Cheap Spices? - Chef Cheapo Blog at - 243987

Chef Cheapo

Cheap spices? 
Jul. 19, 2011 4:54 pm 
Updated: Sep. 3, 2011 11:04 am
I have been proudly living in North Carolina for most of my adult life and I have seen a pretty big change that has gone on here in those years. In addition to the yankees that brought themselves and all of their bad northeastern habitswith them, there has been a rapid increase of the spanish population as well. Without touching on any of the social or political aspects of that, let me point out one of the benefits these spanish speaking immigrants have brought to us (at least to us here in NC). The wealth of culinary influence that these folks have brought with them is amazing. I often say that outside of BBQ, North Carolina is a culinary wasteland beset with a plethura of fast food "near food", massacred vegetables and fried everything.

One of these spanish influenced culinary nuggets is cheap groceries. The town I live in has a grocery store that caters to the spanish market. After paying $4.00 for a 1/2 ounce bottle of bay leaves in most grocery stores, I was pleasantly shocked to discover that they sold a 4 ounce bag of bay leaves for under $2.00. Chili powder (made from mostly chilis and not half salt) had a rich deep red color from the chilis and was again rather inexpensive. This grocer has probably a dozen different chilis, fresh and dried, that make for great chili con carne, et al. After checking out "wallyworld", "food kitty" and "the pig" for fennel seeds to no avail, my spanish market had them and cheap. I have found several other herbs and spices that are not offered by these other markets.

So my advice, in short, is to be a bit adventurous. Step out of your comfort zone and check out the ethnic markets in your area. You may be rewarded not only in finding that culinary gem you can find no where else, but it may be pretty inexpensive too. Who knows, you may even learn or brush up on a foreign language.

Jul. 20, 2011 5:50 am
Ethnic stores and markets are a great shopping experience. I have had a lot of fun trying different ingredients and the sellers are enthusiastic to educate me- even through the language barrier.
Jul. 20, 2011 5:43 pm
Very true. I asked the butcher about some cuts of beef he had in the case that I was unfamiliar witha nd he was more than happy to pull the box tag from the cuts he had. Another time he pulled out a bucket of lard from the cooler to show me that the lard was unhydrogenated and didn't have preservatives like the shelf stable tubs on the grocery shelf. I take issue with illegals as a political topic but I think the individual people, as a whole, are good hearted people just trying to do what's right for their kids. I can't fault them (as individuals) for trying to better thier lives. I may be in their situation someday.
Sep. 3, 2011 11:04 am
You can buy bulk spices by the half oz or less at for less than $1 shipping included. My spice rack is full of spice jars that I bought years ago and in some instances I only used 1/8 or a teaspoon for some recipe and never used again.
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Chef Cheapo

Home Town
Bloomfield, New Jersey, USA
Living In
Zebulon, North Carolina, USA

Member Since
Jun. 2010

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Cooking Interests
Baking, Grilling & BBQ, Frying, Stir Frying, Slow Cooking, Asian, Mexican, Italian, Mediterranean, Healthy, Kids, Gourmet

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About Me
I am a classically trained chef (Culinary Institute of America 1991), but I am not in the business anymore. My big family gets to enjoy the fruits of my knowledge. We have raised our own pigs and chickens and have planted a garden for our own veggies. As the father of 7 living children, we stay busy all the time and I am proud to say that there is not a fussy eater amongst us. I stay away from processed foods and have been cooking more and more according to the Nourishing Traditions cookbook and the Weston A. Price Foundation principles- more "live" foods. I am the "go to" guy for food questions among my friends. Read my blog at
My favorite things to cook
Southern Italian is my favorite, but I love to try all new things and foods from different places.
My favorite family cooking traditions
homemade yogurt, pickles, hummus and kid friendly snacks
My cooking tragedies
For all the great things I make, sometimes the simplest things can become a mess, like just trying to toast croutons. I am not sure how many batches I have had to feed the chickens over the years.
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