Does healthy eating make your both your physique and wallet lighter? If you’ve got an adventurous spirit and want to save a few bucks on filling your stomach, have I two simple tips for you: take a look at your local Asian grocery, and learn the art of stock making.
Traditional Asian cuisine is full of balanced portions of lean meats, vegetables, and grains. All these can be bought at very reasonable prices from your local Asian grocery. I’ve been a patron of Asian groceries for several years, and have enjoyed some delicious, inexpensive food. For example, I can buy a half-gallon container of pre-prepared green tea at Whole Foods for about $5-6, while, at the Asian grocery I can buy a bag of Sencha (green tea leaves) that will make dozens of quarts of tea for only about $7. The savings over time is huge, and I get to control the freshness and strength of the tea.
Another example of savings I’ve had from the Asian grocery are on the purchase of shrimp. At the standard grocery store, previously frozen, cleaned shrimp generally cost $5-7 per pound. At the Asian grocery I patronize, I have bought whole shrimp for a little over $1.50 per pound. Even after cleaning and deveining, that’s a significant savings. (By the way, we’ll come back to what you can do with the “waste” in a minute.) I’ve found lower prices at the Asian grocery to be consistent across the board, with fresh herbs at about 1/3 to 1/6th the grocery store price, vegetables generally at 1/2 the grocery store price, and meats at varying prices, but generally a little lower than the usual price.
There are a few cons to this story, though. If you don’t like Asian flavors or can’t handle the sight of whole foods (fish or shrimp with the head on, for example, or dried whole squid) then you may not enjoy shopping at an Asian grocery. Also, the Asian groceries generally doesn’t label things as well as most shoppers expect, or the labels are in the language of the country the item was imported from, so if you’re looking for wakame or bok choy, and don’t know what it looks like, you will be in trouble. Another thing, make sure you set your expectations properly. They’re Asian groceries, not conventional groceries. Don’t get irritated if you can’t find Italian pasta sauce or noodles, or onion, carrot and celery for French cooking.
Speaking of French cooking, what will you do with the “waste” from cleaning your inexpensive meats from the Asian grocery? French cuisine has a healthy, delicious answer that will perk up all your cooking: stock and broth making. Take the shrimp, for example. After cleaning and deveining the shrimp, you could be left with lots of heads and shells. Most people would just throw them away, but why be wasteful? You can take the shells, along with some onion, carrot, celery and a bay leaf and make a quick and delicious shrimp stock. Now you have an easy base for seafood soups or a bowl of noodles. If you can’t use it all right away, stocks and broths freeze easily for later use. French cuisine has a use for just about every animal in making a stock, so save bones and parts from chicken, beef, fish and shrimp for later stock making. If you need recipes, I recommend looking on the internet or getting a copy of “The Joy of Cooking.”
These two tips have saved me a lot of money and improved the quality of my nutrition. I hope you experience the same.