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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.

              3. I'm in Manhattan too. I go to my local greenmarket once per week and try to coordinate all our meals around what's available there. Then I make one trip (though sometimes I end up going more often) to Fairway. I also buy staples like olive oil (Fairway has their own label) there. I'll make side trips when I need to to the health food store around the corner (bulk nuts, rice, etc. that I forgot to get at Fairway), Chinatown, Kalustyan's, or other "ethnic" grocer. I like our corner fruit cart guy for avocados and bananas. I like Fairway or Zabar's for cheeses and H&H for bagels. Cheese and bagels are probably once per week as well. If I'm hankering for Hooligan then I'll swing by Union Square greenmarket too.

                As for non-food items, we're regular Duane Reade-ers. On an as-needed basis only. This includes toothpaste, cleaning supplies, shampoo, etc. The only thing we'll buy in bulk is toilet paper and that at the A&P (I think it's an A&P) where my sister lives. We don't drive and don't do the Costco/whatnot type thing.

                I also don't eat meat or fish so I don't purchase that. If DH wants some meat or something, I may buy him one of those whole chickens from Pio Pio or Malecon on occasion.

                I try to keep my "pantry" (using that term pretty loosely) stocked with pasta, jar sauce, dried beans, rices/other grains, potatoes, onions, etc. And I keep an eye on when we're getting low. I try to keep spices up to date as well, though I like to use as many fresh herbs as my farmers have. DH and I keep a running notepad on the frig to which we add any items that are getting low. (You have no idea how long it took to train him to do that!) We try to do that for the spice cabinet as well.

                Good luck and happy cooking!

                6 Replies
                1. re: LNG212

                  I go to Costco about one every two-three months, I will also add I am in a one bedroom condo so don’t have a huge amount of storage but find room for the following: cleaning supplies- laundry/ dish soap etc, san Pellegrino (you can get a case for 11 bucks), soda, butter ( butter freezes and is great to have on hand for baking), foil/plastic wrap and Ziplocs. I also like their pork chops and freeze them individually for pork Milanese which is a fave quick dinner., they also sometimes have big bags of fingerling potatoes. Sadly they don’t sell Viva so I have to go to target for that.Then about once a week I go to whole foods, which is about a block and a half from me. Then as needed, the cheese/specialty shop, fish monger for things I need to grab as needed. Im also near a nice italian grocer with salamis, pastas etc. When our farmers markets are open ( june- oct ish) I visit them 1 or 2x a week ( thankfully it is right outside the office). And as needed, I need to run out for animal food, corner store when I am rushed, the pet store when I am not.

                  1. re: cassoulady

                    You might want to also check out the WF sparkling Italian mineral water - it might actually be cheaper than the SP at Costco.

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      oh good tip! thanks. I am lucky bc my bf works for WF and all employees both in store and corporate get 20% off everything, so it is great!

                  2. re: LNG212

                    What is "Hooligan"?
                    I have not thought about my spice cabinet. I think I need to re-stock everything that is ancient now.

                    1. re: ElissaInPlaya

                      Hooligan is a great cheese made by a local farmer: Cato Corner (they show up at our greenmarket, but not the one I frequent most regularly).

                      If you've not purchased spices in quite some time, yours may be old/stale. That can be one of the most expensive parts when just starting out. I try to buy small quantities of things I know I won't use very often. And I like to use as many fresh herbs as possible.

                      1. re: LNG212

                        Speaking of spices...I just updated my spice rack by shopping online at Penzeys. I like that they offer different size packaging for just about everything, so I can by a small container of, say, thyme, which I don't use all that often, but a large bag of cinnamon, which I use all the time. I find their quality to be superior to what's available in most supermarkets.

                  3. I do a "big" shopping about once a week to every ten days at one of two chain supermarket stores--one more than the other, because it has better produce and meats. I buy most of my pantry items there. I make quick breads, muffins and biscuits often for dinner and breakfast, but my more favorite supermarket carries beautiful yeast breads, so I stock up on things either just baked or on special. I keep them in the freezer, since we don't eat them quickly, and pull out what we need as we need it.

                    I rarely use coupons, because I don't buy many of the products that I usually see coupons for. However, I do shop sales, consistently, and do buy bulk, if that means "stocking up" through "2 for 1" and "3 for 1" specials, if the items are non-perishables (condiments, grains, cleaning supplies, paper products) or freezable (meats, butter, etc.). I go to the store with a general list, but usually no meal menus decided, and see what's a good deal that day. There are a few things about which I am "brand loyal" due to quality, but it's really just a few. As much as possible, as long as the quality is good, I buy whatever is on sale or best priced on each visit.

                    On in-between days from fall through spring, I visit a specialty store that has great produce, and an independent small market with the best meats I've found around. In the summer, there are a number of farms that have produce stands, and I stop in at them often to see what looks good. Then, there are a couple of independent cookware shops near me, and I like to visit them now and then, because both also carry interesting condiments and seasonings from around the country and overseas.

                    I buy most of my dried herbs and spices via long-distance from a merchant who provides good, fresh stuff and great service at a decent price. It's easy; I call my order in once a month and wait for my lovely order of spices to be delivered to my doorstep.

                    I also cook with wine and spirits often, so once a month or so, I visit one of three shops (whichever is convenient to my errands on that day) to see what new or intriguing wines they have, their specials, value priced wines that Robert Parker, etc., have given a good or high score. I try to make sure at least one bottle is something I haven't cooked with before, or at least not often, to keep flavors varied and interesting. By now, they each know me as the lady who doesn't drink but likes to cook with alcohol, and they usually want to recommend a change when I go up to pay. ["No, no, you don't need to spend that much if you're cooking with it--let me show you an option that's very nice and drinkable, but is much less expensive for cooking." :-) Life in a small town. ]

                    I've never been to a Costco or any of the grocery club stores, and I'm not sure there's one nearby. But a number of my friends in other areas of my state do patronize them and find them to offer good value for certain items. My friends seem especially to do "Costco runs" for any parties they host.

                    Now you'll have a little more time on your hands, and you can use it like I had to when I first moved here a few years ago: Get out and stop in to meet the retailers around you, or in the supermarkets, the department managers. Ask questions about their products, tell them what you like to cook. You'll get a sense quickly enough re who deserves your business because of their wares and service. It will pay off, especially with independent merchants, but not only them--the meat department manager in the one chain supermarket often has something special he saved in the back, because he knew I'd like it. And he *always* has great recipes and cooking tips re the particular cuts of meat. :-)

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Steady Habits

                      Thanks for your long, detailed response. I had to giggle at the "getting to know the merchants" I always end up knowing everyone, everywhere because I love chatting to strangers. Small town hold-over I suppose.

                      Regarding the dried herbs and spices - would you mind sharing your merchant? Do you buy really small quantities of everything monthly, or just rotate -i.e. cumin one month, cinnamon another...?

                      1. re: ElissaInPlaya

                        You're all set then, if you like getting to know people. You'll end up with tons of valuable allies your quests for the "right" ingredients. ;-)

                        I buy most of my spices from the Chicago Spice House, which has several stores in Illinois and one in Milwaukee:


                        The owners are daughter and SIL of the Penzeys. I know many people order from Penzey's, too. There are some small differences I found in looking through the catalog, but not re quality, from what others say. Just a difference here and there in product offering. So I don't think you'd go wrong with either.

                        Every now and then I'll place a small order with Dean & DeLuca, but mostly because I like D&D's formulation for Herbes de Provence the best.


                        On almost all other items, I prefer Chicago Spice House's products. I think they're more fresh and vibrant, and the pricing is more flexible. IOW, they offer spices in different quantities, whereas D&D is more apt to have one standard size for most items. And, although CSH removed references to this from its most recent catalog, if there's a new spice/herb you'd like to try, or one you'd like to have but won't use much of, you can ask to buy *most* in 1-oz. quantities.

                        There are certain things I buy nearly every month. I tend to do that with herbs that I use a lot. CSH buys their herbs once a year, but I think they are better outfitted to store these things and retain freshness than I am. Other things that I use a lot and keep well I buy less often, in larger quantity. For example, I think their Telicherry Peppercorns, Vietnamese cinnamon and ground ginger are *the* best, I use *a lot* of these, and for convenience, I usually have a few months' worth on hand. And then every month, I try to buy something I haven't used before, or rotate orders for different kinds of curries or peppercorns, etc.

                    2. No specifics from me because I am not in the States, but I generally stock up once a week.

                      There are 2 supermarkets I go to regularly. One is better for meat, poultry and fish and has generally better quality vegetables in smaller packs (I cook for 2). As this supermarket caters to expats, I can get a lot of imported items here also. Most surprisingly, this place is often cheaper than the one that caters mainly to locals.

                      The other supermarket has a wider range of local vegetables.

                      There is a third supermarket that has a great selection of shrimp so that's where I go for it.

                      Then there is a local market way across the city that has GREAT seafood. If I'm doing a BBQ or want something specific like Black Pomfret that's the place.

                      For Indian spices, an ethnic grocery.

                      In summary, I identify the best place for specific items and shop accordingly.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: CPla

                        I like this plan, but may need much help to do this much shopping on a regular basis. Maybe, because I have such good options.

                      2. We shop at TJs and WFM approximately weekly. We generally walk to WFM together on the weekend. Sometimes I stop on my way home from appts but the one on my way has higher prices and doesn't carry some of the things we like. TJ's: either I stop on my way home from work or one of us takes the T then walks (we used to go together when the T allowed second rider free on Sundays). We go to several different TJs that we go to depending on what other errands we need to run. We're vegan so haven't bought meat in 15+ and 30+ years. I sometimes stop at a permanent farmer's market on my way home from work. As vegans we run out of produce (particularly greens) quickly. We get spices at the Co-Op because they're significantly cheaper (again we go by T (public transit). We generally only use the coupons from a health food flyer. We determine whether whatever it is is worth it even with the coupon. For example, we went ahead and bought "Mary's Gone Crackers" with a coupon even though they're still very expensive, but we went with the 365 tinned tomatoes rather than paying the higher price (even with coupon) for Muir Glen ones. We buy bulk (beans, grains (we grind our own flour since I'm GF), etc) at WFM.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: lgss

                          Thanks. I really like Trader Joe's too.

                          I don't think my local Whole Foods has a bulk bin section. Does anyone know if some do and some don't?

                          1. re: ElissaInPlaya

                            Some do, some don't. I think the bigger and potentially the newer stores are more likely to have them. Some that don't have the bins do have some bulk type items in plastic containers.

                            1. re: ElissaInPlaya

                              Elissa, i've found that a lot of the WFMs in the LA area did away with most of their bulk items. i don't know about the new Venice store, because it opened after i moved away. two bulk options for you - Rainbow Acres in Culver City (north side of Washington Blvd, about 2 blocks East of Costco), or Santa Monica Co-op. both carry nuts, grains, dried fruits and spices in bulk. i prefer the Co-op because they also have some good produce, and they're more of a full-service grocery store, whereas Rainbow Acres is more like a small health food store.

                              for specialty items you should also swing by Surfas in Culver City one of these days if you've never been. it's a restaurant supply store that caters to chefs, and you can find some great gourmet items there.

                              when i lived in SoCal, i bought most of my produce at farmers' markets, and my meat & fish from various sources, including specialty purveyors, WFM, and even TJ's (for frozen fish, etc). since i cook just for myself - and like Bob_Brooks i can't commit to tomorrow's dinner today, i typically pop into WFM several times per week to pick up random items as i realize i need them (particularly now that i don't have access to farmer's markets & have to get all my produce there as well). i go to TJ's once every couple of weeks to stock up on the things i always get from there, including yogurt, cooking spray, frozen fish and vegetables, and bagged nuts & dried fruit.

                              i *rarely* shopped at Pavilions or Ralph's. the only time i lived near a Pavilions it was a really nasty one, and Ralph's somehow always seemed overpriced to me for what it was. believe it or not, i often found better prices on the exact same items at WFM!

                              as for paper goods & the like, i always stocked up on that stuff at Smart & Final unless my preferred brands happened to be on sale at Rite Aid or Long's. i did have a Costco membership, but i rarely found things to buy there just for me - i know you can freeze a lot of things, but they'd still sit for way too long, unused and forgotten in the freezer while i was enjoying all the things i bought fresh. the only thing i found myself buying at Costco regularly was the large bottle of Kirkland balsamic vinegar.

                              you're really fortunate to be where you are, with access to such a diverse array of quality food sources!

                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                Thanks for the tip on Rainbow Acres and the SM Coop - both places I've driven by, but never shopped. Surfas, however, I have shopped a bit too much:)

                          2. Meat mostly comes off the internet but from an organic farm about 75 miles away. Fruit & veg used to come from the village greengrocer - but it changed hands ealrier this year and quality is no longer good. So it's back to the supermarket for that as well as most general food purchases.

                            Specialist cheese shop a few minutes drive away. Similarly a smokehouse which also has good ranges of "quality" bought-in products as well as their smoked products. Farmers' market in a nearby town once a month. Occasional forays to farm shops. Occasional visits to one of the nearby discount supermarkets - particularly good for German type products (and cheap booze - although I don't drink, Mrs H does)

                            Chinatown in the city for some less common items. Similarly, one of local asian/middle eastern suburbs. I tend to combine both these visits with lunch.

                            Having time to do this is great - benefit of being retired.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Harters

                              Now, that's a great idea - to be retired:) Maybe I can use some ideas from all of the above, and barter amazing meals with a retired person who has lots of time to shop!

                            2. I have a similiar schedule to those who do Costco 1x per month, standard grocery 1x per week, fish monger 1x per week and TJ's 1x per week, grocery delivery 1x per month.

                              I try to buy as much as possible (other than produce) at TJ's as their prices, quality and selection are just so great. Our favorite things are their mixed veggies with sauces, plain no sugar dried mangos (best healthy snack ever), cat cookies, oriental cracker mix, breads, WINE. I've found that their snacks are much cheaper and much healthier than the regular grocery.

                              Also my fish monger told me about the tilapia from Costco and said it is just as good as fresh tilapia. I never would believe it but it is freeze dried and tastes great.

                              I live in an apartment so carrying heavy drinks from car to door to elevator to door is alot of work and I've let the internet grocer do it for me. I order about 40 bottles of water/seltzer for the month along with whatever else they have on sale that sounds good and try to find a coupon code for delivery.

                              Congrats on being done...enjoy being "normal" again!!

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: gramercyfoodie

                                Wow, freeze-dried tilapia sounds interesting. Do you have a preferred online grocer?

                                1. re: ElissaInPlaya

                                  We use Peapod but I'm pretty sure it's a northeast company. i would just try whichever one is giving the best deal for delivery and go from there.

                                  also forgot to mention, love getting the 36 egg packs from Costco. We use lots of them so it's so helpful to have more than a dozen. They also last for over a month if you don't use as many as us.

                                1. I shop just about every day at Harris Teeter, which is a large grocery chain in the southeast. But I also go to the butcher, Fresh Market,TJ's & Earthfare for organic and specialty items, BJ's for bulk cheeses and a few other things and the farmers market for my veggies, pork and some baked goods. I don't plan meals in advance but rather cook based on what I'm craving (an advantage to being mom). I clip coupons but I often forget to take them along with me... I try to remember to keep my coupon holder in the car.

                                  Yea for you that you now have free time to cook. Life's too short to live on canned soup and Lava bars. :)

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: lynnlato

                                    Yes! life is definitely too short for canned soup:)

                                  2. The jfoods went empty-nester a few months ago and they have a pretty basic guideline in shopping:

                                    - Staples (ie TP, dishwasher stuff, cleaning supplies, bottled water, paper goods) - Costco probably on a monthly basis.
                                    - Fruits - they have a great produce store about a mile out of his way home from the office where he buys the produce, probably 2x per week
                                    - Proteins - they buy these daily for the dinner that night from an employee owned grocer 1 miles from the house.
                                    - ice cream - yes this is separate since the employee owned store never discounts. The Food Emporium circular tells jfood which is on sale and when his Edy's or Turkey Hill is on sale he buys 2-3 for the freezer.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: jfood

                                      If I needed to do a large shop to get supplies (sugar, flour, oil, what few canned things I buy etc), I'd go Aldi, Food for Less, Target, Costco and get big and cheap and leave it in the pantry. For everyday meal stuff, I go every few days and plan the veggies and meats and buy at local fruit markets, etc. I am weaning my way from large chain grocery stores because they aren't priced well in my area, UNLESS you only buy sale items. I can get produce, meat and deli for half the cost at the independents and I feel better about putting money in their pockets than some giant corporation on a daily basis.

                                      I hit TJ's about once a month for specialty things, wine and bread. Yes I know they're a big corp (as are the stores above), but I don't buy meal prep things there much.

                                      1. re: jfood

                                        hehe. You buy ice cream like I buy books - at a separate place from the normal shopping and by stocking up:)

                                        The idea of daily fresh protein appeals to me, but I don't know if I would find the time to shop every day.

                                      2. Most of my grocery shopping is at the local community owned grocery store. It has a great selection of produce and grains. I'm also a vegetarian who doesn't like to eat a lot of processed food, so it works for me. The man who runs the gourmet section/ cheese bar was also a professional pastry chef, so we talk about baking a lot.

                                        I hit the local grocery stores to stock up on staples like wax paper and a few frozen junk foods, other than that I can go a long time without going there.

                                        BJ's is good for some things, but I'm only one person so bulk doesn't do to much for me.

                                        1. I shop for fresh produce daily at a market near my home. Their produce is the best around and is loaded with every vegetable and fruit imaginable.
                                          The market where I do the majority of my shopping is the same place I purchase my produce. I've made it a priority to know the people in this market. They stock quality items and I know I can count on them if I have a problem or a need a specialty item they're not stocking. I stick to one market because in the town where I live running from store to store isn't practical. I purchase my cheese from a local cheese shop and the same goes there....they know me and know what I like. The same goes for wine. The same goes for fish and I'm really not please with my present fish monger so now I'll go looking elsewhere.
                                          I do not purchase bulk....at all. Years ago I purchased oatmeal at WF and, even though I put it into a container when I came home, I woke up one morning to the worst infestation of those tiny little moths I'd ever experienced. No more bulk for me.
                                          I purchase all my cleaning supplies at Target. I stick with certain brands I love and purchase several of each at a time.
                                          I buy my coffee beans a few miles away from my home, and fight the traffic for them, because I'm crazy about good coffee and it's worth it. I buy my bulk tea at a specialty store, made in Ireland, and I don't deviate.
                                          I've shopped at Costco for items I've had at dinner parties....where the chef confesses he's purchased the food everyone goes nuts over.
                                          I use linen and linen napkins for dinner and I'm not a big user of paper items in the kitchen. It's a waste to me and I prefer cloth...it's much more time consuming to clean them but it's what I'm used to and I'll continue.
                                          The one thing I will recommend to you....please, please, please....I don't care where you shop...look at the pull dates on all items. I've heard some horror stories with perishables lately and I'm now on guard even in the finest market.
                                          Have fun, all the best and enjoy your new venture!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. My food week starts on Sunday. I plan the weeks' meals, usually two or three cookings' worth for my sister and I since we'll often eat the same thing two or three nights in a row. Seasonal produce for dinners and fresh fruit and salad greens for lunches are bought at the farmers' market on Sunday, and the rest of the stuff for the first round of cooking at Safeway. I hate Safeway, but it's the only thing within walking distance besides Whole Foods, which is not in the budget except for special occasions. We'll make another grocery run on Wednesday or Thursday for whatever we need to get through the rest of the week. Next Sunday, repeat.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: mordacity

                                              I wish I could plan meals in advance like you, but other than a vague notion that I'd like to cook a dish sometime in the week, I tend to cook on impulse.

                                              On the plus side, I am constantly indulging myself.

                                              But, it can be a pain when inspiration does not strike, or it does and some ingredients are not handy.

                                              It does make for a pretty full freezer and my wife teasing me about opening a supermarket.

                                            2. I visit our local market called the West Side market for the following items (all our meat, mediterranean items (imported cheeses, olives, phyllo, olive oil), coffee, fresh pasta and sauce, milk, eggs and bread. I go about once every other week, sometimes every 3 weeks. About once every other month I made a side trip to a nearby sausage store to get artisanal sausage and meat products like homemade bologna, hot dogs, italian sausage, brats, etc.

                                              From May-Oct, on the alternate weeks from the WSM, I visit a local farmers market which is where we get all our produce - we also get our butter and eggs here in the summer months. In the winter months, we eat a lot less produce and I get it from the supermarket. We rely more on canned and frozen in the winter since the quality of the trucked-in stuff at the grocery is poor, not to mention expensive. I still rely on the "regular" grocery for staples like flour, TP, some snack foods, etc. Nothing we buy is something they issue a coupon for so I don't bother collecting them. We only buy recycled/environmentally friendly TP for example and they don't put out coupons for it.

                                              I find Costco not to have anything we can use. Most of their shelf products are not the type we buy - they might have full fat milk or 2% but not skim, and not from a local vendor. They don't have anything locally produced. If we buy potato chips, we buy them locally made and they don't sell them at Costco. We don't buy Bounty paper towels, we buy recycled ones, they don't sell them. Again and again I visit Costco but find nothing they sell that we want. I do not find their "fresh" items palatable - the muffins are gigantic and tasteless and have the same corn syrup and fillers that grocery store bakery muffins do. I'd rather buy feta from my local vendor at the WSM than in a bigger than life container I will never go through from Costco. i've really only found them useful for certain OTC medications and vitamins, though I can usually match those prices at my local drugstore if I watch the sale flyers, and they are much closer than Costco.