Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What's in My Basket? The Sequel

As you may know, I am taking part in Rachel the Food Maven's "What's in Your Basket?" "blog-event." As I suspected, I shopped for little things I needed, and also made two different stops before reaching home. I also realized that I buy fewer ingredients and more prepared food than I realized! I must say that I was just as surpirsed by what I didn't bother to buy as what I did ultimately buy.

So here's how my shopping experience went tonight:

Leg 1: Trader Joe's

I left a work-related meeting I had in Pikesville, and made a stop at Target for a pair of gloves and a sweatshirt. From there I wanted to go to Trader Joe's to get something for lunch later in the week. I was about to head for Towson when it dawned on me: duh, there's a TJ's right here in Pikesville! So I headed there, and bought into all my old stereotypical grocery shopping techniques, some of which I've inherited from my mother, and from hers, and maybe from hers (I guess it runs in the mitochondrial DNA, I dunno. If that's the case, then at least my kids won't get it - when I have some kids, that is):
  • I shop impulsively (which is not a good thing); and
  • I buy prepared food often
I also buy ingredients frequently, but that's more often when I have a specific dish in mind that I want to make. I'd been wanting to make lots of things lately - a quiche, crême brulée, tempura anything, chai-infused hot chocolate (I think Rachel posted that on her Coconut & Lime website actually).* But I aimed instead for mostly ready-to-eat-type stuff. In the rough order in which I bought them:

  1. Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Assortment ($4.99) - a truly international concoction, manufactured in Ireland from decadent ingredients from Ghana, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Valencia. The chocolates I bought to share with my family, but I stole one or two!
  2. Trader Joe's Hot Chili Oil ($1.79) - I scoped out the cheeses, English crumpets (y'know, I never even saw a crumpet in the UK this past holiday) and frozen dinners and dinner bowls, deciding what I wanted to buy. Instead, I impulse-bought this yummy-sounding hot chili oil. I'm eating some of it as a condiment on my linguine right now (wasn't in the mood for tomato sauce anyway).
  3. Trader Joe's Ready-to-Eat Jasmine Rice with Red Quinoa and Flax Seeds ($1.99) - Because it's ready to eat and it has red quinoa. I've never even heard of red quinoa.
  4. Trader Joe's Vegan Pad Thai with Tofu Bowl ($2.29) - I knew I would double back here. I am not a big tofu fan - sorry to any of my vegan readers, who probably stopped reading way back at my salmon- and lamb-filled Irish Festival post in September (damn, that was some good Irish stew). But I really like how TJ's does up their pad thai with tofu. This is definitely their best food bowl.
  5. Trader Joe's Organic Fair Trade Conacado Cocoa ($3.99) - I wanted hot chocolate, alright? And TJ's has a surprisingly small selection.
  6. Trader Joe's White Tea ($2.69) - A friend told me that white tea was very tasty, so I wanted to try some. Thought it'd be nice to sip at work.
  7. Trader Joe's Organic Red Pepper & Tomato Soup ($2.69) - It's tasty. And hot soup is such a good idea now that it's nearly cold as fuck out. This was pretty much a last-second impulse buy.
Total cost of groceries at Trader Joe's: $20.43 (no tax because these are all food items)

Leg 2: Giant

Trader Joe's and Whole Foods are great for some things, but I find them pretty darn useless for things like hair spray and soap. Sure, it's nice to save the rainforest by purchasing organic dental floss, but not at $8 for 25 yards. So the (at least nominally) budget-conscious shopper heads for a big worker-unfriendly corporation like Giant. (Oh, my unionized coal-mining and dock-working forefathers are doing backflips in their graves!)

Hey, don't look at me like that. I at least avoided Wal-Mart!

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah. Another fact of shopping hit me like a brick wall in the Giant in Arbutus: because I usually don't bother writing down a shopping list, I often forget exactly what I came in for. Giant just loves shoppers like me! But I remembered: I needed hair spray, so I headed for the hair products aisle.

After avoiding a totally unnecessary piece of cake (which Giant still makes with that delicious hard buttercream frosting, not that "bettercream" shit that SuperFresh and Mars use on their cakes), I bought, in roughly this order:

  1. Alberto VO5 Quick Hold Fast-Drying Hair Spray ($3.99) - I usually go for the Max Hold, but wanted to give this a try. I'll find out tomorrow morning if I made a good choice.
  2. Weight Watchers Chicken Enchilada Suiza ($2.29, on sale for $2.00) - A good, low calorie lunch solution, it's quite a tasty dish. Avoid their microwave panini, however. That's just wrong.
  3. Southern Living Magazine, January 2007 Edition ($4.99) - A guilty pleasure. Plus, this month they have articles on chili and a spread on food in Savannah and a resort in Western Maryland.
  4. York Peppermint Pattie ($0.79) - Again, an impulse buy.
Total spent (plus tax, on the mag and the candy): $12.26 (that includes $0.49 in tax)

So the grand total I spent on my grocery shopping today: $20.43 + 12.26 = $32.69. Lesson learned this evening: I spend way too much on impulse buys and useless stuff. Even the hot cocoa!

Anyway, look for Rachel's post on Food Maven on January 27, to see what others have bought over the last week and what they will have bought in the upcoming one!

*CORRECTION: The recipe I am thinking of is a straight-up homemade chai recipe. Yum!


Anonymous said...

Hello, I did a search for trader joe's chili oil and this blog came up. We ran out of it and the Trader Joe's in Philadelphia no longer carries it. I was wondering if you could tell me the ingredients on the bottle if you have it close by so that we can compare to other chili oils. This one is my wife's favorite. Thank you