Friday, October 7, 2011

H Mart coupons prove to be no big deal

Public domain photograph of various meats. (Be...Image via Wikipedia
Beef, pork and chicken look good, but how were they raised?

I've been getting H Mart coupons in the mail for months now, but don't think I've saved a great deal of money at the Korean supermarket chain.

I signed up for an H Mart "Smart Savings Card" in February, which gives customers a $10 gift certificate on every $1,000 spent -- a rebate of 1%. I'm still not there yet.

I drove to the H Mart in Englewood today to return black plums that were spoiled, got a $1.37 store credit and then took out my coupon book. 

Flipping through it, I couldn't find anything I needed. There were coupons for Korean radish, green squash, red peppers, Korean grapes and red delicious apples, as well as small appliances.

The discount on red seedless grapes was 10% with a coupon. The red delicious apples were $1.49 a pound, and the coupon would give me 15% off. 

Three coupons for meat were of no use to me, and $1 off on Chilean sea bass exploits an endangered species that is high in mercury. Sea urchin roe or uni is $5.99 with a coupon.

Some coupons are good through Oct. 14, others until Oct. 30. You might be able to get a coupon book in the store. The regular price of discounted items isn't given.

Two things I wanted today were fish sauce and California-grown rice, which I have been buying at H Mart in 20-pound bags. I couldn't find the fish sauce, and no rice was on sale.

The four H Marts in Bergen County seem to run sales at different times, and discounts vary at stores in Ridgefield, Fort Lee, Little Ferry and Englewood.

I did buy a prepared seaweed-and-rice roll, called kimbap, and pan-friend crab pancakes or pajun for dinner ($4.99 each); yellow nectarines, 79 cents a pound; white peaches, $1.79 a pound; and empress plums, $1.49 a pound.

On my last visit to the Englewood store, I replaced the Korean-made, 12-inch, three-tiered, stainless-steel steamer that I had returned for credit after it rusted. The steamer was on sale for $22.99 (regularly $29.99), and no coupon was needed.

Today, the renovated store's new food court was closed. In September, I saw two women having lunch there, but a cashier said it hadn't been inspected by the city.

Before H Mart, I stopped nearby at Gaboh Inc., 191 W. Englewood Ave., Englewood, to pick up a 64-ounce jar of Arirang-brand cabbage or mahk kimchi ($9.99). This kimchi is made by hand and contains no MSG or preservatives (201-503-1314).

After H Mart, I picked up two large dinners with escoveitch of whiting, rice and peas, and cabbage ($10 each) from Ashanti International, a reliable source of  Jamaican takeout at 227 W. Englewood Ave., Englewood (201-227-0061).

Web site: H Mart

Costco membership

The annual fee for shopping at Costco Wholesale is going up 10% on Nov. 1 -- to $55 or $110 a year. 

Regular customers get the membership fee and more back in cash rebates when they use a credit card from Costco and American Express. 

The rebate checks must be used at Costco, but you don't have to spend the full amount there. You get the difference back in cash.

And you get low prices year-round, such as two dozen Eggland's Best large white eggs (vegetarian feed) for $3.99; three half-gallons of Kirkland Signature organic, low-fat milk for $9.49; and three pounds of bananas for $1.39.

There are hundred of items in sizes suitable for couples or small families, contrary to the impression of recent media reports that you have to buy large quantities to take advantage of Costco's low prices.

High-quality meat

Long after I stopped eating meat, I continue to receive catalogs from Brooklyn-based Heritage Foods USA.

The company was founded 10 years ago "as a response to the dwindling options in the marketplace for high-quality, humanely raised meat products grown by small and medium-sized independent farmers."

There are too many kinds of poultry and meat cuts to mention here, but everything is raised without antibiotics, hormones and animal by-products. In many cases, the animals spend a lot of time outdoors.

Piedmontese beef is described as "one of the tenderest beef varieties ever bred by man -- great marbling [fat]."

Four 14-ounce ribeye steaks are $75, four 18-ounce ribeyes are $93. Piedmontese briskets are 5 pounds for $60 and 10 pounds for $110.

This is a great catalog if you live far from the butcher counter of a Whole Foods Market, such as the one in Paramus.

Here's the Web site: Heritage Foods USA

Blog comments

At least one reader of  Do You Really Know What You're Eating? and Eye on The Record is reporting problems with posting comments.

Comments come to me in the form of e-mails, and I have the option of publishing or deleting them. I've noticed a decline in comments recently, but have published the few I've seen.

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