food for thought: grocery stores

3 Nov

Our first food for thought question is: What is your favorite grocery store? Why?

JEN SAYS:

I picked this topic because I love grocery shopping. Yes, it’s true. I’m in a very small percentage of the world that enjoys this chore.  However, I enjoy certain stores more than others and there are some I get super crabby about.  I am a grocery store snob. I know….big shocker.

Note: this does not include farmer’s markets – they are the best place to buy local food, but this question is about the actual store.

My fave and my go-to most often: Lunds in Highland Park. Despite higher prices, their produce is always good, their cheese counter is extremely knowledgeable, the meat guy actually wants to help you and they have the selection I’m looking for. Plus, it’s conveniently located.

My fave for those special trips: Whole Foods in uptown. I love the people there and I love knowing I can’t really make a bad choice.  They stock their shelves with the good stuff. Their meat counter is even better than Lunds and don’t get me started on their hand made ricotta. I save shopping there for when I need a treat or I’m preparing for something special. I feel like a kid in a candy store when I’m there.

Runner Up: Kowalski’s on Lyndale.

Stores that I go to every once in awhile: Costco and Trader Joe’s. There are a few items at both of these places that I really enjoy so if I’m in the neighborhood or if I’m having a party, I head on over.

The store I hate but find myself going to anyway: SuperTarget. What can I say, it’s halfway between work and home which makes it super convenient. However, their produce stinks and they always seem to be out of things I need when I’m there. Plus, their service bites the big one.

The store I used to love and never go to anymore: Cub Foods. That’s a hard one for me to admit. I worked at Cub for 5 years and loved the place to death. Then I became a food snob and Cub just did not cut it anymore. Big crowds, cheap prices for not so great stuff, and a super-weak organic section has made me move on to a different place. Sorry Cub. You were a great pal while it lasted.

ANNE SAYS:

Unlike Jen, I HATE GROCERY SHOPPING. I do not have a favorite grocery store. I hate them all.

That said, when I am forced to drag myself into a grocery store, I go to one of two places: Kowalski’s Market on Chicago Ave. for things like meat and produce and specialty items like cheese or deli items; or SuperTarget in Richfield for my ‘big shop’ for things like canned beans, cereal, packaged goods, etc. If I am feeling especially adventurous I will go to the Kowalski’s on Lyndale. They have a larger selection and the store is nicer than the Kowalski’s on Chicago.

Anyway, I agree with everything Jen said about SuperTarget. While it’s uber-convenient for me and that’s why I always go there, they are inconsistent in their inventory, and their produce quality is not stellar. I always find the Team Members to be friendly, and willing to go out of their way to find something for you. The checkers though- they are super slow. And they always overstuff my bags so I can barely lift them. I do really love a lot of the Archer Farms branded foods though.

Every now and then, if I’m in the area, I will shop at Lund’s in Highland (same one Jen mentioned). Love their produce, cheese selection, meat selection, etc. It always seems to take me forever to shop there though; I think their checkers are really slow; and I always feel odd having that elderly man or non-English speaking carry-out lug my groceries out to my car.

Long story short, where I choose to grocery shop is based purely on convenience and how fast I can be in and out with a toddler in tow. I have never once set foot in Whole Foods or Costco. Oh and I have to mention Rainbow/Cub. Before SuperTarget moved to town I always grocery shopped at Rainbow for the ‘big shop.’ I rank Rainbow as slightly higher than Cub, but not much. I don’t go near Cub- just too ghetto and nasty for my tastes.

So, our questions for you, dear readers: What is your favorite grocery store? Why? What is your LEAST favorite grocery store? Why? and finally, Would you like to be hired on as Anne’s personal grocery shopper??

14 Responses to “food for thought: grocery stores”

  1. Monica November 3, 2009 at 9:23 am #

    Trader Joe’s wins, hands down. They have unusual/interesting/tasty foods. Their pre-prepared foods are good. And, free samples.

  2. Willa November 3, 2009 at 9:43 am #

    Great topic! I love grocery shopping also, perhaps a bit too much. Primarily, I go to three stores: Fresh and Natural in Shoreview, Byerly’s in Roseville and Super Target in Shoreview.

    Fresh and Natural is great for local and organic products but their selection is limited. Some items are significantly marked-up even when compared to prices at Whole Foods or Byerly’s.

    I like the small “market” feel of Byerly’s and their selection is descent for the size of the store. I expect more from them than I would from somewhere like Rainbow so I have not hesitated to complain to management when I have seen strawberries with mold and yogurt that had an expired sell date. Totally unacceptable, in my opinion.

    Super Target is my go-to place for some pantry staples and household items. I agree that their produce sucks and their food selection is limited.

    Now, if we lived closer to Whole Foods I would probably shop there almost exclusively. I love it but can’t bring myself to drive so much farther when I have descent options closer to home. I am very excited about the store opening in downtown Minneapolis.

    Finally, we are members at Costco but go there sporadically.

  3. Fav Sista November 3, 2009 at 9:58 am #

    A decent grocery store for me is 20 miles away in pretty much any direction. My choices are Cub, Cashwise, Econo Foods, etc… getting the gyst? For a Lund’s or Byerly’s we have to drive about 30 miles. I do go to Costco for big items although I am not thrilled with all their meat selection. The best meat that we get is right here in our little town. We know the butcher and he will help us with any request. Their rib eyes are awesome!
    Biggest challenge for us is getting decent fresh produce so in the summer, we will hit up local farmers markets as much as possible. We have also used local farmers for fresh meats like turkey, lamb or pork. It’s all in who you know out here!

  4. Liza November 3, 2009 at 10:10 am #

    The hubs and I both love to grocery shop. My fav hands down is the Seward Coop which recently moved into it’s new building on 28th and Franklin. All things natural and organic and often much better prices then Lunds. And much of it is local right from the farmer. Great meats and cheeses and awesome bulk section. Yes you pay a one-time membership fee but worth it for coop discounts. Highly recommend it.

  5. Brette November 3, 2009 at 11:09 am #

    I mainly fill the “quick trip to grab an essential item” role in the house. Lunds is OK. Trader Joes makes me claustrophobic. Costco does the same. I’m more tolerant of Super Target than Jen and have probably upped my grocery shopping since it opened (I’m a case study of why it is a good idea to attach a Super Target and Home Depot).

    I would like to give kudos to Oxendale’s Market (50th St. E and 34th Ave. S in MPLS) for making fantastic improvements to a once dingy neighborhood grocery store.

  6. Megsp November 3, 2009 at 12:13 pm #

    I would have to agree with pretty much everyone here. I havn’t stepped foot in a Cub or Rainbow for months if not years… I find them foreign and scary these days. Trader Joe’s can’t be beat for your staples like cheese, hummos, olives sand such. It is my favorite place to buy cheese as almost all of it has vegetable or microbial rennet thus eliminating cow stomach form this vegetarians dairy obsession! And it is priced right.

    I live within wlaking distance of a Whole Foods which is trouble. I love it there but it is so expensive. My new roomate is a member at Mississippi Market and assures me they have teh same exact selection at a much lower cost so I am venturing into the Mississippi every once in a while now.

  7. Carin November 3, 2009 at 3:01 pm #

    I love Byerly’s but it got a little expensive now that we are adding weekly purchases of diapers/formula into our weekly budget. So now I am shopping at the new Rainbow in SLP in the West End complex. It is actually a Roundy’s, but with the Rainbow name and does not at all feel like a warehouse type store like most Rainbows, but more like a Byerly’s but a step down. Produce is great, way better than SuperTarget and they have all our necessary items. I do hit up Costco for basics like cearal, bread, milk, oatmeal and some produce.

  8. Sarah November 3, 2009 at 4:38 pm #

    I am right there with Anne…I HATE grocery shopping! I’d have to say it’s my least favorite thing to do! I’m kind of embarrassed to say that I do most of my shopping at Cub. And I go there just because it’s so convenient…it’s right next to my house…literally within steps. Going to Cub may contribute to my hatred of grocery shopping because I really don’t like anything about it. The people are awful, the food is awful and it’s all around awful! :) Maybe I should make more of an effort to go a little out of my way to a nicer grocery store…and then maybe, just maybe, I would enjoy grocery shopping a little more than I do now! If I’m shopping for a special occasion or for salmon or meats, I go to Lunds or Byerly’s. I love how neat and clean their stores are. The whole atmosphere is so much more pleasant than at Cub!

  9. Jackson November 3, 2009 at 8:29 pm #

    Most of the time I enjoy grocery shopping. I use to love Cub but they seem to have gone down hill. If I do go to Cub I go to the one by Southdale. I use to hate Rainbow but right now they seem to be slightly better than Cub and it’s really close by. I like the convenience and I also like the gas discounts you get. I’ve gotten up to 70 cents off per gallon. I love Byerly’s but only go there for special items I know I won’t find at Rainbow or Cub.

  10. Kristin November 3, 2009 at 9:54 pm #

    I could live at Whole Foods! We also have a similar store that’s on a smaller scale called the Fresh Market. The hubs and I always go there if we want to cook a special dinner.

  11. Cat November 4, 2009 at 11:58 pm #

    Byerlys by Ridgedale is my first choice. Although it gets a bit expensive for staple items like cereal, TP, etc. Most of the time Mark is doing the grocery shopping and goes to Ridgedale Target for everything except produce and meat. We have tried the Rainbow in SLP like Carin, but while it is closer to our house than Byerly’s, it kind of bugs me. I have never really been a big Cub or Rainbow fan- they kind of feel too busy and too cluttery.

  12. Lee November 5, 2009 at 6:04 pm #

    my favorite grocery store would be The Wedge or Seward Coop.
    I am a memeber of The Wedge. I dion’t do all of my shopping there but it is great for fresh locally sourced items. The Seward coop has an amazing cheese area and their deli desserts are amazing and reasonably priced.

  13. Susan November 6, 2009 at 11:53 am #

    I love to grocery shop as well.

    I really dislike the lunds in highland. It does nothing for me. although I do agree their produce is great.

    I do like the byerlys in edina and the one in SLP when I’m on that side of town. Both have excellent salad bars.

    I like the WF on Grand – and the Kowalskis as well. TJ has some solid frozen items that the kids adore (waffles, mac & cheese) and good prices on fage and other staples.

    Super Target isn’t in my rotation. I’ll get boxed stuff (cheerios, wheaties) there but that’s about it.

    I really only buy fresh meat at WF. I’ve been disappointed everywhere else. Seafood is only purchased at Coastal.

  14. Jessa November 10, 2009 at 11:03 pm #

    This conversation is sounding a little bit ridiculous to me. I used to live in this cities and also loved the more posh grocery stores. Kowalski’s on Lyndale was my personal favorite.

    Now I am in Brainerd, and Cub does the trick. It’s not dark, not dingy, not ghetto, and does carry most items I want. Surprisingly, if you talk to the store manager they will even special purchase items. The organic section is continually growing, and for things I can’t get at cub, the crow wing county food co-op, or morrie’s seafood market usually picks up the slack. Okay so earlier this year I had a crisis when I couldn’t pick up orange flower water anywhere in central Minnesota (finally found some at Holy Land Deli). Oh, and the community supported ag program supplements spring, summer and fall vegiges (yes it’s still going!).

    And while Kowalski’s, Wedge, Whole Foods, and Coastal are great places that I’ve too spent time and money at; I can tell you I save money and still eat really well from my above sources, primarily CUB FOODS.

    All I ask, give Cub a chance. . . . if you ever move out of the metro you’ll have little choice.

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