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Food shopping bargains: Tips and suggestions?

Hey, hounds. How do you fight the rising cost of food these days and still eat well?

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  1. Buy as few processed foods as you can, buy in bulk on the things you use a lot that won't spoil, shop at Russo's and the farmers markets for produce instead of the regular supermarkets, stuff like that.

    And if you live and work in the city, ditch your car and join Zipcar and get a T pass. The money you save in gas, insurance, maintenance, car payments and aggravation will more than pay for an upgrade in your dining.

      1. re: Luther

        Second Market Basket, and also BJ's/Costco when possible. Trader Joe's will save you a few bucks on their better things.

        I don't know about all of them, but our local Shaws prices seem out of control on the non-sale items.

        1. re: Luther

          Third for Market Basket although the one on Somerville Avenue is a true test of one's patience.

        2. For most fruits, I find they are much cheaper at Chinese markets (88, KamMan, Chinatown - plus more variety). Veggies are generally cheaper too, though I sometimes find the quality to be mixed for veggies used more in Western cuisine (i.e., squash, broccoli, bell peppers).

          Otherwise, I almost always buy what's on sale that week and plan my meals around those items. I also clip coupons (always have), but I find myself pulling them out more to take advantage of the savings. I haven't needed to dip into more processed foods than usual with this, and find I eat quite well (I dogged 2 lbs of steamer clams that were on sale last week!)

          11 Replies
          1. re: kobuta

            Pork and chicken are cheaper at Hi-Lo and 88, some beef parts too.

            Although I am a fan of their stuff, I'm not sure there are any big bargains being handed out at Russo's.

            1. re: Wursthof

              Thanks for the tips. Already subscribe to most (KamMan, Chinatown for veggies; Russo's is a trek, though). I do look at the marked down produce in my local Stop and Shop, and have gotten some pretty good deals . . ., and occasionally the marked down meat or poultry.

              Any thoughts on generic products? I've found from experience that some things are okay generic label, but others are not. BJs is also on my list.

              I buy whole chix, too, and cut them up, put backbone and wing tips in a "body bag" for the freezer and soup later.

              Don't use a lot of coupons, as they seem to be for things I don't generally use.

              1. re: keencook1

                First, ditch S&S, probably the most expensive mega-mart to shop at. Costco, offers excellent quality brands as well as their own much lower than most mega-marts and CVS'. Look for sale items and stock up the pantry and freezer. Also, if you use Costco's free AMEX card and get the exec membership you get a total of 5% cash back from both cards, also you get 3% off gas purchased anywhere. Now that's money.

                1. re: keencook1

                  I also save chicken bones for soup. I recently started to do the same for shrimp shells, but they're a little bit harder to keep. One thing I also do is boil water to store in the fridge, rather than buy bottled water. Tastes just as good, and less waste for our planet.

                  I agree with your experience on generics. I buy generic milk and cream which tastes the same. I've also tried S&S canned/frozen veggies for certain recipes. I used to love Shaw's brand cheese popcorn, but can't find it anymore.

                  One other thought on meals - if you like ramen, opt for fresh ramen packs at Kotobukiya or other Japanese food stores. While significantly more than your 10 cents Maruchan brand, they taste 10x better and actually make a solid meal when you add fresh veggies and other toppings. Dried/fried instant noodles leave me hungry after about an hour; but not so with fresh ramen, and they still come out to only a few dollars per meal.

                  1. re: kobuta

                    Isn't boiling the water itself a waste? It does take a good bit of energy to take things up to 212F. Is there something unsafe about your tap water? Generally, the strict requirements for tap water in most municipal systems is far above what's required for bottled water..

                    1. re: grant.cook

                      Maybe, but it's just an extra safety measure, and I find it tastes better. I do not like the taste of water straight from the tap. I figure the energy for the heating of the water is far less than all the plastics created and needs to be recycled/or goes to a landfill.

                        1. re: kobuta

                          What about filters like the Brita pitcher, or a faucet filter? Unless you're worried about organisms and parasites in your local water, I would think that a water filter like those would be better at cleaning up the metals, chemicals and sediment that can make your water taste bad.

                          1. re: sfumato

                            I've tried filters and it still tastes funky. Don't know why, but somehow boiling it makes it much better. *shrugs* Unless it's the dog days of summer, I also don't like ice-cold water - I prefer tepid, so this is also where boiling water helps. I can keep some in the fridge, and some out.

                  2. re: Wursthof

                    At Russo's, my experience is that you pay less than you would at Shaw's or Stop and Shop, much less Whole Foods, and you get equivalent or better product. And many things are considerably cheaper: local eggs for under $2 a dozen, Lyle's Golden Syrup (which I like on my morning yogurt and fruit) for about $2.50 less per bottle than Shaw's, decent local-roast coffee for $5.99 a pound, single-stem flowers for $1-3 a stem that last longer than anything you'd get at Kabloom or the like (I usually keep an Asiatic lily or Gerber daisy here on my desk during the winter), 10-pound bag of onions for $3, etc.

                    1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                      I completely agree with the Russo's rec. Of course, not everything is a bargain, but the prices in general are quite good, and it is easy to splurge on specialty produce such as poblano peppers and a wide variety of greens. Even the salad bar and prepared foods aren't bad, and they usually have a special sandwich or hot meal that is a great deal. I also really appreciate the local connection.

                      I also love Market Basket, especially the Somerville location, for general shopping, and it's hard to beat MacKinnon's in Somerville for meat prices.

                      For a little bit of a splurge for not too much money, the burgers, either pre-formed or bulk, at Savenor's for $3.99/lb. are quite tasty if you like a fine grind of beef. Beats Whole Foods.

                2. I second the Russos suggestion- I think their in-season produce is usually a good deal, and it's important to me that they focus on getting food from local suppliers whenever possible. We buy whatever is in season, go for cheaper cuts of meat (and we don't eat meat often), and preserve all our extras (freezing, canning). We also cook larger meals and use the leftovers for lunches- both of us very rarely eat lunch out. We also take advantage of deals like Restaurant Week if we want to eat out just for the sake of a nice meal (specific date-oriented celebrations aside).

                  We belong to a CSA, too- cuts way back on the price of produce during the harvesting seasons, and it's organic to boot.

                  There are some great responses to a similar question in this thread, too:

                  1. Haymarket, every Friday or Saturday. Some people complain that the food from Haymarket spoils quickly (and some of it does), but I've bought fruits and veggies there many times that lasted as long as anything from Shaws, Trader Joe's, Market Basket, etc. There's also a good deal on cheese and Middle Eastern groceries from the indoor shops. With validated $1 parking in the nearby garage, its easy to see why the place is mobbed every week.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: smooncakes

                      Ooooh, tell me more about this $1 parking. Who validates the parking stub, a vendor? Which garage do you use?

                      1. re: sliver

                        As far as I can tell, none of the outdoor vendors validate, but the indoor ones do, and have been uniformly generous about it (no 'hey, why don't you buy something first' attitudes). The garage is the big one just around the corner from the market, think the entrance is on New Sudbury St. With validation parking is $1 for 2 hours. The produce prices cannot be beat, even at Super 88 or Market Basket.

                        1. re: smooncakes

                          Much of Haymarket's produce is brought in on Thursday afternoon and is left to sit in the sun or cold. I'm talking lettuce in crates, which isn't good, but also watermelons, which is fine. Some things are bargains and some vendors let you pick your own - the newer ones, particularly the Asian vendors. I never trust the stuff they give you when they fill up a bag from the back and it usually is spoiled by the next day.

                          Any merchant who is a member of the North End Business Alliance has a stamp. All of the ones along that street have stamps, though some are reluctant and others tend to be so low on ink that the impression is barely there. A simple thing is to buy a slice of pizza at Haymarket Pizza - cheese slice $1.25, ask for it heated - and they'll validate. They used to validate for everyone but, let's face it, costs are way up and people used to stand in line to get validated without paying a measly $1 for a slice (the price was $1 for years).

                          The garage is the Parcel 7 garage opposite Maria's and Pace's, not the one next to the Marketplace or the huge Government Center garage.

                          BTW, the land in front is supposed to be where they'll put a museum of Boston.

                          Also, the falafel place is good (International Falafel?) and one of the halal butcher / grocers - forget his name, but he's very nice - has a very good fish counter.

                      2. re: smooncakes

                        I go to Haymarket, and it really cuts down my food bill. You have to be very careful, but I've perfected my search there to an art (once had one of the food hawkers tell me, hey, you've walked by here eight times.. but I by that time he came down to a couple dollars for a whole case of plums). Used to have a dehydrator - now I use the oven on the lowest setting (have to really be careful I don't end up cooking the fruit).

                        But, smooncakes - want to thank you - I had NO idea about the $1 parking!! I turned down using my son's car because of the parking. I'll wait to use it (cost of gas) I think, until the summer produce comes in - but then, it'll be worth it.

                        Had to add this edit: I also invested in two great suitcases on wheels I found at Marshall's (I've gone back to college, too, so the smaller one doubles as a wheelie backpack). Ditched my car over a year ago when the repairs were kililng me. If I need to load up on groceries, I bring the larger one - this is so much better than any wheeled basket sold for grocery items - even good if it starts to rain.

                        Using my bigger suitcase, I once dragged home more than 50 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts when I found them marked down to the unbelievable price of .99 a lb. Yeah, I'm crazy, and no, I never found them for that price again - if I bought them the day before, it would have cost me twice as much. I really stocked up that day - and they made some mean chicken cutlets...

                      3. I grow my own vegetables in season (so far this year, I have harvested $30 worth of veg for maybe $2 worth of seeds). I put up what I can for the winter, shop farmers' markets and farm stands, and rely on Wilson's when local produce cannot be had. I go to Super 88 for all kinds of things. Trader Joe's is good for canned goods, sauces/condiments, dairy and other packaged staples. And I have taken up making a lot of things at home, like yogurt and bread. I started that habit as homemade versions taste so much better, but now it is really saving me money.

                        And strangely (not to mention conveniently), lately we are finding it far more satisfying to eat at home than to go out for spendy meals. Being laid off leaves me lots of time to make some really great food =)

                        Oh yeah - and we try really hard not to buy more than we can use quickly - throwing food away is expensive!

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: lisa13

                          Is making yogurt really cheaper? I was on the verge of getting a yogurt maker and decided that by the time I bought the milk I'd be paying at least as much as I do now for store-bought...but there was no actual number-crunching

                          1. re: lobst

                            I have not checked yogurt prices recently, but when I did the analysis last year, it came out that I ended up with about twice as much homemade yogurt for the price. I buy a gallon of milk at a time and this makes 4 quarts of yogurt.

                            Plus, I don't have piles of plastic containers piling up in the recycling bin.

                            1. re: lobst

                              What's in my fridge now: two quarts of lowfat jersey milk from Stillman's Dairy in Lunenberg, MA ($1.85) + two packets of Yogourmet brand starter from Amazon ($0.81) = $2.66, or $1.33 a quart, or 66 cents a pint, or 33 cents a cup. Last time I saw yogurt this good on sale at three for a dollar...um, never, actually.

                              Factor in that instead of buying a yogurt maker, I improvised one using items already in the house (a heating pad, a plastic bowl with lid and a large Polishware salad bowl), and I had no equipment costs to amortize.

                          2. McKinnon's in Davis square is always a great deal for meat, I've also been happy with TJs boneless skinless chicken breasts. Smaller portions help, I can get by with just a few pieces of Kotobukiya's excellent fish choices (I do this with the sea scallops at WF). TJ has many good wine bargains, my favorite is Raymond Hill, $7/1.5L bottle for cab and chard (it's hard to comfortably drink $20 bottles regularly!).

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: steinpilz

                              McKinnon's is really good. I was surprised to find some great sale items there. Good quality, too.

                              1. re: threedogs

                                Yes, McKinnon's in Davis has some good prices, even better sale prices. Veal cutlets are only $5.99 per lb. Filet minion is $6.99 per pound. Quality is quite good. Meat in general there seems very fresh as they do a big volume for a small place. They sell fish there, too, but I'm "afraid" to try it. If anyone has had experience with the seafood there I would like to hear about it.

                            2. I'm a single guy in an apartment studying at St. Martin's College, so bulk really isn't my thing and my economization has escalated from not eating out as much to actually using those tupperware type containers that came in my $30 ikea kitchen start box. I've been pretty creative with leftovers. When I do go out I'll typically order MORE rather than less, eg I'll order a salad and rather than just a main course and take half the main home for a quick meal or perhaps a protein some other time. I have a more than healthy appetite and even with some of the large portions we are often served, I can clean a plate, the soup or salad makes not doing that easy. Chinese is great for this: I always get two lunches for the price of one and a half when I go to the place near my office (brown bagging is the next level, still haven't made it that far yet).

                              The Market Basket on Somerville Ave is great for "grocery day", hopefully you can find someone to give you some lithium ahead of time because I don't see anyone else smiling in there. In a surprising economy move, I've found John Dewar's and Savenor's to be helpful on the meat end. I can get one pound of good ground beef there, for example, at a reasonable price. At most of the supermarkets I 1) sacrifice quality, and 2) end up buying too much because I can't find a butcher and get the packaged stuff, which is usually about a pound and a fifth.

                              This may just be me, but all those things my grandmother does, like leftover mashed potatoes from dinner into potato pancakes at breakfast and shepherd's pie the next night, is kind of fun in its way.

                              I invested in a good home bar and in two months I'm probably even and by the end of the summer I wouldn't be surprised if I'd saved almost a grand, plus taxis.

                              Or if you call your dad, he could stop it all.

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: sailormouth

                                Pulp - Common People - do I win a prize?

                                1. re: jonship

                                  $1 parking at Haymarket. I must say I was hoping someone would get offended first.

                                  1. re: sailormouth

                                    I don't see anyone else smiling in here.

                                  2. re: jonship

                                    have you seen the William Shatner and Joe Jackson version on youtube?

                                    1. re: Infomaniac

                                      I got through about 30 seconds, my ears are bleeding.

                                      1. re: sailormouth

                                        yeah...Ben Folds kicks it up a little.

                                2. Oh, I almost forgot: Building 19. If you have a car and happen to be driving out in the Norwood/Natick/other metro areas, always check in and see if they have any miscellaneous groceries on deep discount. It's often a bust, but sometimes you can get an awesome pile of stuff for no money at all.

                                  1. Well, I'm hesitant to share where I do most my shopping (except for Haymarket & other small ethnic markets). Used to get meats marked down close to the exp. date, but lately I think everyone else is scooping those up. But I have to let you guys know: Price Rite on the Lynnway in Lynn. There are others around New England (I'm happy it's a N.E. based store). Their prices, IMO, beat Market Basket - their selection is smaller, and it changes depending on availability (for instance, they [snif, snif] stopped carrying all baby lettuces, so I have to get that elsewhere) but I get most everything I need there.

                                    I SO love this little place..

                                    1. If you are in Boston, Tropical Foods in Dudley Square is a great place to find bargains. Their meat prices are great.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Biba

                                        Thanks for all the great suggestions. Keep 'em coming. I think we can all use the help, and encouragement to be frugal chowhounds!

                                      2. Great topic! Boy, like you and others, I sure have noticed the prices getting steeper. Times are definitely getting tougher. I think like another person said here, if you live in an urban area or one where you can leave the car behind, consider doing that. I live in Boston and recently bought 2 side baskets for my bike so that I could carry home groceries more easily than putting it into a backpack and lugging it home on my back or having to rent a Zipcar.

                                        I tend to shop at Trader Joe's and I find I have gotten better deals than at Shaws on the things I tend to buy. I try to put together a list before I go and I make sure I eat something so that I'm not hungry. Lord knows that if I'm hungry and shopping, I tend to buy things I don't necessarily need. I like Trader Joe's too because you can get wines and beers for low cost, so if you enjoy having a glass of wine at night every so often, you don't have to break the bank to do that. I don't tend to use a lot of coupons, but I do check them out anyhow just in case something comes up that I want to buy. If you do a google search, you can often find sites where they have coupons for your area and you can just print them out. I also keep track of CVS to see what they have for deals. Sometimes they have some good ones and if you have extra bucks, you can even get further discounts off of items. I find that dish soap, coffee, laundry detergent, toilet paper, cereals, etc, tend to be sale items at CVS a lot. Also, I agree w/ the point on saving bones from meat, chicken as you can always make stocks, broths, soups to freeze and use at a later date. I do also occasionally go to Super 88 and they have some great deals on produce, teas, noodles and other items. Lastly, a trick one of my friends does is she allocates a certain amount of money each week for groceries. She takes only that amount in cash with her (no credit cards, no atm cards) and it forces her to make better choices as far as value. It's almost like a game to her (how far can I get this to go and still eat well).

                                        1. Market Basket - Woburn (fairly spacious as MB goes).

                                          Going to Russo's is not cost-effective in terms of gas for me. I go there only when it's in the loop for other things and I need something.

                                          No more regular Verrill Farms trips - driving out every week to the lovely markets is going to be cost-prohibitive. Sigh. I don't even bother with Wilson Farms, though the cost factor is about half. Really trying to keep the mileage down, and adding gas onto pricey lovely artisanal farms is not useful. Food coop delivery wouldn't work for my dietary needs, unfortunately, where I have to plan out things. If my situation is at all indicative of anyone else's, those lovely farms are going to have more trouble this season with business (but we can hope all the people who live out near them will simply spend more than they have).

                                          Being very watchful all around - and a helluva lot less snobby about food sourcing and the like.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Karl S

                                            Karl, at Tendercrop last week, we noticed the prices almost 2ce more on Everything since last Spring. The trouble is that their organic meat and poultry prices are still cheaper than other markets. We haven't been to Wilson's in quite a while.... used to be at least every 2 weeks. Pretty soon we're going to have to make the deciaion to shop closer to Melrose. I'm so wanting Trader Joe's to hurry and open on Rte.1....

                                          2. Buy beans in bulk. Use a pressure cooker (saves energy and doesn't heat up the house/apt so much). Walk (or take transit) to the grocery store (exercise while saving gas). Cloth bags (some stores credit you 5 cents per bag that you bring from home).

                                            1. I was at Whole Foods today in Beacon Hill and there was a sign that said they were going to do a presentation on this very topic. I failed to write the date down, but I bet they'd have it on their website. Anyhow, I know it's this coming week from 3pm-4pm one day. I'd love to go but I have to work then. I'd be interested to hear what their tips are.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: BackBayGirl

                                                HA! WF is pretty expensive - my first tip would be not to shop there =) Actually, the bulk items *are* a nice option.

                                                1. re: lisa13

                                                  True, they are expensive, but I would love to hear how they would get people to shop in their store when times are tough and be able to eat well for less. I love all that marketing stuff and would be interested to see how they'd spin it.

                                              2. While my sons were still at home, I would make up a week's worth of menus, then a list. Cooked a lot of dishes ahead on the weekend. More recently, I researched a list of the healthiest foods--which luckily I love--and base my meals on them. I don't follow recipes, I make a big soup that can serve as several meals in several guises, all other dishes are very simple. I no longer eat meat, or rich/processed foods. I shop at MB in Somerville, TJs for wine, pet food, also Super 88, and justify farmer's markets because of the pleasure I get from seeing beautiful fresh food. I know I eat very well, if simply. Oh and I make my own bread.

                                                1. I'm surprised at how many people say shopping at the farmer's market is a way to save money. I have found very few things to be inexpensive there--the produce is beautiful and it's great to support local agriculture (and I just enjoy being there), so I pay the premium.

                                                  What do you get at the farmers markets that is cheaper than Market Basket etc?

                                                  6 Replies
                                                  1. re: dulce de leche

                                                    At the height of the season -- everything! Raspberries at $3 a pint, blueberries at $5 a quart, an entire flat of strawberries for $20...

                                                    1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                                      Another point is that the food at a farmer's market is live food, the vitamins are still viable. There is a far greater diversity of species, bred for taste instead of shelf life.
                                                      If it does cost more--and it doesn't always--consider it a necessary luxury, and make savings in another aspect of life.

                                                      1. re: cassis

                                                        If you think that the strawberries on a supermarket shelf contain "inviable" vitamins, you're living in a fantasy world.

                                                        1. re: Luther

                                                          Yes, I always substitute fantasy when reality is too ugly. But seriously, I will research the viability of vitamins in fresh locally grown food vs those in food refrigerated and shipped long distances and post in a new thread. Though I fear it might be too big an issue to contain in a post-bite.

                                                          1. re: cassis

                                                            This article compares frozen vs fresh vegetables, not farmer's market vs supermarket, but makes the point that nutritional levels are eventually lost in transit/storage.


                                                    2. re: dulce de leche

                                                      I find farmers markets will be MB on any 'native' produce they grow, and it'll taste much better than the stuff at MB or infact any other mega-mart.

                                                    3. Hi,

                                                      One surprising place I shop for some food, is Ocean State Job Lot. They have a fantastic selection of regular and gourmet food items for cheap prices. I buy all of my EVOO there, for $4.99 a quart bottle, where it's usually $10 at the supermarket. Last time I was there, they had Roland Hearts of Palm for $1.00/can, canned artichoke hearts for $1.00, and a big bag of sushi ginger for $1.00. They also have 48oz jars of Pomegranite juice for $2.00.

                                                      You never quite know what you will find when you go, but it's always fun. They also have more "normal" food, like coffee and pasta and jam, etc. I've compared it to the price at the supermarket and most items are at least 40% less.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: mwk

                                                        Me too! It's not great if you're looking for something very specific, since they don't have a constant stock but it's good for random items. They also carry a large selection of Bob's Red Mill products. I've gotten cereal, snacks (crackers, etc.), pasta, prepared polenta, mustard, and pomegranate juice there.

                                                        1. re: EmmaFrances

                                                          Yes, I forgot about the Bob's. I buy all my grains there, from the Bob's selection. Most of the items are at least 25% less than at Whole Foods or a regular supermarket.

                                                          They also have delicious 70% cocoa chocolate bars for $1.00, and jars of sun dried tomatoes in oil, and a nice selection of spices for .75 each.

                                                        2. re: mwk

                                                          And you can sign up to receive online coupons for further savings! The pomegranate juice is great; love the artichokes. Have always wondered about the EVOO, but will give it a try, based on your recommendation.

                                                        3. Shop Super 88 and Ming's for produce.

                                                          Not only is a pressure cooker for beans more energy-efficient, but you'll eat beans more often, since you don't have to plan ahead with overnight soaking.

                                                          Cook sauces and curries and ragus and soups in big batches and freeze in individual or appropriate family-size portions; label with a Sharpie and keep rotating the older stuff out. Buy meat in bulk and do the same.

                                                          Buy wine by the case; keep an eye out for periodic sales. If you drink vodka, buy Smirnoff or Skyy; super-premiums are for suckers.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                            About the vodka: relevant to the conversation upthread about filtered water, you can filter your vodka through charcoal and go from bargain-basement crap vodka to the finest tasting vodka for cheap.

                                                            Actually, the cheapest vodka is also the best-tasting in most blind taste tests: get the purest everclear you can find and add water.

                                                            1. re: Luther

                                                              I've heard about the Britta experiment, but apparently rotgut vodka (favorite brand name: Zhenka, which is made by NH's Jenkins distillery) burns out a Britta filter so quickly that it's not economical: it's cheaper to get a vodka (like the two I recommended) that are cheap but commercially charcoal filtered. The idea of home filtering scares me a bit: where does one get activated charcoal? I know you can't use briquettes.

                                                          2. I've been buying the 3 Buck Chuck. I figure every case saves me at least enough for a tank of gas over our regular "everyday" wine.

                                                            5 Replies
                                                            1. re: pemma

                                                              Having read a New York Times article last year that debunked the old saw that you shouldn't cook with inexpensive wine (the recipes tested didn't noticeably improve when pricey wine was used), I know use 3 Buck Chuck as my standard cooking wines. Of course, my French friend has been saying this for years; I should have known better.

                                                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                That was Julia Child, right? The whole "don't cook with it unless you'd drink it" idea?

                                                                I''ll second the upthread home veg garden idea-- doing it for the first time and can't wait. I've got about 24 square feet on the ground, but even window boxes can grow lettuce.

                                                                1. re: newhound

                                                                  I believe Julia was indeed the source of that conventional wisdom. And yes, you should never use anything labeled "cooking wine". But 3BC is actually drinkable, if plonky, so it makes a fine cooking wine.

                                                                2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                  I think most refrences about cooking with wine that you are willing to drink is saying don't use 'cooking wine' from the mega-mart. My test is when I cook, I usually have a glass of wine near by. AAH!

                                                                  1. re: treb

                                                                    "I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it into the food." T-shirt from neighbor who knows me too well!

                                                                    I belong to a veggie CSA (Redfire Farms) and meat CSA (Stillmans). Not necessarily the least expensive, but given rising fuel costs and importance of supporting local enterprises, worth every extra penny, and am willing to economize elsewhere.

                                                                    Should we start a thread where hounds can list their bargains for others to share? If it's not elsewhere on the board?

                                                                    I've learned a lot so far, and thank you for all the very good responses!