The $25 Shopping Cart v. 13.0

My local Target underwent a massive remodeling last fall to make way for the new grocery section.  Those of you who have been reading PGEW for a while know that I did a $25 Shopping Cart trip at this Target last year, leaving with a pretty good selection of food items I hadn’t expected to find.  So when I heard that they would be expanding that small food area into a full-service grocery section, I was eager to see what they would offer once it was complete. 

I must say they did a pretty good job.  Somehow, without adding on to the original edifice, they managed to cram a good fifteen extra aisles worth of fresh, frozen, and non-perishable foods into my beloved Targhetto.  Today I took the time to wind through each aisle, marveling at the great deals on some items, horrified at the prices of others.

Overall, the selection is pretty good for a non-Super Target or full-fledged grocery store.  The non-perishables included the usual amount of junk food they used to carry, as well as new things like organic tortillas, a large selection of coffees, and a fairly decent amount of “ethnic” foods & condiments.  The latter was by far my favorite part, and it’s nice to know that I can buy smaller bottles of Sriracha sauce or random Goya products whenever I’m at Targét to buy cat litter & new socks.

Sadly, when I reached the produce section, my happiness turned to disillusionment; nay, it was absolute panic.  I had entered the land of Scariest Produce Ever.

The $25 Shopping Cart v. 13.0

Now, I know this makes me a produce snob, but I don’t care: the amount of plastic & cellophane encasing every single fruit & vegetable in that area was a complete turn-off.  Where was the freshness?  Where were the imperfections on the apples, the dirt on the cilantro, the calling cards that let me know this food was, indeed, grown in real soil?

They were nowhere to be found.  Everything – and I mean EVERYTHING, except for the almighty banana – is covered in some sort of plastic.  Do Russett potatoes and sweet yams really need to be individually wrapped in cellophane???  I suddenly longed for the natural lighting, the sounds, and the smells of my local farmer’s market, desperate to be near real, fresh produce again.

So I ran away and concentrated on the other aisles of the grocery section, blocking out the images of cold, antiseptic looking produce with images of all the deals I was getting.  And so, without further ado (as this is supposed to be a recap of what I bought and not a review of a grocery store, though I sense a new feature in my future…), here is what I bought for this month’s installment of The $25 Shopping Cart:

  • 1 24 oz. bag frozen Tilapia filets – $6.99
  • 1 pack of Guerrero whole wheat tortillas – $2.09
  • 1 can chipotle peppers in adobo – $1.84
  • 1 can Nestlé La Lechera sweetened condensed milk – $1.59
  • 1 12.5 oz. bottle of Valentina Salsa Picante (Best. Mexican. Hot Sauce. EVER!!!) – $1.09
  • 1 can Thai Kitchen light coconut milk – $1.74
  • 1 box Apples & Cinnamon instant oatmeal – $1.69
  • 1 can Bush’s seasoned black beans – $0.77
  • 1 can Bush’s seasoned pinto beans – $0.87
  • 1 can no-salt sweet kernel corn – $0.67
  • 3 cans Starkist tuna in water – $0.69/each
  • 1 8 oz. bag is frozen bell pepper strips – $1.79
  • 1/2 gallon skim milk – $1.69
  • 1 dozen Eggland’s Best eggs – $2.49 (!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
  • 1 8 oz. block medium cheddar cheese – $2.39

Grand total, after using one of my last Eggland’s Best coupons: $27.28!

The $25 Shopping Cart v. 13.0

Definitely not a bad run, and this certainly helps to add some life to the multitudes of Bare Bones staples I have sitting in my cupboard.

As with all of my $25 Shopping Carts, I bought only what I didn’t have on hand; things that would enhance & augment the ingredients I already had at home.  What I purchased today was most definitely a hodgepodge of items, and in no way does this mean that I am only going to use these items to make my next few meals before  “fun” paycheck rolls around next month.

But for those who try to follow what I do to the letter, here are just a few of the things I could make from the ingredients I had at home & what I purchased today:

  • Cheesy Breakfast Burritos
  • Makeshift Moqueca
  • Bean Fajitas
  • Bright & Sunny Black Bean Salad
  • Chipotle Corn Chili

Again, this is just a tiny sampling of what I could make with what I purchased.  Remember, the keys to a successful $25 Shopping Cart is not only to keep a running tally of what you already have at home so you can build on it but to get creative and play mix & match with your new purchases!  You’ll be surprised at how many interesting options you can come up with, as long as you think outside the box.

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