Where to Shop

0 Comments | September 21, 2014

When are we going to live in the kitchen from the TV show, “The Jetsons”?


My dream has always been to be able to come up with an incredible way to deliver groceries/recipes to people so they can spend their time cooking instead of shopping.

Until that happens…Here are my top tips for where to shop for what!


Wholefoods: Yeah, I said it! Don’t shoot me yet. I’m gonna tell you how to shop there for less than you might think.

  1. Best for bulk grains and legumes which can be purchased very inexpensively even when they are organic! Explore the wild, wonderful world of bulk grains, lentils, quinoa, steel cut oats,  couscous and every bean under the sun.  The method for cooking is in a little booklet that is available on top of the bulk section.  Of course, you can always come back and browse Renata’s Kitchen for wonderful recipes as I whip them up!  *Top Tip–BRING YOUR LIST or suffer the consequences. They don’t call it ‘Whole Paycheck” for nothin’! 
  2. Never, ever enter Wholefoods without a week’s worth of menus and a shopping list! (Unless you’re rich–then shop there all the time and keep the economy moving!)
  3. EAT-YOUR-BEANS! Beans, beans, the magical fruit, the more you eat, you save your loot. Get ’em dried, soak ’em over night and throw them in your slow cooker.  Pennies a meal.
  4. Organic, free-range chicken.  Yes, a chicken from WF will cost you $17. But you just saved money with your cheap beans! And that chicken will be the best chicken you ever tasted (aside from farm fresh ones, but that’s another post!). The butchers at Wholefoods are SO helpful.  Ask them questions! Many of the butchers grew up on family farms or in the meat industry.  They are a wealth of information about cuts of meat, cooking methods, how animals are raised.  They will cut your chicken up for you from whole, which always makes it so delicious. If I can sell the world on one thing it is this: buy the best quality meats/chicken you can get your hands on and reduce your portion sizes to make it last longer. Fill the rest of your plate in with a quarter carb (also cheaper) and half veggies.
  5. Just because Wholefoods sells a 10 oz steak, doesn’t mean you have to eat one! Ask your butcher to cut that gigantic steak in half so you have two beautiful whole steaks, half the height.  Let’s face it, we have gotten used to eating WAY too large portions. This method will allow you to save your money and your heart!
  6. DON’T GO IN HUNGRY! Repeat after me: “I will eat a granola bar in the car on the way to Wholefoods so I don’t spend $75 on ready-made food”. Thank you.
  7. Browse their veggies! Wholefoods will take your breath away with inspirational seasonal vegetables.  Take your phone, take a photo of a veggie you have never heard of, come home and send it to me at renata@renataskitchen.com! I will give you ideas of how to cook it! I LOVE looking at nature’s glorious produce at Wholefoods. The artist’s toolbox!
  8. Visit Renata’s Kitchen regularly for Wholefoods tips and tricks!

Costco: If you wanna make your Costco membership worth it, do one thing–order your contact lenses from them! Now, on to your food shopping with your yearly savings.

  1. Organic ground beef in the 3 pack.  This is a really great way to buy organic ground beef without breaking the bank.  I also like the way the three-packs have these little perforated lines so you can snap them apart and store them  in the freezer. The beef also tastes really good. 
  2. Frozen Wild Salmon and other frozen wild caught fish.  Of course you can get the fresh wild caught or Coho salmon that is not frozen.  I like the frozen bags of fish (wild caught) because the portions are predetermined and wrapped and sealed.They defrost beautifully on the counter or in a sink full of water! Just roast them on a baking sheet with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and whatever herbs you like (tarragon, yum!) for 20-25 minutes until opaque. Now that’s fast food!
  3. Bananas. I know this is obvious, but dang, their bananas are cheap.
  4. Avocados. Ditto.
  5. Berries–I only buy them in season! Why? Because they taste good, that’s why. Oh yeah, and I like to get them organic and cannot afford organic unless it is seasonal, in abundance and therefore CHEAPER.
  6. Organic–Here are my fav organic things to get at Costco, and please come back again in case I think of more!  Organic chicken stock in the carton, eggs, milk (though I have other brands I prefer from smaller farms that I think taste better), SUGAR in a giant bag (it’s WAY cheaper than Wholefoods) and flour if they have.
  7. Visit Renata’s Kitchen regularly for my Costco tips and tricks!

Pete’s Fresh Market: If you don’t have a local Pete’s, you may have a version of this “Fresh Market”, it’s where you find the international flavors!

  1. Enjoy the inexpensive flavors of the world! When I walk into Pete’s, I breathe a sigh of relief because I can afford some food there! Also, I just wanna grab every Indian woman perusing the shelves and beg her for a lesson in Indian cooking.  If I ever get the nerve up, I’m gonna ask one of these women if I can interview her cooking for “Renata’s Kitchen Stories”–my YouTube channel! Check it out when you can!
  2. Amish Chicken. When I just cannot afford organic/free range chicken, I get Amish chicken from Pete’s. What are the Amish people doing to make their chicken taste so good? Now, that’s a question for Renata for another post! You can cut your budget for chicken right down if you buy dark meat thighs with bones and skin, which adds all the flavor! Roast ‘chicken in a bag’ on my website turns dark meat into a glorious plate of heaven, with NO MESS low prep, only one pan to cleanup! (Marinates in the bag, oh Mama.) Enter: “chicken” into “recipe search” at top left hand corner of the website home page.
  3. Mexican treats.  I recently ate one of the best sauces I ever tasted at our church! The Mexico-born woman told me the sauce was made with hot peppers put in the food processor with ‘tomatillos’, blitz and taste for heat, then add mayo and blitz again! Tomatillos are green ‘tomatoes’ that are sort of covered in a paper-like leaf. I can’t wait to make my own batch and post it on Renata’s Kitchen! I could only find tomatillos at Pete’s Fresh Market in Lombard, IL, and they are sitting in my fridge waiting to be blitzed! The sauce is beautiful on leftover chicken torn and placed in whole wheat wraps with a little cheese and chopped tomato or pico de gallo/cilantro.  Yum!
  4. PASTA, PASTA, PASTA.  What? You get your pasta from a non-Italian store? Hey! I don’t discriminate! Pete’s has one of the best selection of DeCecco pasta around. DeCecco is my favorite brand, and believe me, I’ve tasted the lot! There are a couple of very high end brands that really taste great too. But my ‘go-to’ brand is DeCecco. I LOVE all the shapes they have at Pete’s, and if I showed you the bunker I have in my basement of boxes of DeCecco you would send over the authorities. Me? Hoard?? Never.
  5. Canned tomatoes! Ok, Pete’s did start out having cheaper canned tomatoes imported from Italy.  Their prices are a little higher now, and sometimes you can get them cheaper elsewhere.  But they always have my favorite personal brand “Carmelina”.  There are LOTS of good brands of Italian tomatoes, these are just my personal favorites.  Pete’s also sells the GIGANTIC cans of Carmelina. You know, the ones the size of a bucket that make sauce for a party. (Or to make on a Sunday and freeze in small batches for ‘nights off’ cooking.)
  6. Come back for more recipes and studies of Pete’s world of foods I have never, ever seen before! One day I am gonna plan a Renata’s Kitchen field trip there just to look at all the little jars and bottles of potions from around the world! Those packets of spices and rubs have me hungry for answers!

What’s your favorite place to shop?? Renata wants to know! Comment or email renata@renataskitchen.com!







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