Eat Inexpensively, Not Cheaply

Eat Inexpensively, Not Cheaply

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  1. My wife and I are true food-fans; we’ll try just about anything and if we like it, we’ll eat it as regularly as possible. Some of our tastes are more expensive than we like, which makes it a good thing that we also enjoy cooking and one of my favorite pastimes is trying to emulate favorite items I’ve had in certain restaurants. I’ve been on a Mexican food kick for a while now; not because it’s expensive to eat out (it isn’t), but because truly excellent Mexican food isn’t served just anywhere, and sometimes we don’t feel like driving to Pasadena or even into Downtown to eat it. So by making your own Mexican food at home, you can save a little money, but many of the dishes are time consuming to make. You’re better off heading down the street to the best local eatery.


     We both love salmon, but having it on hand ready to cook at home isn’t easy because fresh salmon just doesn’t keep long, and frozen salmon stinks… or so I always thought. On a suggestion, we went to our local Trader Joe’s to get frozen salmon filets, which were essentially flavorless when cooked; and this is not the only disappointment TJ’s has served up for us (though I’m the first to acknowledge that Trader Joe’s is an excellent store overall and I enjoy shopping there… just don’t buy the frozen salmon). Who knew that Costco’s Kirkland brand offers frozen salmon filets that serve up juicy, tender and flavorful? Well, my mom, for one. She set us straight and now we can have salmon whenever we want.


    Do you love dim sum as much as we do? We’ve spent thousands on going out for dim sum over the past twelve years, only to find that LAX-C Market in Chinatown has Konomi brand shumai (all natural, no MSG or preservatives) that may not be up to the standards of the best dim sum diners, but is surprisingly good for frozen shumai. Again, we once bought frozen shumai at the aforementioned specialty market, only to find that it tasted terrible. LAX-C is a discount wholesale market, kind of like a Thai Costco without membership fees. We found out—eventually—that economy can go hand in hand with quality; and that paying more at a fancy market won’t necessarily yield superior meals.

    If you want varieties of dim sum other than shumai at home, I suggest getting a bag of pot stickers (we like Wei Chuan brand), which you can steam beside the shumai. But let’s face it, unless you are a professional Chinese chef, if you want dim sum at home you’ll find that making it from scratch is far more complicated and time consuming than you bargained for. Trust me: I’ve tried it. You’re better off with the frozen stuff, as long as it’s good.

    The entire point of this article is to experiment; explore and try new brands of the things you love. You’ll find that a number of inexpensive markets (such as LAX-C and Costco) have a lot to offer when it comes to whipping up quick, easy and tasty meals at home on a budget.

    And while you’re in Costco, for the love of God buy a rotisserie chicken! I don’t know how anyone can shop there without bringing home one or two Kirkland chickens for dinner.

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