Just Say No: To the frozen food section
The total cost: about $3. By spending an extra four bits, you've just produced eight servings of home-cooked soup (at 38 cents per bowl) that you'll struggle valiantly for days to finish.
Egg salad sandwich (prices from Whole Foods Market)
Trying to value shop at the notoriously costly Whole Foods is a comically hopeless endeavor. But even in the land of the $3 avocado, premade food items stand out as particularly poor deals. Some of the worst are the "grab and go" sandwiches, with a $5.49 egg salad job that's the king of the ripoffs. For a week's worth of your own, you'll need an initial layout of $13.45: • Whole wheat bread: $2.29/loaf • 1 dozen eggs: $2.39 • 1 head lettuce: $2.49 • 2 tomatoes: $2.99 • 1 jar mayonnaise: $3.29
That investment will pay off with a proud fleet of seven sandwiches (and plenty of leftover bread, lettuce and mayonnaise) at $1.92 a pop. And that price plummets when you swap Whole Foods for a store that doesn't radiate wallet-draining corporate crunchiness.
The bottom line: It's much cheaper to cook than to be cooked for. It's also far more fresh, nourishing and fulfilling.
27 S. Third St. 215.627.2485. www.ansillfoodandwine.com
Ansill is beautifully cheap if you dine on weekdays between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. During those magical minutes, flutes of sprightly Prosecco are $5; pints of a selected local draught are $3; and oysters are a buck-a-shuck.
210 W. Rittenhouse Sq. 215.790.2533. www.lacroixrestaurant.com
Chef Matthew Levin must have a crystal ball in his kitchen along with his immersion circulator and NO2 dispenser. He's been running this unbelievable deal for more than a year now: On Monday nights diners can BYOB with no corkage or enjoy any of the award-winning cellar's 500-plus bottles for 50 percent off. Dig the Casa de la Ermita, a flowery Spanish viognier you can nab for $27.50 during this deal.
828 S. Eighth St. 215.629.4980. www.jameson8th.com