In our neighborhood, we're lucky to have a bounty of large stores: Jewel/Osco, Dominick's, Whole Foods, Binny's, Target, Home Depot and Best Buy. This makes shopping close, but a bit complicated- you have to check prices/sales against others. First, we take a small inventory of what we need and what we want to prepare for meals in the upcoming week. I wanted to have a diverse selection of animal protein main courses (easily substituted for vegetarians or vegans), so I wrote down pork loin chops, ground sirloin, beef for stew, chicken breasts, lamb loin chops, and wild salmon. We also included our side dishes: beans & rice, cous cous, fresh vegetables and salad, and pasta. Secondly, it's time to compare prices and sales. Don't you just hate when you go to one store, buy cage-free eggs (for example) for $3.49, and then you see them for $2.50 at another? Now that's only 99 cents, but when you fail to save money all the way down your list, this could mean you overspent by $20 or more!
Next, I checked my stash of alcoholic beverages. I still have some amaretto, vodka, gin, aged rum, and cognac. I could use some tequila, but it's not necessary unless I see a bargain. My wine cellar was stocked full of aging and special wines, but I was running low on sparkling, white and red RTD wines. I was also in need of beer. For this, I drove to Binny's South Loop to see what was on sale. The beer was an easy choice- I really like both Sam Adams and Goose Island seasonal brews, and I found Goose Island Mild Winter 12 pack on sale for $12.99. At just over $1/bottle, this is a steal for an ale that brings hearty, caramelly flavor and winter spice. Next, I was on to wine. I noticed Domaine Chandon selections were $15.99, but were on sale at Dominick's for $12.99, so I would wait on that and save $3. I also decided to wait on my red wine until I got to Whole Foods because Maipe Malbec was on sale for $8.99- quite a deal for an old vine, critically acclaimed, very fruity red. I decided to get only one bottle of white, and since I didn't see any specials, I picked up Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina for $14.99. A personal favorite from the Campania region in Italy which I like to keep stocked, this wine brings loads of tropical fruit along with medium body and minerality. All in all, with so many great value choices, there's not many reasons for one to spend more than $15 for a good bottle of wine.
We do have some small entrepreneurial shops, but I would like to see more. South Loop Wine Cellar, Warehouse Liquors and Printers Row Wine Shop are great wine shops with boutique selections and fun wine people. Even if you have to pay an extra dollar here or there, try to support your neighborhood's small shops. It helps build community and keeps the little guy in business- the American way!