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Yesterday’s Shopping Trip: The health food store

I stopped by the health food store after a lunch date with my husband yesterday. I needed to get some more turbinado and just decided to buy it at the health food store, even though it’s more expensive, since a trip to the bulk foods store was not in the schedule this week.

I was excited to find some produce markdowns while I was there! And I also picked up a few cups of steel cut oats. Well, they said “Steel Cut Oat Groats”. Is that what I’m looking for, or did I get the totally wrong thing? (Yes, I’m clueless about steel cut oats, can you tell?!)

Here’s a price breakdown:

2 bags of grapefruit — marked down to $0.99 each

2 bags of organic pears — marked down to $0.99 each

1 tub of yogurt — marked down to $1.99

Organic Steel Cut Oat Groats ($1.29/lb.) — $0.88

Organic Turbinado — $5.19

Total spent: $12.90

The pears were getting pretty close to past their prime, but I couldn’t pass them up at $0.99 per bag for organic pears. I’m making pear sauce in crockpot with them today. Yum!

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  • Chandler says:

    Do you freeze your fruit/veggie markdowns?

  • So this may be a dumb question, but what do you consider a health food store? Whole Foods? Or a smaller, local place?

  • Tracy says:

    What do you do with pear sauce? How much will this bag make? How long will it last?

    • Wendy says:


      We have a pear tree in our yard and last year I made pear sauce. It is basically like apple sauce (only made with pears.) I peeled pears, cooked them and ran them through a colander, added sugar and cinnamon then sealed them in a boiling water canner in pint jars. They will last for a year or more sealed. My guess is these 2 bags in the picture would make maybe 7 pints.


    • Lisette says:


      Here is my method for pear (and other varieties of) sauce. I initially started making it as a starter food for my second daughter, but both of my girls LOVE it. They are 5 and 2.5 and still eat it ALMOST every day. I have a bigger crockpot than pictured now (had to improve efficiency, LOL,) and it takes me about 10 lbs of sliced and peeled fruit to fill it.

      • Sharon says:

        @Lisette, How funny! I just made applesauce for the first time last night in the crockpot. Peeled and cored about ten or so apples, threw them in the crockpot with about a cup or so of water, about 1/3 of brown sugar and some cinnamon (nutmeg would also be a nice addition) and then let it cook all night. Made the house smell wonderful and we had a yummy breakfast, plus some for later. I’m sure you could do the same with lots of different fruits.

  • Kristen says:

    I’ve never heard them called groats before, but from what I can see in the picture, they look just like what I get in my McCann’s tin of steel cut oats. 🙂

  • Heather says:

    You got the right thing. Oat seeds (the part we eat) are called groats. To cook: 4 cups water to 1 cup steel cuts, put ’em in a pot, bring to a boil, and simmer till done. Flavor and enjoy.

  • THERESA P says:

    those are most definately steel cut oats 🙂 yum

  • Melissa says:

    Do you know when they have mark downs or do you just happen upon them? I can never seem to find markdowns at my local Whole Foods. (Maybe I should be shopping a different store. A friend used to call Whole Foods whole paycheck! :))

    • Crystal says:

      I don’t believe Whole Foods does markdowns, but often other small health food stores do. I’ve learned that a nearby store marks things down around lunchtime typically, so I try to go there then to get the best deals.

    • Meredith says:

      @Melissa, I asked her awhile back what store she shops at. She said her store was a local health food store. I’ve never seen a markdown at Whole Foods either. I also live close to Earthfare. If you live near one of those, they have store coupons on their website and have some markdowns, but not a lot. I worked at a grocery store years ago and most produce is trashed and it’s random when they markdown produce. I would get sick watching them throw away apples with tiny bruises all to think what kind of apple butter I could make!

      • jen says:

        @Meredith, I worked at wild oats now whole foods they stoped doing markdowns because they didn’t want to chance a lawsuit is what I was told, so we donated our expires to a local church. they had great deals when they did do the mark downs I would get meats at a steal!

  • Amy P says:

    I’m trying to figure out what the difference is with steel cut oats too! 🙂

    • Liz Joiner says:

      @Amy P,

      Steel cut oats are oat groats that are just chopped so to speak. 🙂 Oat groats make a great oatmeal, more texture than your regular old fashioned rolled oats. 🙂 And if you happen to need any oat flour all you have to do is grind it down.

  • Jackie says:

    just curious, are you using your turbinado in recipes calling for white sugar?

    • Crystal says:

      Yes, we’ve not purchased white sugar (aside from one bag of powdered sugar I bought for Christmas baking) for at least 5+ months, maybe more. My family can’t tell a difference and the higher price point of turbinado means we don’t eat quite as many sweets. 🙂

  • Jenna says:

    My wheat grinder says that I can’t grind oatmeal in it, but I can grind oat groats. So, if you ever wanted to try to make oat flour, that is what you would use.

  • Cindy says:

    Wikipedia says: Steel-cut oats are whole grain groats (the inner portion of the oat kernel) which have been cut into only two or three pieces by steel rather than being rolled. They are golden in color and resemble small rice pieces.

    I learned something new today too!

  • Jennifer says:

    what is pear sauce?

  • Carmen Bowen says:

    Hi Crystal! I visit your site everyday, and have been following you for almost 3 years now! You do a fabulous job! I know I am on the East coast, but what health food store do you shop? You always seem to get a lot of markdowns, and I’d love to find a place where I could cash in on some of those goodies, as well! Is it a small, local health food store, or a larger chain? Also, I’d love to see your recipe for pear sauce in the crockpot! Thanks for all you do! 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      It’s a small store with only one location, unfortunately. 🙁

      I might do a post on the crock pot pear sauce, if I have time to take pictures while I’m making it this afternoon. Thanks for asking!

  • Brooke says:

    Just thought I’d let you know that the link for the Coldstone Creamery Birthday Club on your Birthday Freebies page is not working.

  • Kristin says:

    Yes! Please share about the pear sauce! Sounds yumo!

  • kathy says:

    I’d like to see your recipe for pear sauce too.

    Maybe sometime you can do a post devoted to how to use up and stretch overripe or almost overripe fruits and veggies. I would like to buy more of them when marked down but not really sure what to do with them!

    Happy New Year, Crystal!

  • Amy says:

    Can you freeze grapefruit? What about Pineapple? Lots of good deals on these lately.

    • Kristen says:


      I don’t know about freezing a whole pineapple, but here in Hawaii where pineapple is plentiful, I cut it up into bite size pieces and freeze it that way. And they make a great snack like that! Or you can thaw it and reuse it.

  • Great find on the pears! When pears were in season here, I bought a few pounds from the farmers market and made and canned Pear Honey. So good! Just pears, pineapple and sugar, no pectin needed. Only 10 minutes to process.

    Mary Ellen
    The Working Home Keeper

  • Julia says:

    I make steel cut oats with no specific ratio of water to oats, I just make sure the oats are submerged and eyeball how much water they need to be at the desired taste level. Then I add cinnamon, a splash of milk, and wait till it boils and solidifies some.

    In my family, we don’t care much for mushy oats, so mine are on the firm side.

  • Kerry D. says:

    I havn’t had steel cut oat groats, but whole “oat groats” which take a long time to cook, but are super delicious with a nice chewy texture. The other nice thing is that they don’t get soggy, but stay firm for several days, so I can make a big pot and eat for breakfast for a number of days.

  • Ann says:

    Re: past their prime fruits.

    I cut them up into bite size pieces and freeze them on a cookie sheet or flat plate. Once frozen I put in a plastic container in the freezer and use them for smoothies. I’ve done this with apples, pears, peaches, grapes, strawberries, pineapple, melon, banana, blueberries. Usually much less expensive than bags of frozen fruit, plus it doesn’t go to waste.

  • Hi Crystal, This is funny – i just did a post on Health Food on a Budget – my tips and secrets AND I have the best crockpot recipe for Pear Apple Butter. (so easy and delish) Check it out before you make your pear butter 🙂

  • I’ve never heard them called groats but I do love steel cut oats.

  • Stephanie says:

    Mmm steel cut oats are so good. But be careful, they get things moving, if you know what I mean 😉

  • Amy Howard says:

    Hi Crystal,

    Just thought you’d like to know (in answer to your question about the Steel-Cut Oat Groats) that what you bought is not the same thing as regular steel-cut oats. What I believe you were looking for was steel-cut rolled oats. The ones you purchased look like the type often referred to as Irish Oats. They are my personal favorite (I love the texture) for breakfast and are actually healthier for you since all of the bran has not been stripped off.

    Cook them for 20 minutes in boiling water (can’t remember the exact ratio of water to oats, but a quick Google will tell you that or you can look for Irish Oats next time you are at the grocery store and the box will tell you), or you can place them on the stove, heat to boiling, turn water off, and then cover and let sit overnight. The next morning, heat on low for about 10 minutes or until heated through and mixture sort of holds together (meaning that the water and the oats no longer seem separate).

    I hope that helps. Enjoy!

  • Theresa says:

    I made a bunch of pear butter when pears were in season and it’s fabulous! I made it just like my crockpot apple butter, except since the pears don’t break down quite the same, I put it through the blender before canning.

  • Mary says:

    I bought some steel-cut oats at my local Amish bulk store and a bag of about 6 cups was only $1.20. They look exactly like your picture.

    The sticker on the side of the bag said “mix 1 c. oats with 2 c. water and simmer for 10 minutes”. They came out perfectly – I threw in a handful of craisins and have been eating it for the past three days – it expanded a lot! It has a nice texture to it and is filling. The cranberries added just enough flavor that I’d eat it every day.

  • Abigail says:

    Sometimes I forget how much I actually know just from growing up on a grain farm. 🙂 The oat groats are pretty much what you get after the hull (tough outer covering which can’t be chewed or digested) has been removed from the kernel. They’re the healthiest for you and also keep the best because nothing has been separated out and the kernels aren’t too broken up yet. To make steel-cut oats, the groats are ground up a little bit, to the fineness that is desired. From there, the bran can be sifted off to make oat bran; or it can all be ground up even finer to make oat flour.

    I would personally prefer the oat groats for a crockpot recipe or any recipe where the oats will need to be soaking for a long time: they will hold up better and still have some texture left. I actually like simply soaking the oat groats in water overnight, draining off excess water, and then eating them raw with milk and honey: very nutritious and filling. Oat groats are not the best choice for other recipes like granola or cookies, because the pieces will be very hard to chew. Even steel-cut oats are not my first choice for these uses; rolled oats just taste better for that.

    Hope that helps clarify a bit. 😉

  • jan says:

    I always see you post about the “health food store” and I did some checking around and I found one quite near me- just a little local store- it looks like a dive really- but they have some great prices and produce and they do markdowns!

  • Robyn in ATX says:

    Anyone shop @ Sprouts? Sometimes I can find some good prices on in season produce, but nott sure if they any type of maekdowns. Plus they do double-ad Wednesdays, where you can shop last week’s ad & this week’s ad all in one trip.

  • Marion says:

    I have a question about turbinado? What is a good price per pound? Is your bag that cost $5.19 bag a 1.5lb bag? I found Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Turbinado Raw Cane Sugar, 24-Ounce Pouches (Pack of 12) on Amazon for $44.86 and after 15% Subscribe & Save and free shipping it would cost $38.13 or $3.17 a bag. This year we are trying to give up almost all processed foods. I am not new to cooking from scratch but new to no white sugar. I have started using local raw honey but would like to use turbinado in recipes that call for granulated sugar.

    • Crystal says:

      I pay about $2 per pound at the bulk foods store (at least the last time I was there that’s the price it was!). That Amazon price looks like a good deal — provided you don’t mind buying such a huge quantity! 🙂

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