Thursday, January 24, 2013

Shopping-Grocery Style

If you know me at all, you know I love shopping!  While I prefer to shop for clothes, or shoes, or whatever is on sale, I can also fill that shopping void by doing most of our grocery shopping.  I know each part of the country has their own grocery store chains, so I can only speak for what is available to me in Oklahoma.  I encourage you to go out and find what is out there in your city. 

First I would strongly urge you to check out Carrie’s posts from May & June on her experiences with her first garden, the money she saved and delicious produce she grew in her backyard.  In the meantime, below are a few other suggestions.  The first 3 options are my favorite since you are supporting local, sustainable farmers and keeping your money in your community. 

CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)-We belonged to one of these last year and it was great.  Depending on the size of the share and the size of your family you might want to split it with someone.  Ours was $25 a week and they delivered 2 large brown bags of groceries to me every week.  Sometimes it was hard to use it all up before the next delivery came.  My favorite thing about it was the surprise, it was like a grab bag!  Whatever is in season that week, you will get.  You will be supporting a local farmer and getting the best local produce that hasn’t been traveling cross country, or cross continent to get to you.  If you are in OKC, check out Guilford Gardens.  Last year I really enjoyed the tomatoes, peppers, corn, peppery arugula, squash and tried so many new dishes that weren’t part of my repertoire. 

Farmer’s Markets-If you like the idea of eating & supporting locally (why would you not??) but you also want to control what items you purchase then this is the best option for you.  Check out this fabulous link for a national site with all kinds of great links to local farmer's and their markets.  It's really comprehensive. 

Urban Agrarian- Some farmer’s markets are only held on the weekends, or have limited hours.  If you are in Oklahoma City you need to check out Urban Agrarian.  They are a farmer’s market that has a storefront open Wednesday-Sunday and also travels to locations throughout the growing months.  They do all the hard work and gather products from 30 Oklahoma producers including amazing juicy peaches from Porter, perfect eggs from Geary, and beef from Davis.  I can still support local farmers but I don’t have to drive all across the state.  I go there at least once a week, all year round.  I get to know where my food it coming from and who prepared it.  Not all of it is labeled ‘organic’ but you can always ask about their pesticides and growing process and make your own decisions.  You can even order online and they will have it ready for you, or will deliver it to you. 

Whole Foods-Commonly called “Whole Paycheck” Whole Foods does not have the reputation of being affordable, but it does have the reputation of being the most health conscious organic grocer.  It really impressed me that they don’t allow anything sold in their stores to have ingredients from this unacceptable list unacceptable list of more than 80 “ingredients.”  And I use “ingredients” in quotes because I don’t have bottles of potassium metabisulfite, ethylene oxide and caprocaprylobehenin at home next to my refrigerator.  Heck I don’t even know how to pronounce them, but I am sure they are all crammed into some over processed snack that I ate at one point.  They still don’t ban recombinant bovine growth hormone and propylene glycol so make sure you are reading the labels.  Their private label brand is called 365 and is more reasonably priced.  Their sales also overlap on Wednesdays, so go then to stretch your dollar further.  You can also use Whole Foods coupons (printed online) and stack them with manufactures coupons for an even better bargain.  They have an extensive health & beauty section and salad bar and prepared foods section.  Their customer service is impeccable.  Their Whole Deal section of the website has coupons and recipes and they are always running promotions and educational opportunities.    

Trader Joe’s-I think you have heard me talk about my love for Trader Joe's and if you are lucky enough to have one nearby, check it out. I was surprised to recently learn they are owned by the same people as Aldi’s (I'll be posting about them next week). They carry a good variety of healthy food options, but I love their Trader Joe’s label items. The price point is really reasonable and they contain NO artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, NO MSG, NO genetically modified ingredients and NO added Trans Fats. They don’t have as large of a selection as Whole Foods, but you can certainly get what you need, along with a bottle of $2 Chuck, their frugal wine line from Charles Schwab. Their website also has some great recipe options and other tips. 

Sprouts-Sprouts  is a national chain based out of Colorado and are in the southwestern states.  Take advantage of their best deals on Wednesdays when they have 2 sale ads that overlap.  Their stores are about ½ produce, ¼ health & beauty and ¼ traditional packaged foods.  They are known for their “silly produce prices” and I have purchased pints of blackberries and organic kale for $1.  They have sold avocado’s 4/$1 and bulk almonds for $3.99 a pound.  You won’t find Lay’s potato chips and Diet Coke here, but you will still find added sugars and processed foods.  You need to read your labels.  There are some great options at Sprouts, but if you buy bags of “healthy” potato chips don’t wonder why you are gaining weight.  A candy bar is still a candy bar and should be eaten in moderation.  Make sure to view their deals of the month online and register for their e-updates and coupons. 

We don’t have an Earth Fare yet in Oklahoma, but I would love to try one out.  They are primarily in the southeastern states.  

Do you shop at any of these stores or what is your favorite?  Next week I'll be sharing how to 
maneuver in a healthy & affordable way around conventional stores like Walmart and Sam's Club. 

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