Yesterday being the first day of meteorological spring (whatever that means) means that spring is not far behind, and good eats and good times are on the heels.
I previously opined that it is not difficult to eat well. This can be true even if you are on a budget. Just because you may watch the dollars and cents closely doesn't mean that you can only do food shopping at Walmart, Costco, or Sam's. The fact is, bargains can be found in many food stores, in certain categories, if you know how to look.
Take independent health food stores, for instance. If nothing else, you can head for the bulk section, where you can find both culinary and medicinal herbs. Huge savings potential, for herbs and spices, much of the cost for these items is in the packaging. Once you start scouring this section, there is no good reason not to save money by spicing up your cooking. If these stores have produce sections, peek at them, for you may find bargains on in-season produce.
The other potential giant savings in this area is that you can buy medicinal herbs in bulk, buy the [often vegetarian] capsules in bulk, and make your own herbal supplements! I often do this with turmeric, making my own capsules, and saving tremendously over buying, say, a bottle of turmeric supplements (as turmeric is believed to have powerful anti-inflammatory properties).
This same type of savings applies if you happen to stop in a higher-priced food store. Whole Foods has an extensive bulk food section, and watch to see which produce items are on sale (it is a health food store that has a sales flyer, as do some other health food stores, which may not have the money to widely advertise their specials). Would I shock you to say that you can find bargains even at Dean & Deluca? Yes, it's true. The bargains are in (you guessed it) the herb and spice section, where the items are carried in relatively large metal containers, for reasonable prices (more reasonable than McCormicks, and of comparable quality). Rodman's, the two-store original discount gourmet merchant of the Washington area, has better deals than the newcomer Trader Joe's (as well as a weekly special ad in the Washington Post). Finding good food bargains is often a matter of keeping your eyes open and your preconceptions at bay.