Grocery Geek Presents: Choosing Regular Shopping Stops

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It used to be that I regularly visited a multitude of stores each week. In fact, Vons, Albertsons, Ralph’s, Costco, Walmart, Sprouts, Henry’s, Stater Brothers, Walgreens, and CVS were part of my weekly rotation. For several years this worked for us. I clipped coupons, stalked the sales, and then made my rounds, sometimes hitting all ten stores on a Saturday morning.

Yes, I know how to spend a weekend.

But, as the stores in Southern California have changed their sales and coupon policies, as we’ve changed our eating habits, and as I’ve realized that there are more good things that I have to say no to, my list of stores in dwindling.

In a month, I might visit this list of stores:

  • Vons
  • Albertsons
  • Costco – for bulk items like bread, dairy, some produce, meat, and some dry goods
  • Walmart – for toiletries and basics that Costco might not sell
  • Sprouts – for produce that isn’t in our co-op box and meat on sale
  • Henry’s
  • Stater Brothers
  • Walgreens
  • CVS – for prescriptions
  • Trader Joe’s – for “healthier” items that I can’t get at the above stores
  • Ralphs – for any specialty item that they above don’t carry.

It still seems like a lot. But, 6 stores down from 10 is an improvement! Where I might have gone to every store every week previously, now I go to each store once or twice a month. I hope this means I’m making better use of my time.

Lately, I’m trying to simplify as much as possible without sacrificing too much in terms of budget or quality. That’s a weight chore right there!

On Sunday, I braved Costco. Yes, yes, I did. I went during the Chargers game and that helped. On my list? The basics: juice, bread, milk, cheese, butter, carrots, spinach, chips, and turkey meat. I also included protein bars and Gatorade for the men in the family. (We’ve entered hockey season, and those are “necessities.”) That was $99.01 exactly.

On Wednesday, I picked up our produce box.

The fruit wasn’t as plentiful as it’s been in previous weeks, but apples are coming next week. Yeah! I experimented with sorrel this week. Sounds like something horses eat, but it was delicious with grilled fish and spinach. The produce box was $38.80. So, my grocery total is up to $137.80 for the week. Just about right. So far, so good on fitting more organics in our budget.

I haven’t bought meat in several weeks. We’ve still got several packages in the freezer. But we’re eating lots of fresh veggies!

How’s YOUR grocery shopping going?

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  1. We’re not shopping right now.

    However, I harvested 2 cucumbers, 2 zucchini, some swiss chard, some rosemary and basil, and LOTS of apples from our garden this week. I’m canning applesauce to add to our pantry.

  2. Much better. My total this morning was a bit higher than usual, but I was much more intentional about what I purchased and what I said ‘no’ to. I was still within budget, but not much wiggle room left.

    3 stores – Krogers, Riteaid and CVS. Riteaid and CVS were just freebies.

    And no impulse buying! Hallelujah!

  3. I’ve totally changed my attitude about the grocery stores. I used to shop at Walmart all the time because I thought it was so cheap.

    Now I try to shop at the stores that I want to spend money. I guess I’m vting with my dollars.

    I still go to Walmart occasionally, but honestly I dread going there. However, I love going to my small mom and pop grocery store where prices are just a bit higher, but the service is excellent.

    I’m back to a weekly grocery budget…monthly grocery budgets do not work for me at all. I have been under budget the past two weeks, but I have a well stocked freezer and pantry. The next few months will be interesting when I run out of meat from our 1/4 beef we bought.

    I sure wish we had a Costco here!

  4. Grocery shopping/Menu planning= Yuck.

    Yeah, I think that pretty much sums up my feelings about the whole process for the past few weeks. 🙂
    I’m hitting new levels of pain as we continue to eat more and more frugally, as well as just plain ol’ do without, but I trust that God knows what He’s doing with me (and my family).

    I’m just grateful that we’ve been eating and we certainly don’t know anything about the kind of hunger sweeping over many other famine stricken areas in the world. Beans and rice and pb&j is so much better then nothing at all!

    1. Hang in there! We’ve been there. It can be really hard to adjust and find your bearings. But He will guide you in that, too. Some of our favorite go-to meals are ones that I created in the super lean times. We still enjoy them.

  5. Aldi. Almost exclusively. Our grocery budget took another hit this month and Aldi really helps me out. I did got to Meijer this morning for some great deals. But normally, I only go to Jewel and Walgreens for deals, because they are 5 minutes from our house (and across the street from each other). But Meijer wad on our way today. I go to Walmart when Aldi doesn’t have something and I decide we “need” it. But Walmart is dangerous because it’s easy to decide one of the kids needs new pants or shoes or whatever without considering our budget and cheaper options.

  6. I spent $200 at costco on friday. but thats for 2 weeks. I shop at albertsons also- but only to fill in the few things I dont get at costco. I like to go to he farmers market for veggies and usually about $20covers us for most of the week, if i plan right.

    but I live in Santa Maria, so my shopping choices are limited. I just have to be more careful with what i buy and where.

  7. Wow, I can’t believe you hit so many stores. I’m in, north county coastal, so henry’s is now merged with sprouts. We noticed some of their prices went up. We are no longer members of costco, it was hard at first, but no regrets as of now. I just hated how crowded it always was.
    For meat deals we used to go to Sprouts in a city called San Marcos since we picked up our azure order there. If there was a good deal going on grass-fed I would stock up. We finally just bought a cow and my freezer is filled, plus a lamb. Another Sprouts in Temecula would have deals on grass fed beef and across the street is Winco where we can get bulk foods. Depending on how organic you are, we just bought a fifty pound bag of organic sugar there, and organic rolled oats in a 25 lb. bag. I also buy the carob and chocolate chips there. We then hit up the thrift store off the Los Alamos exit on thurs or sat since it’s half off day.
    We do go to Ralphs, and the drug stores occassionally, but not like we used to. They are no longer a regular place for us to go.
    We also go to Earthgrown formerly Boneys too, that’s where I got a case of organic romas for $11 dollars for a bushel. Just have to keep an eye on the deals, but, be prepared to deal with the deal when the deal comes in.

  8. I shop at food 4 less, stater brothers, walmart (if I have to), fresh & easy and winco. Basically, I take all the ads on tuesday and wednesday and find the best deals for the week and then plan my shopping trips down to the tiniest details. I like winco for all their bulk bins (although I have to weigh whether it’s worth it or not to go, cuz the closest one is 19 miles away and so I have to add $6 to the cost of the trip). I like fresh & easy for their food clearance section (good place to find meat deals to take home and freeze). Everything else, it’s all about who has the cheapest prices for meat and produce. I’m trying to keep our weekly budget for groceries under $100 for a family of 5 going on 6, but it’s really tight. I’m sure we could eat super cheap if I couponed and bought box meals and ate wheat products and other cheap carbs, etc., but we are trying to clean up our diets, and man, it is expensive! I barely make it each week under budget, and I don’t even buy anything organic. I’m beginning to wonder if healthy eating is only for the families who make more than we do.

    1. I think the organics just depends on what’s available in your area. For awhile when I was heavy into couponing, I was able to get a lot of organic products for practically free. I think it’s possible, but it just depends on where you live and what sourcing you have available.