I write about saving money so much that you might think I’m anti-splurge. It’s just the opposite. I love splurges, but even they need to be on sale! You knew that right? Food is probably my favorite type of splurge. It provides immediate gratification, makes me happy, and in the larger scheme of things can be a less expensive way to indulge.
The hardest part about food splurges is deciding where to pull the money from to pay for it. Do we forgo something from our normal food budget or take from our fun budget and let that be the fun? Yeah, we don’t run off all half-cocked splurging all over the place in this household. That would be, for shame, like impulse buying (which ugh, I’ll get to another time). Anyway, below are my five current favorite food splurges to get on sale. A special shout out to Valentine’s Day just passed for putting this whole idea in my head in the first place:
Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
There is something about fresh squeezed orange juice. It’s simple, sweet, and makes me feel like I’m on vacation. Like sunshine in a glass. “Premium” not from concentrate brands are fine. There’s something craveable (and scary) about their signature flavor packs designed to provide 100% taste uniformity in every carton and the smooth mouth feel of pasteurization . Plus you can catch good sale prices.
But fresh squeezed? Not only does it taste like vacation, it costs about as much. At just about triple the price of store brands it’s definitely a splurge. The only money saving trick I’ve found for this is getting a tiny cash back rebate with grocery shopping apps. Hey. Fifty cents is fifty cents. Ironically, oranges themselves are so expensive that buying a bag and juicing is not cheaper.
Good Olive Oil
If fresh squeezed OJ is like sunshine in a glass, then this staple of heart healthy cooking is like liquid gold. The problem with olive oil is that fraud is rampant and it’s hard to be sure of what you are getting. It’s safe to say that I should have known better than to buy that jug of “premium” olive oil for $4.99 (just kidding. I’m not that bad).
Then I discovered a local “olive oil” taproom (they also have an online store) where I sampled dozens of olive oils. It was like wine, with different flavor notes based on the region where the olives were grown. My eyes were opened and I became an olive oil snob (hangs head). At $15-$16 for a 12.7 ounce bottle, it’s definitely a splurge. I ease the sticker shock a little by purchasing during their buy three get one free sales, and looking for any that are “deeply discounted” at $9.99 each. You better believe that not one single solitary drop gets wasted. Drip on the counter? I’m there with my French bread to mop it up!
As that dog treat commercial goes, “It’s bacoooooon.” Can’t you almost smell it? What is “good” bacon? It’s the difference between not being able to resist it or not really enjoying it and eating it anyway because, still bacon.
It’s not the super thin, barely bacon that’s served at many restaurants. Good bacon is thick(ish), crispy yet pliable, salty, bacon-y (apple smoked, maple, plain, pepper, etc.) goodness that curls at the end and makes you swoon when cooked just right. And it comes at a real premium. It’s also not the healthiest of heaven’s creations, so Brad and I found a way to limit our intake by making it a once in a while splurge. We still find that bargain though. I sock a few pounds away in the freezer when the buy one get one free fresh sliced bacon sale pops up. Bacon freezes really well.
Peeled and Deveined Shrimp
Brad and I enjoy shrimp occasionally. It’s delicious, and though generally low in calories, it’s high in cholesterol, something we try to watch. Plus, it’s expensive. So it’s a treat. However, the real splurge is buying raw shrimp that has already been peeled and deveined for you! The extra money is totally worth it! You save time (and spare your gag reflex) because you’re freed from the tediousness of cleaning the dirty little entrails. When the peeled and deveined shrimp sale cycles through my favorite market, I buy a two pound bag and pop it in the freezer.
Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
Did you know that there is only one real Parmesan cheese? I used to think the name Parmigiano Reggiano was just a ploy to get us to spend $20lb on a fancy sounding name. Turns out it’s the only real Parmesan cheese and the others, starting at $4.99lb with names like Parmesan, Parmesana or Parmigiana are fake! Parmigiano Reggiano is so expensive because it’s certified by European law and has to meet a number of requirements to be designated Parmigiano Reggiano (I learned this for a really weird reason several years ago. Here’s a good overview if interested).
Okay, fine. But is it worth the splurge? I have to say that the fakes don’t come close to the taste of real Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. This hard cheese is sharp, fruity, nutty, salty perfection.
BONUS: Though it’s the same amount of calories as other cheese, a little bit goes a very long way. So while it costs more per pound, you use less which means it doesn’t disappear right away and it’s waistline friendly.
Parmigiano Reggiano does go on sale periodically, but I’ve found Trader Joe’s to always have the best price. Tip: Freeze the rind when the cheese is finished and when you’re making some homemade soup or stew, throw that baby in. It’ll be the secret ingredient that everyone will try to identify but can’t.
There are so many other splurge worthy foods that aren’t in this post because the title would have needed to be changed to “45 Food Splurges Worth the Cost.” Also I realize that I probably blasphemed by not including chocolate (I know), but truth be told I’m more of a caramel lover. Expect a part II at some point along with the next giveaway just for subscribers!
What’s your food splurge? Let me know in the comments.