Grocery Shopping 101


Grocery Shopping 101

These days, grocery shopping can be as easy as clicking a few buttons on your computer, followed by driving up to the store, and then driving away with a car full of food. I prefer to go into the store because I don’t trust other people to pick the produce for me and it gets my kids out of the house. It also teaches my kids how to shop, what to look for, and how to interact in society.

If you engage in a conversation about grocery shopping, you’ll find that it can turn into a very opinionated topic and that everyone has their favorite places. Some people have their one-stop shop for all items, while others spread the wealth. I fall into the latter category and prefer to shop around. Plus, with price increases in recent years, I often wonder if it’s better to shop in multiple stores or if I am spending more money by doing so. 

I find most of my items, especially produce, at Aldi.

They have a good overall selection of items and you could probably do all of your whole shopping there if you wanted. Some of the things that always land in my cart are strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, bananas, avocados, bread, pretzels, eggs, sliced cheese, cereal, oats, chicken nuggets, Italian sausage and any good deals on meat. Recently, I hit Aldi at the right time and got organic 97% lean ground beef for $2 off. There are times in which I won’t get certain items if another store I’m going to has a better deal or the produce doesn’t look good because sometimes Aldi’s fruit looks like it’s at the end of its shelf life. I’ve also found that my kids don’t really like Aldi’s granola bars (they are a bit hard for them to chew) and I avoid the lunch meat because I prefer to get it from the deli.

As much as I love Trader Joe’s, I find that their meat and produce can be expensive.

I usually get snacks and dry goods there because it’s normally just a stop on our way to run other errands, but I’ve heard great things about their frozen meals as well. I typically buy bagged apples (they are the perfect snack size for toddlers), coconut strips, popcorn kernels, pancetta, specialty vegetables that I can’t find elsewhere, stuffed and dry pasta, sauces, pantry items and fun holiday products. They also have a decent variety of options for gluten, nut and dairy allergies. Trader Joe’s $0.99 dark chocolate peanut cups always find their way into my cart — they’re the perfect little pick me up or gift. They have a wonderful selection of budget-friendly wines and if you want to expand your wine palate, they have plenty from around the world to try. Their flower section is my favorite for fresh blooms to add color to your home or someone else’s. 

Sam’s Club is usually my go-to for larger quantities of things.

I have a love-hate relationship with Sam’s Club because I’m always in shock when I see the total for what seems like so few items, so I have to remind myself that these items should last us longer. I usually stock up on meat, Greek yogurt (the best price I’ve found), applesauce pouches, butter, flour, dish soap, toilet paper, Nature’s Bounty fig bars, tortilla shells, Over The Border tortilla chips, chicken stock (especially during the winter months) and occasionally fruit if it’s cheaper than Aldi. I don’t usually buy their pre-made dinners or large packs of pasta or cans because I have no pantry (a pantry is on my list of the must-haves for the next house we move into). 

Walmart is usually where I find myself for the “I forgot this…” item, lunch meat, medicine, personal items, and Sunbelt Bakery granola bars.

Over the years, Walmart prices have become more competitive, so there have been times where I’ve done all my shopping in one place. The place I’ve stumbled upon recently is the United Grocery Outlet. I know you may be hesitant to shop there (I was too), but then I listened to a podcast of someone explaining grocery outlets, so I took the chance and had a wonderful first experience. The Grocery Outlet can usually sell products at a cheaper price because they buy surplus goods from their supplier. The first time I went, I left with several logs of Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage, Johnsonville hotdogs, and Gilbert’s Craft Sausages all for $1.99 each and they all still had plenty of time before their expiration date. Since going back, I’ve found packs of Applegate Salami, Talenti Gelato, Kashi cereal, gluten free Oreos and much more. I haven’t done a large shopping trip there, but I can see how someone could. The only downside is that they never have the same product consistently. 

Food City and Publix are rarely on my list now (usually only when they have BOGO deals and even then, it has to be something that we eat). Fresh Market has a great deal on chicken breasts and ground beef on Tuesdays, but I always forget about it.

Grocery shopping is one of those things that as a kid you never think you’ll worry about or have full conversation about when you’re an adult, but here we are! What are some of your favorite grocery stores and what are your go-to staples?

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Kimberly Casey
Hi, my name is Kimberly and I am a new stay at home mom. I am a nomad of sorts. Born in Arkansas to a military family of five children, I was speaking German by the age of 4. I have lived in Germany, England, and the United States and have traveled to countless other countries. In 2006 I moved to Providence, Rhode Island in order to attend Johnson & Wales University where I received a Bachelor's degree in Food Service Management, an Associate's in Culinary Arts, and an Associate's in Baking and Pastry Arts. So you could say that I'm a foodie.  After college I worked in Collegiate Ministry for many years and loved every second of it. I would do it again in a heartbeat if given the chance today. I met my husband, Wade, in 2011 through Collegiate Ministry but we didn't start dating until 2015. Our entire relationship was long distance and we saw each other a total of 10 times before our wedding. After our wedding in 2016, I moved to Chattanooga where my husband is an associate pastor and I can say that this move was one of the hardest things I had ever done. After two years of marriage we welcomed our daughter into the world this past October. She is a joy, loves to smile, and has turned our world upside down. If I'm not in the kitchen baking or cooking, you can find me outside enjoying nature.