A Confession of a Grocery Shopper

I have a confession to make…  

I do the majority of my grocery shopping at Walmart, Target, Wegmans or our local super market Shoprite.   I don’t enjoy grocery shopping that much and I go in on a mission, get my food and leave.  I don’t spend hours scouring each individual aisle.

grocery cart

I’m not a foodie.

I’m not great at cooking.

I don’t spend a small fortune on food.

I use coupons when I remember them.

I shop at Whole Foods and Trader Joes 3 times a year (if that).

I don’t buy the latest and greatest organic protein powders and nut butters.

I do, however, eat well and take in the proper nutrients (most of the time).  I actually have a public health college degree and have taken multiple college nutrition courses.  In personal experience, those who studied nutrition are the least stressed about it.   They don’t worry about the newest foodie fads or the most expensive gourmet foods.

The majority of our household meals take a maximum of 30 minutes to make. I have no problems eating the standard meat, potatoes and veggies multiple times each week.  It doesn’t bother us and we know it works and is healthy.  We will add variety with different meats, starches and vegetables but we don’t cut out food groups.  We have no need to substitute carbohydrates for more vegetables (such as cauliflower crust pizza).   Our food is simple and identifiable.

It is not that I can’t afford to shop at specialty grocery stores.  If my interest was to try multiple specialty foods, I would.  I don’t have a need to complicate my nutrition.  I don’t have a need to spend 50 dollars on a tub of protein powder that would last me a week.  When did we transition to be “trendy grocery shoppers”?  What makes the Whole Foods brand of cereal O’s better?

As a society, we obsess too much over food.  Whether we are obsessing over the latest fad diet or we are obsessing over the brand of our cereal.  We are obsessed with food.   We complicate food and nutrition.

The bottom line is a common myth and misconception is that it is necessary to shop at a specialty grocery store to eat well.  That is not true and any grocery store is going to provide quality food and nutrients to keep your body healthy (from Walmart or Trader Joes).

Questions for you:

Where do you do most of your grocery shopping?

How long does the average dinner in your house take to cook?


55 responses

  1. Great post! Although I love shopping at Whole Foods because they have snacks for my daughter while I shop. I also love grocery shopping if the husband is watching the girls… but then again I’d love changing my oil if it meant 20 minutes of alone time!
    I did not study nutrition in college and am very intrigued by it. I eat clean, don’t adopt any specific diet, but am doing an experiment with my husband over the next couple months to try out what all the rave is over the latest “fad” diets.

  2. I am a big Trader Joes fan, one of the reasons being that it is small and I can get in/get out. There are a few things I can’t find there and I’ll supplement with a regular grocery store or Whole Foods if I need to. I’d love to shop at WF all the time (and it’s really close to my house) but it is too expensive for the regular shopping. I think you’re right, though, about people w/ nutrition related degrees being more mellow about food–definitely the case w/ my RD friend.

  3. 95% of our shopping is done at the Norfolk commissary. I use that 25% discount so I can afford the other 5% of our shopping we do at Fresh Market (mostly prepared food items). Don’t have anything against TJ or WF but am not going to drive all the way to VB to shop there. Most of our meals take 30 min or less to prepare.

  4. Nice post Hollie 🙂 I usually get household supplies and dry goods at Target and then fresh produce at Sprouts because it’s super cheap there. Meals usually take half to a full hour here, and lately it’s been “throw it in the crock pot” and forget about it meals.

  5. We shop at our local store, not only is Whole Foods an hour away but it is twice as much for the same things. We eat an uncomplicated healthy diet, since Eric is a vegetarian most of our meals are plant based but I have no issue eating steak and fish 🙂 All of our meals take less than 30 minutes to prep and cook- we both work full time and have no interest in creating pinterest worthy dinners as long as they taste good and keep us moving! (and like you we don’t jump onto the fad bandwagon of the trendy powders and bars. A balanced diet seems to do the trick for us!)

  6. “We will add variety with different meats, starches and vegetables but we don’t cut out food groups. We have no need to substitute carbohydrates for more vegetables (such as cauliflower crust pizza). Our food is simple and identifiable.”

    Yes, yes yes. It irks me to no end when people completely cut out food groups. Good nutrition is not a secret. However, I do recognize that people have different dietary needs and sometimes have to cut out certain food groups…but those people are likely few and far in between.

  7. Both Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are inconvenient for me, so I don’t shop there. Typically we shop at Costco, Harris Teeter, and Publix. Clay is more of a Publix person because it’s so close to the house, I’d rather drive a little further to HT. They have great buy one get one free deals and coupons. I think WF is very overpriced and have only been in there maybe 3 times. I won a gift card for WF back in October at a group run and I still have not used it. Trader Joe’s is okay, it’s cheaper but I don’t think the produce there is as good.

    I have seen recipes for cauliflower crust pizza and black bean brownies online, and I guess if someone wants or needs to eat that way, that is fine. If I’m going to eat pizza or brownies, and I do (I eat pizza probably once a week because I love it), I want the real thing. I load my pizza with veggies but I do not want a healthy version of it, that would probably just make me crave the real thing!

  8. Well as you know I live on the good ol’ eastern shore and there aren’t much options for grocery store. We have Wal Mart or Food Lion. I really hate Food Lion but i’s the most conveniently located. I definitely go to Wal Mart for bigger trips though. Last night I made stuffed shells and meatballs so that was my most complicated meal I made in a long time but other wise we eat meat, potatoes, veggies or salad ha! Works for me. (PS YAY MARATHON WEEK!)

  9. With you, sis. We just shop at the Safeway since its closest to our house. There are a few things i spend a little extra on… Free range chicken and the egg lands best eggs… Our freezer is full of elk so we have “organic” ground meat and steaks… All our produce and the rest of our foods are pretty basic… We eat very simple also… Pretty much the same meals daily…. Oatmeal for breakfast, turkey sandwich for lunch… One less thing to worry about right? 🙂

  10. Trader Joe’s is the best. 19 cent bananas! If saving a shit ton of money on my food is a trend, that is a bandwagon I want to be on.

  11. great post. i like going anywhere that i can get a good deal and is convenient. i hate taking too much time. i go to TJ’s for the coconut oil, which i’m a fan of, and their $1.99 huge bags of greens. i freeze them and eat them. so i buy a ton. i’ll go there like once every 3 months. otherwise i just buy food from where ever is close and convenient. whole foods… gee that’s not convenient so maybe twice a year. it’s not a planned event by any means.
    if dinner takes me more than 20 minutes than it’s just silly to me. we are busy people, and like you said good food doesn’t need to be complicated. i like weird food combinations but that has nothing to do with health trends… and i do love me some greens!

  12. I love Trader Joe’s… I’ve been an avid fan since one opened up in my hometown when I was in high school. They just have some things that are unique to their store that are really great (a lot of their frozen stuff, yogurts, salad dressings, etc.). They used to have amazing chicken chimichangas that they stopped making and I was devastated when I couldn’t find them anymore LOL. I like the idea of Whole Foods, but yeah, a lot of the stuff is much more expensive… but they have things I can’t get at place like ShopRite (some vegetarian meat alternatives, they have great bulk bin options for grains, cereals, trail mixes, etc.) but it definitely isn’t the kind of place where I can do my weekly shopping. I think Wegmans is hands down the best “regular” grocery store out there – the produce is always fresh, they have a great selection, and the prices are reasonable!

  13. Because I do not have a car I usually shop through Fresh Direct, having my groceries delivered = amazing. But, I have to supplement with a couple trips to the local place for produce a couple times a week. Honestly I eat a protein and a ton of veggies each meal, I am simple I can throw together in 30 mins or less and eat the same thing multiple days. If I am near a TJ’s I will go there to pick up some pricier items (they have 1.99 cartons of egg whites which I breeze through and some other dairy products and nut butter) but I am with you, nutrition is easy and doesn’t take crazy products to eat healthy.

  14. We get almost all of our groceries from Relay Foods, an online grocery store here. You order everything ahead of time and then you pick it up the next day. It’s SO convenient because I don’t have to go up and down the aisles searching for what I want, and they carry things from farmers (lots of local produce) as well as things like crackers and cereal and toilet paper, etc. It’s awesome!

  15. I don’t shop at Whole Foods and Wegmans but I do shop at Trader Joe’s, mostly because it’s cheaper than other grocery stores around me and I don’t like to cook so I buy their pre-cooked grilled chicken. I don’t buy fancy foods. I buy vegetables, meat, some frozen food, and go out occasionally. I grew up in a house where eating a meat, starch, and carb was normal so that’s how I operate now. I don’t understand the need to make elaborate meals either. The less time it takes to make, the sooner I get to eat it. Most of the time I find health trends disgusting anyways haha

  16. I am a HUGE fan of Target. and their simply balanced and archer farms brands are low cost and offer the same as any old grocery store. But mainly because it’s Target and I can do more than just grocery shop, which I actually hate. Agree with you, we over complicate food/nutrition. I do like the food bar at Whole Foods though!

  17. Costco, Lucky, or whatever ethnic grocery store I happen to be near for the most part. My issue with WF is that sometimes the organic food you are buying is shipped from a different country; I’d rather buy the conventionally grown local item, right next to it. Time permitting, I do make a TJs, Sprouts, WF trip, as they are roughly on the same street, so it’s just a matter of making the time to get there.

  18. YES! I buy everything at Kroger and only shop at our trendy whole-foods type place when they have a mega sale on asparagus or something. I eat my fruits & veggies but am definitely not a foodie either

  19. I shop at Whole Foods. I used to go to all different stores for different things cause WF is more expensive, but I just don’t have time for that anymore! I I actually switched to eating almost all organic lately not necessarily for health (although I think it IS better), but because I genuinely hate Monsanto so much that I don’t want my money to go to ANYTHING that could have been produced my Monsanto, and they’re working on fruits/veggies now which I don’t like. Anyway, so that’s why I stay mostly at WF now- organic is REALLY easy to find! And lately I’ve been buying a lot of things at Costco cause they have organic stuff for way cheaper, but I prefer to still buy organic meats from Whole Foods cause all the meat at Costco is Kirkland and I think the big organic companies still do some weird stuff with their treatment of organic animals. I think things like cauliflower crusts are good if you can’t tolerate the wheat very well! I had a slice of pizza at work last night and woke up feeling like I ate bread (I have an empty hunger feeling that I can’t explain if I’ve been eating breads). Our typical dinner usually takes like 20-30 minutes to make. We actually are big snackers at night- I’ll just have a smoothie and cream cheese filled dates or something. I typically make the biggest breakfasts/lunch and then dinner is just kind of an afterthought a lot of times. I make a lot of crockpot meals that are simple too. This response was all over the place. I hope it made sense.

  20. woo.! great honesty. I am the same way.. can’t cook. haha.
    I shop at WInco… I believe it’s only in the west coast.

  21. Well we don’t have Whole Foods or TJ’s up here in Canada, so that’s automatically out 😆 But I totally agree with the no-fuss approach to cooking and shopping. I used to be able to spend hours upon hours grocery shopping, but that was largely due to my ED and there’s no way I can do that sort of thing anymore. The faster I can get stuff done, the better. And when it comes to cooking? Same thing. I can appreciate a fancier meal, but only if someone else makes it 😆 Personally I like to keep things simple and healthy.

  22. Man, do I miss Weggies. Seriously it’s the best place on earth. We’ve talked about this, but whenever I go home, I stock up on specialty coffee. Anyway, aside from using the crockpot, cooking dinner takes me 20 minutes tops. I do as much meal prep as possible (like roasting veggies and sweet potatoes), so all that’s required is zapping those foods in the microwave.

  23. I could not like this more! I am totally a bargain grocery shopper. I don’t buy organic. I don’t buy grassfed anything. I buy what is cheap and what will help me hit my macros. I eat processed food and I love it.

    I shop at Aldi’s (the cheapest), then Costco (great produce) and finally Giant Eagle (super expensive). I have never set foot in a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s yet. They’re building a TJ near us and I feel like I should avoid it like the plague, especially from what I have heard about their cookie butter.

    Mike and I recently started a budget to pay off our loans faster, so we only give ourselfs $400 a month for groceries. Eating the way I do, I could not do that at whole foods!

  24. I agree, and was actually thinking about this the other day. I grew up in a house where it was simple yet good meals- My mom and dad based nutrition around— meat, veggies, starch and always a glass of milk. That’s just how it was, and we lived pretty healthy lives then (and now). Now I guess I put a little more thought into it but still around the basic premise of getting the basics in. I do like to try new things, try and make some recipes healthier too but I don’t like cutting out food groups.

  25. Hollie – we can grocery shop together ANYTIME my friend!! I keep it simple, even when my kids aren’t with me. My nearest Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are 45 minutes away so unless I have a “luxury day” I rarely can go. This is exactly why I love Blue Apron so much – they do it all for you!…I just wish it were cheaper 🙂

  26. I do some shopping at budget stores like Lidl and Aldi, but I get most of my produce from the local market (not a fancy one by any means, and everything there is SO much cheaper than in the stores. It’s three miles away from my house so I have no excuse not to walk down every week). I get fantastic deals on bananas from lots of supermarkets though, because they will literally sell off any banana that is remotely ripe for basically nothing. I can’t believe people still eat green bananas, but hey, that just means more gorgeously ripe and spotty ones for me 😉

    I love eating simply, and often I have completely raw days now so food takes no time to assemble at all. Not freaking out over preparing elaborate meals has meant that I’m perfectly able to stick some potatoes in the oven and be perfectly happy. I do like my protein powder though…I don’t think I’ll ever let them go completely!

  27. I worked as a cashier at a grocery store for a couple years. It was always interesting to see how different people shopped.

    I honestly avoid stepping foot in a grocery store, it’s been months since I’ve been inside ANY kind of store. This is probably temporary for reasons you already know. I’m lucky that my mom doesn’t mind going to the store. She loves going to our local farmers market! She is also 100% polish and goes to this one polish store a lot. I think we go to the store more often for dog and cat food. lol.
    Dinner at my house doesn’t take long at. Normally 30 mins max. We love to use the crockpot. I’m also a simple meat, potatoes and veggie girl.

    And , I totally agree about the food obsession in our country. Food is just everywhere! ughh. Makes recovering from an eating disorder super challenging.

  28. I do almost all my grocery shopping at my local shoprite where they seem to have the best prices on all the basics, along with some “trendy” things like coconut oil. I stick to simple and it works for everyone in my family, as well as the budget.

  29. I shop at Kroger or Aldi because they are most convenient. I live somewhere – gasp – that doesn’t have WF or TJ’s. And when I’ve gone to both, I have been underwhelmed at best. In the summer, I do get the chance to be a bit smug because I garden but that’s as good as it’s going to get.

    I agree with keeping cooking simple. I’d love to do fancy dinners but a) it’s expensive; and b) I don’t have time. Nine times out of 10, you can put some garlic salt on it and it will be awesome.

  30. I usually do my shopping at Stop and Shop or ShopRite. I do go to Whole Foods every so often for certain foods I can’t find elsewhere, plus an occasional chai. =)

  31. I do most of my “grocery shopping” from the past-the-sell-by date food at work. I take a lot of food that would be thrown away because I think it’s silly to toss something if it’s still good. I do not always know what’s in it, if its organic or whatever. I don’t really care! I’ve tried many new things (some fad foods I do NOT LIKE not matter HOW AMAZEBALLZ they are for you) but also get excited when foods I like come around. I save so much money and reduce waste. Why stress out about shopping when I get free “throwaways” from a delicious restaurant? 🙂

  32. Whoa! This is so me! Honestly, I am a stay at home home schooling mom so I need to be realistic about what I spend on groceries. People have survived and thrived for years without worrying about cage free eggs, organic milk or grass fed beef and I just can’t pay 3x the price for it. If you can do that and feel its important than go for it. I try to eat healthy but I don’t go crazy over it. I pretty much do most of my shopping at super walmart. I occasionally go to BJ’s and Giant for a few things I can’t get at Walmart. There are a lot of things that look great and I am sure they are healthy but I just can’t bring myself to spend the money on.

  33. YES. I grocery shop at Target all the time. I always buy the same things and I don’t obsess over all of the thousands of options. Trips to the grocery store take me ten minutes, tops. I’d rather spend time enjoying my food than shopping for/preparing it. I agree with you that nutrition should be simple. I make sure I get the right amount of protein and calcium but, other than that, I don’t fuss.

  34. I hate grocery shopping with a passion! I do most of mine at our local grocery store and Target as it is closer and has a better gluten-free section, which I have to follow. I love to make a big batch of something and then eat it every night!

  35. I started to type, “I wish I could shop at WF” but then realized…I rally don’t. Afford their hot bar 5 days a week, yes, but spend 2x as much on the same food I can get elsewhere, no thanks.

    I do the vast majority of my shopping at TJs and Costco and supplement with trips to Harris Teeter. I do love to cook, and spend WAY too much on food, but it makes me happy.

    Protein Powder…. I’m sorry I just don’t get it I really don’t. Frankly the way I see it, it s too easy to get more than enough protein from normal foods.9Sorry if that’s offensive to people)

  36. As an Upstate NY native now living in Arlington, VA,I will drive 20+ miles to the nearest Wegmans passing tons of other grocery stores. They have everything you could want there plus it is better priced than any of the other grocery stores in this area. I also love to eat lunch or dinner their first if my husband and I go out together.

    We don’t spend a ton of time prepping food and I do tend to eat a lot of the same things, but we do try to do most of our meals at home to save money so we usually end up with a lot of groceries. I probably by too many carb-heavy foods, but am also good about proteins and fruits. I’m awful with veggies, but actively working on eating more of them – I try to hide them in foods like you would to for a 5-year-old, LOL. I also never intentionally buy organic. If it’s the only thing available or I really like the taste I’ll get it, but I have learned all the science behind GMOs (not just what bloggers claiming to be nutritionists say about them) and I have no problem with eating them.

  37. I am working so hard to master the quick-dinner, with baby on the way! I love food shopping, but I view meal planning as a challenge. I try to only buy ingredients that I can use twice in a week, which helps keep my costs down. I like our local place, Hannafords, and my average time is 30 minutes and dropping.

  38. You just convinced me I overthink things. I make lists, coupon and get crazy in the grocery store looking for new stuff. I need to calm the heck down and just shop. My sanity could use the break 🙂

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