Food Advice

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    Hello neighbors,

    I’m hoping for some advice on the cheapest place to buy healthy groceries. Not for me but for my growing 14-year old son. He eats a lot and I need to keep up.

    He’s on the free lunch program at school but he’s still going hungry during classes so I need to supplement what he gets there.

    Now that gas prices have lowered I can afford to venture out of West Seattle a bit. We live in the Admiral area.

    Also, if you have a teenager with a favorite dinner recipe that’s quick and healthy that would be great if you could share.

    Thanks much!



    Quick, healthy, big hit with teenagers recipe for turkey chili:

    – brown ground turkey and chopped onion in a large frying pan

    – drain any fat

    – add one large can of tomato sauce (28 oz)

    – add 4 tbsp chili powder

    – add 1 tbsp cumin

    – add 1 tbsp oregano

    – add one can each of black and dark red kidney beans

    – mix together and simmer over low heat (I usually let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes but it could go longer to marry the flavors a bit more)

    – serve with shredded cheese, chopped onion, and/or sour cream

    My kids love this and it’s so easy!



    I love Grocery Outlet. They carry a lot of the same stuff you’d get at Safeway for Fred Meyer but for lower prices.



    QS, Your request is for nutritious, affordable ingredients that can be used in solid meals.

    I’d save my gas money and use it to shop locally. Plan menus around items that Safeway, QFC, and even PCC have on sale.

    Skip processed foods when possible. Your dollar will go farther and nutrition values will go way up if you favor raw foods over processed products.

    Check out the bulk bins, esp. at PCC, for a lot of staples and things such as spices and rice. (The price of jar spices from folks such as McCormick appall me.)

    Use Web search to find recipes that are within your comfort level and time available, are likely to please you and your son, AND that make multiple meals (such as stews or casseroles). Chilis such as described by Add are great examples.

    If you know someone who has a Costco membership, ask to go shopping with them and split quantities that aren’t practical for either of you individually.

    Welcome to the neighborhood.



    First stop MacPherson’s Produce Stand on Beacon Hill, one can get a huge variety of apples for under $1/lb plus lots of other fresh veggies and fruits reasonably priced and not warehouse ripened, then down to Grocery Outlet for staples and toiletries.

    QFC has some good manager’s specials too.



    Hi Neighbor,

    I just wanted to mention that PCC stores offer FREE 90-minute tours called, “Walk, Talk and Taste.” They hand out all kinds of recipes and free tastes and a $10 off coupon. I’m sure they can suggest inexpensive, tasty healthy recipes. Maybe you & your son could take one of these tours together. The next class at the West Seattle store is Thursday, Jan. 28 from 7-8:30pm; the one after is Monday, March 23 7-8:30pm. Other dates & times for other stores. Pre-registration is required: 206-545-7112. They also have a lot of recipes & info on their web site.

    Best wishes!



    Trader Joe’s. Lots of organic choices, good meats, and reasonable prices. In the neighborhood.



    Always wonder why Grocery Outlet sells for less….guess I’m just skeptical.



    WinCo Foods in Renton. Not so much for produce, but for staples it’s fantastic.



    Thanks everyone for the input. Thanks ‘add’ for the recipe (I can totally make that!).

    We’re actually from West Seattle, just that every year our budget is stretched thinner and thinner. But I got a lot of great advice and tips here. Much appreciated!



    I like West Seattle Produce at Fauntleroy/Alaska for basic veggies/fruits. Sure, I shop TJs, but West Seattle Produce offers bread, veggies, Bagels, even some refrigerated sausages, eggs, etc. I am generally surprised by how much I get for the money. They are closer than MacPhersons.




    For healthful food, you can’t beat PCC. They work at it. Trader Joe has food labeled organic, but ‘Consumer Report’ has reported that the ingredients don’t always match the labels. Also, if you join PCC, they give 5% discounts two days a month, plus a 10% coupon for anytime in the month. That can knock the cost down.

    When I was feeding a teenager, we had a lot of stir fry – chopped bits of all kinds of vegetables with or without meat sauteed and served over rice. Very filling.

    You might also try going vegetarian one or two days a week. Meat is a huge expense in the budget. If you’ve never tried it, you could get some vegetarian cookbooks from the library and look for recipes you and your son might like. Using either tofu or combining partial proteins, like beans and rice, provides complete protein without meat.



    Herbs and spices, which make a huge difference in the appeal of most recipes, can be budget-busters. I find many of them are available much, much less expensively at many of the White Center “ethnic” groceries and shops. Some of the groceries there are great sources of inexpensive, but often still high-quality, produce.



    Another vote for careful shopping at PCC. Membership there is VERY reasonable…I think a total of $60, and when I joined (eons ago) you only had to pay $2 any month you shopped toward your membership until you reached that amount. In addition to the member discount days (15th and 16th of each month), some months you get two 10% off coupons in your newsletter. Their bulk section can’t be beat for all sorts of pantry basics like beans, rice, lentils, nuts, etc., and the bulk herbs and spices, as mentioned above, are a fantastic deal. You don’t need to be a member to shop there, of course. I second the recommendation of the walk, talk and taste tour.

    Admittedly, the fresh organic produce at PCC can be steep. I watch for specials at QFC and try to stick to what’s in season, and sometimes get hardier produce (apples, citrus, potatoes) organic at Trader Joe’s. Trader Joe’s organic whole wheat pasta is also a good deal and the basis for a lot of meals in my house.

    One of my favorite cheap and healthy snacks for filling a growing kiddo is popcorn…if you can make it on the stove or get a hot-air popper, you can make a lot quickly and cheaply (buy the kernels in bulk), season it with various different things, and it is a good, bulky, filling snack.

    One more tip…if sandwiches are (or could be) a good option for you, definitely check out the Franz bakery outlet store in SODO! You can get sandwich loaves (and bagels and other bread products) there for a fraction of what you pay other places.

    Also, if you don’t know about this cookbook, it has some really good ideas for recipes, pantry basics, etc…and the pdf download is free!



    Just a note on the turkey chili recipe (#2 above) – I forgot to mention to drain the beans before adding! Otherwise you will have a very watery chili. :)

    PS – served it to 20 people today for the game and it was gobbled up.



    Lees Produce in White Center (17th/Delridge on the end of the triangle, has fabulous deals on produce. They buy the #2 stuff from produce distributors and repackage it. You have to be picky about what you buy, as some of it is about to spoil, but it’s not unusual to find restaurant size bags of greens (2-3#) for $2, 10# bags of potatoes for under $3, loads of fresh fruit for $1.25 per bag (of several pounds). Best to shop there a few times a week if you can, to get the best selection.



    By FAR my favorite place to buy produce is Duane’s Garden Patch, 11215 8th Avenue South. Might be a bit hard to find, but well worth the search. Fresh, quality food, great prices, and nice staff. Note, they will be closed for another week since the owner needed to take some time off. But they re-open the beginning of February.



    Although you need to learn to navigate at Safeway to get to the fer-sure healthy stuff, I get motivated by seeing what % I can save by being a “club member” + their “just for u” coupons + manufacturers’ coupons. I hit 52% savings once, and it’s usually around 40% when I’m dedicated (1 hour of prep time). I do refuse to buy their meat, so I eat less of it and go to the Live Butcher for reasonable prices.



    I also go to Lee’s in White Center! The produce prices can’t be beat and shopping there leaves me with the budget to buy quality meat from local farms or Meat the Butcher (on 16th Ave SW).

    And if you don’t know about the Good and Cheap cookbook by Leanne Brown, you MUST check it out! The book was the author’s capstone project for a Masters degree in Food Studies; it’s a cookbook and shopping guide designed for food stamp recipients. It’s available to everyone free online and the recipes are made up of simple, whole ingredients that are healthy and good—at a cost of $4 a day. Check it out here: It’s a great resource for everyone.



    Adding my recommendations for Lee’s and Meat the Live Butcher!




    Echoing all of the above, plus SARS grocery chain in Burien has FANTASTIC prices, Grocery Outlet, and Fred Meyer (shop and use coupons and sales.) My very best savings advice is Target, however. Krazy Coupon Lady website has a by-store shopping guide where they link manufacturer coupons to weekly sales, (with clickable links so you can print the coupons) and you can stock up like crazy on cereal and pasta and other growing-kid filler-uppers. Also make sure if you have a smartphone, sign up for Target text coupons (and watch for “special promo” text coupons in the store – you text the code while you’re in the store and they send you a coupon on the spot) and the Cartwheel app. I generally use the $5 off $50 of $10 off $75 coupons Target sends in the mail, plus use my RedCard for an extra 5% off, then stack manufacturer coupons and Cartwheel. The combination saves me anywhere from 50%-75% off the shelf price. My best trip ever, I rang up $600 worth of groceries and after coupons paid $200. It was a HUGE shopping trip – two carts full – but I stocked up on everything from toiletries to food. It’s a misconception that coupons only exist for unhealthy items you’ll never buy, like spaghettios. You can coupon even for fresh produce, meat, etc. Target is the easiest place to begin, with the help of Krazy Coupon Lady.

    I remember when my brother was about 14, he was cycling competitively and was having to eat upwards of 14000 calories a day just to maintain his body weight. He ate all the healthy meals the rest of us ate, plus he made his own snacks after school: a dozen eggs, scrambled, an entire box of cereal with a half gallon of milk, and two boxes of mac n cheese. That combo worked well for him, but all kids are different. :)



    Costco has really upped their game in organics and healthy foods. I have also noticed they make major national brands reformulate to a no-MSG recipes to be carried in store which I appreciate as a number of my family members have digestive issues with MSG.

    They’re at the bottom of the 4th AVE exit from the high bridge. I know $50/yr can be steep but the gas price there is under $2 right now and getting gas there has more than made up for the membership cost for me even though I’m a household of 1.

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