grocery store dilemmas

Along with my goal of doing more meal planning, I’m trying to stick more to a food budget. I aim for spending $100 on groceries per week, but I often go over that. (All you non-Alaskans: things are much more expensive here!)

Why? I’m a purist. Or, if you prefer, a food snob. 🙂

I will only buy imported Parmesan, which is usually $9 or $10 for a small wedge. It tastes so much better–once you’ve had it, you can’t go back. I only buy organic milk. I try to get organic or free range eggs. I try to stick to local produce–at least Alaska grown carrots and potatoes during the winter, and as much local produce from the farmer’s market as I can during the summer. I can easily spend $30 or more every Saturday during the summer at the farmer’s market.

I also debate about all the trips I make to different stores. It would save me so much time if I could get all the groceries at one store. I mostly buy things at Fred Meyer, but they don’t sell whole milk mozzarella (the only kind Krestia likes on pizza). So I have to go to Carr’s for that. We like the house-made sausage at New Sagaya, and they have the best fresh seafood (although now that we have our own dipnetted salmon the freezer, we don’t buy salmon–just halibut occasionally). Also I buy these delicious imported Kalamata olives from New Sagaya.

I also have internal debates about lowfat versus full fat dairy products. Full fat dairy products are so delicious compared to the lowfat versions. I buy whole milk sometimes in order to make homemade ice cream, and we finish up the rest of the carton quickly, because it tastes so much better. But there’s still a part of me that’s worried about the calories. I have noticed recently more studies saying that a low-fat diet doesn’t necessary make you more healthy or lead to a longer life span. (Here’s an article from a few years ago–it’s long but good.) Right now I’m sticking with mostly 2% milk and lowfat yogurt, with occasional full-fat versions for a treat. We have always bought full-fat cheeses and full-fat ice cream, and real butter.

This is why grocery shopping sometimes takes me a long time. I wander around the store, thinking about all these things. I would especially like to change our habits when it comes to buying meat. Some friends of ours just used the term “conscientious carnivore” to describe how they eat–they only buy meat from local farms where they know the animals are being treated well. That is a long-term goal of mine.

What are your grocery store dilemmas?

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3 Comments

Filed under food philosophy

3 responses to “grocery store dilemmas

  1. ok. you have to go to costco with me. at least look at it. you could get real parmesan way cheaper [i buy pecorino, personally, because i like sheep milk] and all manner of nice cheeses way cheaper than fred meyer. you could get organic milk-but they only have 1 percent, and it’s not that much cheaper anyway. you can get organic free range eggs for $5 for 18. $5 for a 8 cans of black beans, organic canned tomato products. You should come with me when you get back. Cheaper isn’t always better, but there are some really great deals at costco.

  2. Karen

    I actually just started keeping track of our grocery expenditures- $211, $213, $516, and $286 for the last four months… the last two months being when we visited Charles’s sister who lives by a Trader Joe’s, so we still have lots of food left from those! I’ll usually spend $10-20 at the farmers market when I go, because if I buy more than that, it’s around for longer than a week and there’s no point to that.

    All my dilemmas are because of trying to integrate Charles’s grocery buying values (vegan, on sale, organic, good companies (no Coca-Cola products), spicy, prepared foods) with my family’s (meaty, on sale/cheap, buying in bulk, very few prepared foods) with my own values- which I’m not even sure what they are. I guess I’m mainly concerned with not buying too much (I hate to have perishable or semi-perishable food sitting around for longer than is absolutely necessary), not really that worried about whether it’s on sale as long as it’s not too expensive, and I like a mix between prepared foods and raw ingredients.

    Most of the indulgences we have are buying vegan equivalents to nonvegan products- especially soy creamer, soy cream cheese and soy ice cream. I buy only free-range eggs but I don’t go through them very fast. I also stock the sharpest possible cheddar cheese all the time, and probably one package of some kind of lunch meat per month. I’m totally lactose intolerant now like my mom, so I pretty much stick to the vegan stuff except for some occasional Lactaid milk which is sooo good. We don’t really worry about fat or calorie content at all. Charles doesn’t like lots of ingredients in things like bread (we mostly make our own now) but he eats super-processed veggie burgers and endless chips, so it’s not really a consistent principle.

    We have to go to the co-op for some of the vegan stuff, but we go to the supermarket in the car every week and the co-op only 1-2x per month, by bike if we don’t need that much.

    I’m a really slow shopper too, though. I can’t deal with the number of choices offered at the supermarket, and it’s hard to decide for things like cereal if I should go to all the trouble of only buying vegan ones, or just buy whatever- the problem is that he goes through a lot more food than me, so if I buy too much non-vegan stuff, then I get stuck eating the same thing over and over again! Anyway, sorry to hijack your post, I think the problems of supplying your house with food are the most complicated facet of adult life.

    • You didn’t hijack it at all! I like hearing about how other households do things. You got it right with that last sentence.
      Yes, Meggan, let’s have a Costco date sometime in late January. 🙂

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