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Apr '08

Gourmet Cooking on a Budget: Dollar (and Under) Store Savings

With rising food and gas prices, sometimes it’s hard to justify the expense of gourmet food ingredients. However, according to Christiane Jory, the author of 99¢ Only Stores: The Cookbook, shopping at discount stores (at least occasionally) may be the answer.
According to the book’s description:

Tired of forking over hundreds of dollars for entertaining her friends and family, Christiane Jory challenged herself to create more than 100 gourmet recipes for appetizers, side dishes, main courses, and desserts-solely with items she found at 99¢ Only Stores. Her recipes include:

  • Artichoke Spinach Bake on Homemade Pizza Bread
  • Green Beans Au Gratin
  • Chicken Tetrazinni
  • Pinot Noir Poached Pear Tart

This 224 page book is filled with sample menus, as well as a glossary of cooking terms. Each recipe includes the estimated cost of the meal and helpful kitchen hints, such as uses for recycled milk cartons and how to freeze egg whites.

By the way, Christine has a blog in which she shares recent bargain store finds, photos, and recipes.

There are 262 99¢ Only Stores in California, Nevada, Arizona, and Texas. (Here’s a link to the store locator.)

Because we live in South Carolina, I have never been to a 99¢ Only Store. However, we do have Dollar Tree Stores which offer all items for $1.00 which are located all over the East Coast.

Among the things we’ve found there are gourmet snacks and crackers, organic soups and broths, large containers of spices, bread and baked good mixes, marinated artichoke hearts and musrooms, Hungarian Ajvar (and myriad other condiments), kitchen knives and cutlery (not exactly Henckel quality, but if you’re bringing over a cake to a friend you won’t weep if you lose your implements), microfiber kitchen towels, and more.

When we lived in Western New York State, there was a small, local supermarket chain that offered all groceries for $1 as well as a variety of independent dollar sores that sold everything from #10 cans of chocolate syrup, an assortment of gourmet ice creams and cheeses, large jars of various pestos, fancy honeys and mustards, imported olives, and tapenades, and other culinary items that make me weep at the memory of the incredible savings.

Here’s a funny video of Ellen DeGeneres clowning around in a 99 cent store.

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