what's your weekly grocery shopping routine? looking for new ideas...
i'm curious to know how you all do your menu planning? and do you go to more than 1 store? if so, how many stores, which ones, and for which grocery items?
we go to the store several times a week, and on those big grocery run days, up to 3 different stores. and with gas as high as it is, this routine is getting old!
target/walmart for paper and cleaning products, and some packaged grocery items like granola bars, cereal, juice, snacks, lunch box items, and our favorite brand of bread. (it's almost 3 dollars more at chain groceries). and TJs for some dairy, meats, and other misc. stuff like above.
then whole foods, farmers markets, or independent local butchers for our meats, fish, and certain produce. and then there's costco..... that's a dangerous place, lol!!
we go to the store/market several times a week, especially for some fresh produce - if it's monday and i know we're having corn or spinach on thursday or friday, then i'm not going to buy it til that day.
so with all that said, what do you guys do? and i'd love for you to share anything you think helps you with this.
I used to go to Target, Safeway, Costco and spend tons of money. This isn't going to work for everyone, but I've found that I'm saving a lot of time and money by doing the following:
I joined a CSA for vegetables (Mariquita Farm works for me, but there are others.) Rather than driving all over the place to get the ingredients for a specific meal, what is in the basket and in my pantry dictates what I eat.
I walk to shops in the inner Sunset (but as far as 22nd and Irving and Sunset Super) to get everything else. If I'm unwilling to carry it home, then I don't really want it. What I found is I don't miss a lot of the stuff at Target, Safeway, and Costco (buy 1 lb butter, get 1 free; gallon tubs of potato chips; 10lbs of steak). And I don't miss all that time driving around in parking lots.
How many people are you shopping for? Because that sounds like lot. One trip to Costco and I have enough paper goods and cleaning products for at least six months.
You might consider taking a different approach: plan your meals so that the ones that require super-fresh ingredients like corn and spinach are early in the week and the ones that come later have things like carrots and other root veggies. Same for meat: plan meals with intentional leftovers (i.e. roast a couple of chickens on Sunday and then serve chicken tacos later in the week). And finally, there's what the transit planners call "trip linking": add a trip to the market on to a trip you're already going to make. Maybe the market near the dry cleaners or the kids' school or on the way home from work is a little more expensive, but the time and money you save in not making an extra trip will make up for it. For example, the Richmond Costco is too far away to be worthwhile on its own, but I go to Albany for an activity almost every Saturday, so I swing by Costco while I'm in the neighborhood.
re: Ruth Lafler
hey ms. ruth, u answered one of my other posts, thanks for stopping here too. there's just 3 of us. i've just been curious about other peoples grocery shopping routines, and if i could pick up any new ideas from them, that's all.
i like roberts idea of a CSA, and had been doing some research on it for meats too, but then forgot. i like your idea of 'trip linking' alot! and the one about using the super fresh stuff earlier in the week.
i usually try to cook several meals in one day, friday or saturday, and cook extra like turkey or chicken for sandwiches (lunch box) and lunch time salads. i'm pretty good, i just need better strategies for menu/meal planning. that i'm struggling with.
thanks again :)
Have you considered buying your paper, cleaning products, and packaged grocery items online?
Amazon is just as cheap if not cheaper than target/walmart... they are reasonable even for things like pasta and grains (they also have the subscribe and save program where you save 15%... I haven't tried yet, but I am about to for paper towels)
I rarely go to the drugstore/target anymore (like once every 6 months)... I get my shampoo, conditioner, etc.. shipped right to me (free shipping of course). There are so many great websites that have deals.
I still make occasional runs to Coscto, but mainly for beef/pork/seafood/pickled herring. Also Coscto is conveniently from Sigona's, which is my primary grocery store... I'm not sure if I'd go there if it wasn't.... Of course I also hit a lot of FMs in the summer along with occasional runs to Rainbow, Ranch 99, and other specialty stores. I fortunately haven't had to go to Safeway in years.
We are very lucky in that in the Bay Area we have so many amazing independent high quality grocery stores/markets. I have never been anywhere that has near as many choices as we do... We are a in a cook's paradise. I can buy veggies here and put them in the fridge for a week or more and they still seem fresher than what I used to buy back East, so I rarely shop more than once a week.
We are also a family of three that live in Alameda and this is what I usually do:
Costco 1-2 times a month for meat, butter, OJ, sometimes bread & milk, juice
Grocery Outlet once a week for pretzels, sometimes pasta and whatever else look interesting
Trader Joe's 1-2 a week for cereal, occasional produce, ground beef, yogurt and frozen veggies (I know, I know, fresh is better, but sometimes convenience wins. BTW, I work there)
Farmer's Market on Tuesday for fruit, veggies and an occasional treat or dinner item
I drop by Lucky's 1-2 a month to fill in any gaps and I try to only walk into Safeway with my Club card and coupons in hand. Their prices on everything that isn't "on sale" are so much higher than Lucky that I don't bother unless I'm in a super hurry.
The idea that fresh vegetables and fruit are better than frozen or canned is a common food myth. Dean Edell had a report on his program that indicated fresh produce need to be picked before they are ripe to account for transport time and to be in good condition for display and sale. Canned and frozen produce can be picked closer to when they are ripe and can have the greatest amount of nutrients:
There are a lot of variables here. Since we are lucky enough to be in California, very close to where so much produce is grown, we can purchase from farmers markets and other sources and get things that are picked and sold at their prime.
Canned and frozen are great for certain items, and nutritional value is probably about the same as fresh for most, but for other items taste and texture suffers.
I would rather eat crunchy green beans that have been in my fridge for a week than soggy defrosted green beans.... I don't care if the frozen ones have slightly more nutrients; the fresh ones taste better.
Also the produce I buy at the Farmer's markets are not picked before they were ripe.... The strawberries I bought at the FM Thursday were picked that day and still taste better today than the strawberries you can buy on the east coast (which are normally from Watsonville)
We're in Berkeley, and both of us work Monday-Friday, often 10 hours a day, with two kids in high school . . .
We'll hit either the Saturday Farmer's Market in Berkeley, or the Sunday one in Temescal. Order from the Fatted Calf if we get it together early enough. Andronico's and Trader Joe's for food; Cheeseboard for cheese (d'oh!); Target and Costco for basics, though we'll hit Costco for meat, as well -- if we can plan that far in advance.
644-C First Street, Napa, CA 94559
Fatted Calf hasn't been at the Berkeley market since last year. Dopo / Adesso took over that slot.
Cheeseboard's bread is to my taste inferior to Acme and half a dozen other local bakeries. The best price-quality ratio around is Trader Joe's Pain Pascal, 100% whole-wheat from Bay Bread (wholesale side of the Boulange chain).
Tokyo Fish, Acme, Indus Foods and Mi Tierra are all pretty close together on San Pablo. I usually go to several of those on one outing (on foot, though it's not the most picturesque walk) once a week or so. The meat and poultry at Indus Foods are very good and cheap.
I also go to Monterey Market for produce about once a week and to Trader Joe's for things like dried pasta and a few prepared foods my son likes. There are TJs everywhere now, so I almost always combine that stop with a trip somewhere else. If I'm near a Grocery Outlet, I'll pop in. I used to go to Costco a few times a year because I sometimes had to help provide dinners for 30 teenagers, but now that my son's out of high school, I doubt I'll ever go back. As you said, it can be a dangerous place, and it's not near anything else.
Knowing when farmers markets are open can save time. I'll go to the El Cerrito Trader Joe's on Tuesday, for example, because the farmers market is there that day, but on Saturday I might go to the one in downtown Berkeley. There's also one on Wednesday in Albany on San Pablo near the other stores I mentioned.
2096 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA
For decades I have had a weekly trip to Berkeley Bowl. When I lived in SF, it was Ferry Plaza in the morning, on to Acme, then Cheeseboard and ending with Berkeley Bowl. There were fill in trips during the week to Andronico's, Whole Foods, Safeway and Cala Foods (they doubled coupons).
Since being in the East Bay, I try to coordinate my Berkeley Bowl Trips with the Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday farmers market. ON the way to and from BB, I'll stop as necessary at Lucky, Trader Joe, the El Cerrito farmers markets (tues or sat) and Giovannis. There are a few Mexican Markets I eye driving by for produce deals.
I stop by Grocery Outlet once or twice a week.
Once a month I'll go to the American Canyon Walmart. It has a much larger selection than Richmond. Then I'll do my North of the Bay shopping. I usually pick up strawberries at the stand just in front of Walmart and whatever other veggies they have on hand. Then I just either meander around Sonoma or Napa checking out stuff. It might be Oxbow, or Whole Foods Napa or Sonoma Market or a number of farm stands or trucks that show up at the side of the road.
My favorite truck this week was the one selling watermelons and pit bull pippies ... I passed on both.
If I have time, I'll stop by FoodMax in Vallejo, a few miles down from Walmart. From what I've seen, they are not associated with any other FoodMax. They sometimes have really, really swell sales like the Quaker Oatmeal for $1.88 (42 oz) and I had coupons.
I'm basicall a stocker, coupon addict and sale chaser. However, I only buy what I use. So stuff like paper towels and toilet paper, I usually have lots stocked up from each sale.
I've had my broke years and rich years. I still like to save at either time. Then I can blow the savings on high-quality stuff ... cheese, chocolate, restaurants, etc.
So on Tuesday, I check out the ads in the mail. If no ads, I'll check the online ads. FoodsCo has been really terrific in terms of produce on sale and the quality is usually great (conventionally grown).
On Sunday, I buy the Chronicle for the coupons and weekend specials for the grocery stores. I don't find Target that great a deal in terms of groceries with few exceptions. So i don't hit that often.
Then I'll just hit various farmers markets, bakeries and other food stores just to see what is there. It sounds like I shop more than I do. I usally drop in on less frequented stores because I happen to be in the area. El Cerriot Naturals is good this time of year because they have the best apple selection of anyone, even Berkeley Bowl. There's other seasonal places such as Fourth Street or College Avenue that I'll hang out at during the holidays.
Then I have been known to travel quite the distance for certain things, such as CJ Olson in Sunnyvale for a yearly cherrry, apricot and Santa Rosa plum run. Crane Melon Barn up north, Tomato Heaven (need to see if they are still there ) in Healdsburg, etc, etc, etc.
This time a year I'l try to do a once or twice a month run to Harden Garden in Sonoma because I like the tomatoes.
Funds are tight these days. There are 2 of us and a grocery budget of $200 every 2 weeks. That budget also includes at least 1 big entertaining meal for family and friends.
I go early in the morning to pick up some "last day" meats. I buy frozen veggies instead of fresh. I plan at least one night per week to be a pasta dinner. I also freeze all leftovers to make them convenient lunches for my husband to bring to work.
We do household supplies at Walnart or Target. I hate coupons but I do keep my eyes open for coupons for toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo, deodorant, etc.
wow, thanks everyone for all your replies! i've been curious as to what others do in their day to day for food shopping, and what kind of mix there is out there - hardcore organic, CSA'er, local/chain grocery store, discount food stores, independent mom/pop shops, or combination.
thanks again everyone, i see lots of ideas i can use myself, and i appreciate that guys.