Confessions of a Gourmet Grocery Shopper


I have a confession to make. I shop at local gourmet grocery stores. A lot. I don’t just shop at these stores for special occasions or to pick up one or two items. I shop there regularly for daily items. I know theses stores are more expensive, but after a long day of work, I always head straight to them.

My husband Jared and I are recent first time homeowners and as a result, are pretty much always talking about how we can cut back our spending. Every few weeks, we pour over our credit card charges to see where we can trim some spending. It’s shocking to see how much money we spend on food every month. We’ve cut back on eating out, and when we do go out, we are mindful of menu price points. But, every time we review our credit cards, I still seem to be spending a lot on groceries. I throw my hands in the air and exclaim, “But all this money is going to groceries. We have to eat, and it’s important to buy healthy groceries!” What gives?

There are three Safeways within five miles of my house and a Trader Joes three blocks away.  As the primary grocery shopper of the household, I often make the excuse that the parking lots at these stores are zoos, the lines are too long, the selections aren’t as health oriented. So, to the gourmet store I go, where I know exactly where every thing is located and the staff knows my name.

This past week, I made a commitment to start shopping at Safeway and Trader Joes during the week and stock up fresh produce at farmers markets on the weekend. I figured I’d trade convenience and comfort for maybe an extra $15 in savings each week. That’s no small chunk of change…almost $800 annually! But, wow! Talk about big price differences. I saved $25 for the week, just by shopping at different stores (for the same stuff!).  Some price comparisons:

  • Health Aide Kambucha: $3.99 vs. $4.99
  • 1 lb. Starbucks Coffee: $6.99 vs. $9.99
  • Lemons: $0.69 vs. $0.99
  • Siggi’s Vanilla Greek Yogurt: $1.69 vs. $2.19
  • Barilla Whole Wheat Pasta: $1.25 vs. $1.55
  • And the list goes on!

Some Lessons Learned:

  • Do not pay more for branded items than you should. That is money down the drain.This adds up! You already know this, now act on it!
  • Gourmet grocers are great for special occasions or for picking up a few specialty items or prepared foods.
  • Just because you pay more for produce at a gourmet grocer doesn’t mean it will taste better.
  • If you go to the farmer’s market right before it closes, you can usually get deals on things like berries and lettuce. The vendors want to sell their stuff!
  • If there are items you buy regularly, check multiple stores to find out which offer them regularly at a lower price

My commitment to shop around for groceries has been extremely eye opening. By spending a little more time to go to a variety of stores, I’ve been able to put aside more money towards our long term financial goals. And, most importantly, I’m still eating the same healthy produce and food brands I love.



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