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Visit to a Supermarket

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Today, for the first time in years, I stepped into a regular supermarket - a Safeway store to be precise. I guess a lot of the country relies on such stores for all or most of their shopping. My heart goes out to you. The fish counter smelled of amonia, the beef and meat was all wraped in plastic and the quality looked mediocre at best. The best chicken in the house comes from a large scale provider in California, and most of the plastic trays cotained some pinkish liquid, and the labels indicated the chicken parts containe some percentage of water. Selection was pretty much limited to reguilar national brand, some at prices much higher tha at specialty stores, organic and Asian markets ($6.00+ for second tier oyster sauce vs $3.00 for the same company's premium brand at the Asian markets). The list goes on, but essentially the selections were limited, quality low, and freshness suspect.

Ugh! What a horrible thing it would be to have to rely on such stores for one's main or only shopping source. My heart goes out to those of you who rely on such stores.

Why was I there, you may ask. I had a great coupon for some laundry detergent and found myself driving past the store. There was a parking space right in front of the entrance. So I got some soap and pcked up a can of chipotles in adobo sauce. I'm anxious to try another brand of that.

Shel
post #2 of 18
Safeway is not exactly a premium-quality supermarket.
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
That's what I said. Is there an echo in here? <LOL>

Shel
post #4 of 18
Jeez, I hope ya didn't get any on ya... :rolleyes:

Oh, and I've heard that soap tastes like really nasty. I wouldn't be so anxious to try another brand...
I might be suffering from CDO.
It is just like OCD, except the letters are in alphabetical order.
Just as they should be...
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I might be suffering from CDO.
It is just like OCD, except the letters are in alphabetical order.
Just as they should be...
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post #5 of 18
Without driving 40 miles or more, I have to shop at Meijer (kind of like Super Walmart but seem to carry better products and more hard to find items), Super Walmart, SavALot, Kroger, or Scotts (a division of Kroger). Since I've never lived in an area where there were other stores available, I guess I don't know any better so don't feel too deprived unless I'm looking for something I've seen on tv or read about here and it's simply not available. That's the price I pay for living in the country! Oh I've shopped at Bi-Lo, Piggly Wiggly, Winn Dixie, Food Lion, and Marsh (small Indiana chain) but no ethnic or more upscale stores.
post #6 of 18
had this discussion recently on a different (local) website....within a 8 week period I'll have been to 3+ farmer's markets a week, multiple ethnic grocery stores ....latino,italian, international, etc......whole foods, trader joes (multiple locations), high end Straubs (2 locations), Schnucks/Dierbergs (several locales) as well as Aldi's and Shop and Save. Butchers, Penzey's....cheese shop..... So, it's not unusual when I'm shopping to stop at numerous stores. Each is different.

Yes there is a HUGE difference between shopping at a monger and farmer's market vs a regular store. There's something about the discount stores that are for lack of a better word..."dead food". Their lighting is obnoxious, it's garish in a way.

What is amazing to me is that people shop at the same grocery store and don't deviate. Guess they consider it a chore.

So, yes Shel you are indeed fortunate to be in an area that has glorious food. Trying to remember again why I live in STL.......
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #7 of 18
I want to add that I do shop some local produce stands and shop at least 3 stores per week to get everything I need and the best prices. I do not buy meat at Walmart because I don't like the quality. The meats I buy are fresh packed meats, not cryopacked like Walmart and in stores that have a true meat department, not just stockers in that area. Other than local farmers that set up stands on Main St. on Saturday mornings, the nearest farmer's market is about an hour away from me so I don't frequent it. This year we have a decent garden so I'm dehydrating, freezing, and canning some produce. We just make do with what we can get and try to find the healthiest choices available without paying an arm and leg.
post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
Oh, yes, I remember Straubs and Schnucks. I think those were the primary markets we shopped in - but that was years ago.

Yes, I recognize how fortunate we are in the San Francisco Bay Area. The number of farmers markets is very high, Trader Joe's is considered by many to just be a glorified convenience store, and living here means that it's easy (if you've the time and inclination) to do all your shopping at local purveyors. For example, when I want poultry I generally go to the poultry market, and get chicken, duck, turkey, rabbit, and some of their home made goods as fresh as can be. Likewise for pork and beef at another local butcher, produce at the produce market or, better yet, the farmers market, bread at any one of several "artisan" bakers, cheese at specialy cheese shops, and so on.

Not having been in a regular supermarket for years, the Safeway was an eye-opener.

Shel
post #9 of 18
I don't like Trader Joe's at all.
post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 
What don't you like about TJ's?

Shel
post #11 of 18
The fruits, vegetables, chocolate (has hydrogenated oils), prepared foods (wouldn't touch them... look at the ingredients), cheeses.

I do go there on occasion for a bottle of wine, but only when it's very convenient. As you said, convenience store. :D
post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
I agree with you about the fruits and veggies - never buy 'em except if there's an emergency <LOL> I found that the prepackaged lettuce and veggies are often five to seven days old before being put on the shelves.

I enjoy some of their frozen items, some of their sauces (Punjab and Korma sauces especially), but I read package labels very carefully, look for not only ingredients but country of origin as well. There are two or three frozen fish selections that I sometimes choose, and some of the dairy products they carry are well priced and quite good.

The local TJ's carries some brand-name items at prices far below other stores in the area, and if you like those items, TJ's is a good place to get 'em. Some of their meat is a very good deal - they carry Niman Ranch pork and beef products at good (not great) prices.

I think with TJ's one has to be selective, but that's the same with other stores as well. For example, there's agreat poultry store in my neighborhood, but for for turkey I'll shop across town as I feel the turkey is better there.

Thanks for responding,

Shel
post #13 of 18
My area is dominated by Pick 'N Save (Roundy's foods). They drove out Jewel, Sentry (a Wisconsin chain) and most of the Piggly Wiggly stores. In fact, there are three of them within 10 minutes of my home. There are a few local upscale stores (two different Sendik's chains; Grasch's; V. Richards; Gagliano's; Trader Joe's) and we recently added a Whole Foods and a Fresh Market. Most of my shopping is done at PnS, but every chance I get I buy meat and poultry at Sendik's. I have a pretty good relationship with the meat guys at my closest PnS and I get fairly good stuff from them. Still, when I want the better stuff I go to Sendik's. Their meat/fish/poultry area has plenty of knowledgeable staff and the produce is the best you can get in a store around here. It's not the glorious stuff you can get in California, but it's pretty good.

I didn't find TJ's to be a store I'd shop at much even if it were closer than 35 minutes away. The packaged food had too much sugar for my dietary needs and everything seemed quite pricy.
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post #14 of 18
In the end, I suppose we'll find out they were all Supervalu anyway.
post #15 of 18

Out of Curiousity, Shel

Where do you buy your non-food kitchen items? Paper towels, dish soap, all that kind of stuff?

We actually have 5 supermarkets in town, at none of which would I willingly shop for produce or meats. For that I make the long haul to Lexington (35-40 miles, one-way), where there's a new Fresh Mart (which I fell in love with) and a whole slew of specialty and ethnic markets. Plus two farmers' markets.

When the Fresh Mart opened I thought it was going to take a second mortgage to shop there. But was pleasantly surprised that prices are not out of line. In fact, they're fairly comparable to Kroger. Slightly higher in price, but exponentially higher in quality.

Is it worth the weekly or twice-weekly drive? Everyone has to make their own decisions on that sort of thing. For me, it's well worth it to have the choices, and the freshness, I want for what I cook.
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hmmm .... I can't remember the last time I bought paper towels. It was certainly before I moved, and that's been about a year, and I know it was quite a while before that. Likewise plastic wrap - I use glass storage bowls and containers with tight fitting rubber/plastic lids. A large sized bottle of dishwashing liquid (for handwashing dishes) will last me a few years, and the last one I purchased was from the local organic grocery - they have several brands that do the trick. The dishwashing detergent for use in the dishwasher comes from one of three or four places - a local branch of a drug chain that's located by TJ's, or from a pharmacy in Berkeley which is not your typical pharmacy (Elephant Pharm), or I'll grab a container at one of the produce markets or maybe Whole Foods, depending on where I'm shopping when I need the stuff or if it's on sale. If I get a good sale price I'll buy a couple-three containers which'll last a l-o-n-g time. Similarly for aluminum foil.

I really try hard not to use disposable or throw away products. It just grates me to toss a wad of used paper towels into the trash when I can, instead, use cloth bar towls or something similar that I pick up from a place like Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and toss 'em in the laundry along with other items, and use a towel for a couple of years.

Shel
post #17 of 18
Mezz, have you gotten to the Fresh Market? We went opening day, and I was not impressed. Limited fresh seafood selection, and limited knowledge by those behind the glass. The steaks looked okay. The rest of the store seemed gimmicky and reminds of Trader Joes. I don't trust all the products with the "Fresh Market" label. They compared themselves in the paper to Grasch's which is humorous.

I like Sendik's, but think their seafood is about an ocean away in quality from Grasch's, which I feel has the best seafood in the metro area. Grasch's meats are also the best, but I would need a side job to purchase them for anything other than special occasions.

You didn't mention Brennan's, where I often buy steaks, and sometimes produce. I look there for wine sometime. It is not unsual for me to head out on a Saturday morning if I'm going to do something that night and hit all three. I also love Glorioso's for Italian, and El Rey for Mexican.

Most day to day stuff gets done at Pick 'n' Save or Sendik's.

There are Chicagoans on the LTH forum that are envious of Milwaukee's high quality markets.

Kevin
post #18 of 18
Kevin, I thought the produce was lovely when I went for the first time last Friday. I don't buy much fish so I have no opinion about it. The meat looked pretty good but it wasn't on my list- I was feeling under the weather so I was out for some cooked food. The chicken breast was pretty good.

Grasch's is out of my way, so I don't go there often and haven't been there for quite a while. I haven't bought much at Brennan's either, although friends who do, like it a lot. When I need special meats I go to Sendik's in Brookfield. Someday I have to get to El Rey! The Hispanic store in Waukesha (Amigo?) is interesting but I've only been there twice. Glorioso's is pretty good, but you really do have to get to Tenuta's. I'm going next week on Monday- with my cooler in my trunk, of course. :D
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