The holiday season has come to a close and everyone is ready for 2013.
‘Tis the season for unrealistic goals and cheating on your New Year’s resolutions, however, there are some resolutions you can stick to.
If your bank account is suffering from all those gifts you bought, but your New Year’s resolution was to eat better, maybe I can help. When I’m trying to be frugal and eat at home, I try not to sacrifice quality of ingredients. The difficult part is that in traditional grocery stores, gourmet ingredients will run you an arm and a leg.
Therefore, I add some whimsy and adventure into my grocery shopping experience and hit Toronto’s famous Kensington Market.
Kensington, in my humble opinion, has the best quality ingredients for the best price. All you need is some help manoeuvring, which is where I come in...
Located at 255 Augusta Ave., Oxford Fruit is my favourite fruit and veggie stand. They offer a variety of fresh produce at great prices. For instance, cherry tomatoes, a personal favourite, are at least a dollar cheaper than at my local grocery store. They offer vegetable options such as spaghetti squash, kale and bok choy, and have pre-cut peppers and mushrooms for 99 cents. I dare you to take $10 in and compare the quantity and quality to what you get at the bigger grocery chains.
Sick of turkey? If you’re looking for an alternative, check out Hooked for your seafood needs. Expanding from their original location in Leslieville, they offer quality cuts of fish for a good price. November was Oceanwise’s Sustainable Seafood Month, so remember to buy sustainable fish and protect our oceans. As an added touch, Hooked staff know the details about where, when and how their products came to be on their shelves, down to which fishing boats were used. Tip: Try their homemade chowder, you won’t be sorry.
My Market Bakery
For a wide selection of breads, bagels and baguettes, I like to go to My Market Bakery. I suggest you try some of their pretzel bread for turkey sandwiches. When in the market for baked goods, check out Miss Cora’s Kitchen, because their butter tarts and mini carrot cake cupcakes can’t be beat.
Sanagan’s Meat Locker
If you aren’t sick of meat after the holidays, Sanagan’s Meat Locker recently made a move from its location down the block into the former European Meats space. They focus on local farm produce and offer treats such as Maplewood smoked bacon. Everything is labelled with the name of the farm, and the store has an emphasis on grass-fed beef and hormone-free meats. I can clearly taste the difference in quality and this way I know exactly what I’m eating. Go in and grab a number, you might be surprised at how quality meat can make a difference to your every day meals.
Mmm... cheese. Cheese shopping is a favourite activity of mine, especially at Cheese Magic on Baldwin Street, and not just because it was voted they had the cutest guys working there. I usually go in, describe the meal I’m making and what I’m in the mood for (creamy, soft, gouda-y and so) and they suggest a great option with the chance to sample it first. Have you tried Dutch gouda or smoked gruyere? You should. Adding a gourmet cheese to that New Year’s resolution salad might be just the thing needed to keep you on your diet.
So, next Sunday morning grab your cloth reusable grocery bag, get a coffee from The Grind House and get yourself some gourmet ingredients to liven up your week of meals. The price will happily surprise you and the quality can’t be beat, plus you may actually get some fresh air. Make your 2013 resolution to give Kensington a try and make staying home a little more gourmet.
After leaving her hometown in B.C., school brought Jessica Ruby to Montreal and then Toronto, which increased her love for gourmet food and her desire to uncover the latest trends and best new restaurants in Toronto, all on a low budget in a hard economy. Follow her on twitter @really_Ruby.