A new Target run?

8 a.m. Originally my friend Nancy and I planned to go to the Grocery Outlet. Nancy is blind and likes to shop with me because of my love of food, how frugal I am and my eye for weird stuff.

I start looking at my list, and at my emails, and I realize for much of my list I can shop at Target. I worked at Target up until the middle of last year so I know Super Bowl weekend is a big grocery sale weekend. The things you learn working almost 9 years at the Bullseye.

It also looks like with the switch from Simply Balanced to Good and Gather, corporate strategy has moved into trendier products. Like vegan, Gluten free and other high-end groceries.

Our local Target is very middle of the road. I wonder how many of these products won’t be available because we aren’t a community high enough on the socio-economic scale.

10 a.m. Picking up Nancy. It’s always better to get in and out of Target before noon on weekends.

10:10 a.m. Arrive at Target and start to see old work friends. Wendy, my trainer from cash office, and Courtney, who used to supervise me in the front end, both meet Nan. And Nan almost shakes hands with a box instead of Courtney.

In their defense, Courtney was holding a box and a Frappuccino so she was too slow maneuvering.

We treated ourselves to a drink at Starbucks, made by my soon to be ex-husband’s niece, who is a dental hygienist on weekdays.

10:30 a.m. Shopping begins. I was hoping for some clearance hosiery, no luck. There were some beautiful clearance boots (and I am rapidly running out of shoes) but nothing under a size 11.

Run into several former colleagues who want to say hi and help Nan look for a can opener. There are five to choose from but we still can’t find the right one.

Run into a colleague from my current job.

Ran into the widower of one of my Target colleague whom I worked with very closely in food service. She died of cancer two years ago.

Discover my favorite deodorant is up to $8 and they changed the formula so my rose and vanilla is now rose and black pepper.

11 a.m. We finally hit the “Market” section, which is what Target calls grocery. There’s a lot of hit or miss. Avocados are an amazing value at 79 cents each, but the avocados themselves are lackluster. Most of the produce seems beyond it’s prime.

That’s a big problem with groceries at Target. Fresh produce isn’t culled regularly and the non perishables are often way out of date. I’ve found items on the shelves that the use by date is more than a year out of date. So you really have to check everything.

I know for a fact that the employees try, but the more Target increases wages, the more each employee needs to do. Retail survives by keeping employees at part-time hours so they don’t have to offer benefits and then they schedule at ridiculously low levels so it’s a challenge to keep the store properly manned. This isn’t just a Target problem. It’s the whole corporate/consumerism system.

People want cheap stuff with no concern for quality, its longevity, how it was produced, impact on the environment or the community, or whether or not they need it.

But that’s another tangent entirely.

I didn’t find many new products nor did I find some of the sale items I had wanted.

Noon Nan and I head to the front end.

I bought $100 in groceries and earned a $10 gift card, but I also didn’t appropriately load the $20 in gift cards I already had.

Highlights of my purchases:

  • The $7 giant tub of peanut butter pretzels. It was on sale and it’s the perfect pre-workout snack. Listen to me, I’m under some delusion that I will be going to the gym.
  • Doritos. The ultimate stress food. I shouldn’t even buy them but $2 a bag.
  • An $8 pork loin for $3. Expiring. But I can toss it in the crockpot for dinner tomorrow.
  • Turkey Perky jerky. On Target Circle for 30 percent off. Going in my desk drawer at work for those days where workload means lunch doesn’t happen until 2 or 3.
  • Waterloo sparkling water. $3 for eight cans. I got it as a treat. I wanted to try the watermelon flavor.
  • A giant bottle of white vinegar for $2.29. I use it instead of fabric softener. Cheaper, less chemical-y and less slimy that traditional fabric softener.
  • I got some canned carrots and peas. I don’t normally do canned veggies but if I want to make a shepherd or cottage pie, they will be perfect.
  • Cafe Mosaica and Traditional Medicinals Nighty Nite Valerian. My favorite coffee and my favorite pre-bedtime tea. Both on sale.
  • Smoked Paprika. $3.39 for the tiny spice bottle. Another splurge. But it’s amazing. It’s Gaz Oakley’s favorite spice and he has me hooked. If you haven’t looked up Avant Garde Vegan on YouTube, do it. His recipes are usually easy and delicious. Regardless of your dietary preferences.
  • Another splurge (which I ate for lunch): Birds Eye shaved Brussel sprouts. $3.19 a bag which is supposed to be two servings. But I sprinkled some imitation bacon bits on top and ate them for lunch with a side of Doritos.

  • Caulipower Pizza was on Target Circle for 20% off. They are normally $7 but with the discount and the sale price it was $5. Nan has wanted to try them so I will make it for her when she comes over for dinner Monday. I love them, but I’m not paying $7.
  • And ice cream. I promised the teenager malted milk shakes this weekend so I bought a pint of vanilla bean ice cream for $1.79. They have some very odd flavors in the full size containers, including my old favorite Unicorn and the new Mermaid. But I had to buy Rainbow because it has strawberry rhubarb swirl. And there is a Breakfast Cereal variety with, no lie, cinnamon toast flavored ice cream.

Fire Up the Ninja

While I was recovering from my minor winter ailment, somehow I stumbled upon Gaz Oakley, the Avant Garde Vegan on YouTube. I’m not even sure how or why, but something mesmerized me.

I spent eight years as a vegetarian before my daughter was born and went vegan for six months back in my twenties. I never was a big fan of meat and I hated touching it. I also disapproved of factory farming practices and the use of hormones and antibiotics in our meat. Basically, I never had a problem with eating meat, but I did have a problem with the big business of food production and the amount of processed foods and chemicals in the standard American diet.

When my daughter was young, I made 90% of her baby food, most of our bread products and bought a lot of our food from local farms. Not the Farmer’s Market but the actual farms. I also gardened and preserved our food in the almost-lost art of canning.

As life got busier, I lost some of my good food habits. And I burned out a few food processors making homemade nut butters, blending dates for use in snacks and grinding my own flours. Oh and I made ridiculous amounts of hummus.

Something about Gaz and the way his cooking style incorporated the types of foods I like had me hooked. It was his high protein meal prep that truly mesmerized me and made me want to eat it all. I needed to cook again. Really cook.

And he did the things I used to do when I destroyed my blender.

So what did HE use?

A Ninja.

I read all the comments on his videos about the blender system and its comparison to a Vitamix. Now frankly, I don’t want a Vitamix. It’s a blender. I have a nice Black and Decker blender with a glass pitcher that suits me. I need a food processor.

Then I saw it at Target. The Ninja Professional. $199.

I wanted it so bad. So I made a Facebook comment. Suddenly, my family is offering to buy me a Ninja.

I had no choice.

I bought a Ninja. And started cooking again.

I have cooked for four days straight. My husband teases that I can’t make a meal without firing up the Ninja.

I am in love.

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Gaz’s Sriracha Meatballs and my spinach yogurt sauce

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Gaz’s Sriracha Meatball Mix

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Salad in the Ninja

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Breakfast smoothie

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Gaz’s Falafel, Hummus & Flatbreads

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Hummus Mix