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Friday, May 22, 2015

I thought I'd show you what our local Fred Meyer carries in spices in the ethnic section

A couple of weeks ago we talked a bit about ethnic sections of grocery stores and ethnic markets. I told you about the cellophane packages of spices and herbs available, at a substantially lower price than small containers of spices and herbs in the baking section of the grocery store.

I had my camera in my purse this week, and when I was at Fred Meyer, I took a couple of photos of what I'm talking about. The spices/herbs are priced between 59cents and about $1.29 per packet, depending on variety. The bay leaves are 59cents for a nice pile of leaves. The whole cloves are 59 cents for a good handful, maybe 1/2 cup (2nd to the left below). The whole cinnamon sticks are $1.18 for about 3 or 4 good-sized sticks (longer than I often see) in a bag (just about the amount that someone might want for making spiced beverages during the fall or winter holidays). There are sesame seeds, ground chiles, and whole and ground spices.

It really is a matter of comparing unit pricing, between these cellophane bags and the bulk spice section. Some items are a much better price per pound in the cellophane packages, others not. But all of these blow the spices in the baking aisle clear out of the water! And if you don't even have a store with a bulk, scoop-your-own, spice section, then an ethnic section or ethnic market could be your most economical way to buy some of your herbs and spices. (Dollar Tree carries some herbs, at a great price, too.)

Also, in the ethnic shopping vein, earlier this week I tried out a new-to-me ethnic market on the advice of a friend (Imran's on 99). This is an Indian, Middle Eastern and Mexican market (per their sign). My friend likes this store for both it's cheap produce and some packaged ethnic items that she uses from time to time. Those packaged items are super pricey in the regular grocery store, but a dollar less at the ethnic market.

I passed Imran's the other day and thought to myself that I had to stop there soon. They had a sign out on the street edge for apples at 39cents/lb. I am needing produce at a super-duper cheap price this week and next, to get us through to June. So I thought this would work well for us. I bought about a dozen Red Delicious apples (39cents/lb -- earlier in the month I stopped at my other favorite produce stand and paid 50cents/lb, thinking that was a good price), and 1 large head of green cabbage for 49cents/lb. Grand total for a bag of produce, $3.92.

To give you a local comparison, at Fred Meyer, a store most would agree is one of the low-cost supermarkets in the area, Red Delicious apples were 79cents/lb, and green cabbage was 79cents/lb this week.

Imran's had navel oranges for 49cents/lb, limes at 10 for $1, and grapefruit at 5 for $1. I still have some oranges and lemons left, so passed on the citrus.

The clientele is a mix of folks. There were the retired people who were driving older cars, and likely on a small budget. There were also a few mothers with children in tow, carrying on conversations in their own native language (not English as a first language). There was a young woman who runs a food truck in the area, bargaining for a better price on a bag of red onions. And then there was me, a middle-aged women in yoga pants, with my green, reusable shopping bag.

When I patronize these small businesses, I do a couple of things. I always use cash, even if they will take credit. I know they struggle to make a profit, as a small business, with low prices being their big draw. And I always bring a reusable shopping bag. Again, if there's any way I can help them stay in business, it benefits us both.

While I was in Imran's, the check-out line was a little long at first, so I decided to look around. I can do better, price-wise, on dried beans at the wholesaler, but their price on couscous was pretty good, as was the price on bulgur wheat.

They also had cellophane packets of herbs and spices in a rack. In addition to the herbs and spices, they had small bags of nuts and seeds, and some tea bags in these cellophane bags. Among the nuts were some pepita seeds (99cents for a couple of ounces), which I think would look nice topping pumpkin muffins in the fall months. (I think Starbucks tops their Pumpkin Loaf with pepita seeds.) I'll remember the pepitas, come fall.

They also had a bakery case of small baked goods, priced well. My two daughters used to love the Mexican market near their high school, for the sweet pastries in the bakery case, priced around 25 to 50 cents each. And Imran's carried the exact brand of corn tortillas that I bought earlier this month, for 18 cents less than I paid at the wholesaler. So, I'll keep that in mind for the future, as well.

I'll be going back to Imran's throughout the summer. It looks like a great place to buy some fresh produce at a bargain price. I'm hoping that they'll have watermelon at a great price in another month.


  1. It's always fun to explore new places and it's sounds like your visit to the new market was both fun and economically a win. Your produce prices are so much cheaper than around here (even your "expensive" ones). I guess that's because you live near a moderate climate where a lot of them grow.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      It was fun! And now I have a new and closer, source for some of our fresh produce (I think they're open in winter, too, whereas the other favorite produce stand closes for winter).

      We do get a lot of produce from California. Prices have gone up, some, due to their water shortage, but overall, California produce is cheaper than Washington state-grown.

  2. Never been to a Fred Meyer; not something we have here. That ethnic store sounds really interesting. I've been in a local Asian market but run into trouble reading the packages, lol. Usually, I'm looking for a new ingredient so am unsure of what the item should look like. I've been hearing about a Mexican meat market on the other side of town and have been meaning to go sometime when on that side of town. They supposedly have good bakery items and other foods as well as meat. As live and learn mentioned above, the produce prices there are amazing! We get some fairly good deals at Aldi, but nothing like those.

    1. Hi Cat,
      I would say that Fred Meyer is just a tad more expensive than Winco, if you have Winco in the area to compare to. But the ethnic markets do have some good deals. I know what you mean about the Asian markets and labels. My daughters and I like to play guessing games over what is in cans. There was one particular can with a picture of a panda bear on the front. No guessing what as in that can!

      Hope the Mexican meat market offers some good deals for you!

  3. Since your last post about finding spices in ethnic markets, I've noticed those cellophane packets of spices in almost every store here locally, but they are priced $1.19-1,39 on most spices.
    Too bad no Imran markets in our area or in Las Vegas where we visit frequently. When we shop at the Mexican markets in Vegas, we noticed only Mexicans shopping there, and hardly the rest of the local people. Even in our neck of the woods, mostly Koreans shop at Korean markets, etc. It could be that most people don't realize the bargains, or since they want to do all their shopping in one store, they avoid stopping in these ethnic markets. I hope that's the reason and not that the local people know something I am not aware of, although that has crossed my mind too lol


    1. Hi YHF,
      I think most Americans are looking for convenience, first and foremost. The thought of checking out an unfamiliar store, on the chance of finding a bargain, doesn't have enough appeal for a lot of folks, even if those bargains could help them financially. I think it takes a special kind of adventurous spirit to dare to go into new and untraditional markets.

      I imagine its a real challenge to find good deals where you live. I've always heard how expensive groceries are there. Wishing you continued success in finding the deals!

  4. I shop both a huge Asian market and Latin market fairly regularly. I find many things there at least 50% less than the regular grocery store

    1. Hi Anne,
      That's good to hear that you have 2 such great ethnic markets in you area. There really are a lot of good bargains to be found.

      I went back to the ethnic market in our area, yesterday after church, and picked up another 2 dozen apples, about 8 bananas and a red pepper, and spent just under $7, which is pretty good for 2 bags of produce. I have 2 friends who shop at this market and they tell me that the produce is always really good quality, so that's good to know for me.

      Have a great Memorial Day!


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