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Rose Caro, 47

Pacific Beach

Spent $136 today.

Spends about $100 a week on groceries.

Cooks for four to six people, depending on who's staying for the weekend (cooks for three kids and her mother, as well as her boyfriend and her boyfriend's daughter).

"I eat in four to five times a week.

"Today I bought a lot of frozen foods so the kids can snack on their own. Cheeses, breads, and a lot of liquids, water, iced tea, and juices.

"I shop at Albertson's because it's convenient, but otherwise I always go to Ralphs. The prices are better; they have what I need; I know the store.

"I don't make shopping lists, I just go up and down every aisle.

"I barbecue a lot. My best recipe might have to be a beef roast. I marinate it with teriyaki, put in lots of vegetables, and then roast.

"My philosophy of food is not too much junk or sugar. I save that stuff for the weekend as a treat. I don't buy the stuff to keep around the house on a daily basis, because it'll go quick."

  • Jonathan's Specialty Market, La Jolla,
  • Tuesday, 4 p.m.
  • Karen Kessler, 65
  • La Jolla
  • Retired director of adult education
  • Spent $76 today.

Couldn't say how much she spends in a week on groceries. "It varies. I go out a lot, so I really don't know.

"I cook at home for myself and my husband maybe a couple of times a week.

"My husband doesn't eat breakfast, and I usually have eggs. I always eat out for lunch.

"Tonight I'm making a fish dish, so I bought the ingredients for that. I also bought some household products that we needed.

"My favorite recipe is for a shrimp dish that Dobson's Restaurant makes. You shell and devein fresh shrimp, then sauté in olive oil with garlic and onions, then put in a little sherry and salt and pepper and red pepper. Then sauté mushrooms and put it over gourmet brown rice, which I get here.

"I shop mainly at Jonathan's, but I also go to Ralphs, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and Vons. But Jonathan's is very convenient for me. I live nearby and it's quick. I'm in and out.

"I'm very health-conscious, and I know what I want. I usually just buy fresh produce. Everything has to be fresh and low-fat.

"I'm going right now to the fish market to get fresh fish."

  • Carolyn Young, 55
  • Rancho Bernardo
  • Spent $50 today.
  • Spends about $150 a week on food.

Cooks for herself, because her sons are in college.

"I eat out probably about 75 percent of the time. Or I order out and bring food home.

"Usually I get a sandwich at Jonathan's for lunch, and it'll last me for two days.

"When I do cook, I make chicken usually, and I also make soups.

"My best recipe is a shish kabob over rice pilaf. You marinate it in all sorts of herbs and spices, garlic and oil, paprika, and you put on lots of vegetables and you grill it.

"Today I bought some wine and a sandwich and some Clamato juice. I come here for the Clamato juice, because they have the small cans, and nobody else has the small cans. I can't drink the soda-sized cans. It's too much.

"I go to Vons once in a while, but I've been driving down here to Jonathan's to shop for about 15 years. I come here because of the quality, the atmosphere, and they do have things, like the small Clamato juice, that I can't get anywhere else.

"I don't usually read nutrition labels. I feel like I can tell. I've been around a while, so I know what's what. I don't really think that I have to be too health-conscious because I don't indulge in the things that one should not indulge in."

Stan Chodorow, 63

La Jolla

Retired college history teacher

Spent $55 today.

Spends about $500 a month on food.

Cooks for his wife and himself.

"Today I bought lamb for a stew.

"I shop at Vons, Whole Foods, and occasionally Henry's. I also go to the Fishery in PB for fresh fish.

"We don't go out much. I do all of the cooking. Say six or seven days a week.

"I do a lot of pastas, various kinds, either baked pastas, or clam sauces, or primaveras, or whatever. I make about one stew every couple weeks, for nights when I won't be available. I do fish, various kinds, scallops. My best recipe lately has been an osso buco.

"For osso buco, you take a veal shank, and you chop up carrots, onions, celery, and garlic. I also take the rind of a Parmesan cheese. So you brown the meat, and you soften up the veggies, you put it all together with wine and a chicken stock, and then you braise it for a couple of hours.

"I started cooking in about 1975, when my wife's business (she's a real estate broker here in town) got so busy that she mastered the three-minute meal. So I took over the cooking. Well, first I took over the shopping, and once you take over the shopping, then you take over the cooking. I knew nothing. But, in the last few years, I've gone twice to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, for boot camps, and that has transformed my cooking. I was a decent cook. I am now more than a decent cook.

"My philosophy for food, in a word, is 'fresh.' I'm very health-conscious. I'm cycling now, doing about 250 miles a week on a bike. So it doesn't matter what I eat, it gets burnt away. But I like to vary it a lot. And I buy very little processed food. I buy everything fresh."

  • Vons, Normal Heights, Friday, 3 p.m.
  • Madonna Floyd, 18
  • College Area
  • Spent $87 today.
  • Family spends about $80 a week on food.

"Four people eat in our household: my mother, my brother, my boyfriend, and me.

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