The Slimy Fish Conundrum

by Katy on June 1, 2012 · 54 comments

I am at once a very lucky and to-be-pitied food shopper. I am within easy walking distance from both a New Season’s Market, (Think Whole Foods, but locally owned) and an enormous traditional grocery store. This means that I can buy both cheap grocery items and also splurge on higher end organic/local foods in a single trip. It’s not uncommon that I first scope out New Season’s, compare it to the grocery store and then go back to New Season’s again to fill in the gaps.

This method may sound like a pain in the tuchus, but the two stores are just a block-and-a-half apart.

Let me put it bluntly:

New Season’s is expensive and the traditional grocery store is cheap. As in fill a grocery bag for $50 vs. $20.

Just yesterday I wanted to prepare a nice fish dinner. I first went to the traditional grocery store, where a look into the fish case found the specimens to be decidedly on the slimy side. The smell was more low tide during a heat wave than I prefer. And a quick spelunk through the frozen fish aisle only unearthed battered fillets and fish sticks.

No thanks.

So back to New Seasons I walked, where the price tags are high, but the fish is fresh. (I did buy the rest of my grocery list at the traditional store, such as yogurts, brussel sprouts, apples, avocados and strawberries.) I finally chose to buy some Vietnamese “Swai” fish, which was at $4.79/pounds was about half the price of the next cheapest fish. (The Swai was actually quite good. A mild white fish, but somehow not bland.)

My grocery errands would have been easier and cheaper if I’d just bought everything from the traditional grocery store, but I like to mix up the cheap and the splurge.

I guess you could call it the slimy fish conundrum. 

Do you buy all of your groceries from a single source or do you also buy here, there and everywhere? Please share your food shopping methods in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

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{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristen | The Frugal Girl June 1, 2012 at 9:20 am

I shop at Aldi and then fill in with things from a regular grocery store and a little local organic market (plus farm stand/farmer’s market food when it’s available and eggs from a local blog reader).

Every few months I buy some things at Costco as well.

So yep, I’m definitely a here and there person.


Katy June 1, 2012 at 9:25 am

I guess I should mention that my husband made a Costco run yesterday where he bought English muffins, dog food, (for my father’s dog) gasoline and probably a hot dog.

I would love to shop 100% from New Seasons, but we would probably spend over $1000/month this way. I do buy our milk and eggs there, as well as ground beef, sausages and various sale items.

There is Winco here in Portland, which I think is similar to Aldi, but the store is far from our house and kind of creepy. (Like illegal activity in the parking lot.)



Renee CA June 2, 2012 at 7:17 am

Oh, that’s too bad. We have a Winco here and it is clean and nicer than Food4Less or FoodCo. They have bulk food as well. Guess it depends on the area of town.


Laura June 2, 2012 at 7:31 am

You really should give Winco a try – it’s worth the drive. Their bulk food section is *amazing* (lots of their grains and flours come from Bob’s RM, and cost less at WinCo than at the mill), and you will save, save, save on regular grocery items, probably more than enough to cover the cost of gas for the drive down. As an added bonus, there is a Penzey’s Spices store in the same shopping area.

We have been shopping at Winco for years, and I have never seen anything close to illegal going on in their parking lot. You will see a real cross section of humanity shopping there, but I’ve also run into a few local celebrities buying groceries there – I have stopped and mentioned I’m kind of surprised to see them at WinCo and they all say they come because they love the low prices too.

I shop at four stores when we food shop every other week: New Seasons (mostly for meat), Trader Joe’s, Costco, and WinCo. I also swing into the Dave’s Bread outlet on the way down to Costco. Each place offers items we want and like at the best price. And, after shopping at WinCo, I rarely go into Safeway or FM any more these days – too expensive in comparison (even though I can walk to our local Safeway).


Laura June 2, 2012 at 7:37 am

BTW – are you talking about the westside Winco or the eastside? The westside may be a whole different thing than the eastside, but we’ve never seen anything illegal going on in the eastside parking lot, and we’ve been shopping there for years.


Katy June 2, 2012 at 7:53 am

I’m talking about the Winco on 122nd Avenue.


Katy June 2, 2012 at 7:55 am

I should give Winco another try. I used to shop there when the kids were little. It just seems like it takes all day with the commute, and I love being able to walk to the grocery store.



Laura June 2, 2012 at 9:36 am

Try the one on SE 82nd, across the road from Pier 1 Imports. I’ve never seen anything weird going on there, or police cars, etc.

It’s kind of a haul for me as well, but I only go every other week. I don’t buy meat there other than deli meat for sandwiches, and only some produce, but do stock up on bulk items and regular grocery items. They carry quite a bit of organic and “gourmet” food, and everything is name brand other than the HyTop brand, but they make several good products that we like. I also like some of their bakery items, and they’re well-priced. It’s also a good source for Hispanic and other ethnic foods.

Donna June 3, 2012 at 10:57 am

I’m an Aldi first, grocery store second (and cheaper grocery store if I have the stamina [it is a madhouse]), person with a periodic trip to BJs for a few certain things, and a periodic trip to our in-town Job Lot for Bob’s Red Mill. Most/All of my veg from June 1-Thanksgiving is from my local community farm, and our eggs are from a friend with chickens. My husband bakes much of our bread and desserts.


NMPatricia June 1, 2012 at 9:25 am

I do about half of my shopping at Whole Foods. Now, before I get a bunch of boos, I have compared prices. I also buy mostly bulk there with a little dairy. We care a lot about our food. The rest is at Sunflower Market (Whole Foods wannabe – great deals on fish), some staples at Albertsons Market (usual grocery store) on the first Wednesday when I get 10% off because I am of the special age (!), and get a lot of our vegetables from a CSA (consumer supported agriculture). So, I am here and there, also.


Katy June 1, 2012 at 9:30 am

I don’t have anything against Whole Foods. In fact, my best friend from high school is a V.P. there. (Hi, Karen!) There’s just not one within walking distance of my house.



NMPatricia June 2, 2012 at 5:33 am

I didn’t think you were the one who would be booing. I get it from lots of people here. Sigh. Most things are not good or bad, it is all in the use!


sherry June 1, 2012 at 9:40 am

Our once a week shopping is done at a traditional store about one mile from our house. There is also a decent produce stand in our very small town. However, we also shop all over the place: Aldi’s at bit, the natural food store sometimes. There is a bigger traditional store about 15 miles from us where we can get almost anything you could want. We shop specials there, and for anything we can’t get anywhere else locally. There is also a bulk foods store in the next county where we go several times a year to stock up. We don’t do this often, but it is a nice drive and I don’t mind the trip. Also, BJ’s (like Costco), about 25 miles from home, but near our son’s house so we combine errands. Last (I think), but not least, the Farmer’s Market in our county. I love it. (And we also grow some of our own vegetables.)….Katy, I have wondered about swai — what it was and where it was from. Thanks for mentioning it. We will try that soon.


fiwa June 1, 2012 at 10:00 am

We have a nice Winco, so I do the bulk of my shopping there. I do go to a local fruit stand for my fruits and veggies, because believe it or not, it’s cheaper! I get some specialty items from Trader Joes, but that’s an every once in awhile thing. I wish we had a Whole Foods near us. We had a Metropolitan Market, which was very swank, but the city I live in couldn’t sustain enough business for them, so it shut down. It was fun to run in there every now and again for special things, but there was no way I could do my every day shopping there. 3.99 a pound for Fuji apples. Sorry Charlie!


Van June 1, 2012 at 10:03 am

I purchase ALL veggies/fruits at my flea market (prices/photos here: I buy “fancy” organic nuts, seeds and spices at our local version of Whole Foods. (“Native Sun”) I’m raw vegan but make cooked meals for my new roomie and friends 🙂

I must write a follow-up post on your conversation here, I love knowing other’s tricks for getting good eats for cheap.


Linda in Indiana June 1, 2012 at 10:12 am

We raise a huge garden (1.25 acre) which we eat all summer from, can, freeze, share and barter with. My husband hunts and fishes as well as our son. We also buy a portion of a beef from our neighbor. We also have our own chickens–therefore, poultry and eggs. But, the other items come from various places…depending on sales and coupons. Most of the grocery items come from the following in the order listed:Aldi’s, a local small grocery and last of all WM—not my favorite place. I also buy some things at CVS and Dollar General. We also make a yearly trip south and visit a fish market while on vacation and bring home Basa–a Vietnamese fish–like Katy described and pay 3.99 a pound and freeze it in water in our condo and then bring it back in our cooler. We stock up enough for a years need. Yummy. I also like to hunt mushrooms and we have our own farm pond and catch bluegill and bass there. We enjoy having people in and this really helps keep costs down while we eat quite well. We also scavenge for persimmons, pecans, walnuts, asparagus–all with permisson from friends that own the ground.


Reese June 1, 2012 at 10:26 am

We do the most of our shopping in Chicagoland at Aldi and locally owned ethnic grocery store called The Marketplace. But we also go to Whole Foods (this is the only place I feel safe buying fresh, wholesome, good-for-you meat. We’ve had less-than-great results at Aldi and the Market).

Then we go to Target for household items and cereal. And when our GFS opens this month, I plan on going there for baking supplies! Hooray!


Betsyohs June 1, 2012 at 10:44 am

My long term goal is to be like Linda in Indiana, but I’m not there yet. We have a small year-round garden (w/hoop houses and a hot box) that provides maybe 20% of our veggies right now. We put up a lot of apples and tomatoes from local orchards/farms, and I’ve got big plans in the works for freezing tons of u-pick berries this summer. We get all of our dairy, meat, and eggs from a local farmer/creamery. Kind of expensive, but we made it cheaper by joining their CSA, and even cheaper by not eating too much meat. We also helped process their old laying hens for stew meat (free!) and their boar for sausage ($1.50/lb!).

We buy the rest of our food groceries at a our local coop, which is not particularly cheap, but we make an effort to hit the “member appreciation days” at 10% off everything. Beer and wine come from the coop or the liquor store in town. I’m trying to convince my guy to start brewing again – that will surely be cheaper than buying if we just put in the time.

Non-food “groceries” (tin foil, garbage bags, toilet paper, dish detergent, etc) we try really hard not to use, but when we’re desperate, we go to the local big-box normal grocery store and buy the biggest package we can find. The closest Costco/BJ’s is about an hour from us, so we aren’t members. And Whole Foods is even farther away. I also scored two boxes of almost-full tinfoil at a garage sale for $3 a couple weeks ago. We should be set for a year!


Linda in Indiana June 1, 2012 at 11:30 am

Betsyohs—I never, ever thought to look for foil at a garage sale. You are indeed the clever one! Who would even sell something like that? Geez! Your lucky, smart day. I will be keeping my eye out for that kind of stuff from now on. Thanks for the heads up. And a word of encouragement–keep on doing what you are doing–sounds you are doing splendidly! Life is a journey, not a destination.


betsyohs June 3, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Right? Isn’t it weird that someone would sell aluminum foil? I sort of got the feeling that it might have been an estate sale, although no one ever said that. And if I was running an estate sale for someone, I would keep the tinfoil for myself!

Also – thanks for the encouragement. It’s especially timely because someone (a [bad word] chimpunk, I think) keeps digging up the seedlings in my garden. Aaaah! How are those plants supposed to grow any vegetables if they keep on getting yanked up by their roots??


Abby June 1, 2012 at 11:30 am

I am fortunate to live close to a food salvage warehouse and I shop there once a month or so to stock up on canned goods, frozen meat and dry pasta. The savings and selection are hit or miss but I like to plan meals around deals I find there. I fill in what’s missing at Aldi and rarely have to go to a traditional grocery store. I am trying to get better at buying local and knowing the source of what we eat, but it’s hard when Aldi is on the way home and the closest farmers’ market is 40 minutes away.


Kate June 1, 2012 at 12:50 pm

We have a place called Surplus Outlet here in eastern/central PA. Like you say, it’s hit or miss, but it sure is fun when you find a great deal! I’ve saved a LOT of money finding my organic foods and my husband’s allergy medicine there. 🙂


EcoCatLady June 1, 2012 at 11:50 am

I can totally relate to this post because I am a schizophrenic shopper myself.

So let’s see… I suppose I do most of my shopping at the local King Soopers (Kroger) because it’s 5 blocks from my house and I can walk there. But they have a limited selection of organic produce, and if I want conventional produce there are several discount chains nearby that have MUCH better prices.

So If I’m stocking up on conventional produce I usually go to Save-A-Lot where the prices are consistently 30-40% cheaper. They’re also in walking distance, but have a limited selection. But since they largely cater to the Mexican immigrants in my neighborhood (seriously, I’m generally the only English speaker in the place) they have a GREAT selection of chilies and other ingredients for traditional Mexican cuisine.

But, if I want a great selection of conventional produce at a great price, I get in the car and go a few miles down the road to Lowe’s (which used to be called Avanza Market). They cater largely to the Asian community, although there’s also a big Mexican crowd there too. But they have an amazing produce section, although nothing organic. And if I’m up for non-organic meat, every few months they have chicken leg quarters on sale for 49 cents per pound!

But… If I really want organic produce, I have to go a few miles further to Whole Foods. I guess I go there about once every 6 weeks or so. They also carry some things that are hard to find elsewhere (like pumpkin seeds – the only seeds I’m not allergic to.) But I view trips to Whole Foods as more of a treat than general shopping.

But then, my parent’s recently got a Costco membership and signed me up as the second person on the account, so now they’re in the rotation too. They have the best prices in town on organic meat so I mostly get that there, plus they have frozen organic berries at a great price.

Then if I REALLY want to pick up some bargains, I go to the “used grocery store” as my dad calls it. It’s a little salvage store that’s only open 2 days a week. Their selection is totally random and depends on what they happen to pick up. It’s mostly stuff with damaged packages and things that are very near or slightly over the sell by date. But they’re also on the other side of town so I don’t make it out there very often.

We also have Sunflower Markets here, but they’re across town so I seldom make it out there. And then there’s Safeway & Albertsons (traditional grocery stores) and now Walmart & Target have grocery sections too. It’s a tad bit overwhelming when you stop to think about it!

But the quickest, easiest and healthiest “shopping” option is my own garden which always has fresh food and it’s only a few feet away!


Poor to Rich a Day at a Time June 1, 2012 at 11:59 am

Living in a small rural area I really do not have too many options unless I am willing to drive 30 miles away…….which in a bronco that gets 12 miles to the gallon, I am not willing!

I have high priced stores that have good sales sometimes. What I do is I go through all the ads in a 30 to 40 mile radius from Krogers, Meijers and Save a Lot. I match any coupons I have to the sale items in the flyers or even just some great buys on fruit or whatever. I then go the 5 miles away to Walmarts and have them price match all the deals.

The only other store I visit is our local health food store to get our raw honey and raw vinegar along with the yummiest tasting organic dates ever!


Jessie : Improved June 1, 2012 at 12:21 pm

I grow a medium sized garden, I pick up a meat CSA (16lb) from a local farm every month, and the rest is filled in with the once a week farmer’s market (eggs and some veg) and our local Whole Foods. I do go to Trader Joe’s and Publix occasionally to fill in gaps (read: stuff my family likes but can’t give up). We do spend a good bit on groceries but I’ve been trying to cut this down by eating less meat, not compromising on quality.


Lynn D. June 1, 2012 at 1:47 pm

I live in a town with lots of ethnic markets where you can get really good deals on lots of exotic stuff. I first discovered that a local Asian market had fabulous prices on rice, coconut milk, rice vinegar, fish sauce as well as some good Asian vegetables. Then I discovered a European/Russian market that sold delicious cheap tea, rye bread, smoked meats, fish and cheeses. Lately I’ve been buying meat at a Mexican grocery store. Their pork is from Carlton Farms (I saw the truck delivering it) which supplies some of the ritzier markets like Zupans. The meat counter there is impeccably clean and the meat is cut to order and does not come in a plastic tray! Round this out with Costco, the farmers market, my garden and Trader Joe’s and its pretty good eating around here for not a ton of money. When I’m up in Portland I stop at Barbur World Foods for quality Middle Eastern food at great prices.


Lili@creativesavv June 1, 2012 at 2:01 pm

I do as you do. I shop at a few places. If quality is important for an item (ie your fish), then I have to pay for it. But if it’s just something basic like flour, or white vinegar, then it doesn’t make sense to buy it at an upscale market. For just about all my groceries I do a combination of a restaurant supplier, Trader Joe’s, and the produce stand. I don’t use supermarkets all that much. I especially love the restaurant supply, it’s like Costco, but without all the costly distractions, plus no membership fee.


Bauunny June 1, 2012 at 2:29 pm

I buy most of my groceries at Meijer ( they have great produce) but I also skip around town to a Food Coop that I belong to ( more expensive but I like to support what they stand for) and a health food store ( for great raw nuts and other treats). We bought a cow from a 4H auction at our county fair last year. I buy organic chicken at the farmer’s market and we raise our own chickens so eggs are plentiful. We have a large garden in the summer. I like to go to a real Mexican grocery store for fresh tortillas and to the natural health store for wonderful locally made yogurt and cheeses. I am trying to buy less food, but better quality and am more mindful about food waste.


Krystal June 1, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Great post! I do my grocery shopping once a week, and the only walking distance grocery store is Target (yes it has groceries!) and QFC, which is the same price as our local co-op or whole foods, believe it or not. Hence, I drive.

I buy so much in bulk–everything I can. We make all of our breads from scratch (or splurge at the local bakery). Granola, sugar, snacks, cereal. Etc.

I am a complete local/organic snob, which can be costly, but we hardly eat out (1-2 times a month, and 1 time is generally pho) and are very healthy, so we don’t have dr. visits and prescriptions to pay for. It’s worth it in my world. I literally just finished shopping, today I started at a new place that has a lot of Mediterranean imports (all those amazing pasta and bread flours, plus the largest cheese case in Seattle). Then to the butcher, then to the PCC (local co-op) and on my way back home, the fish market. Since zero waste is extremely important, I do stop at other places for my meat, fish and cheese, since the large grocery stores refuse my jars for those items. Since we make stops at a few different places, we only go once a week.

What has saved me the most money, is focusing on food waste. We plan our leftovers accordingly, toward the end of our week, and also use the things that will spoil first, so nothing goes to waste, and I am not making more than 1 trip a week to the market(s). More than comparison shopping, meal planning has saved us hundreds!


Karen @ Abundance on a Dime June 1, 2012 at 3:23 pm

We acquire food from so many different sources it’s starting to get a bit dizzying 🙂 We shop a variety of local stores for loss leader sales (my hubby is out and about all the time for his job, so he picks this stuff up when he’s going to be going right by the store anyway, no special trips just for groceries!). We also shop at a bulk food store chain, and get some bulk items from a local health food store. In addition, we buy a significant amount of food through the Ontario Natural Food Coop (we order with a small group once every 2 months and the order gets delivered to the coordinator’s house). We shop at the local farmer’s market and a variety of pick your own farms in season as well. We are just about to start buying local meat in bulk from this awesome farm we found out about – humanely raised, grass fed etc – they offer amazing prices when you buy in large amounts (we’re getting 80 lb, which will last our family of four several months as we go light on the meat around here). We also grow a bunch of veggies, herbs, rhubarb, strawberries and raspberries in our tiny urban yard and swap surplus with our (free) produce cooperative to get a good variety of locally grown veggies.


Krystal June 1, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Had to interject with this, but I laughed out loud about WinCo. Everytime I have drive by a WinCo in the Seattle area, there has been police activity in the parking lot. What is with that place?!

Sorry, too funny to not say anything!


Katy June 1, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Tell me about it.



Anne Weber-Falk June 1, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Here, there, and everywhere is where I shop. Aldi for most of the basics, Joseph’s for the more unique items and many fruits and vegetables as they have great sales, Fresh Market for a few special things once in a while and for good sales and Costco for some basic things. These stores are all along a two mile stretch of road, except Costco. I hit that store when I go to see my parents because it’s on the way.


Jeana June 1, 2012 at 4:13 pm

We shop at lots of different places. We have an Earth Fare near us for nice organic and gluten-free foods, but it’s too expensive to turn my boyfriend loose in there for everything. We belong to a meat share, like a CSA for meat producers, and get a box of meat once a month from a local hormone-free grass fed farm. We get a ton of produce from my parents’ garden so we rarely have to buy produce during the summer. And, we occasionally go to Costco to stock up on things like nuts and laundry detergent.


Indigo June 1, 2012 at 5:02 pm

My food comes from just about everywhere. I have a small vegetable garden and a large herb garden. I know where wild black berries, grapes, fennel, various nuts, etc grow. I pick up bulk lentils, rice, beans, and spices at an Indian Grocery near my grandparents and bulk Asian noodles, miso, nori, and the like at the Super G Mart (giant international food store with GREAT prices) near one of my friend’s house whenever I’m visiting.

I pick up additional veggies and fruit at the local farmer’s market, a couple of specialty items from trader joe’s, and then fill in with trips to Aldi’s and the local grocery store if needed.

It sounds like a lot but it isn’t as if I stop by all of these places even once a month, and it is always en route to somewhere else so I’m not making a special trip either. I eat very well for under $100 a month.


Angie June 1, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Our weekly shopping includes: Trader Joes, our Local Farmers Market, Publix/Kroger (only one of these) and Earthfare at least monthly. We do have an Aldi, but I have not added this to my routine yet. This routine is crazy, but we literally can’t buy everything we want/need at one store. Plus I’m gluten free and a food snob. A very expensive combination.


Ashley S :) June 1, 2012 at 6:57 pm

I live on a secluded Indian Reservation, so there are NO stores within walking distance. Usually I take 1 day a week to go to town and run all my errands. Since I typically have several other things so do (with my 2 year old in tow) I only have the time and energy to do 2 stores a week. Luckily my DH has a wonderful little garden that actually does quite well for being grown on the Oregon Coast. Also, being on the coast, we have a local market for in-season fresh seafood 🙂 And for a few weeks in the summer there are farmers who bring their harvest in from the warmer climate inland for a mini farmer’s market.

Usually I go to Grocery Outlet, which is where I get nearly all of my produce and anything else that I can find. Then either Safeway (depending on their deals of the week) or WalMart. The only other store we have is Fred Meyers, but it is nearly three times the drive than the other stores are so I rarely go there. No Costco or anything else, but when I find a steal at Grocery Outlet or a great deal at Safeway I tend to stock up a lot, which saves us quite a bit in the long run. Like Krystal, we buy very healthy food but rarely eat out. And we spend very little in over-the-counter medications, doctor co-pays or calling in sick to work so it’s definitely worth it overall. Plus I do meal plan our dinners and focus on zero food waste and those two practices really pay off 🙂


Kimberly June 1, 2012 at 6:58 pm

I’ve been doing the “staples” shopping at Aldi, the produce at the farmer’s market, and meat/fish at the grocery store. I have also been spending a little bit at Trader Joe’s — trying to still have some of the convenience foods my family needs without trans fats, etc.


Laura's Last Ditch--Adventures in Thrift Land June 1, 2012 at 7:00 pm

I shop at our local produce store , which, thankfully, is pretty nice quality, and cheap, especially if you visit the markdown rack. I also visit the Dumpster there frequently when I on walks. It almost always yields some goodies.

In addition to this, I visit a grocery salvage store a few times a year, grow a lot in the garden, forage, and visit the local GFS, which we use for flour, salt, and rice in large bags. I haven’t been to a “normal” grocery store in almost two years. I am very blessed to have some great shopping ops around me.


Shannon June 1, 2012 at 7:28 pm

I’m all over the place lately: we have a CSA share (delivers! Woot!!!) I get my bulk grains plus local meat and eggs, cold cuts and cheese at an Amish market, we have a local farm market where I can get more produce, and Meijer and Aldi to fill in the gaps. ON any given week I’m not visiting ech of these places though. It just depends on the week. I love having an Aldi around—it’s so small that it’s like an inexpensive convenience store.


jennifer June 2, 2012 at 3:14 am

If we were neighbors Katy, which would be a stinkin’ blast!!, I would be glad to share fresh fish my hubby catches. Nothing quite as good as fresh bluegill and crappie….mmmmmm!!


Katy June 2, 2012 at 7:57 am

That would be a stink in’ blast!



Jenny June 2, 2012 at 7:54 am

I’m with the majority–I can’t find everything I need at one store for a good price. Since I live in a small town my options are limited but every week I go to Save-U-More (sort of a cross between Costco and WinCo or Aldi) and Safeway. Plus the farmer’s market in the summer and every couple of weeks a trip to a locally owned grocery for GF breads. And we buy part of a locally raised cow every fall, and freeze local wild fish in the summer for the year.


Jo H. June 2, 2012 at 3:48 pm

From here on out, I will ALWAYS think of this dilemma as “the slimy fish conundrum”, thanks to you! LOL


Katy June 2, 2012 at 7:51 pm

You’re welcome!



Karen June 2, 2012 at 5:44 pm

I make the rounds for sure–occasionally Safeway; Trader Joe’s and Nob Hill’s/Raley’s a couple times a month, because those two are right near work; Fresh and Easy, because they put a 10% off coupon in the paper every week, and because it’s a few blocks from home, etc. I keep my eyes open for new places, and was delighted to find a place called the International Gourmet the other day. Wonderful produce, and that’s saying a lot for northern California, and much cheaper than many places, with Middle Eastern bread to die for, etc. My family loves “ethnic” food, so it was not hard to find 3 bags full of deliciousness, a lot of it produce and/or ingredients for home cooked meals. Sometimes I go to Whole Foods, but just for dairy products, eggs and their store brand, 365 I think it’s called, which is reasonable.


Diane C June 2, 2012 at 11:53 pm

I try to do anything but Safeway, which is the primary grocery store n my area. Occasionally I will cruise through just to see what things cost at a “regular” store, LOL! I love Costco and Winco (the bulk bins rock!). Winco is new-ish to Northern CA, so all the stores are about the same age. Amazing how different each location is. The ones built in “better” areas tend to stay nicer longer. The ones in “bad” areas tend to reflect their surroundings, alas. Since no Winco’s are close to home, I plan my visits when I’m going to be in the area. I just throw a cooler in the car with some Blue Ice. In a pinch, I use a black contractor’s bag and grab a bag of ice there for under a buck. Worth. It. In addition to these, TJ’s and Grocery Outlet are occasional stops. Fresh & Easy has a groovy mark-down policy, and is the closest store to home. Other all-time favorite: 99 Cents Only Stores. I regularly score such deals as Earthbound Farms Organic Greens and Cracker Barrel Cheese for the princely sum of a buck. Oh, and then there’s the occasional swing through the Oroweat “Dead” Bread Store when I’m over in their neck of the woods. I stock up for my 80+ y.o. neighbor as well and utilize the punch card. Then there’s a funky local produce market across from Costco and a lovely year-round Farmer’s Market on Sundays. Yes, I do shop all over the place, but my best tip is to avoid them all for extended periods of time. It’s hard to spend money if I don’t go shopping. My pantry is stuffed to the gills. Come to think of it, perhaps it’s time to stop stocking it up and start eating it up. Here’s my final secret weapon: Bernice. She’s my oh-so-fabulous frugal friend who calls me when she finds great deals. Friends like her are even better than serial upgraders! With apologies to Girl Scouts and their leaders everywhere, my favorite round is: “Make new friends, but keep the old, one saves silver and the other’s gold”.


Katy June 3, 2012 at 11:14 am

I find Safeway to be incredibly cheap, because their sales are great, and they double coupons.



Diane C June 3, 2012 at 2:41 pm

No double coupons here in NorCal, alas. You’re right that their sales can be good, but I can generally beat their prices elsewhere day in and day out. Did I mention no double coupons? Sniff.


Practical Parsimony June 3, 2012 at 3:35 pm

I get eggs from my backyard and honey from a friend in the country. Figs for canning come from another friend. Meat that is on an ad sale comes from one store–all loss leaders I need plus coupons and discontinued items help my food dollars stretch. Another store throw meat ready to expire into a freezer, and I shop from that freezer. Produce comes from either store that has it on sale. I use my home-canned tomatoes.

The state sends a booklet of (5) $6 coupons to seniors in AL that are low income to be used at approved produce stands and roadside produce stands. The $30 does not go far, but it is helpful! I usually don’t need a $6 basket of anything, so I go to a booth with a good variety and tell the vendor I only want a yellow squash for my salad, two tomatos, etc. In other words, they allow me to have a variety for my $6. For 5 weeks, I can get enough each week for several salads.

I am growing volunteer potatoes, so we shall see! There are other things germinating.


emmer June 3, 2012 at 3:56 pm

i don’t much like safeway as they have over the years, like most chains, reduced wages and benefits for their employees. the only thing i buy from them is 7 bone chuck roast, when on sale. they do have tasty meat, but i would pay the extra if i could get bone in at new seasons. the bone adds flavor and i use it after the meal to make soup stock. i do a lot o f shopping at new seasons because they offer even their parttimers a health plan and pay decently, because they have good prices on their high quallity foods and knowledgeable staff who are willing to help me get the odd things i want ( leaf lard to render into lard for awesome pie crusts, 50# organic dark brown sugar, etc). we are too used to industrially made cheap food. i expect to spend up to 25% of my monthly income to get locally produced, high quality, often organic food. i do make bulk food orders from azure standard quarterly (wheat berries to grind to flour, rolled oats, dried fruits, some others). but i want all my fats, oils and dairy to be organic and i don’t want to support genetically modified industries, so new seasons gets a lot of my food dollars. there is a fred meyer near me, and those things that i don’t think must be organic come from there. i go to winco quarterly for a few special items .now that the local farmer’s markets are open for the season, most produce i don’t grow will come from there or one of the berry farms nearby. absolutely fresh! people say i am a good cook. what i really am is a preparer of simple recipes made with really good ingredients.


Amanda June 5, 2012 at 9:15 am

The Kroger closest to me has been recently remodeled and it is now very nice, so that is where I do most of my shopping, with a monthly run to Costco for bulk items.

I have recently started using a local grocery delivery service. They seem to stock all the same things as the brick and mortar stores, plus the produce and meat of local farms. I order online and walk to the pick up location the next day. It has been more fun that I thought.


Nancy from Mass June 6, 2012 at 5:23 am

I buy here and there and try to shop lost leader sales when I can. I also shop at Whole Foods for certain things (they are usually cheaper for yogurt for some reason and tofu) and shop Trader Joes when I am near one. i actually line up the flyers on thursday night (sale days start friday here for most stores) and compare prices between the chains. I also look at Walgreens for raisins ($1 pack vs 2 or 3 at the store) and cvs or walgreens for other things. thankfully, most of the stores are within 8 miles of my house, so if I have to hit two or three to complete my shopping, they are near to each other and I can ‘bundle-shop’.


julie June 9, 2012 at 4:13 am

I get about 75% of my food at a farmers market on alternate Saturday mornings, including all produce (other than the occasional mango or pineapple), eggs, most cheese and bread. This is a different kind of farmers market than what most people think of, much cheaper as well. I buy a “strange veggie of the week”, often some type of leaves or root, occasionally I can get a name for it, sometimes language barriers prevent even that. Even with the 10+ mile drive and $5 bridge toll, still cheaper than other FMs. I bike to another farmers market every other Sunday, a lot pricier, but I like the strawberries, navel oranges, and some meat. I eat very little meat, so spend the money for the good stuff. I used to go to Trader Joe’s, but now they’re just for beer (for friends-I hate the stuff) and the rare liquor that I like to drink occasionally. I go to a Mexicatessan just for tortillas, since they are the right size, and made fresh, no strange ingredients. About 3 blocks from my house is a very awesome produce store, almost a tourist attraction, which I get staples at (produce not quite as good as my FM). I go to a (no meat) natural foods store for bulk ingredients (can bring my own jars), and I venture into Whole Foods once a year or so, usually when I’m looking for processed animal-based food that isn’t stale with strange ingredients. Once in a blue moon I’ll buy something at the $$ FM right near my house, but it’s not the fruit, but meat or pasta or kimchi or tofu. Organic cherries: $8 at nearby FM, $3 at my normal FM. I just feed myself, and I don’t have housing expenses, so I don’t mind buying good quality ingredients, but not 2x price for same stuff.


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