Grocery-shopping in New York City takes a hefty toll on one’s pocketbook, Henry Alford writes in the New York Times, but at 99-cent stores, more diamonds in the rough exist than one might expect. Alford embarked on a challenge: to craft a week's worth of meals made mainly from on-the-cheap ingredients, culminating in a 99-cent dinner party.
Alford had to improvise to keep up with changing stocks and do without staples like butter, good olive oil, and fresh vegetables, but he found gems such as star anise and white balsamic vinegar—and no spoiled items. The coup-de-grâce meal satisfied guests with pear nectar soup and penne pasta with peas in a cream sauce. "One man’s penny is another man’s dollar," Alford concludes.