This Week’s Menu: Spicing Things Up

My latest order from Penzey's spices

My latest order from Penzey’s spices

One of the first and biggest price shocks I got after we moved to Kaua’i was when I went to buy spices for the first time. You could have scraped me off the floor at Safeway when I saw what the 1/2-ounce jar of McCormick whole cloves I needed cost – nearly $10.00!

Penzey’s to the rescue! I’d been buying their spices for several years as we’d been lucky enough to have a Penzey’s store less than a 10-minute drive from our home in Portland. Their prices and quality were nothing short of amazing, and every visit to their store a treat for the senses. When I checked their online catalog, I discovered the same size jar of whole cloves was just $3.35 or $3.45, depending on where they came from, Madagascar or Ceylon. Even with shipping fees added in it was obvious I would be paying a whole lot less with Penzey’s than I would buying locally (and getting better quality).

Penzey’s mail order service is fast – orders have arrived here on Kaua’i just two days after being placed! And, Penzey’s always includes a surprise or two in their packages. I’ve received free taco seasoning and other spice blends in the past, and my last order contained a jar of “sandwich sprinkle” which I’m looking forward to using to season homemade croutons. Shipping costs are very reasonable as well, and orders of $30 or more are shipped for free (except if you live in Hawai’i).

If this all sounds like an ad for Penzey’s spices, I guess it is because I cannot recommend them highly enough. If you are fortunate enough to have a store near you and haven’t been, you owe it to yourself to check it out. But, their mail order service is superb as well, with quick service and an almost overwhelming selection of spices, herbs, salts, peppers, flavorings and spice blends for every palate and budget.

There is nothing minimal about my spice cabinet!

There is nothing minimal about my spice cabinet! Costco has also been a good source for spices we use frequently or in large quantities.

Also, we’re continuing to immensely enjoy Costco’s fresh peaches, but once we get them home they have to be eaten fairly quickly as they ripen fast. We’ll be getting another box later this week!

Here’s what’s on the menu this week:

  • Tuesday (this evening): Breakfast for dinner: Belgian waffles with fresh peach topping; bacon
  • Wednesday: Grilled ahi with fresh peach salsa; cilantro rice
  • Thursday: Chili-lime chicken skewers; guacamole salad (‘chickenless’ nuggets for me)
  • Friday: Grilled vegetable, mozzarella & salami panini (just vegetables for me); roasted sweet potatoes
  • Saturday: Leftovers
  • Sunday: Slow cooker balsamic pork roast; mashed potatoes; vegetable from the farmers’ market (I have no idea what I’ll be having)
  • Monday: Bean tostadas with “the works”

Cilantro, cucumbers and tomatoes will be our “must buys” at the farmer’s market tomorrow; otherwise, we’ll see what catches our eye, especially for Sunday dinner.

Fingers crossed that we can pull the menu off yet another week! Last week went great with only one change of days.

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10 thoughts on “This Week’s Menu: Spicing Things Up

  1. Joan Simko says:

    One of the things I most look forward to in retirement is no more all-the-time meal planning:) after many family years and then 15 Daycare years of planning.
    I always have fruit and vegetables and staples..so for a time, just ‘whatever’ sounds perfect..

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    • Laura says:

      LOL – I’ve already told Brett that when YaYu heads off to college I will be giving up my kitchen and meal planning duties. At that point I will have been doing it for more than 40 years, and I will need/want a break! I see lots of sandwiches in our future.

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  2. Sandi Farestrand says:

    Laura, I don’t know if you know this but Penzeys moved from their old location in Winco’s parking lot to the big space that was Famous Shoes across the parking lot from Michaels. Nice store and the employees are so happy there.

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    • Laura says:

      No I didn’t know! It’s a much better space for them. I always loved shopping there, and opening the jars they provide to inhale the delicious aromas. And yes, their employees were always happy and helpful – it was wonderful having a Penzey’s so close. I bought a lot from them before we moved, but we’ve run out of things so I’m glad mail order is still an option. Spices in the stores here are ridiculously expensive.

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  3. Laura says:

    Penzey’s is wonderful! Great tip! I know the other week you had posted that mangos were expensive this year; on Monday we went to the Koloa market and the enormous ones were $2-3 each and there were so many varieties available, some with 2 for $3. Maybe they were late to ripen this year? What dorm is Wen-Yu going to be living in at Wellesley? I was in Beebe for 4 years. I hope that she loves it!

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    • Laura says:

      I’m going to look at mango prices again tomorrow and see if they’ve gone down – $2 – $3 would be great. However, one of YaYu’s friends sent her home the other day with several mangoes from their tree, so right now we’re good. Definitely buying more dragonfruit tomorrow though – the last few we’ve gotten have been delicious!

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  4. anexactinglife says:

    I bought supermarket spices until recently when I started buying them at a spice shop on my annual trips to Toronto. I can’t believe the difference! Also so many more choices (individual chilis, varieties of paprika, etc.)

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    • Laura says:

      Yes! The variety was almost overwhelming the first time I went into a Penzey’s store – so many peppers, cinnamons, paprikas, curry blends, etc. In the store there is a stoppered glass jar of each spice, herb, and blend they sell and you’re encouraged open and and smell to discover the differences.

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