Thursday, August 9, 2012

How a trip for Costco Wholesale limes cost me $200

My basket at the end of an impromptu shopping trip to Costco Wholesale in Hackensack.

Editor's note: Today, I discuss an accidental shopping spree at Costco, sales policies at ShopRite and H Mart, and more ideas for meatless meals.

All I needed was limes, so I didn't even have a list when I dropped into Costco Wholesale last Friday.

But when I got to the checkout line, I had put $200 worth of items in my shopping basket, including two pairs of beautifully tailored wool pants from Italy ($49.99 each).

My clothes are too big now that I've lost weight, so they were an essential purchase.

As were two LED floodlights that are supposed to last more than 20 years ($25.99 each). I have four floodlights above my garage door that burn out frequently.

When I got to the Hackensack warehouse store, I remembered my teenage son asking for AA batteries, so I picked up a package of 48 from Kirkland Signature, the store brand ($12.99).

I also need something for Sunday dinner, so walked over to the seafood case, and found 5 pounds of Littleneck clams ($3.49 a pound).

I stopped buying those wonderful Sunset-brand Campari Tomatoes when the price for 2 pounds soared past $5, choosing Sunset beefsteaks that averaged $1.20 to $1.30 a pound.

But at $4.49, these tasty little orbs were impossible to resist.

And I was almost out of fruit, so picked up bananas (3 pounds for $1.39) and apricots (3 pounds for $5.99). 

A 5-pound bag of Persian Limes from Mexico were $4.99 -- perfect for broiled seafood, iced tea, canned fish salad and fruit salad.


Those sweet Jersey blueberries appeared in the market early this year and now, they've been almost totally supplanted by fruit from Michigan and Canada.

On a previous trip to Costco on July 31, I picked up a 2-pound package of fresh, sweet blueberries from Michigan for $6.49 (32 ounces).

This past Wednesday at Costco, I bought another 2-pound package of blueberries for $6.49 (32 ounces), but these are from Canada.

At the Paramus ShopRite on Wednesday, a pint of Canadian blueberries (12 ounces) was $2.99, and an 18-ounce package of Jersey blueberries was $5.99.

The day before at the same ShopRite, a pint of blueberries was $3.49.

Good luck trying to figure out when ShopRite and other supermarkets put food on sale.

Some of the prepared food available at H Mart in Fort Lee, made by the Korean supermarket or by such outside suppliers as Jinga and Pinocchio Catering.

Seasoned vegetables for bibimbap, left, and noodles without meat.

H Mart takeout

I went to the H Mart in Fort Lee on Wednesday to pick up prepared items for a Korean dinner at home, and found almost nothing on sale, compared to the Little Ferry H Mart, where I usually shop.

At checkout, the clerk said the Fort Lee store stopped giving customers a 10-cent credit for bringing in a reusable bag "last year," and claimed that was also the case in Little Ferry.

But he was wrong. My receipt from a visit to that store last Sunday, when I bought lobsters, shows I was given the 10-cent credit.

Lobsters at the Fort Lee store were $6.99 a pound, compared to the $4.49 a pound I paid on Sunday in Little Ferry. 

Rice, ramyun on sale

On that trip to the Little Ferry store, I also picked up two sale items:

A 15-pound bag of Kokuho Yellow Label rice grown in California for $7.99 or $7 off the regular price, and a 20-portion box of Shin Ramyun Gourmet Spicy instant noodle soup for $15.99 or about 80 cents a portion. 

At the Fort Lee H Mart, I bought Seasoned Vegetables for Bibimbap ($6.49), and Japchae, vermicelli noodles made from yam flour ($4.49).

I also picked up a small bunch of collard greens (99 cents a pound) and young carrots (99 cents).

A dinner of homemade bibimbap with carrots and collard greens.

Vermicelli noodles with a smoked wild salmon omelet for breakfast.

Bibimbap at home

To make the bibimbap, I prepared 2 cups of organic long-grain brown rice in an electric cooker and added the seasoned vegetables, sesame oil and gochujang, a Korean red-pepper paste.

Whole eggs, egg whites and milk went into the omelet.

I finished the open-face omelet under the broiler.

Frittata at home

I chopped up sweet red, orange, yellow and green peppers, removing parts that were beginning to spoil, and a little onion and Enoki mushroom, adding them to whole eggs and egg whites, milk and pieces of Reggiano Parmigiano cheese.

I poured the mixture into a 10-inch non-stick pan in which I had heated up a couple of ounces of olive oil, then added a layer of smoked wild salmon from Costco. 

After the omelet was set, I put it under the broiler.  The milk gave it a fluffy interior.

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