Day three and still trapped in the house. This is the scene outside my window right now – a big pickup truck stuck on the patch of ice at the bottom of my driveway, about one inch from taking out the mailbox…
Yeah, I don’t think the Honda is getting anywhere anytime soon. :( Days like these are made for oatmeal. Apple cinnamon PB&J oatmeal, to be exact.
While I was making breakfast, Casey announced that now he knows why the dogs always want to lay in the sunshine patch in the kitchen…
The sunshine patch is SO WARM! He refuses to wear slippers for some reason, so instead he just stood in this warm patch for ten minutes talking about how good it felt. I wear my slippers any chance I can get!
Since I am at home enjoying an unexpected day off, I thought this would be a good day to address some questions I’ve gotten from readers. The first being about grocery shopping – how much do we spend, what do we buy, etc.
I am sure that it comes as no surprise to hear that I have a very detailed grocery shopping strategy. But I don’t want to make it seem complicated at all – one I figured this stuff out, it made grocery shopping soooo much easier and even FUN.
When we first came to Charlotte to look for places to live, one of the first questions I asked each potential landlord was “what grocery stores are around here?” – I am sure they thought I was insane. But that’s the little every day stuff that you don’t necessarily consider when moving, but it can be a BIG deal, especially to a food lover like me!
Here is my basic grocery store shopping strategy, that hopefully you can adapt for your own stores and needs:
I rotate between three different grocery stores, which to some people may seem inefficient, but if you plan it out right, it actually saves a lot of time and MONEY. When we first moved here, I spent hours at each grocery store, figuring out who had the best produce, prices, products, etc. – and now I know exactly where to go for certain things, and I plan out trips according to which stores have what I need that day. Since all three stores are in different parts of town, I also plan my trips based on what other things I have going on that week. For example, if I’m working at the South Park Mall on Saturdays, that’s when I hit up Earth Fare. Or I can go to the Uptown Trader Joe’s location on my way home from class, because I’m already there, see? So by going to 3 different stores, I’m really not adding any additional trips or gas, just streamlining the process and getting the best deals. So here’s how I do it:
Trader Joe’s – my most favorite of all the stores on earth. I could spend hours there, and sometimes I do, but most of the time I have perfected the art of in-and-out grocery shopping. My plan is to always go in to a store knowing what we need and want, so that I don’t end up with a million random things in my cart. TJ’s is where I always go for:
- lots of granola bars and my favorite high fiber cereal
- TONS of frozen fruit and vegetables
- frozen veggie burgers
- Greek yogurt – trader joe’s 0%
- oils and vinegars – much cheaper than the grocery store
- fresh produce (surprisingly the best deals anywhere in town!)
- dog food
Earth Fare – a close second on the favorite scale, but also too pricey for me to do regular shopping here. I wish I could get more of the beautiful produce there, but I can’t bring myself to pay the prices. The main reason I go to Earth Fare is to hit up the beautiful bulk wall…
We buy all of our grains, oatmeal, beans, seeds, etc. in bulk. First of all, it’s much cheaper – you pay by the pound and can get as much or as little as you need, and you don’t have to pay additional costs for pricey packaging. And speaking of packaging, it’s a much more environmentally friendly way to shop. I take everything home in produce-type bags, and then I put it all into reusable tupperware containers when I get home. So at Earth Fare I usually buy:
- all our grains, beans, oatmeal, etc.
- my favorite lite tofu (featured here)
- organic vegetable broth
- special sale items, or specialty stuff
Since I don’t get as much at Earth Fare, I only go there once or twice a month and just stock up when I do go. For example, clearing out their entire stock of tofu…
Food Lion (or Harris Teeter, depending on where I am) is the last stop for the rest of our basic kitchen staples:
- sparkling water and club soda
- canned goods – beans and tomatoes
- English muffins (which I use as veggie burger buns!)
- Almond Breeze (surprisingly cheaper than TJ’s or Earth Fare)
And that’s really about it – pretty easy and simple! Since we prefer to eat almost all vegetables, grains, beans, etc. – we really don’t eat a lot of packaged items or boxed stuff. The only real snack-type boxed foods we have are granola bars, which are a must for long days of class and being away from the house for 14 hours.
Obviously there are some things not on this list, but for the most part our shopping is pretty consistent. I’ve found that if we keep a well-stocked pantry, and rotate fresh produce in and out, the variety comes from the way we prepare it and new recipes we try. Later on I’ll give you a photo tour of my pantry and refrigerator, so you can see exactly how I keep it all organized. FASCINATING, right?
Over the course of writing this post, the pickup truck has slid backwards inch by inch on the ice. It is
now officially resting on the mailbox, and the neighbor is trying to tow it out with his truck. Let’s hope they don’t both get stuck!
Good thing we have so much food here – looks like we’re staying put for a while!