I love my local Asian market. It’s closer than any other grocery store, and it’s like a treasure trove. The shelves are loaded with things I’ve never heard of, and things I love that are so cheap they’re practically free compared to what I’m used to paying. I always get something new every time I go, and make something fun and delicious for dinner. With the shelves loaded with so many bottles, bags, and cans, it can be hard to know what to start with. Here are the things I’ll never buy at the grocery store again.

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Thai Curry Paste
This stuff is potentially the biggest rip-off in the tiny Asian section of your grocery store. You’ll pay $5 for a 40mL jar of curry paste. Head to the Asian market and you’ll get 400mL for $3.

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Coconut Milk
Asian markets usually have at least half a dozen kinds of coconut milk, and I find they’re usually better than the gentrified versions available at your regular grocery store. They’re also cheaper! You can except to pay $1–$2 a can instead of $4–$5 a can at the regular grocery store. I especially love stocking up on coconut cream, which is so thick you can spread it on things.

Soy Sauce & all other Asian Condiments
You can find at least 10 different kinds of soy sauce, and up to a gallon of it.

I think all of this was about $15.

I think all of this was about $15.

Rice
Ok, so this one is kind of a no-brainer. But there are just so many kinds, and they’re so cheap! I love getting Thai red rice by the kilo without paying exorbitant health food store prices for it.

Sesame Oil
Less money, more selection.

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Funky Whole Grains
I was blown away by the selection (and the low prices). I’ve now got a great stash of things like buckwheat (aka kasha) in my pantry, and I didn’t have to go to my local health food store and pay out the nose for them.

Tofu
The tofu is so much better. More kinds, more flavours. Fried, dried, pressed, puffed, and more. So tasty, and so awesome!

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Noodles—Ramen, Soba, & Rice
Stock up on packages of nests of ramen noodles, without the MSG loaded broth packages that come with pre-packaged instant noodles. You can do whatever you like with them—I like to make my own instant noodles.

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Cashews
I got a pound for about $5, and they’re raw (and they’re great)! Buy those at the health food store and you’ll be looking at twice as much.

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Canned Bamboo
I love bamboo for Thai curries. It’s a great low-cal veggie—super filling, with maybe 2 dozen calories per cup. I love having a few cans on hand for quick weeknight dinners.

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Canned Baby Corn
Just like bamboo, canned baby corn is great to have on hand for quick weeknight curries.

Thai Basil
It’s delicious, and easy to have on hand for a while if you keep in a glass of water in the fridge, like flowers.

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Nori & everything else you need to make sushi
If I ever need a bit of motivation to head to T&T, I just check out the prices for nori, wasabi, rice vinegar, and pickled ginger at Safeway. OUCH! You can walk away from T&T with all your sushi staples for $5, and you’d be lucky to get the nori for that anywhere else.

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Candied/Crystallized Ginger
Buy it in the baking section of your grocery store and it will come in a small glass jar and cost $5. Grab it at your Asian market and it might be $2 for a nice, big bag of it! I love it as a snack and for my Christmas baking.

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Rice Paper
Not only is it less expensive (noticing a pricing trend here?), but you can also get it in different sizes, so you can make appetizer sized spring and salad rolls if you like.