Which grocery store is your favorite?

*This article was previously posted on The Ill-Prepared Housewife. One thing I do a lot is Grocery Shopping. I feel like they should comp me a room and assign me a butler, because in the grocery game, I’m a whale. I don’t mean the largest mammal either. I mean the kind of person who spends good money after bad to get the thrill of the win on every aisle. Not the aisle of slot machines, silly, the aisles at the Grocery store. But they don’t give you free rooms and butlers for spending a lot of money on groceries. I mean, everyone’s gotta eat, so even though I am there all the time, I have to admit I’m not the only one.

What I have gotten from so many grocery store visits is this: a complete understanding of the true nature of each grocery store. And here are a few observations.

Stop and Shop

(Yours might be called Giant, or just think of your local every day supermarket.)

You will run into: Everyone you now know from any social circle. The trick is to time your aisle cruising so that you don’t keep running into the same person.

Good for: Embarrassing cleaning items that remove blood, stool and vomit; indefensibly non-nutritious items like Lunchables: Pop Rocks Edition; bananas

The Vibe: Killer soundtrack (Michael Bolton’s song from Hercules “Go the Distance” or some Chicago)

It’s annoying that . . . seasonal items are jarringly early (they have Fourth of July stuff our right now and it’s April) and sell out way in advance of said holiday.

Whole Foods

(foodie superstore with some high-end healthy stuff)

You will run into: mothers with Lilly Pulitzer tunics as though they haven’t quite shaken off that island vacation last week.

Good for: Cereals your family will eat that are not over-the-top bad for you (Peanut Butter Balls); exotic mushrooms; vegetarian frozen entrees; bananas

The Vibe: Health conscious with a dash of overindulgence (why else is there a hangover remedy in the impulse buy area?)

It’s annoying that . . . . they’ve rated the beef by the living conditions on the farm. Prepare to take out a second mortgage if you want to be sure your chopped meat had access to an espresso machine pre-slaughter.

Shop Rite

(You may have an older A&P or Safeway, this is the supermarket a few decades past its prime)

You will run into: A lot of people who are older than you.

Good for: I don’t know. There seem to be things for inexpensive prices here. For a while they were the last place I could find Peanut Butter Bumpers and Uncrustables on whole wheat bread; bananas

The Vibe: A little insidery — no two-for-a-good-price if you just buy one and they won’t use a store discount card if you don’t have one.

It’s annoying that . . . sometimes the bagger will smell all of your food before putting it into the bag.


(Smaller, upscale chain of grocery store)

You will run into: Old School law firm partners with a cart full drink mixers and salty snacks.

Good for: Root beer; the kind of cookies your mother-in-law always had for your husband when he was growing up; pomegranate seeds and other high end processed produce (see below); bananas

The Vibe: Country club choosy. Once heard a checker gossip that a customer had asked whether they had a discount card (“If you need a discount, why are you shopping here?!?”)

Trader Joe’s

(Only slightly more corporate version of 20th century health food store)

You will run into: A trail mix of the groovie, the thrifty and the skeptical

Good for: All manner of frozen fish; semi processed ingredients without the toxic stuff; things you need like a hole in the head (see below)

That’s right, they are ALL open.

The vibe: My friend Heather says “Trader Joe’s is your overly friendly hippy neighbor who really wants to be your friend. But you’re always a little suspicious”

It’s annoying that . . . they use bells instead of the PA system for staff communication. Like we don’t know what 4 bells at 4:20pm means!

Beth is the mother of four children who are either about to become adolescents or are there in full swing. Not unlike the tooth fairy or Santa, she is the one who magically straightens everything up and has the household humming along when everyone else returns home from school or work. Only she doesn’t get a charming back-story. Or magical powers. Check out what she’s doing over at Ill-Prepared Housewife.