The 99¢ Only Store has popped up almost everywhere. However, the average student, although strapped on cash, is often afraid to go in. But, there is no need to fear anymore. The 99¢ Only Store has a vast array of objects and food that makes grocery shopping, party planning, and even gift giving easier on a budget. Of course, you first need to rid yourself of the attitude that the 99¢ Only Store is full of rotting food or off-brand companies’ rejected items.
Groceries: You Want Me To Eat There?
Christiane Jory, author of The 99 Cent Only Stores Cookbook: Gourmet Recipes at Discount Prices, says, “Yes, it is possible to get all of one’s groceries at a 99¢ Only Store . If one approaches the store with an iron fist clenching a set in stone shopping list, well then they could be thrown a bit.” Each store differs on what they have in stock from week to week.
Expect to find a wide variety of fresh produce, canned and frozen produce, tons of spices and seasonings, pastas, sauces, many snacks and desserts, and even alcoholic beverages that are sold in the regular grocery stores. Does it seem too good to be true? Well, it’s not. Most of the items at the 99¢ Only Store are there because they will expire in a month or so or there was extra from the manufacturer that the regular grocery stores did not need.
Ask a worker when they get their new shipment of produce in. Shopping for produce that day will guarantee a fresher selection of fruits and vegetables. The fresh produce can be sold at the 99¢ Only Store for such a low price because it is packaged cheaper than a regular grocery store and usually comes from local farmers. Do not be turned off by produce that is dirty. Remember it did just come from the ground! Just wash it thoroughly and be amazed how similar it tastes to the produce you used to buy.
My own great finds from shopping the 99¢ Only Store were a box of Boca Lasagna and a box of eight packets of Quaker Oats Simple Harvest. Both products retail around $4 and were set to expire the next month, but they still tasted delicious!
The Meat Factor
The one thing the 99¢ Only Store does lack is a variety of meat. Christiane Jory advises, “Meat is another issue. I would stick to going to a butcher who can guide you to less expensive cuts of meat that can easily be exchanged for most luxury dishes. Canned chicken and turkey is fine [from the 99¢ Only Store ] but the red meats I still buy at the butcher.”
I asked Jory how people can eat healthy while shopping for 99 cents. She says, “In terms of eating healthy with ingredients form a 99¢ Only Store —that challenge exists in any store. Look at the ingredients and eat your vegetables.” The 99¢ Only Stores now offers several organic products, such as organic bagged mixed greens and canned organic tomatoes. “If one’s goal is to eat healthy, one must look at labels and think a bit no matter what store one shops at.” says Jory.
Keeping to a Budget
It can be easy to waste money at the 99¢ Only Store . Even though it is cheap, it does not mean that a budget is still not needed. Go into the store with a loose list (i.e. tomatoes, cleaner, shampoo) and only spend a set amount of money each week.
Christiane Jory left me with this last piece of advice, “Students have much on their proverbial plate and shopping is probably not a big priority especially around finals week. I would focus on staples that have virtually no expiration date. Items like pasta, canned organic tomatoes, canned spinach, canned chicken and a jar of minced garlic can be stored for over a year and be whipped into a wonderful dish in minutes for an impromptu get together.”
There is no need to fear anymore about whipping up a delicious dish from the 99¢ Only Store . No one will be able to tell the difference.
Pinot Noir Poached Pear Tart
2 frozen uncooked Pie Crusts
2 cups Sugar
2 cans/jars Pear Halves (about 16). Drained.
½ bottle Pinot Noir (or red wine of choice)
1 tablespoon Cinnamon
Invert frozen pie crusts on to a piece of parchment or wax paper. As they thaw the crusts will pull away from the tin and they will fall to the paper. Do not turn them over, leaving them upside down will lend to the rustic shape of this dessert.
Move one of the thawed upside down crusts to the base of an 8 or 9-inch spring-from cake pan, (if you have used parchment paper this can be placed in the pan, making the move much easier).
Roughly slice the remaining pie crust into strips and build up the sides of the crust in the cake pan. Set aside.
Add pears, reduce heat to medium and gently boil turning them in the syrup for about 5 minutes. Watch closely, since these are not fresh pears and mushy is to be avoided.
Turn off flame and let pears sit in syrup until cooled. At this point you can place the pears covered in syrup in an airtight container and let them marinate for up to a week. You may also move forward with canning these and they will last up to a year. They will be a much dark color if you prepare these in advance. Otherwise, remove pears to a separate bowl with some of the syrup.
Remove from heat.
Carefully slice the pears lengthwise and layer nicely into uncooked crust and bake according to crust package instructions for a filled pie. Serve warm or at room temperature.