cheese- kids go wild.

                                                                                                1. re: torty

                                                                                                  Sort of like Impossible Pie?

                                                                                              2. re: powella

                                                                                                My late father always made Jiffy cornbread mix pancakes.

                                                                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                    I love to make cornbread waffles to serve as a base for stews. But not Jiffy - homemade for me.

                                                                                              3. re: Jacey

                                                                                                i'm a major anti-Knudsen cottage cheeser... favorite is Kroger and TJ's.

                                                                                              4. If you're in Europe and on a budget, you should definitely check out Lidl and Aldi. Both are German-owned chains which do very good deals on a lot of things. I especially like their cold meats and salamis, butter, prosecco (a staple in our house!) and continental cheeses (I even got Vacherin in a French Lidl once). They also have weekly specials, so you can pick up crazy things like a pet carrier, a fishing rod, or running gear, depending on when you go!

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                  There was one of those (forget which one) in a neighbourhood I was staying in, in Brussels. Also jarred and tinned fishy things, and indeed some surprisingly good cheap wine. Since they are German, sometimes they have that nice dark rye bread in plastic vacuum wrap.

                                                                                                  1. re: lagatta

                                                                                                    I usually buy that to have with the gravadlax that they also sell. They also do good juices - in the summer I get their peach nectar to make bellinis.

                                                                                                2. I am in NEPA and we don't have TJ's or Costco so I shop at Weis or Giant foods. I have found the best bargain for your buck is their brand of toaster pastries. (pop tarts) They are usually on sale for 99 cents a box of 6 compared to Pop Tarts which go for around 2.50 for a box of 6. They also taste much better in my opion. I have had a fresh pop tart right off the line that my driver snagged for me when I worked in a flour mill (we supplied pastry flour to Kelloggs) and even that didn't compare to the store brand.

                                                                                                  1. If your store has them, Uno's deep dish refrigerated pizzas in the deli are $7. If you cook like instructed in a round pan with some veg. oil, they taste exactly like the ones from the restaurant. Very yummy.

                                                                                                    1. I used to buy Bob's Red Mill semolina flour for pasta making at $3.49 to $4.29 a pound, then found a 4-pound bag at an International Supermarket (Indian section) for $6.00. I've never gone back to Bob's - the only difference I can tell is that the Indian brand might be ground just a bit finer, but that works perfectly for pasta.

                                                                                                      I also get plastic containers at GFS - I don't know how large this chain is, but Gladware and the like is generally about $2-$3 for a 3-pack. I buy a sleeve of 50 tubs and a sleeve of lids for about $8 total. They don't hold up quite as well, but they're perfect for food gifts, leftovers, etc.

                                                                                                      Trader Joe's (which just opened in my area) has tomato paste in tubes for $.99, which is a huge deal for me - the Amore brand is hard to find and runs about $3.

                                                                                                      Dei Fratelli tomatoes usually pop up at Meijers and sometimes Walmart - if they're on sale (usually $1 for a larger can) I like them much better than the usual brands because they pack with juice instead of puree for a fresher tomato flavor.

                                                                                                      And for my money, the meat at Sam's Club is usually better than most grocery store stuff. Sure you have to buy the whole cow, so to speak, but it's better than what I can get at Krogers.

                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                                                        thanks for the tip on tj's tomato paste in a tube for a buck.

                                                                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                          It was sadly discontinued in December. I've been making do with the whole foods 365 brand in a tube. I believe it's $1.99.

                                                                                                          1. re: ohmyyum

                                                                                                            what?! thanks for the heads up on the paste. once again, a TJ'S product i love discontinued!

                                                                                                              1. re: ohmyyum

                                                                                                                DANG IT. I don't live near a Trader Joe's anymore, they are building one here to be opened... who knows when, sometime this year, and that $1 tomato paste tube was one of the things I was most looking forward to be able to buy again. DANG IT AGAIN.

                                                                                                                1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                                  Dang it is right! Ugh. I bought 2 tubes last time, so I didn't notice it disappeared from the shelves. Dang! (Shakes fist at the heavens.)

                                                                                                          2. tinned kippered snacks/sardines are delicious, good for you and relatively inexpensive.

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                              I too like the kippers (sardines too)...King Oscar kippers run about $2.15 at Publix...Poland brand also has a decent can of kippers but are more difficult for me to find. Kippers with whole-grain crackers (Ryvita Wholegrain Rye & sesame are current fave) and a green salad is a lovely lunch.

                                                                                                            2. Target brand cream cheese. Target doesn't use rBGH sourced dairy like Kraft and less expensive. Target brand lowfat ice cream sandwiches. They're ok considering they're lowfat. as good as skinny cow and looks like less additives. i say less but certainly not pure.

                                                                                                              1. I have noticed lately that some stores are bringing out very good quality private label ice cream. We have Bi-Lo where we are and they just introduced their new line -- Bi-Lo owns Winn-Dixie so maybe it is in there too. The ingredients list is only the basics -- cream, sugar, and so on, no stabilizers or gums. The product is very good and not expensive.

                                                                                                                We are in Florida at the moment and have found good PL ice cream at Publix (although it does have gum and stabilizer).

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: johnb

                                                                                                                  I've always found Publix ice cream to be quite good.

                                                                                                                  1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                    yes, i recall publix has good ice cream, and interesting flavor combos.

                                                                                                                2. Moser Roth chocolates at Aldi are good, I also go to Aldi for other staples, like celery, onions, carrots, I know they're not 'brands' of things, but they're always cheaper than the other grocery stores and the quality is usually just the same

                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: cgarner

                                                                                                                    I got some amazing avocados from Aldi a few weeks ago. Huge, perfectly ripe. 49 cents each! In Chicago, in the middle of winter, that's a bloody miracle.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                                      I'm also an Aldi bargain shopper. Hard to buy avocados for more money now....some great cheese prices too.

                                                                                                                    2. re: cgarner

                                                                                                                      When it comes to chips, crackers and cookies i've found I actually prefer Aldi's house brands to their name brand counterparts (especially the Savoritz Buttery Round Crackers vs Ritz).

                                                                                                                      1. re: Pwmfan

                                                                                                                        They have really, really good sweet potato chips. Thick cut, ridged. They could be saltier (it says salted but I don't detect much at all) but are still amazing.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                                          That's good to hear about the sweet potato chips. I don't like them salty, so they'll probably be just right for me. I find some of their regular chips too salty. So yay!

                                                                                                                    3. Beach Cliff fish steaks with hot chiles

                                                                                                                      1. For years I've stocked up on Herdez and El Pato products. The Herdez Salsa Verde and Salsa Casera are both pretty great - for a super cheap canned salsa. I like the El Pato tomato sauce for stuffed peppers. Speaking of stuffed peppers, Stouffer's Stuffed Peppers in tomato sauce (Target) ... $2.54 for two stuffed peppers .... sweet deal for a quick meal. At Costco - the one gallon jar of Gedney Dill Pickles for $5.00 is hard to beat.

                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: Maggie19

                                                                                                                          stouffer's stuffed peppers are good -- though a tad sweet. but definitely a good deal, and very filling.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Maggie19

                                                                                                                            Herdez Salsa Verde is the best! I like to make my own but this is my 'go to' whenever I can't or don't have time

                                                                                                                          2. harris teeter's house brand of thick and chunky salsa is like pace brand and probably ⅓ the price (when on sale) and half the price of pace otherwise.

                                                                                                                            1. The Cherry-limeade powdered drink mix @ Target (sugar-free) instead of Crystal Lite which is twice the price

                                                                                                                              1. I feel strongly that the more processed an item is, the more expensive it's going to be. One, after all, pays for convenience. To me, the cheapest way to go is still
                                                                                                                                - buy fresh
                                                                                                                                - buy in quantity when one can
                                                                                                                                - clip coupons and hit the sales
                                                                                                                                - make your meals at home