How To Cook Using 99-Cent Ingredients

During a recession, the cost of feeding yourself or a family can be a strain. Christiane Jory, author of the 99 Cent Only Stores Cookbook tells host Alex Chadwick about the recipes that only include ingredients that cost under a dollar.

This segment was originally broadcast on March 21, 2008.

Cooking Gourmet with 99¢ Food

The 99¢ Store Cookbook Cover

Although Christiane Jory does have an extreme affinity for 99¢ Only Stores (as opposed to the dozens of similar bargain outlets), there is no official endorsement involved. Courtesy of Christiane Jory hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Christiane Jory

The 99-Cent Evangelist

Ever since she discovered the 99-cent produce aisle, Sheila Dvorak insists on buying all her food from 99¢ Only Stores. Her friend, 'Day to Day' producer Martina Castro thinks this is disgusting and ridiculous .... until she takes a visit to the store. Listen to the frugal debate that ensues.

The 99¢ Debaters

Sheila Dvorak, left, says that by buying most of her food at 99¢ Only Stores, she is simply taking advantage of what others fear. 'Day to Day' producer Martina Castro, right, thinks not. Click above to hear their debate. Courtesy Martina Castro hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy Martina Castro

Become a Frugal Gourmet

Click for the recipes for the pot pie, apple pie and vegetable creation that Christiane Jory served to Alex Cohen.

These days, the idea of making a three-course meal for a family of four for less than $20 can seem impossible.

Unless, that is, you shop at the 99¢ Only Stores. There are more than 200 of them throughout the West — not to mention other bargain variations like the Dollar Store — true to their name, everything costs exactly 99 cents.

Christiane Jory thoroughly embraces this fact in her book, The 99¢ Only Stores Cookbook. The idea may sound silly, but the book is filled with recipes for gourmet items like gruyere beignets, salmon souffle and Pinot Noir poached pear tarts. Many of the recipes have been adapted from culinary classics like the Joy of Cooking and the Moosewood Cookbook.

Curious and hungry, I went to visit Jory at her home, where she prepared chicken pot pies, scalloped potatoes and apple pie, entirely with ingredients that she purchased at the store.

Relying entirely on 99¢ food requires serious creativity. As I watched her create crust from Pillsbury biscuit dough and dump chicken, spinach and other veggies from cans, it was hard not to be skeptical.

Jory can relate. Although she has been a long-time fan of 99¢ Only Stores, the idea of purchasing something edible there only came to her after many years of bargain shopping, she says. (Yes, she does have an extreme affinity for this particular line of bargain store, but there's no official endorsement involved.) The cheapo-food epiphany was inspired one random summer day, she recalls, by a seemingly classy lady.

"I was broke, and I like my wine, and then I saw this woman buying wine and I was like, 'No way!' And she had fancy shoes on and I looked at her and she said, 'It's really good.' So that's when I bought a sauvignon blanc. And I had wine for the summer, thank God. And that's when I started thinking maybe there's food here too," she says

Indeed, there was plenty to eat in the store — most of it brands that she had never heard of, in boxes that were misshapen or discolored. But the contents tasted just fine, she says. And with a bit of innovation, Jory says, she realized 99-cent ingredients could turn into truly delicious dishes.

Indeed, the bargain pot pie that popped out of the oven during one particular meal, as she shared these frugal tales, looked like something worthy of Martha Stewart. Served in her mother's best china, the potatoes au gratin with green chiles could have been served at a fancy restaurant. Washed down with a glass of 99-cent vino, it tasted suprisingly yummy.

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