Some Tips & This Week’s Receipt

For curious folk who especially wonder about the Yves products, cheap pasta, etc., I buy and who don’t mind shopping at $1 stores, I highly recommend checking out Jack’s 99 Cent World on 32nd Street. It’s on my way to the subway after work and I often hit it up when I’m tired and not wanting to deal with the Coop. It’s a bit of a madhouse, but if you look around, they have pretty good deals. The bonus is that on the top floor they have more food that costs more than a dollar, but still cheaper than the supermarket (but not the Coop). I recently saw some Tillamook cheddar there for 2.99, which is not too shabby. I actually scored some Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap there for $3! So, if you’re curious, check it out. The Times wrote about the store and also did a great piece where they let Eric Ripert loose and had and his chefs create dishes from Jack’s.

In order to be frugal, you have to shop around. If I know I need something in particular, I will check out the circulars of all of the supermarkets around me, make sure to check the Coop price, and then pounce on the best one (see canned beans below). Does it take some time? Yes. I also try to make friends with my local fruit stand guys. At the end of the day, they’ll often give me some extra for my buck (like the bananas I bought last week). I’m also not afraid to haggle with Chinatown vendors, which can lead to some awkward, but eventual thrifty produce buys. Also, if you know people with gardens, get ’em. Many have more produce than they know what to do with – zucchini season is nigh. Just a couple of tips for Wednesday.

Anyways, to the receipt and accounting!  The scanner at my office isn’t working very well, so here is the Coop receipt typed out:

walnuts, halves and pieces .27lb @ 6.59= 1.32

pistachios, split kernals org (no shell): .19lb @ 9.68=1.84

bridge tofu (1 block): 1.68

non-taxable item: 1.27 (day old bread at half off)

Total: $6.71

  • 1 can white beans: $0.67 (on sale at Pioneer for 3/$2)
  • From Jack’s: Parmesan fake cheese (I am ashamed, but it tasted fine in the pesto): $1
  • 2 apples from the fruit stand in front of my office: $1

Total: $2.67

Stuff I bought on Monday: $4

Grand total: $13.38


12 Comments on “Some Tips & This Week’s Receipt”

  1. Nikkimay says:

    Thanks for the practical tips! I’d love to see more of this kind of thing.

    Also, have you ever posted what a whole weeks worth of meals looks like for you? I’d love ideas on putting together a frugal meal plan.

    Thanks for the blog!

  2. jen says:

    This is a great tip. We have a similar place to Jack’s out here called Grocery Outlet. It is quite surprising what you can find there, including a large selection of organic products. I’ve found great stuff like hemp/rice/soy milk, tofu, almond butter, all sorts of canned organic beans, etc. They also carry half-price day-old bread from two local whole-grain bakeries and from the local pita bread manufacturer. Of course you have to be careful — not everything is that great of a deal — but there are many more healthy options that one would think.

  3. Scarlet says:

    Hi there,

    I love your site, as I’m in a similar position as a broke student living in a tiny apartment.
    Just wanted to say that in case you didn’t know (and it’s important to you), parmesan is not vegetarian. I’m not sure if a ‘fake’ one would be the same, but parmesan uses casein (which is basically the same as beef-derived gelatin).
    Hope I don’t come across as critical, but I though you might like to know that.


  4. tinaspins says:

    Thanks for the head’s up, but this parm doesn’t contain casein – I checked on the ingredients last night.


  5. Fern says:

    A question and a comment:

    In a typical week, how many different sources to you go to for food? CSA, co-op, …. etc.?

    I can’t get over the low prices you are paying for food. Even accounting for the exchange rate (I live in Canada) these prices are low, low, low.

    My first reaction to eating on 15/week was – this is impossible! And I was right – at least for me.

  6. tinaspins says:

    Hi Fern,

    On a typical week, we usually go to three or four sources (depends on the week). The Coop (our weekly standby), Jack’s 99 Cent World (pre/post work since it’s on the way to the subway), Pioneer Supermarket (our local supermarket, 1/2 block away from our apartment) and sometimes Chinatown. Occasionally, I will go to Trader Joe’s too, but it’s kind of out of the way.

  7. Todd says:

    So do you have any food in case of an emergency or pretty much a week only at a time ?

  8. tinaspins says:

    No emergency food really. Our pantry generally has some sort of dried beans, flour and grains in it at all times due to the way we shop. For instance, I have a lot of flour because I haven’t been baking much in the summer. If a disaster happened, we would probably have to end up eating each other.

  9. Fern says:

    Thanks for responding – I tend to not go to a lot of different stores to find the best deal, mostly because I don’t have a vehicle, and it would mean a ridiculous amount of running around by bus.

    But if the places you shop are mostly close by or on your regular route, that’s not too much of an inconvenience.

    • tinaspins says:

      The NYC subways and buses serve me well. I used to ride a bike all around until it got (arg!!!) stolen. If you get a chance, it pays to look at fliers for competing supermarkets for the best deal – you can try to plan out your shopping route based on that if you drive.

  10. […] challenge will now be how to get most bang for our buck when grocery shopping by following our own advice.  I know that with some more time and getting familiar with the area, we will figure this out, but […]

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