Sunday, January 15, 2012

How much do you spend on food?

English: Costco in Moncton, New Brunswick
Image via Wikipedia
I spent $8,700 at Costco Wholesale in 2011.

Editor's note: A year-end summary for one of my credit cards tells me something I already know. We spend a lot of money on food. Today, I also discuss another great meal at Simply Vietnamese in Tenafly.

I spent about $100 a week on dining out in 2011, but went through about $12,000 at supermarkets and warehouse stores -- most of that for food.

My restaurant spending totaled just over $5,000, including take-out. That doesn't include meals charged on another credit card I had to use at places that don't accept American Express.

The $12,000 I spent at supermarkets and warehouse stores includes non-food purchases -- everything from paper goods to batteries to flannel sheets -- and online purchases of food from

About $8,700 of that was spent at Costco Wholesale, which I rely on for most of my food purchases. We usually dine out once a week and do takeout on another night.

My year-end summary for the American Express Costco True Earnings Card doesn't include cash rebates of 3% for gasoline; 2% for restaurants, cut from 3%; and 1% at Costco and everywhere else.

And in the last two months or so of 2011, I started to use another American Express card, called Blue Cash Everyday, to get 3% back at ShopRite and other supermarkets.

Now, besides ShopRite, I use the Blue Cash card at Whole Foods Market, Fairway Market, Trader Joe's and Brothers Produce in Paterson. 

A well-balanced meal

On Saturday night, I ordered the same well-balanced dinner at Simply Vietnamese in Tenafly as I did in October: pan-broiled Basa fillet, a farmed catfish from Vietnam, served over bok choy with a bowl of brown rice ($19).

The fillet was so big it was served in two pieces, and covered with carmelized onion and sweet pepper. This is a healthy, one-dish meal.

My wife and mother-in-law had filling bowls of boneless Roast Duck Soup ($12) with rice noodles, and my son had the House Noodle Soup with thicker noodles and ribs ($13).

We shared two appetizers, Goi, a crunchy Vietnamese salad topped with crushed peanuts ($7); and delicious Broiled New Zealand (Green-Lipped) Mussels in a wasabi ginger sauce ($8.50). Service is attentive.

Another great meal at Simply Vietnamese in a beautiful, deep-red dining room. 

It would have been perfect if there was a hook near our table where I could have hung my hat and long winter coat instead of doubling the coat and putting it over the back of my chair.

With the closing of Mo' Pho in Fort Lee, Simply Vietnamese is the only North Jersey outpost of Chef K.T. Tran, who is at the top of her form.

Simply Vietnamese, 1 Highwood Ave., Tenafly; 
201-568-7770. BYO, free street parking. Reservations
recommended on weekends.
Web site: Simply Delicious

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  1. I love, love, love this place, too! Did you ever go to the one in Englewood? It was called Saigon (also run by Chef K.T. Tran). That was my favorite of all her restaurants.

  2. Yes, I did. I lived in Englewood for many years. Thanks.


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