Ethnic mom and pop grocery stores are widespread on street corners in large cities, selling exotic fruits and cuts of meat.
Nowadays they are increasingly found outside of the major subway areas. Pan-Asian, Middle Eastern, or Latin American markets are the most common, but there are markets dedicated to a single nationality, be it Indian, Korean, Serbian, Armenian, Mexican, or Jamaican. As well as being colorful neighborhood shops, these markets are great shopping too. On the shelves of food with foreign labels, you will find pantry staples such as rice and beans, a wide variety of meat and fish, and products that are not only cheaper but often fresher.
Here’s how to move your shopping to ethnic grocery stores.
Save on Pantry Staples
When local grocery stores were being wiped of shelf-stable items like canned and dried beans earlier this year, savvy friends stopped by the local Latin American supermarket, which was still plentiful with beans and rice – and yes, toilet paper too.
For many shoppers, staples like rice and beans are the gateway to shopping in ethnic grocery stores. You can buy in bulk and expand your grocery budget.
Reputable chefs often go to international grocery stores to find the specialty ingredients that these stores have for insane low prices. Food blogger Jessica Fisher notes that items that a grocery store calls “gourmet” or that are offered in the international aisle at premium prices simply “are.”normal good foodIn an Italian, Middle Eastern, Chinese or Caribbean market. Forget paying $ 5 for a fancy spice mix at a large grocery store – if they even have delicacies like Scotch Bonnet Peppers or Za’atar in stock.
Use cookbooks or food blogs to get inspiration and familiarize yourself with the main kitchen ingredients that you love to eat, then make a shopping list. You can even create take-away recipes from scratch at home, saving money and increasing your cooking confidence.
Professional chefs and food bloggers including The woks of life and Andrea Nguyen, offer ingredient glossaries and buying guides that will show you exactly what to look for in these markets. Making a list will give you everything you need to cook authentic meals without spending too much on things you probably don’t use often.
Fresh food for less
Buying pantry staples at ethnic grocery stores saves money. But to really appreciate what these stores have to offer, shop for their products and meat departments too.
The fresh offers may look different than in grocery chains. First, that is the point, and second, there are logistical reasons for this. Ethnic markets feature the things their local communities love to eat, whether it’s octopus or oxtail. If you are an adventurous eater willing to look your food in the face (because you may have to choose the fish you want to fillet), enjoy fresh, quality meat and fish at a cheaper price than the supermarket.
Vegetable or squeamish? Do not worry about it. There is variety here too: My local Asian market has over 10 types of fresh greens, not including the familiar types of chard or kale. Better still, ethnic markets generally compete with price offers from grocery stores without sabotaging the quality or taste of their products.
The reason? The buyers of the store’s products usually follow the same tips as thrifty buyers. Scoring deals for fruits and vegetables. If they pay less, so will you.
As the Washington Post Reports, Asian and Latin American diets tend to be production oriented American standard dietthat is based on fruits and vegetables. Producer prices seem cheap as ethnic markets do their best to attract culturally valued products. When shopping in Asian or Latin American markets, you save on products because it is a valued commodity. If you shop at the big box stores, the more likely you are selling $ 10 worth of yogurt for $ 10.
In addition, large grocery stores charge higher prices for products and other items to cover their higher costs for world-class home, appliance and store renovations, worker salaries and training, and community improvement programs.
In contrast, ethnic markets tend to have low overhead: their displays are bare, with ingredients often stacked on wooden pallets, or prices scribbled on cardboard. These markets have not invested in fancy technologies like online ordering, drive-through pickup or delivery. Their lower operating costs mean additional savings for buyers.
Concerned about quality? Here’s why you shouldn’t be
The no-frills interior of a typical ethnic market combined with the cheap prices could make you concerned about the quality. Just use common sense – avoid buying wilting greens or dented cans and you’ll be fine.
Food magazine Saveur revealed why chinatown prices are so cheap. Large grocery stores have supply chains that are optimized for efficiency. In New York, for example, retailers source products, meat and fish from Hunts PointThis is one of the largest food distribution facilities in the world. Grocers in Chinatown instead partner with smaller grocery stores, where they are more likely to get all day deliveries. Because they can store less and refill items more often, you’ll get fresher products than you would at a large store bought in bulk. The ethnic retailer gets by with less floor space and less food storage on site. Again, they save money and so do you.
Valerie Imbruce, author of From the farm to Canal Street: Chinatown’s Alternative Food Network in the world marketvisited over 75 farms that supply these smaller wholesalers. She told Saveur that farmers “were happy to work for wholesalers in Chinatown …” because they were able to grow a range of crops, which resulted in economic and agronomic stability.
This article originally appeared on www.thepennyhoarder.com