So I live about 0.4 miles from a grocery store. (Actually, I live about 100 yards from a Costco but I have neglected to buy my membership thus far so I can’t go there yet.) This grocery store is excessively convenient because it’s directly on my way home, and so it’s generally my grocery shopping locale of choice. However, there are several other grocery stores within ten minutes of my apartment and every once in a while I decide to try a different one, just to scope it out.
That is pretty much always a mistake.
I’ll be honest here – the grocery store near my apartment is a Food Lion. Food Lions are generally considered lower-end stores. They’re alright, certainly, but they’re on the cheaper side and while they have decent selection, they don’t have a ton of the fancy stuff. Being on the cheaper end, though, I am actually amazed at how little my purchase costs every time I check out at my Food Lion. (To be fair, this may also have something to do with the fact that I spent my last four years living in Washington, DC where everything is absurdly expensive.)
But, sometimes I convince myself I need to try someplace else. This past weekend, for example, when I decided that to reward myself for following the strict half marathon training nutrition plan for two months I should go to Harris Teeter (the fanciest grocery store) and buy a ton of stuff. And I did. And to be honest, I was genuinely impressed with the range of products they had available for the first half or so of the time that I was there.
But it was expensive. Really expensive. And they still had a few products I couldn’t find so I stopped at my Food Lion on my way home and realized that nearly everything I’d bought at Harris Teeter I could have gotten at Food Lion and it probably would have cost significantly less. Oops.
Or, there was another time when I decided to try another one of the lower-end stores that’s within a mile of my apartment. So I drive up to the Bi-Lo, all ready to buy a short list of relatively simple items, and find that several of the things I needed aren’t in stock there. Plus there was a clear difference in quality of produce and, completely unlike Food Lion, when I checked out there I was shocked at how much more it costed than I expected. Also no good.
Ultimately, one of the only times that I have gone to a different store and not regretted it was the time when I went to the other Food Lion within a five minute drive from my apartment.
Basically, what I’m getting at here is that I have now officially learned that expensive grocery stores are not necessarily better, and it’s way more practical to find a nice, cheaper store and just stick to it. My Food Lion may not be high-end, but it’s friendly, well-organized, reasonably priced, almost never crowded, and has nearly everything I need.
It’s totally possible to be both budget-friendly and completely satisfied when it comes to groceries. 🙂