Our local 99c only Store is unique to all others. I've been to the Dollar Tree, the 98 Cent & Up, and almost every other dollar store in town. They do not even come close to the variety of fresh produce and unique packed foodstuffs that the 99c only Stores carry. Now, there are problems of course -- you should be selective on what you ingest, and they do carry their fair share of junk and gimmicky ingredients. But once you've been a few times, it's easy to glean the good stuff. And, as you will see below, I've found plenty! (I was recently in Gonzales, Louisiana and spent an afternoon driving from Family Dollar to Dollar General and found cans of Collard Greens and Okra with Tomatoes and Corn, plus frozen Stir Fry Veggie Blend and Scallops -- I was impressed.)
One of my favorite budget recipes from last year used that sweet and tender mollusk, the most flavorful and luscious sandwich ever, a Scallop Roll -- based on a New England classic Lobster Roll. Click here to see it.
When I find fat and gluten free Beef Stock and real Italian Arborio Rice separated by an aisle, it doesn't take much culinary imagination to see a rich and lusty risotto entree coming soon from my chintzy kitchen. My Oyster Mushroom Risotto recipe, is here.
Whole grain bread, loaves of pungent sourdough, and delicate slices of specialty deli salami are usually stocked for your next picnic or party tray. Last summer we had a picnic in Marina del Rey's Burton W. Chace Park to see songstress Aimee Mann for free! I made a bushel of finger sandwiches using fresh cucumbers, various cheeses, a couple kinds of bread, and a delicious Hot Sopressata Salami. Watch the sandwich-making and some concert clips here.
They carried Tahini for a few weeks, so I stocked up with a couple of jars. It's great for Hummus and Baba Ganoush; and since you only use a couple of tablespoons at a time, it will last (click on names to see my recipes and video.)
The 99c only Store was family owned until last year. It was bought out for about 1.3 billion (article here,) and the stores are expected to expand beyond California and Texas -- so look for canned escargot (snails) coming to a city near you!