portland’s greatest hits.

3 11 2010

remember that time i posted about all the things in portland that have been going out of business lately, and how bummed out about it i am? well, i’m still bummed out about it (north star- nooooooooo!), but i’m willing to let  it go… as long as the following 5 businesses promise me (blood may be required to seal the deal), that they will always be here. ALWAYS.

now, i didn’t just go for places that are fancy or popular. in fact, many of my favorites didn’t make the list (i’m sorry caiola’s and rosemont market, there just isn’t room for everyone!). i wanted places that were iconic, and integral to the structure that makes portland porltand. do you remember when jennifer grey got that nose job, and then she looked like nobody anymore and we all forgot about her? that’s what would happen to portland if these businesses went away. i’m THAT SERIOUS.

in no particular order…

1. material objects: first of all, we are extremely lucky that there are a lot of great consignment shops in this town, especially now that shit is going down with the economy. but material objects is the king of them all. i love that it still looks exactly like the 90s in there. i also love the fact that pretty much everything in the store is less than $20. friendly, unpretentious, and always stuffed full of dirt cheap fashiony goodness. love.

2. paul’s food center: ok, totally shifty- i would probably/definitely never buy produce there… but there’s just something about a sketchy independent grocery store plopped in the middle of town that warms my heart. it feels like the land before time in there, but with more drunks.

3. bill’s pizza: hub for late night wasted snackage, this is another kind of gross one for the list. their pizza isn’t very good (so salty), and kind of pricey (for a single slice of kind of shitty pizza), but they have beer and orange soda on tap, and if you’re lucky, you can hear drunk people having sex in the bathroom.

4. videoport: as a complete netflix whore, one wouldn’t figure that i’d be singing high praises to a video store,  but videoport feels like home. probably because it consistently employs the very best people in town, and last time i checked, netfilix didn’t have an “incredibly strange” section. it’s a cinematic archeological dig in there. i don’t care if all video is going online, videoport needs to stay open FOREVER. are you listening dennis?

5. yes books: YES. BOOKS. everywhere. piled into corners and on the floor. dusty and disorganized, like a vaguely alphabetical treasure hunt. i love the musty used book smell and the ornery owner. to me, it’s portland’s own tiny musty version of the embryo concepts bookstore from funny face.

honorable mentions: the eastland park hotel, geno’s, old port candy, and ferdinand.

what local landmarks do you refuse to live without (you don’t even have to live in portland)?





worth the trip- full cosmetic takedown.

5 10 2010

so i’d never even heard of ulta before i drove by the mall a few days ago and saw that one had sprung up in the gaping void left by vinny ts (ok, maybe gaping void is a little dramatic- did ANYBODY go to that restaurant?). now generally, i would not entirely give a shit about a giant box store peddling makeup (sorry sephora, i’m just a low maintenance kind of girl), but they seduced me in with a $5 off $10 coupon in my sunday paper. i also did a little research and found out that in addition to their own lines and the high end lines they carry, they also carry all the drugstore brands, AND they take manufacturers coupons. SCORE! their flier showed a host of buy one get one 50% off deals on the drugstore brands, and i rounded up my very best coupons and headed over to see what i could do:

2 neutrogena blushes at $5.99 each with the BOGO50% sale, a $3/1 coupon (from all you) and a $2/1 coupon from this weekend’s paper= $3.99

2 NYC color nail polishes for $1.99 each with BOGO50% sale and a BOGO coupon from all you (seriously, if you don’t get all you, you’re doing yourself a profound coupon disservice)= $.99

2 cover girl eye shadows at $3.29 each with the BOGO50% sale, and 2 $1/1 coupons from the P&G brandsaver= $2.94

total= $7.92 minus the $5/$10 coupon from the paper= $2.92! i got all of the above makeup for less than $3! AND for joining their rewards club (totally free and painless to join), they gave me a sack of free goodies including a full size nail polish and eye shadow, scented body cream, and some fancy hair serum.  oh, and a 20% off coupon for next time. SUPER SCORE. also, the staff was super friendly and extremely patient with my crazy coupon ladyness. i’m hoarding this makeup for a secret project (details soon), so especially if they keep the coupon love flowing, i will definitely be going back again.

shaw’s- ok, i have never been a big fan of the “can-tastic savings” event, and this week was not particularly different. the only thing i deemed worth grabbing was the $.88 progresso soup. i had a $.50/2 coupon (doubled of course) from a coupon book i got in the mail, and considering they’re usually around $2 a piece, i thought that $.38 each was a good deal.

target sadly, all the clearanced all natural fruit roll ups & herbal essences 2 packs were already gone (who are you target shelf cleaner? reveal yourself!), but they did have a good deal on hunts diced tomatoes at $.82 a can (screw you can-tastic savings) and i had a $1/3 coupon. $.48 a can seems pretty good, especially because chili season is upon us. they also had the deluxe velveeta mac & cheese (i’m obsessed with mexi-mac) for $1.52, which is pretty much as low as i’ve seen it anywhere (including walmart). there was a good $1/2 coupon in the paper last week (i think!), so $1 a box for me at least, seemed like a score. although again, nothing amazing.

rite aid- the free crest toothpaste and nivea lip care are definitely on the top of my list, but that schick coupon they’re all talking about on the deal websites doesn’t exist up here (kind of like the revlon coupons that never show up in the maine papers). also, i’m gonna pass on the incontinence pads. otherwise, meh. decent deal on frosted flakes ($1.60 per box when you buy 5), and cottonelle 12 packs are only $3.99 after +UP (the only coupons i could find were $.50/2), which is a pretty good price for toilet paper (especially if you’ve ever paid $1 or more for a “desperation roll” at a gas station).

cvs- roughly as much excitement going on at the cvs, but there is a good $.99 revlon nailpolish deal (after ECBs- limit 6!), which would be free if you had any revlon coupons floating around. i didn’t, but i got it anyway because i didn’t want to waste the $4/$20 that the emailed me this weekend. however, the big deal to look out for is lurking in the magic coupon machine. $5 off all halloween decorations and costumes with NO MINIMUM PURCHASE! i bought a pair of striped tights and some purple hairspray for  $.99.  the big bummer was really getting the coupon (it’s a “one day only”) in a store that had kind of a minimal halloween section.

big lots- there is a 4/$10 movie deal goin on at the big lots right now on all regularly $3 movies. i couldn’t find 4 that i liked (my local store didn’t have deep blue sea as advertised- FAIL!), but i did find a copy of rocket science, which is a great movie starring portland’s very own oscar nominee, anna kendrick.  anyway, even though i didn’t buy 4 movies, it still came up as $2.50. they’ve got some decent horror, and the usual sub “straight to DVD” quality (heartbeeps anyone?), but if you like to dig through big bins of crap- there are occasionally some gems in there.





i spy- poop factory.

24 08 2010

never having been a dog owner before, i had no prior understanding of how much poop a 9 lb. puppy can generate. while we were preparing to bring home our little bundle of fur and teeth, we did a 2 week stint of dog sitting for the boyfriend’s parent’s evil scotty dog, but she never produced more than 2 poops a day. maybe it’s just our dog, or maybe it’s a puppy thing, but puppyface here is generating on average 4-6 piles of fun every day. needless to say, we tore through the stash of newspaper bags i had been hoarding from work in about a week. then we figured we could downgrade to plastic shopping bags, but were quick to find out (don’t ask-too horrific to recount) that they we not structurally sound, and too often came with holes already in them. so this weekend, we broke down and decided that we needed to go to the pet store and actually buy poop bags.

i’ll probably do some long winded post someday about how dogs are fucking expensive ($16 for flea drops! $20 for a bag of food! $90 vet visit!), but for today, i’m keeping the subject to poop only. doggie waste removal is an expensive proposition. we didn’t even go to the fancy pet store! we went to petco, and bought a package of 8 rolls (120 bags total) of petco brand pet waste disposal bags. $11.99!! it hurt, but we felt like we didn’t have a choice.

and then, we went to marden’s. sure, i talked shit about the new marden’s last time. and the women’s clothing still blows, and all the shoes are still made out of leather… but then i spied them from across the room- 4 packs of “bags on board” brand poop bags in fashion colors FOR $1.19 for 4 rolls. i bought 10, and have been plotting to go back and buy up the rest. that’s 600 bags for less than the price of 120! i felt a little guilty going back to the petco to return my purchase (it hadn’t even been an hour), but i gave the sad eyes to the cashier and told her that my boyfriend had given me a hard time about spending the money and not using shopping bags (sorry to throw you under the bus boyfriend!). but i’m trying to to feel too bad about it, because chances are those few rolls of bags they do have left at marden’s won’t last long, and the ones i just bought are not likely to even last a full year. petco will have my waste bag dollars soon enough, because if that dog knows anything (and it certainly isn’t how to stop biting my achilles tendons), it’s how to poop.





cheap eats- top 10 under $10

30 07 2010

ok, i’m done with my hopeless wallowing from yesterday.  i’m still feeling hopeless, but i’m taking a break from wallowing for a while, at least publicly. the brilliant @amycasey (worth the follow for you twitter geeks out there) recently suggested that i try the “small changes” plan, and i’m starting to think that it might be a good idea. perhaps if i can just force myself to focus on succeeding at one small element of life, i can use that momentum to pick up other small things as i go- eventually resulting in me actually having accomplished some of my goals (e.g.,having 2 month’s pay in my savings account, and fitting back into my size 8 jeans).

small task #1: stop spending so much goddamn money on eating out. i love eating out, and hells no i’m not going to stop, but i have decided that it’s time for me to take a big vacation from pricey pig-fests.  for the next month, unless it is a very special occasion (sort of like a very special episode, but with more gluttony and less emotional breakdowns), i’m going to try to keep my eating out budget to $10 or less. daunting, yes. but the benefits are two-fold! i will both A) spend less money, and B) by cutting out extras like appetizers, desserts, & booze… i should cut some calories as well. at least i hope so, because these size 12s are at MAX CAPACITY, and i will get back alley liposuction before i allow myself to go up another pants size.

in honor of this historic decision, i have decided to list my top ten things in town that are worth eating for under $10. not necessarily full meals, and definitely not always high end, but goddamn delicious and easily accessible.   i will probably be calling on this list fairly often over the next few weeks, so help a girl out, and gimme some more recommendations.

1. amatosbreakfast sandwich $2.29: cheap and dirty (and so simple, but shockingly delicious), but my absolute go-to whenever i’m broke and starving. it’s sort of like when i smoked, and cigarettes were only $2. you can always find enough couch/purse/street change to get a breakfast sandwich, and if you get them on toast (delicious non-wonderbread italian toast), it is both bigger, and better.

2. micuccisicilian slab $4.50: we’ve all heard what i have to say about the miraculous qualities of the sicilian slab. cliff’s notes version- shit is GOOD, and 1 piece will fill you up for at least two meals. also, totally worth getting into a noisy altercation with a stranger.

3. gilbert’s chower house grilled cheese $3.25: basically, this is what i get when i’m hungrier for more than just a breakfast sandwich.  simple and unpretentious, it’s got like an inch of cheese and really good bread. oh, and it comes with chips.

4. caiola’spolenta fries $5.95: caiola’s is my favorite restaurant in portland, perhaps anywhere. i have never had a bad meal there ever (from their superb sangria to that salty caramel cake that haunts my dreams), but if i had to choose only one food to eat for the rest of my life, it would probably be their polenta fries. no florid description of their crispy perfection and accompanying red chutney stuff could really do them justice. i know they’re not even close to a whole meal, but seriously, GO EAT THEM RIGHT NOW.

5. green elephantspicy vegetable medley stir fry $9: along with being the only 100% vegetarian restaurant in town, the green elephant is both totally tasty and extremely reasonable. they have a multitude of $9 entrees on the menu, but the spicy veggie medley is my favorite. but if you’re in the mood for something a little less healthy, i also recommend the king oyster mushroom tempura- rock ’em sock ’em fried mushroom action.

6. the maine squeezeamanda berry $5: i have a bigtime starch and fat problem. potatoes, bread, pasta… butter, cheese, cream sauce… you might notice that the majority of my top 10 faves are a combination of those very elements. however, every now and again even i hit the wall, and i start to feel like if i don’t get some fruits and veggies fast- i might die. maine squeeze will make you a giant-ass smoothie of delicious healthfulness for a mere five bucks. the amanda berry has the distinction of being one of the few smoothies on the menu without bananas (my arch nemesis), but you should eat them, they’re full of potassium and they’re good for leg cramps.

7. kamasouptraloaded baked potato soup $5.50: again, you’ve heard me do the dance of love for these guys, so i’ll keep it brief. a bowl of incredible soup (at a place that has more veg options than meat options) + a piece of bread roughly the size of small watermelon.

8. norm’s mashed potatoes $2.50: norm’s is tricky for me because it’s a BBQ joint (meat fiesta!), but the trick is in the side orders. a cereal bowl filled with buttery garlicy mashed potatoes and/or a hunk of home made corn bread that can double as a personal flotation device are only a few of the tasty, filling, and dirt cheap options on their side order menu. there might even be some vegetables in there, but who gives a crap about those?

9. otto–  cauliflower & mushroom pizza $3.00: i sing a lot of (well deserved) praises about micucci, but in the land of the thin crust, otto reigns supreme. innovative and flavorful, with a rotating cast of flavors from mashed potato to cheese tortellini, 3 big slices for 9 small dollars is a dinner to be proud of. actually, it’s kind of freaky that maine has such kick ass pizza. i thought we could only make lobster rolls and whoopie pies?

10. corner roompapparadelle & mushroom pasta $9: i can easily take down $60+ worth of food and beverage at the corner room without even thinking about it, but the beauty is that assuming i lay off the booze & desserts (although their stiletto & tiramisu are positively worth shanking for), i can get a perfectly serviceable and incredibly delicious dinner for just $9. all their pasta options come in whole or half orders ($15/$9), and the half order portions are more than enough food to constitute a full meal (especially if you ask for extra bread). the papparadelle dish is full of perfect home made hand cut pasta (double wide), floating in the kind of pitch perfect cream sauce that grocery store pasta dreams about.

HONORABLE MENTION hot suppa– fried green tomato eggs benedict ???: i’m fairly certain that it’s less than $10, but i couldn’t confirm, so i don’t feel like it’s fair to put it on the official list. regardless, even if you’re a canadian bacon loving carnivore, this is still one of the very best things to eat on the peninsula at ANY PRICE. it has the perfect balance of salt and fat and acid, and by far the best benedict i’ve ever had anywhere ever (and if there’s benedict, i will eat it).





i spy- sneaky cheese.

20 07 2010

just a quick post (since i haven’t posted anything remotely coupon related in like 100 years) about some secret $/1 sargento cheese coupons i found at shaw’s in south portland yesterday. they’re not really secret exactly, in the sense that they’re hidden. actually, they’re right there in one of those little blinky coupon dispensers attached to the dairy case, just waiting to be plucked (ONE per customer- OH PLEASE). anyway, what’s secret about them is that they purport to be for the low sodium variety cheese only (which is bullshit because sodium is part of what makes cheese the sole reason that i will never be a vegan), but what i learned by trying to be sneaky is they’ll work for any variety of sargento cheese. ok, not exactly earth shattering news, but cheese can be super expensive and $1/1 is a rare and special thing.  i’ve seen sargento go on sale for as low as $1.50/ea., and cheese (when sealed) usually has at least a couple of months on it. coincidentally, i also saw a bunch of big boxes of frosted flakes marked down to $1.50 each in the “scratch & dent” area, because they still have olympic themed packaging (though they don’t expire until 2011).  i guess what i’m saying here is: LOAD UP (while the loading is good).





holy shit it’s father’s day.

16 06 2010

i’m really good at remembering things. childhood phone number? check. all US presidents in order in under 30 seconds (thanks mr. hickey!)? check. philip j. fry’s secret pin number (1077)? double check. although there do appear to be couple of serious leaks in my otherwise structurally sound memory including and especially: things i learned in high school history class (war of 18what?), where i put my keys, and holidays/special occasions. if you’re lucky i’ll probably remember christmas, but if you’re that guy that gets angry when people don’t celebrate you on your “special day”, maybe it’s time for us to reevaluate our friendship. birthdays are a blur, anniversaries are imaginary, and if you think i’m going to remember your kid’s 8th grad graduation… you’re fucking delusional. a few years ago, my mom called me up in early may and sweetly asked “honey, are you mad at me?”. apparently, i had zoomed past mother’s day without stopping to take a breath. i’m so sorry mom! i’m a terrible daughter!

i did manage to remember mother’s day this year (and am definitely making some headway with the addition of an iphone calendar into my life), but imagine my surprise when somebody told me that father’s day is sunday. THIS SUNDAY. um, i thought that shit was in august? in hopes that i might find some solidarity out there, i’ve decided to assume that at least all you still have yet to pick out the perfect father’s day gift (that is, if you’re a father’s day celebrator).  so without any further screwing around, i present to you: top 5 cheap & easy father’s day gifts that don’t look like you picked it up at the gas station on your way over.

1.  a project. booze is a father’s day staple for many (and frankly how many survive family holidays in the first place),  and it’s hard to go wrong with a bottle of great scotch or a case of a really good local microwbrew (this guy can make you a recommendation if you’re lost on the beer front).  but what about soliciting your dad for help in brewing your own hooch? the combination of bonding & booze is irresistible to many men, but if you choose to go the non-alcoholic route, it could be a beat up moped your found on craigslist, or a pasta maker,  or a build your own gazebo kit. it could be anything. the point is that for father’s day, you’re telling your dad that you want to spend time with him doing something awesome.

2. something from your childhood. don’t be fooled. men can be just as sentimental as the ladies, just in different ways. get a guy talking about his kids or his best friend, or the minute he fell in love with his wife… he’ll mist up mistier than misty dawn singing misty on the maid of the mist while playing myst and drinking a mr. misty from dairy queen. if you want to give your dad the gift of a hallmark moment this father’s day, consider giving him a sweet reminder of something wonderful you remember from your childhood along with a little note about how he was a really good dad. it could be a copy of the first movie he ever took you to, a book he used to read you at bedtime, or a framed photo of the best camping trip ever (*regift opportunity– repurpose a photo frame that contains a picture of an evil ex, and insert a really nice print of you & your dad on archival paper. i promise that dad doesn’t give a shit where you got the fame, plus you can release some of the bad breakup mojo still circulating in your life.)

3. something from his childhood. every child has their white whale- the toy that got away. the thing they wanted to for every birthday, christmas, bar mitzvah and never got. or maybe they got it- and tragically lost it through and unfortunate rough housing or little brother related accident. whatever the case, chances are your dad has been talking about it since 1956. use the power of ebay or local flea markets to try and track one down. ok, this one is a little short notice for sunday… but if you can harness your chi or whatever and make it happen, the payoff will be huge. dad will well up like a little girl, and you’ll be the hero that wiped out every failed holiday since 1956. (*bargain basement version– if you can’t find it or can’t afford it, find a picture of it and make your dad a card telling him how hard you tried to get it for him and that he’ll just have to accept your undying love instead. he’ll be so touched that you even considered getting it for him, he’ll probably slip your broke ass a $20 on the way out).

4. an event. i’m particularly partial to stubhub, but you can also score last minute/sold out event tickets on ebay and craigslist. the best part is that you don’t even have to have the tickets by father’s day, they just have to be “in the mail”. at this very moment, you can get tix to take your daddy-o to see some hardcore UFC action, or maybe some dirty dirty  chelsea handler stand up, or even to shake it with justin bieber. wait. strike that last part. as we get older and start our own families, one on one time with our parents starts to get scarce. it’s time to leave the kids, spouse, girlfriend, dog at home for the night and take your dad out on the date of a lifetime (*broke alert– no cash? try to score some free/cheap tix to a local sports or music event and cap it off with some late night pizza at otto).

5. an education. the boyfriend recently took his dad to a motorcycle permit class, and now they have matching bikes and have been terrorizing the suburbs on the weekends. cooking class, welding course, japanese lessons (*cheapster tip– buy him a how-to book, and try to learn something new together)… whatever you’re learning about, dad is going to be psyched to do it with you.

as i sad before, father’s day isn’t about stuffing your pop’s life with pointless gadgets from brookstone or sharper image (i mean, who really wants to chat with their meat thermometer anyway?). it’s about showing your dad that you actually care about him/ want to spend time with him/ remember and appreciate the time/thought/energy he spent raising you. so step away from the discount necktie section at the tj maxx. it doesn’t need to be pricey or elaborate, but give something with thought and with love, and give your dad a reason to brag to his buddies about how much better you are than their kids. after all, isn’t that what every dad wants for father’s day?





i’m guest post famous.

14 06 2010

i’ve always wanted to write a guest post. i didn’t have any idea where, or about what,  but the honor of being asked by another blogger to write for them just seemed like it would be totally awesome. as it turns out, i was correct! the very amazing chris over at part time vagabond recently gave me the honor of writing a little article about budget travel tips that made its debut this morning. what i love about PTV is that it’s grounded in reality. it isn’t all “let’s jetset to morocco for a long weekend”. it’s about the eternal struggle between wanting to aimlessly wander the globe while still tending to the responsibilities of things like jobs and pets and property ownership. chris is all about escaping when you can, and finding adventure in even the shortest jaunt. it’s everything that is amazing about travel, translated into real life. anyway chris, you rock, and thank you for letting me get my stink all over your kick ass website!





double your pleasure.

7 06 2010

i’ve heard many tales of stop & shop and their magical coupon doublers, but i never thought i would have the opportunity experience the greatness in this barren stop & shopless territory.  well, it looks like everything these days is going all crazy-town, because not only is rite aid doing their own take on extrabucks with their +up program (what!?), but my shaw’s circular this weekend (the junkmail version- NOT the one you can pick up in the store) had 4 very special dollar doubler coupons attached. i am SO feeling the magic this weekend. shaw’s doubles most manufacturer’s coupons up to $.99, which is great and all… but these four babies let me double $1.00 value coupons, for awesome and totally unheard of savings. coupled with a couple of sweet weekly sales, i felt a little like i won the coupon olympics today. my best scores:

cheerios & lucky charms @ 2/$4 coupons.com has a bunch of killer $.55/1 coupons right now, doubling to make each box cost exactly $.90. 6 boxes= $5.40

hood frozen tangy frozen yogurt @ $2.99 with yet another dollar doubler was only $.99.

arm & hammer detergent @ $5.29/1 was on bogo. i used one of my dollar doublers to get 2 bottles for $3.29 (or $1.65 each).

i also used my remaining 2 doublers to score a few products that never really go on sale:

paul newman frozen pizza @ $5.99/1 became almost reasonable at $3.99.

morningstar chicken fingers $4.29 became walmart cheap at $2.29.

of course then i splurged a little on 1.5 lbs. of cherries @ $3.99/lb. but they are stunningly fresh, and much like fiddleheads, one of the more transient pleasures of summer. (why save if you can’t eventually spend on the things that make life worth living?)

i wrapped up the whole grocery adventure in a $5/$50 that i got in the mail a few weeks ago, and got the whole lot (roughly $60+ worth of food) for $28. not free, but i was able to get what i wanted, and stock up on some things that i needed for $2 under my weekly grocery budget. in my world (as a girl who used to spend $80 a week on foodstuffs), it feels like definite progress.

however, a lingering question still remains: WHERE IS THE FUCKING WACKY MAC?! please stop advertising it in my local circular (especially if there are coupons available to make it FREE you teasing whore!), if it doesn’t actually exist in the state of maine. i have looked up and down every aisle in at least 3 different stores in southern maine. if anyone out there in the universe knows where i can find it, please give me a holler. and soon. before i start wrecking up the joint.





groceries and the single girl.

28 05 2010

when i was 21 and got my first real apartment, i remember distinctly spending exactly $7 on my very first real grown up groceries. as i recall, the grocery list read a little bit like this:  a loaf of cheap bread, a package of off brand bologna, 1/4 lb of american cheese, a box of margarine, and the balance in ramen and lipton instant noodles. i ate a lot of starch that first year, and enough salt to… um… do something that would require a whole pantload of salt. needless to say, i gained about 15 pounds and was an all around big bloaty (and worefully malnourished) sack. charming!

i suppose the majority of the blame for these  poor dietary choices can be squarely placed  on my parents for being the health conscious hippies that they were. not quite vegetarian, but certainly lacking in the “meat & potatoes” department, i was raised on a steady diet of fruits & veggies, whole grains, and low fat high quality protein (even tofu!). as a result of this, i now require regular vegetables in order to live, and have a strong dislike for soda and anything that is overly sweet. but flashing back to 1999, i was ready to lead a rebellion against this fascist vegetable regime, and went on a processed food binge that would last about a year (and would terminate with enrollment in weight watchers and sincere apologies to my parents for deviating so far from their wise and healthy teachings).

but even once i woke up from my MSG soaked nightmare diet, i was still heavily constrained by the boundaries of both my budget (namely, my $22,000 a year temp job with no benefits), and my singlehood. let’s face it, save for a sad  nod toward the lean cuisine area of the freezer section, the eating universe barely acknowledges the “dining alone” contingent. even if your mom does give you a really tragic “cooking for one” cookbook for christmas, it still wants you to go to the grocery store and purchase all sorts of ingredients, conveniently bundled for families of 5. so what’s a broke single girl (or boy) to do?

1. stockpile: however minimal the cabinet space in your teeny overpriced studio apartment, save some serious real estate for things like pasta, rice, and canned goods. this shit is great for meal components, can usually be obtained for free or super cheap with coupons, and comes in wicked handy when you have to choose between paying your electric bill and going to the grocery store. pro tip- they make tupperware for FUCKING EVERYTHING, including dry-goods storage. once you break open the factory seal, keep your stockpile from getting stale or funny tasting by entombing it in something with a lid that seals (don’t forget to burp!).

2. bulk up & hit the deli: not only do things tend to be cheaper in bulk (no pesky packaging to crap up the works), but you can also get as little or as much as you want. yeah, it’s totally street legal to buy 6 walnuts or ask for a single slice of cheese. pro tip- you can even beg for assorted deli cheese ends for super duper cheap.

3. become one with the freezer: frozen bread changed my life. it meant i could buy whole bags of hamburger buns, artisan bagels, and family sized loaves of sandwich bread… just toss it in a freezer bag before it gets stale, and eat it piece at a time for a good month or so before it gets all weird (longer if you’re not too discriminating about bread taste). also a good trick- if it’s about to go bad, try tossing it in the freezer. this works particularly great with almost questionable fruit & ready to expire yogurt for future smoothie consumption. pro tip- freeze the 3/4 of leftover pasta sauce in the jar in individual portions (small tupperware and ice cube trays work best) instead of letting it grow mold friends in the back of your fridge.

4. multitask: produce is a killer for singles, because it tends to rot away into brown liquid in the crisper drawer before it can all be used. careful meal planning is tantamount here. want to buy a whole head of lettuce? schedule tacos, burgers, & some sort of fancy salad all for the same week to use it up. pro tip- if you just want lettuce once a week, skip the produce section entirely and grab a few leaves at the salad bar (whole foods is particularly good for this).

5. cook ahead: it’s a complete fallacy that freezer cooking is only good for wholesome midwestern families of 8. if there’s a perishable ingredient that you’ve been craving or there’s an amazing deal that you can’t  pass up, make yourself a couple of batches of whatever and freeze the overage. that way you can have single size frozen meals that don’t come in a patronizing little red box. pro tip- cupcakes and unbaked cookie dough balls freeze really well. have yourself some home baked dessert on a one at a time basis (also extremely helpful for diet control).





cheap eats- an intimate soup encounter.

21 04 2010

after loving so hard on peanut butter jelly time, i was uncertain that i wanted to do another public market house vendor review right away. but as they’re rapidly filling up their brand new 2nd floor, they’re also rapidly becoming both the best and cheapest place in town to get lunch.  case and point, new kid in town, kamasouptra. that’s right, they made a sexy joke about soup. their totally adorable and slightly dirty tagline is actually hot. steamy. soup. and they don’t lie.

i like simplicity. if i could make one criticism (a loving criticism) of PB&J time, it would be that he has A LOT going on. like today, i realized that he sold belgian waffles. which is not to say that i don’t appreciate a fresh belgian waffle (because i certainly do), it’s just that it seems a bit cluttered up there and like there are too many choices. kamasouptra is exactly the opposite. they offer soup, the complimentary bread that comes with the soup, and a few drinks (i may have also noticed a few breakfast items).  it’s all very minimalist in a way that i really enjoy. the soup is the main attraction, and that’s the end of the story.

and what an attraction it is. served in mismatched ceramic bowls (which is a lovely homey touch), they had a really wide selection including lots of vegan & vegetarian options (not just the standard 1 choice that most places have), as well as gluten free. they also offered 3 price levels (i’m assuming based on ingredients), $4.95, $5.95, & $6.95, and only one size. so streamlined!

i chose the $4.95 mushroom barely soup, and my fabulous date got the $5.95 vegetarian chili. each bowl came with a WARM crusty wheat roll (freshly baked according to their website), roughly the size of the bowl that the soup was in. seriously, it was some HUGE BREAD, and exactly the right size for dipping & eating the amount of soup that they give you. my soup was really good, a little on the salty side, but flavorful and totally busting with fresh vegetables. my friend’s chili on the other hand was AMAZING. as close to veg chili perfection as i have ever encountered. my entire meal with $1.50 bottled water was $6.81, and i was definitely full (although that didn’t stop me from stuffing down a tony’s donut from the rock city coffee).

you might think that a year round soup is a misguided plan, but i say that really delicious and good quality food knows no season. also according to their website, they’ll be adding some cold fruit soups and dips come the hot season. in the meantime, if you’re needing a little steamy lunchtime action, kamasouptra knows tricks that you have only seen in videos.  so practice your come hither look, and get your ass down there now (you don’t want to keep them waiting).

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