Homemade Dill Pickles

When I got my first job after college as a reporter for a small daily downstate newspaper, my mother took me out grocery shopping to stock the kitchen of my first apartment.

Like any recent college grad who didn’t know anything about cooking, I grabbed for the boxes of macaroni and cheese, canned tuna, and canned peas. Then I reached for a jar of dill pickles.

“No,” my mother said, returning the jar to the shelf. “Pickles are a luxury.”

Today, whenever I go shopping for my family, I always hesitate before reaching for dill pickles because at upwards of $3.50 per jar, they really are a luxury to people like me who are on a budget.

So when my mother-in-law recenty dropped off some fresh homegrown dill weed someone had given her, that got me thinking about making my own homemade dill pickles.

With Farmer’s Markets reopening for the season, the baby cucumbers needed for making homemade pickles are inexpensive and abundant. All the other ingredients are commonly found in most kitchens, with the exception of the dill, which grows wild if you know where to look.

Making pickled vegetables and sweet pickles can be a chore. In some cases, they can take up to weeks to cure and you have to continually monitor them so they don’t grow moldy or go bad. Then there’s the boiling of the jars to create a hermetic seal. It’s a lot of work.

But these homemade dill pickles are simple to make and they take only two or three days. Plus they taste as good as storebought pickles. Better, in fact, because they have that satisfying crunch and deliciously fresh sour/salty flavor that makes dill pickles the perfect accompaniment to a picnic lunch.

Some commercial pickles tend to be limp and turn an unnatural shade of green because they sit too long in their brine. But these pickles taste fresh and crisp for weeks, although they are so delicious it’s doubtful they will last that long.

Even though Mother’s Day was last weekend, a belated “Thank you” to my mom for helping me appreciate something as simple yet luxurious as a dill pickle.

Homemade Dill Pickles

4 cups Water

3 TBS Sea Salt

1/2 cup Distilled White Vinegar

1-1/2 lb Baby Cucumbers

3 Garlic Cloves, cut in half

4 large Dill Sprigs

5-6 Whole Black Peppercorns

1. Combine the water, salt and vinegar in a pan and bring to a boil. Then turn off the heat, cover and let cool completely, at least 90 minutes.

2. Rinse off the cucumbers. Cut off any blossom ends. If your cucumbers are large, cut them into quarters. Put the cucumbers in a large ceramic or non-reactive metal bowl with the garlic, dill and peppercorns, then pour the cooled brine liquid into the bowl.

3. Weigh down the cucumbers with a small plate to keep them completely submerged throughout the brining process. Then put the bowl somewhere where it won’t be distrurbed for 2 or 3 days, such as on top of the refrigerator.

At the end of the second or third day, taste one of the pickles to make sure it is sour enough for your liking. If not, leave the pickles in the brine for another day or two. If they taste good, transfer them to a glass jar — such as a recycled commercial pickle jar –adding the brining solution, but straining out the garlic and dill peices.

You can leave them whole or cut into quarters or slices. Cover and store in the refrigerator.



South Side Grocery Bargains – Week of Nov. 30-Dec. 6, 2011

Before we get to this week’s bargains, I wanted to give a shout out to a few of  my favorite blogs. I apologize in advance to everybody I left out. I plan on making this a regular feature, so hopefully everybody will get a mention at some point:

Mother Meets the Road — An opinionted New Orleans-based blogger who offers up recipes and advice with attitude. She describes herself as a cross between June Cleaver and Courtney Love.

The Tracey Show — Great recipes and great-looking photos from a great mom and talented cook.

Future World – Although not food-centric, this Providence-based writer always entertains with musings and comments about the places life takes him.

Frugal Feeding – A UK counterpart to Budget Cooking Blog, his writing style is always enjoyable and his recipes are always a joy.

Guapola — Probably the single funniest blogger I’ve found on the internet. One of the most original voices out there.

Okay, enough with the plugs. Let’s start saving some money!

In the produce section, Aldi’s has grapefruit for $.29/ea. Fresh Pick Market, at 8749 S. Ridgeland Av., in Oak Lawn, has McIntosh apples for $.69/lb. Both Freshline Foods, at 5355 W. 95th St., in Oak Lawn, and Cermak Produce have bananas for $.39/lb. At Pete’s Fresh Market, red delicious apples are $.38/lb, cantaloupe, Florida tangerines and d’Anjou pears are $.68/lb and avocados are only $.48/ea. And Tony’s Finer Foods, at 8630 S. Harlem Ave., in Bridgeview, has 6 oz packages of imported blackberries for $.79/ea.

Cermak has 5 lb bags of red potatoes for only $1.49. Fresh Pick has 1 lb bags of carrots for $.33. Freshline has eggplant and crisp pickles for $.79/lb. At Tony’s, Roma tomatoes and bok choy or Napa cabbage are $.39/lb and zucchini and yellow squash are $.49/lb. And Food 4 Less has chayote squash for only $.33/ea, perfect for your next Meat Free Monday.

In the meat department, Ultra Foods has chicken leg quarters for $.68/lb. Fresh Pick has whole grade A chickens for $.89/lb and bone-in chicken breasts for $.99/lb, the same price as Tony’s.

Pete’s has ground beef for $1.98/lb in the family pack, and ground turkey for $1.48/lb.

For at least the fourth week in a row, pork prices remain low. Fresh Pick has whole pork butt for $1.19/lb. Ultra has bone-in pork sirloin chops for $1.29/lb. F4L has pork shoulder butt roast for $1.58/lb.

In the grocery aisle, both Pete’s and Freshline have 5 oz cans of Bumble Bee chunk light tuna for $.49/ea. Tony’s has 8 oz cans of Goya tomato sauce for $.33/ea.

In the deli, Fresh Pick has Carolina turkey for $2.49/lb.

In the baking supplies aisle, Jewel has 5 lb sacks of Pillsbury flour for $1.99.

In the dairy case, Tony’s has Country Delight milk for $2.49/gallon and grade A jumbo eggs for $.99/dozen. Aldi’s has 8 oz packages of cream cheese or Neufchatel for $.89/ea.

In the bakery, Tony’s has 1.5 lb loaves of fresh baked Polish rye bread for $.69 and 8″ apple or Dutch apple pies for $2.50/ea. Jewel has house brand white or wheat bread for $.88/loaf.

For this week’s Bargain of the Week, we return to Ultra, where Palermo’s classic frozen pizza is only $1.66/ea, the lowest price I have ever seen. As a former omnivorous teenager with a pizza-centric diet, I can tell you that’s a great deal.

If you find a bargain while shopping, please share it in the comments section below. See you at the grocery store!

South Side Grocery Bargains – Week of Nov. 23-29, 2011

Do you love standing in long, slow-moving lines at the grocery store? Do you enjoy weaving your way through crowds of pokey shoppers? Are you happy to be 41st in line at the deli counter?

Me, neither.

I spend a lot of time in grocery stores researching this column and shopping for my family, so I’m adept at minimizing the time I spend in each store and maximizing the shopping experience while I’m there.

Here’s some tips to speed up your shoping:

  • Don’t shop during peak times. Try to do your shopping as early in the morning as possible or after everyone already has had their dinner at night. Shopping during Bears games is also a good idea (Afraid of missing a play? Two words: Ti Vo!). Stay out of Aldi’s right after church lets out and on the first weekday of the month.
  • Don’t shop if you are already in a hurry. Being anxious in the store will only make the experience more frustrating. If you are feeling uptight, stay home. If you must be there, take a deep breath and try to find your inner zen.
  • Stay away from those lines with a lot of senior citizens, especially during senior discount days. No offense to seniors, but they really do have all day to spend at the store. Plus, those change purses drive me nuts!
  • 15 items or less is a more of a guideline than a strict rule. Or, if you have only a few items, self-checkout may be a good option.

Let’s start saving some money!

In the produce section, Tony’s Finer Foods, at 8630 S. Harlem Ave., in Bridgeview, has green cabbage for $.25/head. Pete’s Fresh Market has California bosc pears, Mexican honeydew melons, Michigan golden apples or Florida juice oranges for $.48/lb.

Pete’s Fresh Market has Florida grapefruit for $.20/ea. Tony’s has 6 oz packages of blackberries for $.99. And Ultra Foods has Hass avocados for $.83/ea.

In the meat department, pork prices continue to be low, which may be why McDonald’s has reintroduced the McRib sandwich. At Pete’s, whole pork shoulder roast is $1.48/lb. At Tony’s, pork shoulder country ribs and end cut pork chops are $1.49/lb, and pork butt roast is $1.69/lb. Freshline Foods, at 5355 W. 95th St., in Oak Lawn, has pork steak for $1.59/lb.

At Pete’s, chicken leg quarters are $.48/lb and bone-in chicken breast are $.98/lb. At Ultra Foods, 73% lean ground beef is $1.88/lb if you buy it in the 5 lb pack or more.

In the grocery aisle, both Freshline and Pete’s have Centrella pastas and jars of pasta sauce for only $.88. That’s dinner for 4 for $1.76, or $.44/person. Freshline also has Centrella macaroni and cheese or select canned soups for $.29/ea. At Tony’s, select cans of Del Monte vegetables are $.50/ea, and 6 packs of Dutch Farm whole grain English muffins are only $.99.

Family Dollar has Jifffy corn muffin mix for $.50/box. Ultra has Wonder bread for $.88/loaf, 5 oz cans of Bumble Bee tuna for $.59, Campbell’s Spaghettio’s for $.89/can, and 8 oz cans of Goya tomato sauce for $.25.

In the dairy section, Tony’s has Country Delight milk for $1.99/gallon, limit 1.

In the frozen foods section, Tony’s has Orv’s assorted 12″ pizzas for $2/ea, an inexpensive way to feed hungry teenagers.

In the deli section, Ultra has Hormel deli boiled ham for $1.99/lb, and Freshline has 1 lb packages of Bar 5 jumbo franks for just $.99.

Finally, for this week’s Bargain of the Week, we head to Jewel (Hear that? That’s the sound of hell freezing over!) where 12 packs of Nestea iced tea are only $1.99/ea.

If you see an exceptional value at the grocery store this week, please take a moment to share it with everybody in the comments section below. Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend and I’ll see you at the grocery store!

South Side Grocery Bargains — Week of Nov. 16-22, 2011

Is pizza a vegetable? According to Congress, the answer is yes!.

On Monday, Congress blocked an effort by the Obama administration that would have required public schools receiving federal subsidies for lunches to include at least one half cup of tomato paste in a single serving of pizza in order for it to qualify as a vegetable. That much of tomato paste would render a slice of pizza inedible, in effect disqualifying pizza from the vegetable requirement.

Backed by the big food industry, Congress also blocked the administration’s other proposed new rules which included requiring more whole grain foods in school lunches and cutting back on the amount of French fries students eat. You can check out the New York Times’ report on the controversy here.

The whole issue is reminiscent of when the Reagan administration tried to get ketchup reclassified as a vegetable back in the 1980s. What are these people thinking?

You know what I’m thinking? Let’s start saving some money!

In the produce section, Aldi’s has a 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries for $.99 and celery for $.49 bunch. At Fresh Pick Market, at 8749 S. Ridgeland Ave., in Oak Lawn, bananas are $.39/lb and cabbage is $.25/lb. Tony’s Finer Foods, at 8630 S. Harlem Ave., in Bridgeview, has navel oranges for $.99/lb.

Pete’s has collard greens for $.39/lb, and avocados for the same price each. Pete’s also has green beans for $.79/lb, zucchini for $.48/lb, and California blackberries for $.98/pint.

Cermak Produce has cauliflower, tangerines and honey crisp apples all for $.59/lb, as well as celery for $.59/bunch. At Freshline Foods, at 5355 W. 95th St., in Oak Lawn, broccoli crowns are $.49/lb. Food 4 Less has 10 lb sacks of russet potatoes for $1.78.

In the meat department, there are a lot of turkey specials available, but most of them require a minimum purchase and a coupon, so check the fine print before heading to the store. Both Cermak and Fresh Pick have whole pork butt roast for $.99/lb. Pete’s has ground turkey for $1.48/lb.

Fresh Pick has chicken drumsticks for $.69/lb. Food 4 Less has Tyson whole fryers for $.99/lb. And Tony’s has boneless skinless breasts for $1.49/lb.

In the grocery aisle, Ultra Foods has Ocean Spray cranberry sauce for $.88/can, Campbell’s Spaghetti-O’s for $.89/can, and Keebler club crackers for $1.78/box. Cermak has Del Monte canned vegetables for $.50/ea, and Tony’s has Barilla pasta for $.99/lb, both good prices for brand names.

In the dairy department, both Freshline and Pete’s have butter for $1.88/lb. Ultra Foods has Imperial margarine for $.48/lb. F4L has Kroger sour cream for $1/lb, same as last week.

In the frozen foods section, both Pete’s and Freshline have 1 lb bags of assorted frozen vegetables for $.69.

The baking supplies aisle will be crowded this week as folks start their holiday baking. At Aldi’s, a 12 oz can of evaporated milk is $.69. Ultra has a 5 lb bag of Pillsbury flour for $1.79. And Pete’s has 4 lb sacks of granulated sugar for $1.99, and a 1 lb box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda for $.69.

In the bakery, both Tony’s and F4L have fresh baked apple, pumpkin or sweet potato pies for $2.50. Tony’s also has pecan pies for $3.99. Yum.

For this week’s Bargain of the Week, we return to Ultra, where sweet potatoes are on sale for only $.18/lb, a great price!

One last note: For all you seniors out there, every Tuesday Freshline offers a 3% senior citizen discount. For everybody else, stay out of Freshline on Tuesdays!

See you at the grocery store!

South Side Grocery Bargains – Week of Nov. 9-15, 2011

Before we get to this week’s grocery deals, I want to ask you a question.

Has the rapidly changing techology changed the way you prepare and cook a meal? It didn’t occur to me that it had until I saw this New York Times article proposing that cookbooks may be obsolete.

The article focuses on new smart phone apps that offer an endless supply of recipes and step-by-step video instructions on how to prepare just about anything. I don’t have these apps (yet) but it got me thinking about the way I cook.

Over the years, I have accumulated dozens of cookbooks that focus on all kinds of recipes — everything from the catch-alls like Betty Crocker to the specific, like Lebanese or Thai cooking. But I rarely look at any of them anymore.

Instead, if what I want to cook is not something I make all the time, I go to the internet to look up recipes. This worries me because it feels like I’m turning my back on all my trusted cookbook friends and instead going to strangers for help.

I’ll have to change my ways. At least until I can afford one of those cool smart phone apps!

Anyway, let’s start saving some money!

In the produce section, Cermak Produce has plum tomatoes and cauliflower both for $.49/lb. Food 4 Less has white onions for $.33/lb. Ultra Foods has California navel oranges for $.40/lb. Pete’s Produce Market has Mexican avocados for $.49/ea. Tony’s Finer Foods, at 8630 S. Harlem Ave., in Bridgeview, has green or red peppers for $.99/lb.

Fresh Pick Market, at 8749 S. Ridgeland Ave., in Oak Lawn, has broccoli crowns for $.69/lb, bananas for $.39/lb, cabbage for $.19./lb, carrots for $.33/lb and iceberg lettuce for $.69/ea.

The Florida citrus crop is in! Tony’s has Florida red grapefruit for $.49/lb; and Fresh Pick has tangerines for $.69/lb.

In the meat department, Pete’s has split chicken breasts in the family pack for $.98/lb; Tony’s has drumsticks for $.69/lb; Ultra has Perdue whole frying chickens for $.68/lb; and both Cermak and Fresh Pick have chicken leg quarters for $.59/lb.

F4L has beef shanks for $1.78/lb; and Tony’s has pork butt roast for $1.69/lb.

In the grocery aisle, Aldi’s has house brand stuffing mix for $.89/box. Both Pete’s and Freshline Foods, at 5355 W. 95th St., in Oak Lawn, have assorted Centrella canned vegetables for only $.44/ea.

In the baking supply aisle, Cermak has 5 lb sacks of all-purpose flour for $1.50 and 2 lb bags of powdered sugar for $2. Pete’s has a 4 lb sack of Domino sugar for $2.49. Ultra has Carnation evaporated milk for $.99/12 oz can.  And Tony’s has Red Star yeast 3-packs for $.99.

In the dairy section, Tony’s has Grade A large eggs for $.99/dozen. Aldi’s has house brand cream cheese or Neufchatel for $.89/package. F4L has 1 lb tubs of Kroger sour cream for just $1. And Cermak has Imperial margerine for $.79/lb.

In the frozen foods aisle, Freshline has Green Giant vegetables for $.99/bag.

In the deli, Freshline has Scott Petersen Braunschweiger for $1.99/lb. You know me and liver sausage!

Finally, for this week’s Bargain of the Week, it’s back to F4L, where a 5 lb sack of russet potatoes is only $.78, less than $.15/lb. Mashed potatoes, here we come!

On a sad note, Dominick’s is closing its Oak Lawn store. Although the prices there were always really high, I feel sorry for the nice people who worked there. They always made it an enjoyable place to shop.

If you see an outstanding grocery bargain, please share it in the comments section below. We’re all in this together. See you at the grocery store!

South Side Grocery Bargains – Week of Nov. 2-8, 2011

I found two troubling trends in the grocery stores this week.

The first I’ve mentioned before: Many manufacturers are keeping their prices the same, but reducing their package size. For example, soda pop is sold in 20-packs now instead of cases of 24 cans in an effort to fool the consumer into thinking prices are stable.

In the same vein, many grocery stores now advertise their deli meats and cheese by the half pound price, rather than by the pound. For example, Jewel this week advertised Sara Lee turkey breast for $3.49 per half pound. Folks, that’s nearly $7/lb for turkey! Jewel is not the only offender, but to me that’s just shameful.

The second thing bothering me is that most meat departments now offer pork neck bones as a featured sale item — Pete’s Fresh Market has them for $.98/lb, for example. There was a time, not very long ago, when neck bones were talked about as something people ate back in the old country or during the Depression. Now, almost everybody is advertising them.

Sign of the times, I suppose.

Okay, enough with the worrying! Let’s start saving some money!

In the produce section, Cermak Produce Market has broccoli for $.69/lb, and jumbo white onions for $.49/lb. Over at Pete’s Produce, Fuji apples are $.68/lb, celery is $.68/ea, and red peppers are $.33/ea. Food 4 Less has collard, mustard or turnip greens for $.58. You can use them to make these delicious soul food favorites!

Tony’s Finer Foods, at 8630 S. Harlem Ave, in Bridgeview, has Napa cabbage for $.29/lb, and fresh strawberries for $.88/lb. Now that’s an unexpected surprise in November! Both Tony’s and Fresh Pick Market, at 8749 S. Ridgeland Ave., in Oak Lawn, have zucchini for $.49/lb. Tony’s also has yellow squash at the same price. We’ve burned through all our garden squash, have you?

Fresh Pick also has cabbage for $.19/lb, and Russet potatoes for $.18/lb, perfect for making these loaded twice-baked potatoes. They also have grapefruit for $.40/lb, and Ultra Foods has bananas for $.38/lb.

In the meat department, Aldi’s has Tyson fresh split chicken breasts for $.89/lb, Fresh Pick Market has whole chickens for $.79/lb, and Pete’s has chicken thighs for $.68/lb.

Pork prices continue to be lower. Freshline Foods, at 5355 W. 95th St., in Oak Lawn,  has pork loin country style ribs for $1.99/lb, and Tony’s has sirloin pork roast for the same price.

In the grocery aisle, Pete’s has Progresso soups for $.89/can, a good price for a brand name. Aldi’s has generic cream of chicken or mushroom soup for $.69/can. Ultra has 16.3 oz jars of Peter Pan peanut butter for $1.39/ea, and select Libby’s vegetables for $.38/can, a very good deal.

32 oz bottles of Powerade are on sale at Pete’s for $.66/ea, and Tony’s has 12-packs of Coke products for $3.33/ea.

Baking season is upon us! Both Freshline and Pete’s have 5 lb sacks of all-purpose flour for $1.49. Also at Freshline, 4 lb bags of sugar are only $1.99. And at Dollar General, I found cans of cranberry sauce, pumpkin and evaporated milk for just $1.

In the dairy section, Tony’s has butter for $1.99/lb. Maybe not quite a stock up price, but getting closer. Aldi’s has cream cheese or neufchatel for $.89/ea. Fresh Pick Market has gallons of milk for $2.25, still high but the best price I could find.

In the deli, Cermak has American cheese for $2.49/lb, not a great price but better than anywhere else I could find.

In the bakery, Tony’s has 1 lb loaves of Polish rye bread for $.49/ea. They have to be losing money on it at that price.

In the frozen foods aisle, Freshline has Birds Eye vegetables for $.79/ea.

And this week’s Bargain of the Week is a tie: $.49 will buy you an avocado at Cermak Produce, or a pomegranate at Aldi’s.

Remember, if you find a fantastic deal while grocery shopping, share it in the comments section below. We all need to take care of each other during these rough economic times!

South Side Grocery Bargains — Week of Oct. 26 – Nov.1, 2011

Before we get into this week’s shopping values, alarming reports that the fish you are paying for may not be the fish you are actually getting.

Both Consumer Reports and the Boston Globe said this week that some restaurants and grocery stores purposely mis-label seafood — swapping inexpensive fish, such as tilapia and swai, for more expensive cuts, such as snapper or sole.

Consumer Reports said one in five fish they tested were falsely labeled, while the Globe said their investigators found almost half the fish they inspected were not the real deal.

This bait-and-switch is scary not only because it means some businesses are okay with ripping off their customers (surprise!), but because of the potential health risks, such as accidental allergic reactions. The Globe said some restaurants were offering snapper but serving escolar, a cheaper fish chefs call the “Ex Lax” fish because its high oil content can cause, shall we say, gastro-intestinal distress in some people.

As always, let the buyer beware. Now, let’s start saving some money!

In the produce department, both Pete’s Fresh Market and Cermak Produce are having ten cent sales. At Pete’s, it’s plums, lemons, zucchini, Jonathan and red delicious apples, and Bosc pears. At Cermak, it’s bananas, plum tomatoes, garlic, russet potatoes, banana peppers and loose carrots.

Tony’s Finer Foods, at 8630 S. Harlem Ave., in Bridgeview, has red grapefruit and tangerines for only $.59/lb, and tomatillas or jalapenos — perfect for making slow cooked pork and tomatillo stew — for the same price. Food 4 Less has Hass avocados for $.78, if you have a craving for guacamole.

Pete’s also has broccoli for $.48/lb. Freshline Foods, at 5355 W. 95th St., in Oak Lawn, has iceberg lettuce for $.69/head.

In the meat department, Tony’s has chicken leg quarters for $.59/lb and pork butt roast for $1.69/lb. Pete’s has whole chicken for $.88/lb and ground turkey for $1.48/lb, a good price these days. Ultra Foods has split chicken breasts for $.98/lb, and full slabs of cooked BBQ baby back pork ribs for $3.99/ea.

In the grocery aisle, F4L has Skippy peanut butter — smooth and crunchy — for $1.48/jar and Maruchan instant lunch cups for $.29/ea. Now that’s a cheap lunch.

Pete’s has Prince pastas for $.99/lb, a decent price for a name brand. Ultra Foods has Campbell’s chicken noodle and tomato soup for only $.59/can. Tony’s has 15.5 oz cans of chickpeas for $.50/ea, perfect for making hummus.

In the baking aisle, Tony’s has a 5 lb sack of Pillsbury all-purpose flour for $1.69, and Jewel has 4 lb sacks of sugar for $2.38/ea. Pete’s has 12 oz cans of Carnation evaporated milk for $.99. It’s time to stock up for holiday baking!

In the deli, one of my favorites, Scott Petersen liver sausauge, is on sale at Tony’s for $1.98/lb. Freshline has Scott Petersen jumbo franks for $.89/lb. Cermak has Carolina regular or smoked turkey for $2.49/lb.

In the dairy section, F4L has Kroger yogurt for $.50/ea. Has anybody found any milk deals out there? I found milk high everywhere this week.

For this week’s Bargain of the Week, we return to Freshline, where 28 oz cans of Red Gold tomatoes — whole, diced or stewed — are only $.29/ea w/ in-store coupon. Now that’s a loss leader!

If you see great deals, please share them in the comments section below. It’s important to look out for each other during these hard economic times. See you at the grocery store!

South Side Grocery Bargains — Week of Oct. 19-23, 2011

I don’t believe everything I read on the Internet, but a little fact-checking determined that this article which claims that child slave labor is used in the production of some Halloween candy may be true.

About 80 percent of the world’s cocoa comes from West Africa, where human rights activists claim more than 284,000 children work in cocoa farms under hazardous conditions, many of whom were torn from their families and sold into slavery, according to the article.

Even if this is only partially true, I’m reluctant to pass out chocolate candies this year. As the author notes, there are fair trade chocolate candies available, and non-chocolate alternatives as well. I personally don’t eat a lot of chocolate, but I’ll definitely be keeping away until I’m convinced the big candy manufacturers are taking this issue seriously.

I’ll get off my soap box now. Let’s start saving some money!

In produce, Pete’s Fresh Market has bananas for $.28/lb, Mexican avocados for $.48/ea, and green cabbage for $.18/head. Ultra Foods has red seedless grapes for $.68/lb, which is much cheaper than it has been.

Cermak Produce has California plums, zucchini, tomatillos, and Florida juice oranges all for $.49/lb. Cermak also has carrots for $.25/lb. Fresh Pick Market has artichokes for $.50/ea.

There are lots of grapefruit specials right now. The crop must have just come in. The best bargain I found was $.20/ea at Pete’s. At Tony’s, a 5 lb bag is just $2.50.

In the meat department, Pete’s has whole chickens for $.68/lb, and boneless skinless chicken breasts for $1.48/lb.

Pork prices have come down this week. At Freshline Foods, loin end pork roast is $1.49/lb. At Tony’s Finer Foods, pork shoulder country ribs are $1.49/lb. And at Cermak, pork spare ribs are $1.99/lb.

Have I ever told you about the deli department at Cermak Produce, at 7220 S. Cicero Ave., in Bedford Park? There are always great bargains there, the service is friendly and efficient, and it’s never packed. It’s my favorite deli. This week, they have Old Tyme regular bologna for $.98/lb.

In the grocery aisle, Ultra Foods has Home Pride or Wonder Bread for only $.88/loaf, Armour Small Lunchmakers for $1/ea, and Prince Pastas for $1/box. Food 4 Less has Maruchan Ramen noodles for $.20/ea, Kroger canned vegetables for $.58/can, and Chef Boy-Ar-Dee pastas for $1/can.

Freshline Foods has Campbell’s chicken noodle or tomato soup for only $.59/can. Jewel has College Inn broths for $1/14.5 oz can.

Get ready for baking season. Pete’s has Domino sugar for $2.38/4 lb bag. Tony’s has Ceresota unbleached flour for $2.49/5 lb bag. And Menard’s has chocolate chip, butterscotch or vanilla baking chips for $1.50/12 oz bag. I’m always delighted when I find food bargains at Menard’s. It’s a hardware store, for goodness sake!

In the dairy section, Pete’s has a dozen large eggs for $.98 and Prairie Farms milk for $1.98./gal. F4L has Kroger butter for $2.69/lb, and Kroger sour cream for $1/1 lb tub.

In the frozen foods section, Ultra has Flav-R-Pac Frozen Vegetables for $.89/1 pound bag.

Finally, for this week’s Bargain of the Week we return to Tony’s, where 32 oz Powerade is only $.59/each. I’ll have to stock up for the gym at that price!

Will you do me a favor? If you see a great bargain, will you share it with everybody in the comments section below? I would love for this to become a community where folks can go to one place to find the best prices!

See you at the grocery store!

South Side Grocery Bargains, Week of Oct. 12-18, 2011

Before we get to this week’s best bargains, I wanted to point out this op-ed peice by New York Times food writer Mark Bittman.

Normally, the food writer is among the least politically outspoken people in any newsroom. But Bittman is not shy about expressing his support for the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators and his disgust with some of their critics. Whichever way you come down on this issue, it makes for some interesting reading.

On another note: For 40 years, I’ve been throwing away those junk mail Valuepak coupon envelopes. But the sorry state of our economy has forced me to reconsider every aspect of our spending. And guess what: There’s actually some really good deals in there, and it’s very localized as well.

Unlike the coupons in the Sunday papers, which seem to be targeted at a national audience, the Valuepak envelopes contain discounts from businesses in my neighborhood. It’s a pretty good deal. Check it out!

Another item: Has anybody else noticed how food prices, especially meat pricing, are creeping higher and higher? I’ve found that even the toughest, throw-away cuts of beef are priced at $2.49/lb and above. Scary.

Anyway, enough with my rant. Let’s start saving some money!

In the meat section, Cermak Produce has chicken leg quarters for $.59/lb. Fresh Pick Market has bone-in chicken breast for $.69/lb and whole chickens for $.79/lb. Freshline Foods has beef shanks for $1.99/lb, contrary to my ranting above.

In produce, Fresh Pick Market has green cabbage for only $.19/lb, bananas for $.29/lb, cauliflower for $.59/lb, and Romaine lettuce for only $.69/head. At Freshline Foods, broccoli crowns are only $.69/lb. Cermak Produce has celery for only $.39/lb and Hass avocados for $.33/ea.

Ultra Foods has iceberg lettuce for $.50/ea, limit 2.

Over at Pete’s Fresh Market, Bartlett pears, bosc pears, lemons or red delicious apples all for $.14/each. Also at Pete’s avocados are only $.58/each and pie pumpkins (the medium sized ones for cooking, not the larger ones for carving) are $.98/each. Meanwhile, at Tony’s Finer Foods, limes are only $.05/ea, and the carving pumpkins are $1.99/ea.

In the grocery aisle, Food 4 Less has Campbell’s chicken noodle or tomato soup for only $.60/can. At both Cermak and Freshline, 8 oz cans of tomato sauce are only $.33/ea. Cermak also has 15 oz cans of diced or stewed tomatoes for $.79/ea.

Tony’s has 20 lb bags of Riceland rice for $6.88, or $.34/lb. Cermak has El Gallito dry pastas for $.33/lb. And F4L has 4 lb bags of sugar for $2.25.

In the dairy department, F4L has Kroger yogurt for $.40/each.

Bachelors take note: In frozen foods, Tony’s has Jack’s 12″ pizzas for only $2/ea.

Finally, for this week’s Bargain of the Week we go to an unexpected place — Menard’s, which has a 24-pack of Microwave Popcorn for $3.99, or less than $.17/bag.

Join the growing community of bargain hunters. When in your travels you notice a great deal, share it in the comments section below. And make sure to subscribe to my blog so you can get the best prices at area grocery stores every week. It’s free and easy; just click on the button at the top.

Thanks for looking at my blog!

South Side Grocery Bargains — Week of Oct. 5-11, 2011

Before we look at this week’s local grocery bargains, let’s look at something that is no bargain — fast food.

Although many national fast food chains promote “value meals” or $1 menu items, the reality is that once you add on sodas, fries and other extras, you end up spending way too much on food that is way too bad for you.

Last month, the Slow Food USA organization — a proponent of healthy, sustainable food for everybody — issued its “$5 Challenge,” a call for consumers to “take back the value meal” and put together healthy and delicious meals for $5/person, which they say is what the average person spends on a single fast food meal. You can read about it here.

While I applaud the group’s efforts to shed light on how much money we waste on fast food, I think the $5/person target is way too high. If I had $20 to spend preparing dinner for four people, to me that would be a fortune!

Okay, enough ranting. Let’s start saving some money!

First, in produce, Tony’s Finer Foods has green or red bell peppers for only $.98/lb; Fresh Pick Market has bananas for only $.19/lb, iceberg lettuce for $.50/head and tomatoes for only $.39/lb. That’s practically the whole salad!

Pete’s Fresh Market has avocados for $.49/each, corn on the cob for $.19/ear, and grapefruits for $.68/lb. At Cermak Produce, limes are only a nickel each. When was the last time you saw that?

At Aldi’s, caramel apples are $.33/ea if you buy them in the 3-pack.

In the meat aisle, prices are definitely inching upward, as I predicted a couple of weeks ago. But you can still find whole chickens for $.88/lb at Pete’s. At Fresh Pick Market — 87th and Ridgeland in Oak Lawn — chicken leg quarters are $.59/lb, boneless skinless chicken breasts are $1.19/lb in the family pack, and pork butt roast — perfect for braising for tacos or tamales — is $.99/lb.

At Ultra Foods, pork spare ribs are only $1.68/lb, and Bar-S Jumbo Franks are $.58 for a 1 lb package. That’s a good price!

Tony’s has Ole Carolina bacon for $1.99/lb. Dominick’s has pork loin rib half slice for $1.49/lb if you use your Fresh Values card, which I always do.

In grocery, Food 4 Less has 24 packs of Pepsi products on sale for $5.98/ea. At Tony’s, assorted Racconto pastas are $.69/lb, definitely a stock up price. Pair that up with $.99 for a 24 oz jar of Rinaldi pasta sauce at Freshline Foods and you’ve got the $5 Challenge beat by a mile!

If you look in my spice cabinet, you’ll see I love buying dried spices in the 16 oz containers. Its what I used in restaurants and I like having plenty available when I cook — I hate to run out! That’s why I was pleased to see GFS Marketplace has assorted spices in the large containers for $4.99/ea.

Cermak has 5 lb sacks of all purpose flor for $1.50 and Pete’s has Violi EVOO for $3.33/liter, the best prices for these items I’ve seen in awhile.

Good deli deals are hard to come by this week. Ultra Foods has Hormel boiled ham for $.99/lb. Cermak has Polish ham for $2.99/lb. That’s about it.

In dairy, Fresh Pick has medium eggs for $.99/dozen, and F4L has Kroger yogurt for $.48/ea.

In the frozen aisle, Ultra still has the Palermo’s frozen pizzas for $2/each.

For this week’s Bargain of the Week, we return to Tony’s, where they are celebrating Columbus Day with my favorite, Italian cannoli, for $.50/each.

What bargains have you found out there? Share them with the community in the comments section below. See you at the grocery store!