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How should you be spending the $13 a week Obama supposedly put in your pocket? Voracious has some ideas.

Where: Whole Foods' Smokehouse Grill (In

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$13: NY Strip Steak Lunch

13steak.jpg
How should you be spending the $13 a week Obama supposedly put in your pocket? Voracious has some ideas.

Where: Whole Foods' Smokehouse Grill (In the back by the fish and meat counters).

What Does $13 Get Ya? That depends on how hungry you are. You can choose anything from the fish or meat departments and they'll toss it on the grill at the per-pound price. Through June 23, Whole Foods has their NY Strip Steaks at $9.99 per pound (normally $14.99). On my first visit I got an 8-ounce strip ($5) with two sides provided by the grill: a side salad and caramelized onions ($2.99 for two sides), putting my glorious meal at all of $8. A hungrier diner could pull down a full pound of steak and remain true to the $13 theme of this column.

Worth It? Without question.

Steak is such a misunderstood lunch meat. Lemme toss this out atcha: You know those processed deli meats that mom used to throw on our sammys in elementary school? They're still around. They're pre-packaged and hang on the walls of your local Safeway. Take a look at the per-pound price on those suckers one of these days. I recently saw ham for $13.99 per pound. You wouldn't think about it when you're -- or, hopefully not -- pulling them off the shelf, but you're paying more per pound for that sandwich meat than I did yesterday for a fresh NY strip steak at Whole Paycheck. Yes, I found one hell of a deal at the most expensive grocery store. Go figure.

This situation isn't anything new. Well, it kind of is for me. Until a year ago I had no idea that such a magical grill exists at the back of the store (I'm talking about the one on the SLUT route). Since discovering it, I've made a habit of visiting as often as I can, and I've completely passed on their massive selection of prepared foods up front. But, until last week, I'd stuck to sausages and other comparably low-grade offerings from the meat department. Then it finally dawned on me that for the price of a salad at Specialty's, I can have the best steak lunch my budget can buy. At this price, their competition is Jack in the Box.

Obviously you're not getting the steakhouse experience here (if you were you wouldn't be getting change back from your $10. Note: They only take credit/debit at the grill.). But, you do get a real napkin. And the steak is worth every dollar. It can take a while if you're behind a group, and it sometimes appears that the staff spends more time changing latex gloves than doing any actual cooking. But, catch the long hair when he's in the zone back there and you won't be waiting long.

Considering the state of the economy and the fact that Pres. Obama's giving most of us an extra $13 a week this summer, we decided it was time to fire back up our weekly series on the best ways to eat and drink for around $13. Please feel free to send me your suggestions.

 
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