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Aug 14, 2009 01:06 AM

$20 supermarket challenge

The 15 ingredient post prompted me to post this topic. What would you buy with $20? It doesn't have to be groceries for a week. Your dollar stretching ideas are just as welcomed as the one or two ingredient suggestions. As for me, I ended up at Sam's Club w/o my ATM card but I did have $20 in cash. I bought hearts of romaine, cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, baby cucumbers and a rotisserie chicken. All are staples for me and if I hadn't forgotten the ATM card I wouldn't have saved so much money.

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  1. Good question!!

    This happens to me quite frequently because even though I have my debit cards with me I don't usually know how much money is on each so I try to buy as much as I can for as little $ as possible.

    On several occasions I was actually amazed at the amount of things I could buy, other times I pickup a few things and end up paying a huge bill, how does this work?

    What I do notice is that veggies are pretty cheap compared to stocked shelving items, so even though I might have a huge quantity of veg in bags it always comes out to a low price which is great!!

    I would probably buy mushrooms, celery, bean sprouts (99 c per bag), carrots, udon or asian style noodles, some meat on clearance and have enough to even pickup some ingredients for a salad to go along with my stirfry!

    1. I like this post! I guess if it was my LAST $20, I'd have to get the staples (rice, veg, some kind of dairy), but since it's not, I'd get
      Cederlane stuffed grape leaves (about $3.50 for a pack of four)
      Good French baguette (about $2.50)
      Aloutte garlic and herd spreadable cheese ($5)
      Small potato salad ($1.50)
      Procuitto ($5)
      And maybe some good olives with the rest. Not really a good budget, but that is what would make me happy with $20.

      1. During the summer, I shun supermarket produce in favor of the locally grown up at the farm stand about a mile from here. Within their 12 acres, they grow everything and, if you are a home canning type, $20 will provide a plethora of options. I'd first go for the 18 lb. box of canning tomatoes (the not-so-prettys) culled daily for $8. There's a similar option in peaches for the same price. With $4 left over, I'd get 15 ears of white Silver Queen corn and, after three for dinner, strip remaining ears and pack the poached corn in FoodSaver bags for deep freezing.

        If I saved my $20 and went back to the stand in early October, tomatoes would still be there plus apples, pumpkin, squash and other fall options.

        No matter how you cut it, that's a lot of tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, peach preserves, apple sauce, pumpkin pie/pumpkin ravioli filling, and much more for a twenty spot.


        1 Reply
        1. re: Chefpaulo

          well, i could go to the truck that sells fresh corn, 6 ears for $5. I guess a lot depends on where you live.

        2. That's pretty much just over how much I spend on groceries within a week, though I tend to do my shopping more cost-effectively by visiting different stores based on pricing and quality. If I had $20 lying around I'd probably blow it on some excellent fish, perhaps monkfish and clams to pan roast with chorizo. I've been eyeing some beautiful local fluke that might be a delicious meal as well.

          16 Replies
          1. re: JungMann

            4lb boston butt 8.00$ 10 limes 1.25 2 heads of garlic .50 2 onions 1.00 10 jalapeno's 1.25
            I bag corn tortilla small ones 6inch 3.00 2 ears of corn .50 total and Tabasco small bottle 1.60 total 17.10 I can eat for 5 days making mojo marinated pulled pork low and slow then roast corn jalapeno's and onions salsa, then pan fried the pork till crispy True Love

            1. re: pikiliz

              Man, I don't know where you are, but in MA, limes are two for a dollar. Lucky!

              1. re: invinotheresverde

                South Florida I get them at from a supermarket called Publix.. We have lots of Latin influence here

                1. re: invinotheresverde

                  Limes this week 20 for a dollar at Fiesta mkt in Katy near Houston. Pork shoulder about $1/lb. Tomatillos 59 cents/lb. Pinto beans 2lbs/$1. Bollilos 5/$1. We can eat pretty well for $20.

                  1. re: absurdnerdbird

                    TWENTY limes for $1? wow. 4/$1 is reason to stock up around here.

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      Right?! The best I've ever seen have been four for a dollar.

                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                        Where I live, price varies with the variety of lime. Persian limes (the big ones) run from 2 to 5 for a dollar, depending on season and crop, while key limes (little ones) are always at least 10 for a dollar and sometimes a big net bagful for a dollar and a half. Persian limes and key limes do taste a bit different, but what you use them for determines what you need.

                    2. re: absurdnerdbird

                      Oh how I wish we could have those prices in Alaska!

                    3. re: invinotheresverde

                      invino, is that true even at public (farmers') markets? I live in Montréal, so slightly north of you and no native limes, but I can often find 8 for a dollar at the Jean-Talon market. And I'm talking Canadian dolaritos, worth about 91 cents US as I write. Also try Asian and Latin American shops.

                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                        I buy limes 8 for a dollar from Russo's in Watertown. Occasionally they might be as expensive as 6 for a dollar.

                        1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                          I had to check your profile to surmise that you mean Watertown MA. There are at least three significant Watertowns in the Northeastern US, not to mention other regions and countries. The closest to us here in Montréal is Watertown NY. It is the only Watertown I've ever visited, as far as I can recall. I may have been in Watertown when in Boston (it is adjacent to Cambridge) but don't really remember.

                          1. re: lagatta

                            I checked to see if it was the Watertown in Minnesota.

                            1. re: lagatta

                              Lagatta, this was in response to Invinotheresverde, who in the post I was responding to, had said that he/she was in Massachusetts. In that context, my meaning was entirely clear.

                            2. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                              We have to be careful not to be too local in our references without explaining them - this is the General Chowhounding board and people anywhere in the world can and do write in. I have no idea where Zabar's and Fairway are. Oh, I could do the same. Like who on earth doesn't know where "marché Jean-Talon" is located? ;-) rworange, yes, dried beans are cheaper but take electricity and skill to cook properly, and a decent fridge to keep the leftovers in. One legume that cooks very quickly is lentils.

                              In so far as I can afford it I buy wholegrain pasta, and organic if it isn't out of line.

                              Many Loblaws chain stores in Canada, at least in Ottawa and Montréal areas, put a lot of fresh foods, including meat, cheese and breads on sale half-price on the last day of sale, and they are quite scrupulous about it being fresh.

                            3. re: invinotheresverde

                              vino, at russo's you can get 8 limes for a buck!

                            4. re: pikiliz

                              Limes are 10 for $1 where i work in Jersey

                          2. Yesterday we bought a nice thick sirloin for $9, a bag of lettuce, some various veggies, croutons, beets, was almost $20 but it made for one delicious steak salad!