cost calculations

I love grocery shopping.  I don't mean the kind of shopping from a list; no, this is different from those frustrating experiences when you're looking for that one final item, and gee--it doesn't seem to fall under any of the aisle descriptions.  What I'm talking about is the sort of leisurely grocery shopping where you walk in without the faintest idea of what you're going to leave with.  It's that excitement of "ZOMG ribeye steak is $4/lb?!?!?!" or "ahhh, giant mangos for only 40 cents each?!?" The beautiful thing about produce is that they're the cheapest when they're at their best--when they're in season.  You know it's summer when longan is selling in Chinatown for $7 per 10lbs, and oh look, two blocks down its $3 per 5lbs--and before you know it, you're lugging around 20lbs of the same fruit from every stall on the street.  Grocery shopping is basically like retail therapy for me, the same thrill of the sale, rush of the hunt (for good deals), minus the guilt.  You have to eat, after all.

To help you achieve your own personal grocery shopping nirvana, I'll be continually adding to my list of ingredient costs (below), which are used to compile the "Total Recipe Cost" for each blog post.  It might be useful for the thrifty-minded, if you need help figuring out what reasonable prices for items are.  At the very least, this will allow me the satisfaction of recording good deals...  :)  Prices are of course subject to exaggeration seasonal and geographical variation.  I'm not nearly the bargain queen my mom is, but I'll try my best--and San Diego people, help me look out for good deals!

Typical Cost
Apples, gala
Down to $0.59/lb in the fall!
Best during cool seasons
Cabbage, green
Down to <$0.20 near St. Patrick’s day!
Cabbage, red

Cheapest at the asian grocery; typically $0.99/lb at regular grocery

$0.49 each

Cranberries, dried




$0.30 each

Lettuce, Romaine

Mushrooms, shiitake (dried)
Anywhere from $2-18/lb
Mushrooms, shiitake (fresh)
Occasionally down to $1.99
Onions, red

Onions, yellow

$0.33/bundle (~6 stalks per bundle)
Buy at asian grocery stores, otherwise its $1.29 at regular stores.  Or, grow it free!
Spinach, flat-leaf


Pork butt (it’s the shoulder)


Anywhere from $2-20/lb.  I like the more expensive ones, because if I have to shell it myself, I want it to be giant! 


Cheese, shredded cheddar + jack blend
From Costco


Sour cream

Baking Supplies (generally cheapest at Costco, if you can buy in 25 lb increments)
Flour, all-purpose

Sugar, brown

Sugar, granulated


5-spice powder
Star anise, fennel seed, cinnamon, ginger, pepper.  Also sometimes cloves instead of ginger.

Dry Goods

Bread, french

Tortillas, flour
$0.24 each

From Costco
Yi mein
Also labeled e-fu, yee-fu, yifu, or yi noodles


Hoisin sauce
I like the Lee Kum Kee brand best


Mustard, Dijon whole-grain

Soy sauce
I generally use Kikkoman brand
Oil, olive

Oil, sesame
I generally use the Kadoya brand
Oyster sauce
The best brand is Lee Kum Kee Premium; it has a picture of an oyster boat.  Not to be confused with the cheaper LKK version with a panda on it. 
Peanut Butter

Rice wine (cooking)

Vinegar, cider

Vinegar, rice