market basket strength/weakness?
I've been told to be careful because Market Basket carries items closer to their expirations, and thus the lower prices. I haven't noticed; I don't check sell by dates as a rule, and make the same on-the-spot checks with produce I'd do anywhere.
So do I need to be careful, and if so, of what?
Whenever I head up to NH, I shop at the Market Basket in Loudon, and I've never had a problem. This weekend, I got lobsters (soft shell) for $4.99 a pound along with some choice tenderloin steaks that were the best I've ever bought. I also would like to know where they get their fresh corn, because even early season it's good. As for canned goods, I find tuna and other items are considerably cheaper and I've never experienced a problems with expiration dates.
I have noticed that people who spend too much on groceries like to say/think that sort of thing to justify shopping at fanier/pricier stores. Makes them feel better.
I have one friend who wont buy anything thats on sale at any store. He claims that it means its about to expire and go bad..... When i ask how they can possibly know that the 30-40 meat/fish/produce items in the newspapers are going bad in all branches a week in advance.. He has not good answer...
That said, we split our shopping between Roche brothers (closest but most expensive), Shaws, Market Basket.
I have spent the past several months kicking myself for not having been shopping at Market Basket sooner. Before that my only experience was with the one in Burlington - not one of the better locations, but not too far from my usual rounds. Praise of MB by fellow hounds encouraged me to go farther afield. Since then I have been a regular shopper at Woburn and Reading, and have even dragged another friend there. She's a convert too, now. The thing about MB is that not all locations are created equal; you have to find one that works for you.
If people have any complaint about MB it is usually about how many other people shop there too. Given that, it is hard to believe that MB sells food that is almost expired. On the contrary, not only does the meat and poultry that I buy there keep very well in my fridge, but the expiry dates all seem fine and when I visited the Chelsea MB for the first time the other day, the Cinco de Mayo tortillas and gorditas were so fresh, they were still hot (not just warm). Of course it helps that the factory where they are made is also in Chelsea, but I am just saying.
Market Basket does not have the latest in decor, a fancy website, or target itself at the upscale consumer. But it does have great prices on good quality stuff, including many items found in upscale markets. I don't worry at all about shopping there.
I do about 90% of my shopping at MB and the other 10% at Whole Foods. I've found MB's prices very competitive versus S&S and other local chains. I frequent a number of different MB locations and each has a different feel. For example, the MB in Salem, NH has really interesting cuts of meat to appeal to the heavily Latino clientele. Ditto for produce. The MB in North Andover is a big one. It has really good meats and fish and a very large produce section. The MB in Andover is much smaller and tends to have more select meats than choice. (Go figure.) It has a very small fish counter but a pretty good section of organic produce. Perhaps that is to compete with Whole Foods just up the road. All in all, MB isn't Wegmans or Roche Bros or Whole Foods, but it holds up pretty well as a well stocked grocery with very reasonable prices.
re: Essex County
Completely agree that different MB's have a different feel - and carry different products. The MB in Rowley has Cabot Greek yogurt, the one in Haverhill had it for a couple weeks, then never again. The downtown Haverhill MB has good, varied produce. The MB about a mile away at Bldg. 10 apears to have never heard of vegetables. Crosby's is closest, but except for the excellent Valley View Farm cheese from Topsfield, is not all that different from MB!
The place I've consistently found out of date stuff, and even oranges that puffed blue mold once - is the Newburyport Shaws! Go figure...
I have not noticed any expiration date problems myself. I shop at the one located on DW highway in Nashua. Here're some things I've noticed about MB:
1. They don't have fancy deco
2. I have not heard of an MB commercial on the radio
3. They don't give out membership key tags
4. They don't do double/triple coupons
5. They don't have any 3rd party perks - when I was pumping gas the other day, I saw a sign next to the pump that says "shop at Shaw's and save on gas" of some sort.
Conclusion: MB has a smaller overhead.