Lunch on a budget: Spicy Shrimp Sandwich with Chipotle Avocado Mayonnaise

Today is payday so today is grocery shopping day. Yay. I enjoy shopping because everything about Kroger makes the experience pleasurable.

For really busy shoppers, or shoppers who hate shopping, Kroger has unrolled a special service called ClickList. You go online and create a list of purchases you want and type an hour-range of time to pick up. When you arrive, the clerk puts your groceries in the car and you pay right there, too.

I have not used ClickList myself but friends who have really love it. It beats dragging around your kids throughout the entire store. Or dragging yourself around the store for that matter.

But going in is OK for me. The clerks are friendly and helpful. They know where stuff is. The sales are great. The markdowns make obtaining lots of fresh produce and seafood attainable on a budget. The quality of the food is always good. It is a big store, that is a drawback, but if I restrict myself to the areas I usually frequent then I can get in and out efficiently and stick to my budget.

Here is the lunch I prepared after arriving home from the store. It is Spicy Shrimp Sandwich with Chipotle Avocado Mayonnaise, ruffled potato chips, and sweet cole slaw. Dessert, strawberries and nectarines with organic strawberry yogurt on top. Sound too expensive for a frugal summer lunch? It’s not. Read on!

Kroger offers skewers of five medium (de-veined) shrimp for $1.00. I like the fact that they are de-veined already, and they only take 3-4 minutes to cook. This is good on a summer day in Georgia. Any protein I can purchase that’s $1 or less per serving is a go.

Red leaf lettuce was on sale this week, $.99 per head. Potato chips were on sale, $1.50 for a large bag. Kroger usually has bags on sale of prepared cole slaw (just add mayo) for $1. The bun you can’t see it; it’s under the lettuce) was on the reduced rack. A bag of 6 kaiser rolls was marked down to $.99, so 20 cents per bun.

The store puts some items from produce in a red net bag on a special shelf. The items are almost always nearly perfect, but whatever is in the bag is 99 cents. I’d bought a red net bag of 5 avocados for 99 cents, so the avocado was only 20 cents. A couple of avocados in the bag were ready but could be eaten tomorrow and one or two were really soft, so I chose a really soft one to make the spicy mayo spread. Including some strawberries I’d had for dessert, my lunch cost around $2.

I didn’t know I was going to make this lunch when I went into the store. It is usually more expensive to decide ahead of time what you’re going to eat and then going to the store to buy the individual ingredients for your selected dish. What I do is look at the weekly sale flyer and I scout around in the store for unadvertised markdowns, and purchase whatever they have available. This method works well if you do not have a family, I admit.

I usually buy the shrimp because it is a good protein for a good price. As mentioned, lettuce was on sale, and an unadvertised markdown was the bag of kaiser rolls at the reduced bread area, as well as the bag of avocados in the unadvertised produce area. I found a large container of organic yogurt marked half price.

A produce clerk was stocking the mark down shelf when I got there. I thanked her for putting what to me are good produce items (non squashed, or otherwise nearly perfect) in the red bags for us. She said that it really helps Kroger too. “We hardly ever have anything we throw away,” she said. This was great news to me. Win-win. I also bought 2 lb of yellow squash, a bag of oranges that I’ll cut up for fruit salad, brussels sprouts, and some orange peppers. Good stuff.

After I got home I decided one of the avocados needed eating right away. I didn’t want to let the shrimp go another day or so. I’d already taken a long time in the store and a hot drive home without refrigerating them so I wanted to cook and eat immediately. Hmmm. I briefly considered “shrimp and grits” as I’d bought a box of instant grits, but in the end I went with the sandwich. I googled ‘shrimp-avocado sandwich’ and voila, the above recipe came up. I had the olive oil and the spices on hand already. I did not have the chipotle spice, so I just substituted Sriracha.