Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Whole Foods Deals

Whole Foods may have a (mostly undeserved) reputation as Whole Paycheck, but the quality of much of their stock, especially meat and seafood, is so good, it deserves to cost more. And if you watch them closely (or simply read here), you can find fabulous deals to make that quality fit more wallets. I was just at the Pearl Street store, where they have a today-only excellent sale on some meat. Items I saw, all at nearly or more than half price, were whole chickens at 99 cents/lb, Virginia baked ham at $2.99/lb, and bone-in spiral ham at $3.99/lb. I didn't check expiration dates, but if I remember correctly, vacuum-packed hams can keep quite a while. I can't say if these deals are available at the other local WF stores today, but tomorrow, a 3 Day After New Years Sale starts at all of them. Standouts again to me are in the meat and fish departments, with boneless turkey breast roast nearly half price at $3.99/lb (I might postpone my plans to use their $2.99 turkey tenderloin based on this), organic grass-fed beef boneless rump roast at $3.99/lb, and Whole Catch cod fillets, $3 off at $4.99 each. I believe the cod will be their nice frozen package, handy to have in your freezer. Aleutia sockeye salmon will also be $4 off at $10.99/lb, and it was already flying out of the seafood department today. From partway across the vast Pearl Street store, I heard a hearty cry that I initially mistook for "Need pollution in the case!". Of course, it was "Need Aleutia in the case!".

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The New Year's Plan

Dinner on New Year's Eve will be Mark Bittmann's pasta with crab from the New York Times. We'll precede it with an experiment, smoked salmon rolls with ricotta and chives. Since that's also a NYT Bittmann recipe, it should be great. For New Year's Day, we have a tradition of doing something along the hoppin' John route, supposedly for good luck in the new year. Looks like I'm on quite a roll with Bittmann, as our norm is his soup spin, black-eyed pea soup with ham and greens. If you try this out using his option of prosciutto, remember that the Pearl Street Whole Foods usually has small slabs of prosciutto for cooking in their deli case at maybe half the cost of their freshly sliced prosciutto. Corn bread is a classic accompaniment, and recipes are everywhere. I particularly like one that was published in Bon Appetit, green onion corn bread. New Year's morning is more likely devoted to working out than to cooking, but the New York Times just published a recipe for a strata with mushrooms and chard that has me intrigued. Stratas are usually artery-clogging affairs, but this one, published as a NYT "recipe for health," looks really appealing. Like most stratas, it can also be made largely in advance, so it could fit in nicely with the workout. Rather than going with whole eggs, we find that NuLaid makes a fine substitute to cut down the cholesterol. Here's to a great 2010!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Last Call for WF Current Specials

While Sprouts and Sunflower put out flyers weekly, Whole Foods stretches theirs out to a two-week cycle, so today's the last day to grab the current specials at Whole Foods. Among my favorites have been their Seeduction hearth bread at half price ($1.99), Two Bite cinnamon rolls at nearly half price ($2.99 for a bucket of them - and good news, their chocolate brownies will be at that price starting tomorrow!), and Cotswold cheese at nearly half price ($9.99/lb). Tomorrow only, beef NY strip loins (averaging five pounds each) will be $5.99/lb, if you're thinking of a large roast for New Year's. Because they do overlap days on Wednesdays, you'll still have tomorrow to catch the current specials at Sunflower and Sprouts.

Boulder Dining Scene

Hope you caught Cindy Sutter's article on the growth of Boulder's sophisticated dining options that appeared in this Sunday's Daily Camera. If you missed it, you can still view it here.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Burger Alert - 99 Cent Burger!

At Whole Foods, no less. Was out at the Superior store, using the New Year's $10 off coupon I've previously mentioned, and found prepackaged 85% lean burger on sale for 99 cents a pound! Most packages were about 1.25 pounds, so it's not like you have to take ten pounds to get the deal. Don't know what's happening at the other Whole Foods stores in the area, worth checking out. Also at Superior, if you're a fan of the Mix 1 drinks, they're on sale in 4-packs for $5.99, which wouldn't normally be a remarkable deal, but many of the 4-packs have $2.00-off coupons attached.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

More Dinners For This Week

Last night we cheated and did another large cinque formaggio pizza (on sale at Whole Foods for $7.99, and it's big), dressed up with veggie pepperoni, some diced Black Forest ham (also on sale at Whole Foods, $7.99/lb), and mushrooms. Tonight will be some yummy chicken parmesan sausages from Sprouts, on sale for $2.99/lb (will probably freeze some as well). Haven't decided whether to do polenta or spaghetti squash served like spaghetti on the side. Christmas' standing rib roast dinner will get a partial reprise for Monday, this time with organic russet potatoes baked on the side. Tuesday will go vegetarian, using butternut squash for the New York Times' pasta with winter squash and tomatoes. Organic romas were on sale for $1.99/lb at Whole Foods when I was last there. Haven't decided about Wednesday, and am still thinking pasta with crab for New Year's Eve.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Hot Two Day Sale

Whole Foods (flyer says Rocky Mountain Region, so must be all the stores around here) is doing some great deals in a two day sale, today and tomorrow only. Items that quickly caught my eye are their great burger, the 85% lean ground beef, just $1.99/lb (put a bunch in the freezer!), ground turkey breast $2.99/lb (half price!), and their fabulous baguettes at $.99 each (better than half price!).

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Thinking Ahead to New Year's

I'll get next week's menus done in any downtime tomorrow (yikes), but one special in this week's crop of grocery deals already has me intrigued. Sunflower is advertising a 16 ounce jar of crab meat for $6.99, wow! Haven't tried the product, but at that price, I will. It started me thinking of a recipe Mark Bittmann published some time ago in the New York Times for pasta with crab. In budget-conscious times, and especially with the deal at Sunflower, that strikes me as a suitable centerpiece for New Year's Eve dinner!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Dinner Plans

To round out the week, Christmas Eve we'll do a spicy shrimp and fettucine dish that you can find by searching at Cooking Light. Very easy and cheap, yet festive. For Christmas dinner, we'll pull out the stops with a standing rib roast, a fennel and leek gratin that doesn't have a link, and green beans livened up with a chipotle butter. Friends will bring a potato dish and dessert. To start, we'll munch on lots of shrimp cocktail from the $3.99/lb sale at Sprouts, and the Cotswold with chives nearly half price at Whole Foods.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Coupons and Events

Interesting things to be found in today's Daily Camera paper. Sprouts is offering a coupon for $10 off a $60 purchase. Also, night owls might enjoy Whole Foods' Moonlight Madness sale, Wednesday the 23rd, from 11 pm to 1:30 am. Won't find me there - I'll be asleep.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Next Week's Dinners

Such a busy week, so this is only a draft, but here goes. Yesterday, I picked up a cinque formaggio pizza at Whole Foods (the large is on sale for $7.99), that I dressed up with some Yves veggie pepperoni and fresh mushrooms. Tonight is a wonderful fish bbq: halibut on sale at Whole Foods for $14.99, that I'll accompany with some multi-color pasta shells from Whole Foods (adding olive oil or butter, parsley and garlic to the cooked pasta), and red chard (more garlic and some red pepper there). All this is based on Whole Foods to take advantage of their $10 off coupon at the Superior store, that's within easy reach for me. For Sunday, we'll do the vegetarian butternut and sweet potato soup I've previously mentioned from the New York Times. If you are not already a NYT online reader, you should be asked for a quick registration to see the recipe. Being on the seasonal path, butternut squash and sweet potatoes are both reasonably priced everywhere. In addition to salad, we'll have Whole Food's wonderful Seeduction bread as a side, mentioned in my hot deals to the left, as it's half price for a couple of weeks. As for Monday, it's National Burger Day!! Thanks to fabulous Restaurant 4580 for pointing this out. So we'll have burgers (pulled from the freezer from a previous incredible Whole Foods sale) with frozen Whole Foods fries, plus a bunch of lettuce, tomato, and avocado on the side. For Tuesday, since that butternut soup made so much, it's a simple reprise! All you have to make is a side salad, and defrost some of the great Seeduction bread frozen from the Whole Foods sale this week. Wednesday is looking like I'll pull some Copper River salmon from the freezer (chicken breasts or pork chops would be a simple alternative), with baked (aka microwaved) potatoes on the side from the big 5 pound bag I just got at Whole Foods for $2.50, plus another veggie. Beyond that, I have ideas for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but they're too important to finalize quite yet. The above ideas have more Whole Foods recommendations than I usually make, but I haven't yet done my rounds at Boulder's other natural food stores. Still need to pick up my week's organic, Fair Trade coffee at Sprouts for $8.99/lb!

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Warm Soup for Winter

It has been an unexpectedly busy week, so I'm just getting around to my menu planning. One item I know will be included is a wonderful sweet potato and butternut squash soup from the New York Times. Could someone who isn't already registered with the NYT tell me if you get a registration request when you click on that link? I'm already registered, so I can't tell. The NYT permits linking (yeah!) so long as their registration isn't bypassed, and I definitely want to play by the rules. Back to the soup, if you have an immersion blender, this soup is a healthy, seasonal snap, but a regular blender or food processor would also work.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pizza, Pizza

Whole Foods is doing a today only, one day sale on their large pepperoni pizza, $7.99 each. At a more leisurely pace, their large cinque formaggio pizza is now on sale for $7.99 through 12/29.

It's Food Day!

Wednesdays are my favorite, when most grocery stores issue their new specials. Don't forget that both Sunflower and Sprouts have "double-ad Wednesdays," when you can still get last week's deals in addition to the new ones. I'll be checking out what looks good for the week and building menus around that. Am still hoping to be able to share links to my favorite recipes, but I'm running into some trouble with that. In the first response I received, Cooking Light turned down my request to link. They might have misunderstood what I was asking, and I'm currently waiting to hear back from them again. Was too depressed to post anything yesterday after getting that initial response. I'm still hoping we'll be able to work something out that will be convenient for you. Worst case might be that you'll have to do your own searching if you want the recipes I mention, and many people wouldn't take that extra step. Let's hope these publishers are more cooperative and aware of what's in their own interest than that.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Whole Foods is Cranking in Superior

For those of us living on the east side of Boulder, going out to the Whole Foods in Superior is a reasonable and calmer alternative to the festive zoo that is their Pearl Street store. Right now, the Superior store is giving us good reasons to do so. First, check out these two $10 off $50 purchase coupons (note the differing expiration dates). Also, when I was there yesterday, they had a board out front advertising Taste of the Holidays every Thursday, 4-7. I'm all for sampling good food while saving $10 on my total big purchase.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Fabulous-Sounding Wine Dinner Wednesday

While I'm mostly too busy cooking at home (and too cheap to go out), I do keep an eye on Boulder's wonderful restaurant scene at the same time. Hope you caught the great coverage Boulder's food scene got in the Wall Street Journal a couple of weeks ago. We're so lucky to be eating in this town. But a wine dinner this coming Wednesday, the 16th, at Alba sounds like my kind of extra-ordinary good deal. Check out this menu featuring the foods of Emilia-Romagna (think prosciutto and parmigiano, though I don't quite understand Kobe beef's connection to the region) at an astonishing price of $55 per person, including wine. The little I've had of Alba's food has been fantastic, and most four course dinners with wine pairings in this town are running up to twice that price.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

More Dinners For This Week

I've already described the steaks from Sprouts on deck for tonight. On to tomorrow night, which will be a sweet potato and sausage soup, from a recipe published in Bon Appetit. Sweet potatoes abound right now, without huge price differences between stores, so I'd buy wherever you find it convenient. I deviate from the recipe by using chicken sausage that I cook well, which this week means any of the varieties on sale at Sprouts for $2.99/lb (convenient to get the steaks and the sausage in one trip). That will be accompanied by a salad with my own dressing, that I'll describe later. The salad will definitely include avocado, since they're on sale for 4 for a dollar at Sprouts! They're Hass conventional ones, but I'm not a purist for organic, especially for things that get peeled anyway, and this is an extraordinary price for Hass conventionals anywhere! I'll make a special trip to Whole Foods to get a bread for this soup, as no one does fresh bakery bread like Whole Foods. I'll freeze half for the repeat of this dinner Tuesday.

Monday we'll be back to vegetarian, with a nicely lightened version of Fettuccine Alfredo from Cooking Light. Recipe with video is here. I'll be experimenting with a light cream cheese picked up at Sprouts for just $1.99/lb this week. Have always made it before using Horizon Organic's light cream cheese. As previously noted, I almost always use stocked up whole wheat pasta, always on sale for $1.39 at Sunflower (but I'll use linguine since they unfortunately don't do a fettuccine cut). More salad, and of course, a 25 cent avocado. I seem to be leaning towards Sprouts this week, but I go wherever the bargains and my inclinations take me.

Tuesday will be a snap - a reheating of the sweet potato and sausage soup (cooking for two, it makes plenty for two dinners), another salad (with a 25 cent avocado!), and Whole Foods bread taken from the freezer.

Wednesday we'll be celebrating more fall produce with a butternut squash and shrimp risotto, published in last month's Bon Appetit. Looking for quick cooking, I never do the teeny broth additions for a risotto anyway, so I love how this recipe vindicates my addition of all the broth at once. Pancetta is a glorious addition, and for a small amount, is not too expensive at the deli counter at Whole Foods. The shrimp can be pricey, but I'll be pulling mine out of the freezer from a past sale, and won't be using the full pound that the recipe calls for. Also, watching the cholesterol, I'll add a touch of low fat milk at the end, rather than the cream.

Thursday is still up in the air, but I'll keep you posted. Hope some of this is helpful as you plan your own dinners. Comments most welcome.

Tasting Fair Alert

Sunflower (near McGuckin's) will be holding a Holiday Tasting Fair today from 11 to 2. They promise party foods, sweets & treats, appetizers, and cheese. P.M. update - wow, was that good. Was at Sunflower for my weekly grocery shopping, and they put out an amazing spread for their tasting (samples are usually scarce there most days). Ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, gravy, stuffing, cocktail shrimp, cheese, samples of many other products.... Hope you got there.

Friday, December 11, 2009

This Week's Dinners

I haven't quite finished my planning for the week, but here's how things are shaping up. Last night we had a great, vegetarian eggplant pasta dish that I found in Cooking Light magazine. I use regular whole wheat pasta (perpetually on sale at Sunflower) rather than rice pasta, and eggplant is pretty cheap everywhere right now. The jarred spaghetti sauce really speeds things up. While the Muir Glen sauce they recommend is great, all the Boulder stores offer their own brands for a lot less, unless you catch a good Muir Glen sale. Last night I tried Sprouts' own brand for the first time, and was really impressed that they offered a No Salt Added marinara in their own line. How often do you see that? Dinner had salad on the side, our usual with pasta.

Tonight I'm cheating, pulling some Copper River salmon out of the freezer. I froze a whole bunch during its brief season, and am now reaping the benefits. By the way, when Copper River was in season last June, King Soopers and Safeway were duking it out with low prices as lead-ins to their stores. Always worth a sidetrip for something like that. So now I'm eating Copper River salmon for less than I'd pay today for run of the mill, also previously frozen, sockeye at any store. Along with the fish, we'll have organic baked potatoes that finish off the great five pound bag sale Whole Foods had a couple of weeks ago, and an organic acorn squash picked up a week ago at a Sunflower, when they had organic on sale for less than conventional. Okay, not so helpful for your next shopping trip, but stocking up on things that last while at great deals is part of the strategy.

Tomorrow, we'll do a rare beef indulgence, as Sprouts is advertising New York steaks at an astonishing $3.99/lb. Can't vouch for them until we try them, but at that price, wow. I'll accompany them with a couple of dishes that don't have links. One is a baked tomato casserole from a cookbook my dear mother gave me, involving layers of tomatoes, thinly sliced onions, shredded cheddar (I know, steaks and cheddar, there goes the cholesterol), fresh bread crumbs, and chives or scallions. The reason I thought of this dish is that Sunflower has organic hothouse tomatoes for $1.99/lb this week. Last I looked, romas were also $1.99/lb at Whole Foods (12/12 update, they're back up to $2.99/lb), but this dish needs a round tomato, which can be pricey at this time of year. The other side dish will be a caraway cabbage one I haven't tried yet, involving cider vinegar, sugar, caraway seeds, bunches of shredded cabbage, and a cup of cooked beets. Something to balance out the richness of the steaks and tomato/cheese casserole. We'll see how that turns out.

Will post later about the sausage and sweet potato soup planned for Sunday (with an easy reprise later in the week) and the low fat Fettucine Alfredo planned for Monday. Now it's time to cook dinner!

A Few Words About This Blog

While this is just a prototype, as I see how this might work and obtain permissions from certain sources I'd involve, I hope this will turn into a fun and helpful source for Boulder grocery shoppers, cooks, and food lovers in general. My goal is to take advantage of the best weekly deals at Boulder's natural food stores, primarily Whole Foods, Sunflower, and Sprouts, to plan out my dinner menus with an eye towards each week's specials. Lucky's is also great, but too far from my house (unless they open a second store at Broadway and Baseline, as is rumored). By focusing on sales, my plans are by default pretty seasonal, which is now a hip thing to do. I also like cooking that is relatively healthy and definitely easy and quick. You won't find any elaborate, how the heck am I supposed to do that kind of recipes here. But while I might be aiming for healthy dishes and ingredients, please note that I make no claims regarding the health or medical status of anything I recommend. I'll also throw in a note or two as events of interest arise in Boulder's restaurant scene, although I'm usually too busy cooking to eat out. So my posts will be personal, subjective, and I hope maybe useful to Boulder cooks looking to save a little time. And if readers chime in with their own observations on food deals, we could really get something going!