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You clicked on this blog post for my #1 grocery shopping tip, and I promise you it’s a good one. One that my mom’s done for ages, but I never did myself until a few years ago. I should’ve listened to my mama…
Shop at the same stores so you know where to find the items on your shopping list. And the second part of that tip is to organize your shopping list by how you walk through the stores so you’re the most efficient. I’m not saying that you only have to shop at one store, just make it the same Whole Foods or the same Sprouts. Check out my meal planning guide for a step-by-step tutorial on how to organize your shopping list.
When my husband and I lived in Northern Virginia, I drove past a Wegmans grocery store every weekday, twice a day, to and from work. It was glorious. I could pop in quickly on my way home and grab our groceries. Oh, who am I kidding? I never “popped” into Wegmans; I wandered up and down the aisles savoring every moment in that store. Oh, Wegmans, I really miss you. Please come to California.
Since I don’t have Wegmans near me, I currently shop at three stores: one specific Ralph’s; the Trader Joe’s closest to that Ralph’s; and the Costco near our house. Occasionally I stop at Sprouts for some special things I can’t find at the other stores.
Those are my grocery stores. I like them and I know their layouts, which means that I’m actually going to go shopping at each one.
I have an Albertsons closer than the Ralph’s, but it’s a smaller, older store and doesn’t have everything that I need. I prefer a different Trader Joe’s that’s in a larger space, but it’s in the opposite direction of the Ralph’s. There’s a Trader Joe’s in the same plaza as my gym, but parking is a nightmare.
Why I shop where I do might not make any sense to you. Likewise, why you shop where you do might not make any sense to me. And that’s okay. Maybe you like your stores for the savings. Maybe you like them for the convenience. Maybe you like them for the quality. Pick ones that work for your lifestyle.
There are so many options these days that you should be able to find something that works for you. Maybe you do all your shopping at one store or maybe you do a combination. Maybe you order online or you go to a brick-and-mortar store. What works for you is based on your own budget, lifestyle and location.
Listed below are some places where you can buy groceries. I haven’t tried all of these options, but I’m giving you an idea of what’s out there.
1. Traditional grocery stores. This is what you typically think of when you think “grocery store.” Some of the big chains are Kroger, Albertsons and Whole Foods. (Tops and Wegmans for my Western New York friends!)
2. Independent mom-and-pop markets. It’s hard to find small markets these days because the rise of larger stores and online shopping has caused many of them to close their doors.
3. Local farms (includes farmer’s markets and CSA boxes). While I’m not a fan of grocery shopping, I love going to farmer’s markets because of the atmosphere and friendly sellers. We have an organic farm stand close to our house that sells produce and beef. Plus it has strawberry picking, which is a great activity for the kids. Community supported agriculture (CSA) boxes are available directly from local farms and include in-season produce. I’ve been tempted a few times to join, but putting together meals based on what’s in my box is too big of a challenge for me (and often my family’s taste buds).
4. Warehouse stores. Think Costco, BJs and Sam’s Club. I think Aldi falls under this category, too, but you don’t have to buy in bulk. I purchase specific types of food at Costco: fruit; eggs; chicken and non-perishable food items. I don’t buy milk here because we don’t go through two gallons fast enough. For a single person, it might not make sense to buy much at a warehouse store. Remember that it’s only a good deal to buy in bulk if you actually use it; otherwise you end up paying more! Because you buy large quantities of each item, also think about whether you have the room to store the extras. We have room for things like paper towels, but not for bulk freezer items.
5. Big-box stores. These are stores like Wal-Mart and Target. They’re great options because you have one-stop shopping. You can pick up your food, makeup and a new shirt all in one place! Plus a lot of these stores offer free delivery and pickup. (See Numbers 6 and 7 below.)
6. Delivery from local stores. Think Instacart, AmazonFresh and Shipt. Some services are regional, so you’ll have to see what’s available in your area. Some things to think about here are service fees, minimum orders, monthly memberships and price markups. Costco partners with Instacart and has a disclaimer on each item that states: “May be available In-Warehouse at a lower non-delivered price.”
7. Online ordering and pickup from local stores. Pickup is often free and from what I can tell, it doesn’t include a markup on the prices because you’re ordering directly from the store and not a third-party service. After my sister gave birth to her twins, she would order groceries online and my brother-in-law would pick them up. She’s even doing it now while she’s deployed! I haven’t personally used a delivery or pickup service because I like to choose my meat and produce. Online ordering might be a great idea if you’re prone to impulse purchases like me, who once bought four pounds of animal crackers at Costco. *slaps forehead*
8. Online only stores. Thrive Market and Brandless are two that come to mind if you’re looking for non-GMO or organic foods at great prices. Amazon Prime Pantry (different from AmazonFresh) is an option for non-perishable items.
Tell me in the comments: Do you follow this grocery shopping tip? Do you organize your shopping list by how you walk through the store?