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What's the farthest from home you'll travel for groceries?

Just curious how others will weigh in on this question: How far from home will you travel, at a maximum, for groceries?

All I have in my neighborhood is a run-down Safeway and an Andronico's (a very overpriced "gourmet" market) so a 15-20 minute drive for better options is appealing to me once in awhile. My absolute favorite store is just over 20 minutes away, but I still go occasionally!

On a related note, how far do you think it's "safe" to travel for groceries, given the risks of keeping refrigerated and frozen food away from a fridge or freezer for too long?

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  1. I've driven 90 miles to get to the biggest, best Asian market in Phoenix, when I lived in Prescott, AZ. Of course we'd make a day of it and only go maybe every 6 weeks. But they had the things I needed/wanted at prices that made the trip worth every penny. Of course in that part of the country, towns are far apart and the counties are as big or bigger than many 'back east' states. People are accustomed to traveling a50 mile round trip for a great ice cream cone...

    1. I have driven about two hours to an Italian grocery, but that was once and I turned it into a weekend trip. For normal shopping, if it requires a car than most of the time it's too far. I walk/bike and shop on my way home a couple times a week.

      1. If you're worried about transporting frozen foods why don't you purchase a small cooler to keep in the trunk of your car? Problem solved.

        As far as groceries, I can get the usual stuff within an 8 minute drive from home at an updated and pretty good Giant. We drive 20 minutes to a Lauer's for salads (macaroni, cole slaw, potato) and 20 minutes to a different Giant that has a great seafood dept.

        When it comes to specialty items, Asian or Indian I've driven 45 minutes. But of course it's not something I have to do every week.

        1. When we lived in the far boonies in Tennessee, we'd go 45 minutes one way to get to a semi-decent Kroger once a week. And we did go with the ice chest in the trunk for meats and other delicates.

          1. Just today I drove to Atlanta from my town in Western North Carolina, about 120 miles, to hit several Asian markets, a really good Western-style market (DeKalb "Farmer's" Market), a great Chinese restaurant for lunch, and a stop at Restaurant Depot to lie enough to get my card fixed up so I could shop there too once again. But I only do that trip 2-3 times a year. Where I live we have a decent supermarket (a Bi Lo) that even has a few Asian things (panko, tofu, fresh ginger, and so on) but still leaves much to be desired.

            1 Reply
            1. re: johnb

              my family has done a similar trip like that. we are about 4 hours from atlanta but charlotte isn't too bad and that is a little under 2 hours for the asian markets. and there is a restaurant supply store in charlotte that is very reasonable also.

            2. la14 is about 15 - 20 minutes. The open air green market is about 30 minutes.

              1. On a regular basis, according to Google Maps, a little over four miles, which is how far it is to Russo's, a greengrocer in Watertown, MA. Other than that, we have a large and well-stocked Star Market about three blocks away, and other assorted stores all within easy walking distance, and therefore we only ever use a car for shopping if we're buying something too big to schlep home.

                Some months back when it was announced that Wegman's was building a store well south of Boston, I was roundly criticized for suggesting that perhaps not everyone who lives in the city itself would suddenly start doing ALL of their grocery shopping at a store at least a half-hour drive -- if traffic is light -- from Fenway Park.

                3 Replies
                1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                  I also do the Russo run every other week - taking up to 30 min to reach it from Boston central. I live in walking distance to WFM and a large general store. Infrequent runs to Penzy's (30 min), Costco, and a fish market but cheese, Asian and small luxuries are all within a short walk at the neighborhood stores.

                  This makes me very happy.

                  1. re: alwayscooking

                    Me too! I grew up in small towns and suburbs, and I have nothing against them, but I definitely feel like having 95% of anything I could possibly want for dinner less than 10 minutes' walk away is a huge point in favor of living in the city.

                    1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                      That's why we're neighbors! Ditto growing up as well - the country and very small towns (but we did get to travel a bit) and will never go back!

                2. That's a complicated question. As other people have noted, people are willing to travel long distances, infrequently, for specialty food items. But that's not exactly like "grocery shopping."

                  For my every day shopping, I shop literally at my corner, where there's a great market hall. There's a very nice supermarket six blocks away. There's a Trader Joe's about a mile away. But before there was a TJ's "down the street" I regularly shopped at one a 20-minute drive from my house. Probably the farthest I buy groceries on a regular basis is the Costco 13 miles away.


                  I do a lot of opportunistic shopping -- that is, when I'm going to be going near a place where I like to shop, I'll include a stop there. So for example, when I visit my sister, I might stop at the cool Eastern European/Mediterranean market near her house. When I was having dinner a block away, I stopped into a Russian market I like. When I do volunteer days at a state park 60 miles from my house, I stop at farm stands on the way home. So while I may shop for groceries quite a ways from home, I rarely travel very far just to buy groceries.

                  1. I live in downtown Chicago and don't have a car so my shopping cart and I do up to an hour each way via bus or subway to reach ethnic neighborhoods with wonderful markets and carryouts. Worth the trip for Latino: GOYA decaf coffee; frozen empanada dough rounds; guava nectar; Mexican bread; good produce for half of what it costs in my neighborhood. Middle Eastern: Medjool dates; golden rice; Kalamata olives; fresh-baked pita; baklava; spinach pies. Swedish: dill Havarti, smoked salmon paste in a toothpaste tube; limpa. Polish: deli ham; rye bread; frozen pierogis. Argentine: empanadas; alfajores; sandwiches de miga. Thai or Vietnamese: soy sauce; rice; Asian vegetables; garlic chili sauce. Indian: spices; frozen naan; cans of mango puree for making ice cream. Agent510, re "safe", take an insulated bag with you.

                    1. 90 minutes or more. Take an ice chest. Regularly go to Whole Foods in New Orleans, an hour and a half away, and to Fresh Market and a fabulous meat shop in Mobile, 45 minutes away. We make a day of it, have lunch or dinner, and shop.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: bayoucook

                        We live in White Plains, N.Y., which is more city than suburb. That said you'd think we would have groceries galore but we don't. There has been much local grumbling about how we are in a supermarket no-service area. There is a Whole foods, good but expensive, and a Stop and Shop, also high prices and limited. I travel twenty minutes to a ShopRite to get lower prices and thirty minutes to a Fairway to get fabulous quality and variety. In between we are lucky in having two Trader Joe's about ten minutes from home and a few small ethnic markets to get specialty foods.

                        1. re: lucyis

                          I've never seen a Trader Joe's. Guess they get this far south.

                      2. I travel about an hour and a half to go to Trader Joes. Not often. I go and do a shelf raid. On the way home I hit Central Market. in Poulsbo to pillage their cheese bin.

                        I have driven 2 hours and ferried across the water to get long beans.

                        1. We have an well stocked and extremely well priced super market 5 miles to the north of us, a good Asian market 2 miles south, and a TJ's about 1 mile east, so we're pretty well situated. During the growing season, however, we travel about 30-45 minutes north to buy farm fresh produce and meat from 3 farms. To us it's worth the scenic drive.

                          1. Actually, pretty far: I have cheeses from Rome, chiles from Tajikistan, cassava flour from Brasil, dried mushrooms from China, dried game meat from Kenya, Oaxaca cheese and tortillas and corn husks from Mexico, spices from Ethiopia and Nairobi.

                            In addition, every time I'm in DC I bring back goceries: California Japanese and Lao rices, nori, canned eel, aburage, chile flakes and dried mushrooms and pickle packets from Chinatown, bonito flakes, hondashi, Japanese pickled vegetables, anchovies, couscous, hot mustard, and more.

                            When I travel, time outside of working is for eating and grocery shopping.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                              I live in a small town. The only choices are Super Walmart and small local grocery store.
                              Travel once a month about 1 1/2 hr for sams club and a couple name grocery stores. A few times a year travel 3 hrs to Rockville (DC suburb) under pretense to see family-but it's all about food shopping and carry out foods that travel well. Way too much pleasure after hitting Trader Joes, big grocery stores and Amish market and some favorite carry outs. A few coolers and ice blocks-works great!

                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                I want your pantry/fridge..... please deliver asap

                              2. A couple of times a year I drive 1 hour to go to Trader Joe's, but I usually schedule other errands that are in the vicinity and shop at the ethnic markets in Cleveland.

                                The farthest Ive even driven for groceries is 2+ hours each way is to Trader Vic's in Cinncy, but it was a day trip when I was bored.

                                1. LOL! We live out in the country. It's 11 miles from our house to the nearest grocery (a small regional chain market). The nearest gas station/Cstore is only a few miles closer.

                                  I do most of my shopping on my way home from work (45 min. commute each way). But, most weekends, I also venture down to Costco and/or the Farmer's Market and/or the seafood shop, etc... all at least 45 minutes away.

                                  Living in the boonies makes you really think ahead about your grocery needs! I had to send DH the 11 miles into town this morning to get an ingredient for his birthday cake. I thought I had what I needed, but was missing a curcial item.

                                  1. I'd say two hours, everything that I dearly love, is within 2 hours.

                                    1. We live at Lake Tahoe in NoCal and we have really good grocery stores. But they can have big gaps. Recently I went to everyone one of them (four!) looking for semolina. Nope. Not much in the fish arena. Costco, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, etc. are in Reno or Carson City which are 60 and 45 minutes one way, respectively. We usually go every 10 days to 2 weeks but I won't make a special trip. It's the thing I miss most about living in a city. But there are definite trade-offs when living in one of the most places on Earth.

                                      1. Up north the closest IGA was 10 minutes, a "somewhat grocery store" 10 as well and otherwise 30 minutes, but back when I lived up north specialty markets there just wasn't any. You had to call and order and have stuff delivered if you wanted anything remotely unique.

                                        Now, I have tons of stores and markets all fairly close within a few miles. I guess spoiled.

                                        1. I once drove from Calgary to Montreal just to buy smoked meat!

                                          1. About once a month I'll drive over 100 miles to get to a decent grocery store and a few times a year (if I'm lucky) I'll drive four hours plus to reach Trader Joe's. A cooler and cold bags are necessities for these kinds of forays!

                                            1. We sometimes go to a specialist supermarket about 45 minutes from home. They sell lots of meat and deli stuff and so on... the only thing I won't buy that far away from home is frozen stuff - they'd be half-thawed by the time we got home! Our regular supermarket is 5 minutes drive from the house, or a thirty minute walk and if I'm walking I carry an insulated bag for cold things.
                                              I once stayed with a friend who lived on a farm in the middle of nowhere - once a month they'd drive two hours each way to buy groceries at the closest town, because their only alternative was a little general store where everything cost five times as much.

                                              1. We live in a pocket of upper middle class homes surrounded by the inner city. It is a minimum of 15-20 min to a grocery store where I am guaranteed to feel safe (tired of the clerk asking me if she can try on my diamond ring - no kidding!). TJ's is 25 min and WF 45 min. I will also travel 35 min to a local orchard/gourmet store upon occasion. That said, I keep a large cooler in my trunk in the spring/summer/fall as we love to go on day trips and stop at local farm stands or farmer's markets. It's easy to pick up ice at a gas station or beer drive-thru.

                                                My favorite, which we don't do too often because it's almost 2 hours ea way, is Jungle Jim's, a humungous international treasure trove for foodies mid way between Dayton & Cincinnati http://www.junglejims.com/. We schedule this when visiting friends in Mason, OH (just no of Cincy).

                                                1. Prior to our out-of-state relocation, we would routinely drive 45 minutes (30 miles) to go to our butcher. Would make the trip 2-3 times per quarter, depending on what his sale schedule.

                                                  Now we live in a fairly rural area. The closest store is 10+ miles away (about 15 minutes); a Kroger in one direction and WalMart in the other. Once every six weeks or so, we'll drive to Nashville (130 miles/2+ hours) to hit Costco TJs and Publix. We found a world market that will get us back there and one day want to try Harris Teeter.

                                                  Before the Nashville TJs opened, we planned a weekend trip to St. Louis (5+ hours) just to stock up on frozen goods and some other stuff you can't find in rural TN (like ethnic food!).

                                                  We always bring a cooler or three along with four insulated bags. We never know how much we will buy.

                                                  1. I live in Brooklyn and have a plethora of options. But I make a trip once a week to the Fairway in Red Hook which is a 15 minute to 30 minute drive - depending on what the BQE is up to - from my home in Williamsburg. Mainly I do this for the variety, prices and quality. I've got about five other options within a 2-10 block walking radius - all of them inferior options imo. Only good for last minute items. I am too lazy to go too much further or go to multiple shops unless I am tracking down truly specialty items. I will go to great lengths for gluten free..

                                                    1. Your question made me realize that sometimes there are huge benefits to living in a more urban area. Within three miles, I have a host of groceries stores of many types and specialty food shops. The parking at times can be difficult and often the shops are crowded but no long drives required.