The $7 Pantry Staple I Swear by to Recreate My Favorite Restaurant Dishes (Plus 4 More Little Luxuries!)

published Jun 14, 2023
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Stocked shelves in grocery store aisle
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Shopping for groceries is one of my most beloved pastimes. I scour the aisles to discover the tastiest products, and my family has come to expect a weekly rotation of new and unexpected items from my frequent expeditions. But shopping for all those pantry provisions can get pricey, so I appreciate it when I can find new products to love that don’t leave me with a case of sticker shock. Here are five groceries — all under $7 — I’m adding to my cart this week.

Credit: Stephanie Ganz

1. Trader Joe’s Papadums

With their subtle cumin flavor, these papadum-inspired lentil chips from Trader Joe’s are my new snack of choice for eating straight out of the bag and serving alongside homemade mint chutney. Made from lentils and chickpeas, they’re naturally gluten-free, but the texture doesn’t suffer for it; instead, the chips are pleasantly crispy, a bit thicker than a traditional papadum, and thus ideal for scooping up even heftier dips.

Find it in stores: Trader Joe’s Papadums, $2.69 for 5 ounces at Trader Joe’s

Credit: Stephanie Ganz

2. Fruits de Mer Marinated Mussels with Garlic

Just give me a pack of these garlic-soaked mussels, and I’m halfway to a very satisfying dinner for one, whether I toss them with buttered linguine or pile them up on a piece of grilled bread. These bivalves, which have a nice piquancy from the vinegar marinade, are one of my favorite selections for a seacuterie board, served with lemon wedges and a sprinkle of parsley.

Buy: Fruits de Mer Marinated Mussels with Garlic, $6.99 for 7 ounces at Whole Foods

Credit: Stephanie Ganz

3. Trader Joe’s Vanilla Meringues

Tender, vanilla-flavored meringues are the base of one of my favorite back-pocket desserts for summer: Eton mess. The dessert is a super-simple combination of whipped cream, fresh fruit, and crumbled meringues. I always make sure to keep these meringues from Trader Joe’s in the pantry for just that reason.

Find it in stores: Trader Joe’s Vanilla Meringues, 3.59 for 7.75 ounces at Trader Joe’s

Credit: Stephanie Ganz

4. The Fresh Market All Dressed Potato Chips

It was a Fresh Market employee who first turned me onto these chips, and I’m forever grateful to them for the tip. Lovers of barbecue and salt & vinegar chips will appreciate the sweet, tangy, and smoky flavor of these thin and crispy potato chips.

Buy: All Dressed Potato Chips, 3.99 for 9 ounces at Instacart

Credit: Stephanie Ganz

5. Matiz España Pippara Peppers

I first started noticing pippara, aka guindilla, peppers — long, thin, squiggly, yellow chilis with a mild pepperoncini-esque flavor — popping up on dishes at some of my favorite restaurants a few years ago. Once I found them at the grocery store, I started buying them regularly to add to plates of chorizo Iberico and tuna crudo and homemade pinxtos gildas, a Basque snack of skewered anchovies, olives, and peppers.

Buy: Matiz España Pippara Peppers, $6.99 for 6.4 ounces at Instacart

What budget-friendly buys are you adding to your cart this week? Tell us about it in the comments below.