Believe it or not, you can find real food bargains at these discount retailers, which usually have “gourmet” aisles tucked somewhere in the back of their stores between the cheetah-print bras and the clearance Buddha heads.
These stores are a lot like flea markets—if you go looking for a specific item, you’re likely to be disappointed, but if you have the patience to browse, you can find some genuine steals.
Our T.J. Maxx is a good source of marked-down oils, vinegars, dried herbs, mustards, olives, and preserves. It’s the only place we buy walnut oil: a 17-ounce can of the excellent Tourangelle brand is $6.99. There’s always a lot of tea and chocolate, too. And, in case we’re worried that the food on the shelves is as stale as last year’s fishnets, a banner over the aisle proactively assures us that everything they sell is fresh. This is true; we’ve never had a problem with T.J. Maxx’s food (and that's more than we can say about Williams Sonoma's).