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Sep 9, 2011 10:42 AM

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.

angela :)

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  1. 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.

    2 Replies
    1. re: sfbing

      you're a lucky duck. i miss city living, i am a suburbanite now (i'm in hercules in the east bay). however, i am in the middle of investigating CSA's actually. so thanks for that!


      1. re: ladybugsmom

        I use Terra Firma farms as my CSA. They have a pretty wide radius, so it is worth a look.

    2. I get most of my produce from a Full Belly CSA box and the rest from the farmers market, a few staples at Trader Joe's, a few at Costco, bread directly from Acme, and the rest mostly from Berkeley Bowl.

      I go to Safeway once a year or so for unscented dryer sheets.

      1. 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.

        1 Reply
        1. 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 :)

        2. 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.

          10 Replies
          1. re: lrealml

            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.

            1. re: BigWoodenSpoon

              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:


              1. re: tpc

                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.

                1. re: tpc

                  Fresh vegetables taste much better than frozen or canned. There are rare exceptions, e.g. Italian canned tomatoes taste better than anything available fresh most of the year, and the varieties of tomatoes that make good sauce are hard to find even when they are in season.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Is there a particular brand of Italian canned tomatoes you can recommend?

                    1. re: charliemyboy

                      Favorite brands of canned tomatoes (Italian, San Marzano, others) are discussed on the General board. Some recent threads,

                      1. re: charliemyboy

                        I buy Pomi, best price I've found recently is at Berkeley Bowl.

                        Berkeley Bowl
                        2020 Oregon St, Berkeley, CA 94703

                    2. re: tpc

                      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)

                      1. re: tpc

                        A myth? Have you tasted fresh vegetables vs. canned or frozen vegetables? They are unquestionably better, what kind of myth are you talking about? Also, fresh vegetables from the farmers market are picked ripe and usually the day or two days before the market.

                        1. re: JasmineG

                          Remember that we live in Calfornia. I've eaten some lousy fresh vegetables and fruits in other states this summer. Actually, some remarkably tasteless "farmers market" veggies in Los Angeles too.

                  2. 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.

                    Fatted Calf
                    644-C First Street, Napa, CA 94559

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: zin1953

                      Cheeseboard for bread, olives and very occasionally pizza.

                      1. re: zin1953

                        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).

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Robert? Fatted Calf STILL takes orders, and delivers the product to Vintage Berkeley Wine Merchants where it can be picked up . . . just like before . . .

                          Vintage Berkeley
                          2113 Vine St, Berkeley, CA 94709

                          Fatted Calf
                          644-C First Street, Napa, CA 94559

                          1. re: zin1953

                            Huh, first I've heard of that option. Thanks for the tip.