Unexpected Sources for Gourmet Groceries

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Don't overlook these common retailers for deals on gourmet and specialty groceries.

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Sure, having a go-to neighborhood grocery store for all your essentials is key to maintaining a well-stocked pantry. But don’t overlook these sources for imported items and gourmet goods at a fraction of the cost you’d pay at regular grocers.

T.J. Maxx

Along with its sister stores Marshalls and HomeGoods, T.J. Maxx is a treasure trove of specialty foods at better prices than you’d find them elsewhere. On any given day, you may find an array as varied as gorgeous Italian pastas in shapes you’ve never seen, pink Himalayan salt, good-quality canned tuna from Spain, Italian truffle paste, samplers from high-end tea purveyors and Bloody Mary mix. (In fact, this list is a fraction of the items I’ve actually snagged there — most for substantially less than they would cost in grocery stores.)

The stock is usually more organized than the chaotic assortment of clothes, shoes and home products the store is known for, but you still get the same thrill of the hunt. The selection is usually anything but reliable, but on a recent trip to North Carolina, when I couldn’t find the whole flax seeds and chia seeds my niece and I needed for a baking project at regular grocery stores, I found them at HomeGoods.

Where to shop: brick-and-mortar stores

World Market

Best known for its mix of globally inspired furniture and home decor, World Market boasts a similarly eclectic mix of globetrotting foods and spirits and feels a bit like cult-favorite grocery Trader Joe’s. Look for Café Du Monde Beignet Mix, organic coconut palm sugar, Guittard baking chocolates, chickpea snacks, pickled okra, and soba and udon noodles, plus cucumber sake and apple-pie moonshine packaged in a Mason jar.

Where to shop: brick-and-mortar stores, with a smaller selection available online

Amazon

Chances are you’ve tried Amazon’s Prime Pantry service, which allows customers to fill a big box with grocery basics like soda, chips, crackers and canned vegetables for a flat-rate $5.99 delivery fee. But Amazon’s also a great source for hard-to-find items like specialty spices, quality baking ingredients and obscure snacks. If you live in an urban area, Amazon’s prices are often cheaper than what you’ll find in stores, and if you’re in a less populated part of the country and your neighborhood grocery doesn’t carry matcha powder and tahini, the online behemoth can be a culinary savior.

Where to shop: online

Grocery Outlet

This under-the-radar Los Angeles-based company offers bargains on packaged, canned and frozen foods — plus produce and wine — by buying up surplus, discontinued and closeout items from manufacturers. So it’s much like T.J. Maxx in the sense that if you go in looking for something specific, chances are you won’t find it. But the groceries that do pique your interest will be seriously discounted. Currently most locations are on the West Coast and in Pennsylvania, but the company has plans to add over a hundred new stores in the next few years.

Where to shop: brick-and-mortar stores

Related Links:

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