or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Natural Living › The Mindful Home › Frugality & Finances › Which grocery store do you shop at?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Which grocery store do you shop at?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

I am trying to save on groceries, recently moved to a new town and I am trying to figure out which grocery store or stores I should shop at. I struggle between trying to eat healthy (as organic as I can afford which is not much) and cheap. Another complicating matter is that my family are all very different eaters and I am stuck shopping and cooking for all, healthy and on a budget. It is a constant struggle between healthy and cheap. I am vegan, my dh eats lots of meat, my ds (5) has some special food texture needs (eats only finger foods like chicken nuggets, waffles, fishsticks etc) and my dd(2) eats anything. So I am curious where everyone shops and do you shop in one store or multiple stores? the stores available in my town are Walmart, Super target, Aldi, Kroger, Sam's club, Trader Joe's, Ingles, Publix. And if you buy anything organic, which items are an absolute must for you? Thank you so much for your replies!!!

post #2 of 17

I usually shop at City Market (the main one in my town has a HUGE selection of natural and organic products) and Natural Grocer. We are on a supertight budget including relying on foodstamps, and it can be hard when me and my 1 yr old DS are Celiac and he has a cow milk allergy, and my hubby is a junk food omnivore. I like City Market (also Kroger, King Soopers, etc) because you can load online coupons onto your card and Natural Grocer because they accept foodstamps. My local farmer's market accepts them too, and I noticed at the farmer's market while produce is only grown under organic guidelines and is not certified (same with the meat), it is actually way cheaper to buy there when going for the natural. Sometimes you can make a good connection with the vendors and get really good deals in the future.

post #3 of 17

Hi there-

Wanted to mention first & foremost, this is coming from a currently very low income perspective...I am certainly not winning mother of the year awards for raising traditional food lovers and maintaining an organic home these days. 


I also have some picky eaters & diet restrictions for DH & I (we are low carb/low sugar-high protein).


In the event you are low income too, make sure you apply for any snap or wic (your food choices SUCK with wic but snap is an EBT card so you can pick what you want within your budget) benefits available.  This has helped us get through recently & I wish I had known about it sooner.  


That being said...I don't know some of the stores you mentioned too well (I am in NJ) BUT-


Trader Joe's & Wegmans store brand milk contains no growth hormones.  So if you have milk drinkers, you can buy non organic milk that is safer for your family & more reasonably priced.  Wegmans takes WIC vouchers so I can get my milk & cheese there without growth hormones.  Trader Joe's cheese sticks & shredded cheese have no growth hormones which is a HUGE win for us.  My kids love cheese so I can get it without hormones, but not at the organic price that makes me want to cry.  I bet Trader Joe's has some kind of chicken nugget that isn't horrible.  Wegmans' brands of cereals & pantry things are reasonable & I trust them for whatever reason.  (I certainly don't know anything concrete-just feel good about their brand) Trader Joe's seems to have ok prices on organic chicken & meat but that's not an option for us right now financially so I haven't looked recently.  It sucks but it is what it is.  I will spring on the Applegate Farms Organic Hot Dogs because it's something both kids LOVE & is an answer to a quick/easy meal.  And when the Earth's Best Nuggets are on sale at Shoprite, I buy a couple.  


Considering our financial situation, the organic OR no growth hormone that matters to me most is DAIRY/EGGS. Second is strawberries and grapes, but lately if I can get california grown instead of organic, I will.  I don't bother with organic bread, pasta, beans, avocados, bananas because I just don't think those things matter as much as the dairy & produce. I just make sure our bread has no HFCS & fortunately, wic allows one that works for us.    


I know Walmarts vary around the country.  Our Walmart has some organics but to be honest, I tend to see their organic choices in the items that don't matter.  I do get good prices there for the Stonyfield Farms Yo Toddler yogurt that my 2 yo loves everyday.  I have run into great deals on a big supply of the clementines or california strawberries or grapes. (my 1st choice is to buy organic strawberries & grapes because they are high pesticide BUT those are the only 2 fruits my 4.5 year old will eat so when I can't afford that organic price, I will buy non organic IF it's from California only)   


We have shoprite here in rural Northern NJ & they have great local produce & that's where we buy our meat.  Since I can't use my state food benefits at a farm to buy local meat, I have to buy Perdue, & Shoprite has it on sale ALOT.  We recently tried the Purdue Simply Smart lightly breaded frozen chicken chunks.  Only a handful of ingredients and both kids love them.  You can get $1 off coupons on their site & Shoprite periodically has them half price (like $5 instead of $10) and I buy in bulk.  Sure, Shoprite and even Walmart has the Coleman or other organic chicken choices but it would use up so much of my budget.  We would run out of snap dollars fast.  DH & I eat alot of chicken & veggie meals. 


Veggies-if I can't afford organic for the fresh veggies my household will eat that particular week, I either buy frozen organic, frozen store brand I trust OR I grow/buy local.  My family has a very large garden that will hook us up for a few months & I am going to start canning to make things like peppers last into the winter a little.  I am growing my own tomatoes since that is something everyone eats & we go through a bunch of...that helps take the sting out of buying tomatoes in the winter when we have none left.


A final note about Trader Joe's...if you are lucky & yours carries wine...you can finish up your 'juggling the budget & making multiple weekly shopping trips to get the best deals all over town' with a $3 bottle of Charles Shaw wine there.  The ole' 3 buck chuck.  I suggest the Pinot Grigio in the summer & the Pinot Noir in the colder months ;)  


Luckily, our hybrid is still running strong after 6 years & 100k miles so it's still worth it for me to visit multiple stores when I need to.    

post #4 of 17

Forgot to address Target...


Our Super Target has some good deals but I have found I can't always count on the same thing being there each time I go...but it's not the biggest grocery section...I know some are pretty hardcore.  I wouldn't rule out the trip there to keep an eye & see what's happening but I wouldn't count on it for a regular stop off weekly.  

post #5 of 17

to - ellairiesmom, I too LOVE Shop-Rite and have a Wegman's as well


just some FYI - We buy very little at Wegman's (very very little of their store brand items) and just wanted to let you know of some "issues" we have had- number one being recalls - Shop-Rite is just great (and if others have this they should be grateful also)- Shop-Rite will contact you if you bought a recalled item while I never have had Wegman's do that-with Wegman's recent onion listeria problem it has made us even more apprehensive 


also- (this really matters to us) many Wegman's brand items, such as their fish are US caught but processed in China and also just getting certain info from them is not easy, I have called them with questions only to find NO one that knew an answer! - they can be very evasive on saying their sources for store made items, I have also found their store brand organic yogurt has so much more sugar vs the same price commercial brands- you really need to check things out if things like this matter to you - also dollar wise it is not always cheaper going the store brand way you need to compare prices! I often find this the case with their organics


I also love SR because I often get "generic" coupons - a buck off $5.00 of any produce, meat, dairy, etc and they carry Mumbo Sprout booklets (coupons that are good in other stores as well)- they just seem so much better at handing out coupons in general and the 5cents I get back on bags is a plus too!


we are luck with a meat CSA and buy most veggies and fruit outside of mass markets


I would never buy the "dirty" dozen- in the long run the costs for good food means good health-IMO


their are many sites that also offer coupons- Organic Valley, Mumbo Sprouts, Stoney Field and this site is also great - she lists deal with national chains and offer coupons as well - http://www.organicdeals.com

post #6 of 17

Convenience and local are main shopping factors for me. I shop at our local TOPS grocery store ... 5 minute drive away (or we can go for a nice 20 minute walk or bike ride to get there). Their produce has improved tremendously due to new ownership. (which is the main reasons I dont drive to the out of way wegmans anymore)  I used to make a weekly drive to Wegmans (about 20mins) but they started to get rid of some products I really liked and filled the aisles with their own brand. Their produce and meats/deli are still good and they bring in local farmer stuff.  The store ambiance is nice and I love their garlic pizza, but the drive is no longer worth it.


I ditched the higher price of organic milk for for local Byrne Dairy milk products, which are from non treated (NOT TREATED WITH RBST) cows.


I shop at our local FOOD COOP which is half a block away from my home. In general its more expensive (boxed stuff), but I get bulk spices and beans for next to nothing. Veggies, milk and yogurt if I need something quickly. And they now sale beer. drink.gif


Farmers market on Saturday - I hit this occasionally, for a change of pace. (I grow my own tomatoes and beans and will expand my garden next year)


If I am Target (which, ever since I had my 2nd child, I tend to stay closer to home and dont go here very often), I may swing by their food aisles and pick up snack / treat foods for my 9 & 2 yr old.


I grew up on a farm and ate most of my veggies from a garden ... I suppose spending money on organic food ... I dunno, I prefer buying local grown food over something organically grown.   BUT I do pay more for that milk (not as much as organic, but more then regular - (in Canada, where I grew up, NO cows are treated with hormones so this isnt an issue up there, but its really important to me down here).   I spend more for local farmers eggs, free range. I also would like to find a farmer and buy half a cow from them...but I dont have a freezer and I dont eat that much meat...mostly salmon.

post #7 of 17
Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

to - ellairiesmom, I too LOVE Shop-Rite and have a Wegman's as well


just some FYI - We buy very little at Wegman's (very very little of their store brand items) and just wanted to let you know of some "issues" we have had- number one being recalls - Shop-Rite is just great (and if others have this they should be grateful also)- Shop-Rite will contact you if you bought a recalled item while I never have had Wegman's do that-with Wegman's recent onion listeria problem it has made us even more apprehensive 



It's funny...I was thinking to myself...do I love Shoprite because it really does rock or is it because it's what I know from growing up & what is the most local/convenient?   I guess you agree it rocks!  lol


Being in such a rural area, it's kind of weird...there aren't many Coops & such.  The larger local stores have whole sections from the area farms so you can just buy it there.  


We moved over an hour away from the nearest Wegmans awhile back but because I still have friends in the area, I'll run in there quick when I am visiting.  I bring my cold food bag & ice packs & will get my milk & cheese with my WIC vouchers.  WIC only allows store brand, non organic milk, cheese & eggs so Wegmans is my choice for those when I can get there.  I used to love the Wegmans brand of jam/preserves & if I recall, it had just fruit, lower sugar than other "just fruit" ones & was only $1.99 per large jar.  And they had the most awesome fruit combos.  I was prob a little high on them when I replied because just yesterday their Customer Service Mgr from the store we used to go to called me to respond to an online inquiry I posted.  I emailed them because I couldn't get there in person for their Saturday Organic event but still wanted to try & get the coupon packet claiming over $50 in savings.  They called to tell me they would leave me one in an envelope at CS with my name on it.  I was just blown away by that.  But I didn't know about recalls & such.  EWWWWWWW!!!!  


Of course Shoprite called you for a recall...they ROCK.  (I should say tho-DH worked for them for a little while & they had promised FT hours & Union gig within 6 mos of employment & nothing close to that happened. I think they are great to Customers but not so great to EEs which is sad but prob part of how they can keep their prices low)


For me-what worked was using excel & listing the food we ate everyday and then listing the foods we would like to eat sometimes if we could (for us, that's seafood.  we just don't have safe seafood here in NJ unless you go out & catch it yourself from a clean river).  Our goal is to not exceed our Snap benefits for the month which are now $450 so we aren't eating much seafood or beef.  The WIC vouchers give us some extra PB, Beans, Bread & then allows me to entertain or bring foods to people's houses with the non organic eggs & cheese. (I make quiches often to bring places or serve friends along with a nice salad).  I know what we eat & I plugged receipt prices into excel & started tracking what we could do each month within our Snap budget & made the adjustments I could live with to make the rest work.  


Shoprite is good on price & local/close & because we live in a rural area, also has a great selection of local produce.  I only got $40 in WIC Farmer's Market vouchers for 3 months & they said to use them fast because if I hold onto them, I could get screwed when harvesting slows down.  Since I can get so much from my family garden this time of year, I'll probably use the Farmer's Market vouchers for whatever is looking good the day I go & is most local/fresh & then I will can it or something like that.  But it sure ain't gonna get me any kind of meat that would last my family very long.  I had to give up on meat from a Farmer since none of them will take SNAP.  Once income changes for us, splitting a cow with some folks will be an option again.


I only get to do the Trader Joe's run once a month or so...but when I do...it's worth it.  I have heard mixed things about them as a company so I don't know the whole deal with them but I get the cheesesticks that my kids adore (esp the one with the picky tendencies) and they are RBST free but much cheaper than organic anywhere else.  


I have a hard time putting a price on my time/sanity/convenience...but gas isn't a factor for me so I can't speak to that.   

post #8 of 17

I shop at several different stores, all within 3 miles of my house.  Once a week I am near a BJs where I have a membership through someone else (I don't pay for it).  I literally drive right by it, so I run in and get milk there. I also buy yeast, Annies mac and cheese, and maple syrup at BJs when I need it, but not really much else as I find their prices to be quite high compared to other markets.   I also shop at Trader Joe's for most of my organic stuff: peanut butter, ketchup, frozen vegetables, bread (I use sprouted grain breads and they have the best price).  But I only go there one time a month or so.  Shoprite I use when they have those great sale prices on things like toilet paper, flour, things like that.  Produce I generally get at farmers markets in season or at another market, Stop and Shop in the colder months.  I don't like Shoprite produce at all, although their prices are very good.  Most weeks, the only things I "need" to buy are produce, milk, eggs and bread and we don't eat all that much store bought bread so I use Stop and Shop, also the closest market.  I only head to Shoprite when they have worthwhile sales which sometimes is several weeks in a row but averages about 1 time a month.  Trader Joe's only when I am out of things.  I wouldn't bother with BJs much at all except for my once a year purchase of yeast and maple syrup because their prices are always higher than supermarket sale prices or store brands on almost everything.  Stop and Shop and Shoprite also tend to have good mark downs on produce and/or bread they can no longer sell, so if I am driving by I will check on their sale bins for things like day old italian bread, bagels, and marked down produce.  Sugar and oatmeal I order in bulk through my local health food store once a year or so.  We pretty much stopped buying snack type foods or processed foods so if we need something I just make it, ie: mufins, etc. so I do keep a stocked pantry but can easily go a couple of weeks without any grocery store except for milk and produce.  Produce is my purchase and I can't wait to have a big garden so I can skip that purchase as well! 

post #9 of 17

I don't know what the store chains are like in the US, but we've moved about Canada a few times and have found that the prices and quality from place to place are not consistent in any way.  Some places it's better to get something at one store while in others the competitor is better.  


What we do after a move is start noting the prices after each shopping trip by just checking the receipts.  Dh also has a good memory for numbers, so he'll compare a bit as he explores.  We post a list or chart on the fridge with the things we buy most frequently and where we've found the best regular prices for each of those items and what that price is.  After a few weeks we know where to buy different produce, kitty litter, flour, meat, and dairy.  We also keep an eye on sales, and get a feel for how often they are and how discounted the prices are at different stores.


Right now, I know that I can get the best prices for kitty litter, bread, and bananas at Costco, but their tomatoes are more expensive than Sobey's. Sobey's berries are more expensive than Costco's at regular price, but when on sale they are cheaper there.   Flour goes on sale every 4-6 weeks, and Sobey's regular price for sour cream is average for local prices but their sale price very good and it's on sale frequently.  My choice for fish is Safeway, but that's because they are the only local place I've found that makes a point of considering the sources of their seafood, and not the prices - I don't usually buy anything else at Safeway.  We get what produce we can at the local farmer's market when it is open, but the season is limited.  The Sobey's, Costco, and Safeway are all within a few hundred meters of each other, and we've got a Superstore about the same distance away from us in the other direction (and en route to the farmer's market), so planning a shopping trip is fairly easy.


Edited to say that what I mean about the prices and quality being inconsistent from place to place, I meant within the same chain.  Comparing the Sobey's in Winnipeg to the one in Miramichi, I'd buy completely different things at them.  Even within the same city and same chain, some stores are better stocked or have slightly different sales than ones under other management.  I really don't think you can say CHAIN X is best, as the stores within the chains differ from each other.

Edited by stitching - 8/4/12 at 5:09pm
post #10 of 17
Shoprite is good on price


also to add they price match and for others that is a real ++++ if a store will do that and they sub items! great on that too!


I do know some workers (who have been with them 25+ years) and in the fish/meats/deli dept people that have been their for years! is a real plus- a store that has HIGH turn over is not a store I want to deal with either- customer service means a lot to me! if I ask for an item and they can get it- that is a plus too!!


price is a factor but customer service and ethical policies means a lot too-I give my grocery dollars to who treats me the best not just the lowest price-in the end certain things pricewise do work out sometimes paying a bit more


stores that care are out there and just settling doesn't do you or your choices much good in the end- some chains get it- some don't- those really factor into our decision as to where to shop!

post #11 of 17

I agree that you want to buy milk that is labeled "RBST-free."    That is still a lot cheaper than organic milk, though.  I will never buy apples that aren't organic, because apples are the most heavily pesticide-laden produce item, and my kids eat a lot of them.   I also buy organic broccoli, because I swear I can taste the difference between organic and conventional broccoli.   I also try to avoid foods with artificial colors, because they mess with the brain.   I shop Target, Costco, and a couple of local chains.  

post #12 of 17

Our choices: Food Lion, Piggly Wiggly, commissary, Walmart, Target and Sam's club.. We get ours from the commissary and Sams club depending on what it is. I'm selective about what we get from Sam's club, I factor in not only cost but whether it will REALLY be used. I do get most of our fruits/veggies there though sine we go through a TON and they are cheaper in bigger quantities. Ive always ran out before they go bad so I figure that's the true test on whether its cost effective or not

post #13 of 17

We really only shop at Trader Joes or Whole Foods or the farmer's market. I really hate shopping at conventional stores because almost everything is processed junk or the prices are terrible. Both of the above have much higher standards so I have to be less careful. I won't buy CAFO meat so we don't eat a whole lot of pastured meat/eggs/dairy but that is what we buy in smallish quantity. I won't but anything with growth hormones and nothing dirty dozen that isn't organic or likely to be GMO that isn't organic (dairy pas through, soy, corn). So, organic beans are still a lot cheaper than confined chickens or "honey pot" farmed fish from Asia. 

post #14 of 17

We only have Wal-Mart, City Market (Kroeger owed), and Albertson's. 60 miles away is a Sam's that I visit at least every 6 weeks to stock up. I rarely step foot in Alberston's, our local one rarely has decent sales. City Market is my store of choice. For house hold goods, I usually go to Wal-Mart every 2ish weeks but I rarely buy food there and certainly never produce. I don't do organic anymore, not as a family of 6 where we could go through 4 pints of strawberries in a day. 

post #15 of 17

I love Aldi!  I get an online email each week with the specials.  After I shop at Aldi's then if there is still something I need I go to Meijers ( I live in the midwest).


Some of my favorite things at Aldi are the AlmondMilk, old fashioned oats, cheese blocks, frozen asparagus, corn, green beans, and broccoli florets. 

post #16 of 17

I usually shop at Sams Club and occasionally Wal-Mart.  For odds and ends it is easier to go to HyVee (since I work there - too expensive to buy the bulk of my groceries there).  We will be getting a Fairway and rumor has an Aldi's (so excited!!!)  As soon as we get an Aldi's I will most likely do most of my shopping there.  it is just so cheap

post #17 of 17

I live in Maine, where shopping choices are pretty limited. Luckily we do have a Trader Joe's, where I get most of my dry goods, wraps, oatmeal, flax seed (it's under $3), and tempeh and tofu, and the like. I get chicken at Whole Foods, about every 6 weeks (where I am, anyway), they do a sale on chicken breast, they sell it in three packs of two breasts each, freezer-ready, for like $16. I'm really fussy with chicken and like theirs because it's antibiotic free, etc, and way cheaper than Trader Joe's. So I usually buy 2, freeze them, and they are easy to just throw in the fridge to de-thaw the day before I know I'll use it. Target for certain things I can't get at the other two, and they often have $5 off a $25 coupon print out at the register, which helps. Produce I try to buy locally at farmer's markets or farms, but if not then whole foods, which actually carries a decent amount of local produce, or Hannaford, which does okay with local produce too. I've been trying to grow tomatoes and lettuce this summer but the tomatoes have been a total bust! I'll just have to try again next year. :) Trader Joe's DOES take coupons (on their small selection of non-TJ brand stuff, hehe), and with Target you can stack manufacturer's coupons with target coupons you print from their website, which helps. I find buying in bulk when I can saves me money, perhaps only because it keeps me out of the stores more, haha. Also you can google the name of the store you want to shop at + matchups, and there are tons of blogs that break down what's on sale for the week, and which coupons to use on top of that to save more money. They do all the work for you! :) Good luck!!

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Frugality & Finances
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Natural Living › The Mindful Home › Frugality & Finances › Which grocery store do you shop at?