Monday, May 2, 2016

Grocery Shopping: The Struggle

A couple weeks ago, I got fed up with shopping at Aldi. It seemed that everything I needed to buy from there was about to expire and would expire within a day or so—well before we’d actually use it, or use all of it. I have bought mostly bag lettuce from Aldi because the only other option is iceberg lettuce, and I hate eating just iceberg lettuce. Lately, all of the bag lettuce—no matter which kind I try to buy—would expire within a couple days. Same with their bread (which I don’t eat, but Chris does). I’ve thrown so much food from Aldi away in the past month or so because it has gone bad before we had a chance to use it all. It’s incredibly wasteful and I felt like I was throwing our money away. I’ve thrown away tons of fruit that had mold on it. Bread that was moldy within two days after I bought it. It is incredibly frustrating to go out of my way to shop there to save money only to throw so much of what I buy there away because it’s gone bad. Sure, this was somewhat of a problem in St. Louis, especially with their produce, which was almost always hit or miss—it was never good or bad consistently. But I don’t remember having this many issues with other products like the bagged lettuce and bread. 

So I decided I’d rather spend a little more money and do all my shopping at Kroger to ensure we weren’t throwing away food that has gone bad too soon and that our only options weren’t food that was about to expire. That worked fine the first week. I spent maybe $10-$20 more than I would have at Aldi, but I saved a ton of time (and gas) by only going to one store. And none of our food went bad before we had the chance to eat it. So I shopped at Kroger again over the weekend. This time, I was disappointed and frustrated. Their produce looked terrible and was overpriced. The fruit that was on sale—blackberries and raspberries—looked awful. Their cherry and grape tomatoes had mold growing on them. So I decided to skip produce altogether, thinking we could go to the Farmer’s Market and get better produce at better prices. We had stopped going to the farmer’s market earlier in the year because they just didn’t have enough produce because very little of what we needed was in season at the time.  

We went to the farmer’s market yesterday and I was disappointed yet again. Farmer’s markets seem to be less and less about selling produce, meat, eggs, etc. and more about selling the kind of food you can eat right now and crafts. There were so few produce stands at the farmer’s market, and none of them had anything I was looking for. Luckily, there is another produce stand across the street from the farmer’s market that sells a variety of actual produce. So we went there. Their veggies were priced better and looked okay, so we got all our veggies for the week there. We skipped fruit because although their fruit looked pretty good, it was all extremely overpriced (although without mold, I’m sure). 

It was an extremely frustrating experience overall. Until our house sells, we need to be saving money where we can. But I don’t want to shop at Aldi if everything I buy will expire before we are able to use all of it (or any of it in some cases). And while shopping at just Kroger was significantly nicer in that it saved me time and gas, it was just as frustrating trying to find decent produce for a good price. And Kroger has so many more options it’s almost worse to shop there because I inevitably end up buying at least one or two things we don’t really need (and they’re typically not healthy choices either!). I’m at a loss for what to do currently. Those are the closest and least expensive grocery stores to us. Our other options are Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, which I try to only go to when we need a specialty item I can’t find at Kroger (like coconut aminos, aka soy-free soy sauce). 

Eating healthy is important, but saving money is important too. And I don’t want to feel like I’m throwing money away buying nearly expired food from Aldi. Any tips, suggestions, etc. would be greatly appreciated!