Yesterday, I shared my Trader Joe’s shopping list. Today I am sharing my Central Market buys. I don’t purchase too many things at Central Market, but there are a few things that I do always buy there. I used to have the false impression that everything at Central Market is expensive/overpriced. Yes, they can tend toward the pricey on some things, but I have actually found certain things that I can get even cheaper there than I can at WalMart or Sprouts! And there are some things that I can only get there because other stores don’t carry them. Here is my list:
1. Organic Produce – Some of CM’s produce is ridiculously expensive. But there are certain things that are comparable to Sprout’s, and others that are WAY cheaper. Bananas are something we always pick up when we are at CM, because they are consistently cheaper than they are anywhere else I’ve seen (except Aldi’s, but we have had nothing but bad experiences with Aldi’s bananas). They seem to also be consistently better bananas than, say WalMart’s. I always buy organic garlic and ginger root at CM because Sprout’s prices are through the roof for these. CM will often have very reasonable prices on organic celery and green onions, so I will often buy those if I am shopping there.
2. Bulk Spices – In my opinion, bulk spices are the only way to go, and CM is the best place I have found to buy them. I priced the bulk spices at Sprouts, and the ones at Central Market are cheaper, some by several dollars per unit! I have also found the spices at CM to be better quality than Sprouts. AND, they have a HUGE selection as opposed to the tiny little spice section at Sprouts. I have found just about everything I’ve ever needed there.
3. Bulk flours, meals, and other items – Central Market has a pretty good bulk section for other things besides just spices. They have a fairly wide variety, which is great. I buy a lot from the bulk bins at Sprouts also, but CM has some things that Sprouts doesn’t, and much of what CM has is organic—I don’t think any of the bulk products Sprouts sells are organic. I can get things like specialty flours (coconut and almond, for example). I watch their prices and compare to Vitacost, but often they are a bit cheaper (unless Vitacost has a sale or coupon), and definitely handier than Vitacost if I need something sooner than later.
4. Almond Milk – We are currently dairy-free and use almond milk as our milk of choice. I really like the Silk Pure Almond Unsweetened as it has a great taste and doesn’t have a lot of nasty junk in it that we avoid (like Carageenan). Believe it or not, the Silk is WAY cheaper at CM than it is anywhere else—even WalMart! I think WM sells theirs for $3.18 a half gallon, and CM’s is $2.63 or something like that. That’s a big difference! I also really like their HEB brand unsweetened almond milk. It is a bit nutritionally different than Silk (I tend to like the Silk better for that reason), but it’s even cheaper. I really like their unsweetened vanilla almond milk, and buy that to use as creamer in my coffee. YUM! Sometimes you can find Silk on sale for cheaper at other stores (I just bought some at Sprouts last week for $2.50 a half gallon), but that’s kind of rare, and for an everyday price, CM can’t be beat. I don’t know if that applies to all the Silk products (soy, coconut milks), but I wouldn’t be surprised.
5. Oriental Noodles – We are huge Chinese food fans around here. I have found some great oriental rice noodles at CM that I use frequently in my recipes. Aside from an Oriental food market, CM is the only place I have found a variety of oriental noodles to even choose from for our dishes.
6. Organic Refried Beans – We really like CM’s brand of canned organic refried beans! They are delicious and already seasoned—ready to eat right out of the can! And they are reasonably priced. We enjoy them for a quick batch of bean dip or burritos, when I don’t have a stash of my own homemade refried beans to pull from.
7. Organic Juice – We make kombucha, and flavor it with unsweetened organic fruit juice. Often, we will get our juice at CM because it tends to be cheaper than Sprouts, unless Sprouts is having a good sale.
8. Diced Pimientos — Just added this one after remembering that they have fairly large jars of diced pimientos that are a much better price than buying the Dromedarys in the smaller jars at WalMart. I use them in several of my casseroles, and also my chicken salad, and I can just split the jar into the amounts I need and freeze what I don’t use.
So there you go. As I said, this list is much shorter than my Trader Joe’s list. But I still find Central Market to be an essential place to shop for these things, and am glad that our store is on Rex’s way home from work. He often stops in there for me and grabs whatever we need so I don’t have to make a special trip. He’s great 😉 There are sometimes other specialty items that I need for recipes, and CM is my go-to place if I cannot find it anywhere else. It’s a great place to have in town!
Tomorrow I will share my Sprouts list, so stay tuned!