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favorite grocery hotspots.

We live in Southern California.  I’m going to assume that the 3 FrugalFoodieFamily readers (my friends and family) are likely in SoCal too so that makes this easy.  I’ve found we get the biggest bang for our grocery bucks at Sprouts and Trader Joes.

Here’s why I love them:” />

Sprouts Farmers Market

Fabulous prices on veggies, fruits, meats, sometimes cheeses and often vitamins and supplements.  They have a ton of fresh produce, a lot of it organic, at great prices ($.88 for romaine or green leaf lettuce, $.88/pound for broccoli or apples, etc).  I can’t say it’s all local, but typically the produce is fantastic and far less expensive than larger grocery chains.  Meats are also very well priced (especially for organics) and all natural too.

If I wasn’t typically dragging delightfully pushing my two small children around I would spend more time in their bulk section, where we find trail mix, raisins, oats, dried beans and rice, 6-grain cereal and other fantastic granola ingredients.  My precious 3 year old Emma now knows to ask for a “sample” while we peruse this section of Sprouts, and without fail I sneak her a dried apple ring or banana chip to buy another 5 minutes (please don’t report me to the Sprouts authorities!).

Also, as often as possible I go on Wednesdays.  Every Wednesday is double ad day so you can get the deals from the previous week as well as the upcoming week on the same day.  They speak my love language (saving money) on Wednesday!

I don’t advise stocking up on your perishables here, though they do have a great selection of natural and organic products.  While less expensive than Whole Foods, I usually head to Trader Joes for these.

Trader Joes

You’ve just gotta love TJ’s.  From the Beach Boys music piped cheerfully throughout the store to the sample station (my 3 year old’s favorite) full of new recipes and yummy coffee, to the kids’ shopping carts and stickers, there is something to keep everyone happy.  Going to TJ’s is just a fun experience whether you’re 1 or 100.

But their prices are amazing too, especially items like coffee, cereal, bread, frozen goods, organic milk, eggs, nuts, pizza dough, cheeses, canned goods, wine, pasta, snacky stuff…it’s a frugal foodie’s dream.  What I don’t get there is meat and seafood (unless I splurge for their marinated, frozen ahi tuna or mahi steaks…great on the grill in the summer).

Did I mention their wine selection?  Fabulous.  And not just their Two Buck Chuck.  (Sidenote:  My in-laws who are from Washington state call it “Three Buck Chuck”.  Can you believe in other states they pay 30% more for the same thing?  So sad…)  Anyway, there are tons of great wines on the cheap.  We’ll explore this a little later.

Well, TJ’s is doing something right.  Fortune magazine estimates their sales per square foot ($1,750) are double those of Whole Foods, even carrying only 4,000 sku’s (versus typical grocery chains which carry closer to 50,000 products).

And the runner up, Target

I could linger in Target for hours, were it not for the 2 small children I typically schlepp with me.  And now that the have these super-duper Targets with markets in them, I find I can easily grab a few items I may have forgotten or run out of during the week (organic milk, eggs, canned tuna, even Andrew’s Ezekiel bread!) while also picking up diapers and sunscreen – who knew?!

On larger grocery chains

I’m not at all opposed to larger grocery chains (Albertsons, Ralphs, etc.), especially if they offer savings that are comparable to what we typically find at Sprouts or TJs, but for the most part I find what I need within my budget without entering the maze of the gargantuan stores.

So, where do you shop to stay on your frugal foodie budget?

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7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Hi, commenting again. As a fellow blogger, I know how important comments can be to the blogging psyche. 🙂 Also, I may have left the same comment twice on the last post, I just thought my first one disappeared into thin air when my iPhone didn’t seem to do anything.

    We subscribe to a CSA called Abundant Harvest. I pretty much plan our whole menu around the box. Our god philosophy has been “evolving” as you put it in another post, so we only eat meat a few times a week and I only get it from sources I feel I can trust. Pretty much all our animal products are the same too (dairy, eggs). So I either order them as add-ons through our CSA. This is the most convenient option due to the same schlepping young children with me, but it isn’t always the most cost effective. Or I make a point of going to the farmer’s market to get them.

    May 26, 2011
  2. Garafreakinbetian #

    I’m right there with ya’ especially when it comes to Sprouts…and not only price wise but it seems that the actual quality is better than what you would find at the big bang markets.

    March 23, 2012
    • Isn’t Sprouts incredible?! It makes me cringe when I have to run into a big supermarket to pick up some last minute thing – typically double what I would pay at Sprouts. Thanks for the feedback!

      March 23, 2012
  3. After moving out west, I noticed a couple of Sprouts and didn’t know how great they were until I read this! As a single college student, I shop at TJ’s almost exclusively – love their snacks! Thanks for this great post

    July 17, 2012
    • Oh good! You’ll have to give Sprouts a try, especially on Wednesdays for their double deals!

      July 17, 2012
  4. Tara #

    I love Sprouts and TJs. The only time I go elsewhere is when I need things like toilet paper, paper towels, diapers, etc…

    July 23, 2012
    • Us too! Target is where we get a lot of those misc. items, and we’re there probably twice a week. My kids know their way around the store now, and they’re 2 and 4 🙂

      July 23, 2012

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