Just a quick note about looking for bargains, even when you need to grab something fast for dinner. Last week I had taken a pork tenderloin out of the freezer for dinner, except that it turned out NOT to be a pork tenderloin, but rather a small quantity of marinated chicken kabobs. (Actually, my husband took it out, so lets blame him 🙂 Except that I told him to look for a Hawaiian Pork Tenderloin and it was actually Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs, so he really had no chance…) Anyway there was not enough to serve all of us, so I needed to supplement dinner, and it was already after 5 o’clock. I had to swing by the grocery store on the way home for lunch supplies, so the lure of the “hot bar” loomed close…even though nothing on it is remotely healthful or even appetizing (to me at least – ChefKid thinks otherwise).
As I approached the hot bar, I saw the prepared foods counter across from it and thought hmm, maybe I’ll take a quick look there for something a bit better. I saw Teriyaki Glazed Salmon and made a snap decision to get it, since she loves salmon. Then I saw the price – $22.99/pound. Yikes! I thought well, maybe I’ll just get a little piece of uncooked salmon from the fish counter instead, it will be cheaper. There it was; wild Alaskan salmon filets – $12.99 a pound. Certainly much better. But then – aha! I saw Salmon Pieces: $4.99 a pound. These are the little ends that they trim off when cutting those same beautiful fillets. They are perfectly plump and fresh, and if you aren’t hung up on having one large lovely piece of salmon, but rather having 2 or 3 small pieces as a serving – it is definitely worth it. Not the best photo, but I did remember to snap this just before I popped them on a plate (they’re each about 2 inches long):
So my quick grab-and-go dinner for kiddo went from previously frozen, commercially prepared chicken nuggets of undetermined origin, precooked and sitting there drying out on a steam table for $9.99 a pound, to a healthful home-cooked meal of salmon which I cooked for 5 minutes in a skillet on my stovetop, with just a sprinkling of salt, for $4.99 a pound (it ended up being $2.32 total). In the time it took for me to round her up and get her hands washed, and put a few grape tomatoes and carrot sticks on a plate for a side, they were done. She ate it up and then I thought sure, why not have a bowl of ice cream for dessert. Wins all around 🙂
ChefChick Says: Be willing to stretch your idea of what you’re looking for when you’re shopping. Go for what looks best, what’s on sale, what the big hand-lettered sign at your local farmers market is advertising – even what’s being discontinued when we’re talking about packaged foods (I did this today – a few Progresso soup flavors were 50% off; I snagged them for the food pantry). I know that many cooking resources advise making a plan and sticking to it when shopping, and that does certainly help avoid splurges and keep you on budget. But if your list calls for asparagus and then you find broccoli on special for half the price, then by all means swap out that ingredient for your stir fry.