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How often do you shop and where?

So, I just finished a grueling 2 1/2 years of working full-time and grad school at night. If anyone had told me how bad the food would be throughout this experience, I honestly would not have done this. (I will NEVER eat another luna bar and canned soup does not make me happy.)

HOWEVER, now I am ready to resume my life and I have loads of time to grocery shop and cook. Today, I started to think about planning - to restock my pantry, find recipes, and really cook again. Will you help me by sharing your shopping habits, and logic behind these habits?

How often do you buy produce? meat? pantry items? All in one shop? different shops? Different shops for dfferent things? Do you use coupons? Is Costco worth it? Online shopping? Food Coop? Bulk buying?

Thanks so much for sharing your habits.

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  1. Hmm, I'll just tell you what I do hehe.

    I don't buy meats so I can't comment on that. Fish is usually fresh from a good super market or a fish monger. Cheese from a cheese monger.
    Veggies from the best place I can find good fresh produce, same with fruits, hopefully one stop which I can go twice a week or even once.
    I don't shop for other than myself so don't go to costco, though I hear the meat is well priced there from what people say.

    Every few weeks I pop into an ethnic grocer for things that aren't available at the supermarket or are overly priced, mine is the middle eastern shops around (persian, arabic)

    I also make a trip to the local south east asian grocer for spices, sauces..etc. Bulk stores are good too, a good gourmet one is best with fresh stock, I prefer to buy spices sealed though in a package - Also I find certain organic ones have more flavour and aroma.

    Every now and then I pop into a gourmet store/market or whole foods for olive oils, and browse around for anything interesting that I could find.
    Finding a good bakery is important too if you love bread as much as myself.

    It's best to figure out what you're going to make for the week, or at least have an idea then shop for those things.. whatever is leftover at the end of the week you can make a nice soup/stew (ie. extra bits of veg, or stock..)
    Keep a good pantry, it will help you on days when you don't know what to make.
    -Basic spices
    -Some grains and legumes which you like (rice, pastas, couscous, lentils, beans? )
    - Any canned goods you like.

    I seek out foods that I like and am used to eating, and of course try new things while I'm at it.

    In the summer and early fall farmers markets are great too, don't count them out, just have to be up bright and early.

    Shopping can be really fun!

    Also you can successfully grow your own herbs indoors, saves a lot of money. Or if you do buy them store them in a glass of water wrapped up in the fridge and they'll last longer.

    1 Reply
    1. re: BamiaWruz

      Thanks! I am lucky enough to have farmer's markets accessible every day, all year.

    2. Every day -- for everything -- at Wegmans.

      4 Replies
        1. re: ElissaInPlaya

          It's pretty large. It's a regional chain (NE US & Mid Atlantic, as far as I know), originating in Rochester, NY. I'm in love with it. The selection is absolutely outstanding, and -- while the prepared foods section is certainly not a bargain -- a lot of the "regular fare" including drugstore items are even cheaper than at the local chains Giant and Weis.

          Wegmans has its own bakery. A wokery. Take-out sushi (ok, it's still supermarket sushi). A sub shop. A deli. A massive organic section. A wide array of ethinc foods.

          What can I say. I LOVE this place. It saved my culinary life in the middle of nowhere --

          1. re: linguafood

            I really like Wegmans too. I'm originally from NE/Central PA and my home town has a Wegmans. It makes it bearable to go home and cook. Before Wegmans... it was, sadly, Weis and Giant, like you mentioned. Blech. I understand they just started selling beer in Wegmans too, which is a big deal for PA. I always hated that you couldn't buy beer & wine in PA grocers.

            1. re: lynnlato

              Yeah, the addition of beer is a good one, though the 6-packs are still ridiculously expensive -- as is the case in all bottle shops. Luckily, we have a very good beer distributor with a large selection of cases.

              I love Wegmans. I really do! And you can tell how popular it is when, just before the semester break, all the student's families come to town and turn the store into a zoo '-)

      1. I buy meat once a month from a local butcher or I use Fresh Direct --I'm in NYC.
        I try to buy all my produce from a farmer's market or a local vegetable stand. Fish I buy from a fish store (or right from the docks--I live not too far from a fishing community)
        Costco/BJs/Sam's Club is worth buying in bulk if you have a large family or will be going in with other people (do you really need 10 jars of mayo?)
        Food Co-op, I was kind of turned off from the one in my old neighborhood.

        And yes, I use coupons whenever possible.

        1 Reply
        1. re: MrsT

          Where are these fish docks that you speak of?

        2. I'm in Manhattan. We do have a Costco membership, and my husband does a monthly visit on his way home from work in Westchester. In addition to non-food items, I usually ask him to buy some meats (their rack of lamb is great, as is the beef filet), shrimp, jumbo lump crab meat, olive oil (the Kirkland brand is surprisingly good), instant coffee (I know!). Nuts tend to be well priced there as well. We probably go to the farmer's market two weekends a month, we go to Citarella - an upscalish but reasonably priced grocery store - once a week, Whole Foods once a month for certain staples, independent stores in Greenwich Village maybe two weekends a month for cheese, meat, seafood. Then, we supplement with items from the markets around the corner pretty much daily, but we are fortunate to have two pretty good markets nearby.

          Then of course, we have our expeditions, which tend to be driven by the Home Cooking Cookbook of the Month - Astoria for Greek ingredients, Arthur Avenue and DiPalo for Italian, Chinatown for Chinese and Vietnamese.

          P.S. Congratulations. I went to law school at night while working full time, and I know what it's like.

          1 Reply
          1. re: MMRuth

            Wow, that is a lot of shopping! Thanks for giving your input; I read your home cooking posts with interest. It is really nice to know how an accomplished cook shops.

          2. I shop every day because I can't commit to tomorrow's dinner today. It's always about what I feel like cooking that day. That said, my nearest market is a Pavilions (which is a part of the Safeway chain) I go there only because it is on my way home and frequently has a variety of attractive beef/pork/chicken in the clearance bin for that day. Otherwise, I stock up at ethnic oriented markets for vegetables at very attractive prices. For the record, I live in Sherman Oaks, CA, which has a very competitive and broad selection of markets.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Bob Brooks

              hehe Can't commit to tomorrow's dinner. Love it. I am walking distance to a Pavilions, Whole Foods, and a (not for cook's) Ralph's.

              Why would Pavilions put meat in a "clearance bin"? Do you have to cook or freeze it that day?

              Any particular ethnic markets you like nearby?

              1. re: ElissaInPlaya

                I go to the Pavilions in Sherman Oaks on Ventura Blvd. Their clearance bin is the only decent thing in the store. It's all about meat that is approaching it's expiration date in the next day. Pricing is great, think 50 per cent off of already discounted sale items. That tranlates to 1lb ribeyes for about $4.00. Filet mignon is a few cents more.

                My favorite ethnic is the full service Jon's supermarket on Sepulveda and Sherman Way. I love their produce section and especially their prices. Think most fresh herb bundles are around 69 cents. Cilantro and Parsley are 5 bundles for a dollar. Yellow onions are 3 lb for a dollar. Although their beef is not high quality, everything else in the full service department is great.

                Also, there is a 99 Ranch Market at Victory and Sepulveda which has an awesome fresh fish department along with great pork selections and fresh duck.

                I hope you live near enough to where I am talking about that this could somehow be useful to you.

              2. re: Bob Brooks

                We, too, shop every day because we can't commit to tomorrow's dinner. When we used to try to plan and shop for the week's meals in advance we ended up throwing away food. Terrible. We have a convenient Sweetbay Market right near home.