8 Things Alex Guarnaschelli Always Buys at the Supermarket
Her top tips, values and ultimate five-ingredient meal.
On Tuesday, Alex Guarnaschelli hosts a brand-new cooking competition called Supermarket Stakeout, set in pop-up kitchens outside real local supermarkets. Over three rounds of themed culinary challenges and with a budget of only $500, the chefs are limited to using the items they can wrangle out of the customers' carts using their charm, persuasiveness and a little cash.
Get ready for some truly interesting grocery hauls as the contestants search for their ingredients and then create a meal from what they find. “All bags of groceries tell a story!” says Alex. “Whether you are shopping for a baby shower, to make a fun lunch or just picking up some staples for baking a cake, it’s amazing what people buy.” Plus, she adds, “Give chefs who are excited about the possibility of winning $10,000 some bags of groceries and you literally cannot predict what they will make!”
We asked Alex to share her top supermarket values and the things she always picks up at her local supermarket versus anywhere else.
“Seeing your salad greens and picking them out is so important to get the freshest ones,” advises Alex.
“Supermarket mushrooms like portobellos and white button mushrooms need to be bought on site for best results,” she says. Nobody’s got time for mushy mushrooms.
Deli meats and cheeses
“Get to know your meat department and your deli counter,” suggests Alex. “When you develop a relationship with people that work in these areas of the supermarket, you’ll find better food! Having a butcher walk you through what kind of beef to buy, for example, or choosing the best salami or cheese at the deli counter.”
“I buy a lot of different kinds of potatoes,” Alex says. “I always find supermarkets have a great selection. Buy the big bags.”
Skip the pre-cut! “I know we pay for convenience but buying melon (and other produce) whole (versus precut and packaged) saves a lot of money and it keeps fresher longer when you bring it home,” she says. Plus, “smelling your way to a great cantaloupe in the melon pile is so satisfying.”
Alex stocks up on flour and sugar at the supermarket. “I buy and use a lot. The big bags save cash,” she says.
She buys big bags of charcoal and wood for grilling to save a lot of cash.
Stock up on the essentials like mustard, red wine vinegar and mayonnaise. “It’s scary how much I bulk buy,” she says.
Alex’s 5-Ingredient Meal
In the final challenge on Supermarket Stakeout, the contestants are tasked with making a dish with only five ingredients. Alex would keep it simple. “You cannot go wrong with garlic, olive oil, pasta, tomatoes and Parmesan cheese,” she says. Our mouths are watering already.
Watch the premiere of Supermarket Stakeout Tuesday at 10|9c.