On the lookout for budget-friendly grocery stores

By: Miranda Mowrey, Columnist

Yesterday I decided to drop in to The Fresh Market to pick up a couple things on my grocery list. It must have been the pre-workout from my earlier visit to the gym or the fresh air flowing in through my cars windows that altered my critical thinking skills. For some reason, although I was counting pennies for a cup of coffee the day before, I thought I was in the financial position to spare a few extra dollars on a fancy selection of fresh and organic produce.

Boy, was I wrong.

My visit went a little like this: I snagged a cart from the front of the store and picked out a bundle of bananas (69 cents a pound – not too shabby).

“Alright, so here are the eggs…$3.99 for a dozen?” My heart rate now begins to quicken as a droplet of sweat forms on my brow.

“A box of green tea for $5.99….maybe it’s some kind of fancy tea?”

Aisle eight is where I called it quits. All I wanted was a simple jar of kosher dill pickles and could not find them for anything less than $6.99. I look to the older women at my side for a sense of support, trying to see if she felt the same way as me about these overly-priced cucumbers that took a bubble bath in vinegar. She did not seem phased by this atrocity and I came to the conclusion that I have entered foreign territory. Throwing my hands up and letting out an annoyed huff, I gave up on this adventure. Seven bucks for pickles is where I draw the line!

With my tail between my legs, I retraced my steps and returned the fancy green tea and eggs to their home on the shelf and bid the bananas farewell. I swiftly exited the hoity toity store, revved up my 2007 Honda Civic decorated with a myriad of scrapes and dings and began brainstorming other, more realistic options for groceries.

Bottom line, The Fresh Market simply does not work with my budget, and probably doesn’t work with yours, either. Where else can college students like us buy pickles without having to sell our plasma to the Red Cross?

There is another man, and his name is Trader Joe’s. Seriously – how does this place do it? The store offers so many organic, healthy foods for extremely cheap prices. My favorites are the cauliflower gnocchi, spinach and kale dip, and the free food and drink samples they offer in the back right of the store (wink wink).

Aldi is another local option that has sells a bunch of generic, low-price items. I prefer Trader Joe’s produce to Aldi’s, but Aldi has more options when it comes to miscellaneous things you can find at the grocery store like soaps, dog food, baby pools, you name it.

If you are used to the mainstream grocery stores and can’t seem to give them up, it is possible to save a lot of money by using the coupon apps they offer. I have found success in using Safeway’s app, “just for U.” Before you shop, you can search for the items on your shopping list to find applicable coupons to show at checkout. Sometimes it is nice to go to stores like Safeway, Giant, or Food Lion because they tend to carry a lot of favorite name brand foods that Trader Joe’s and Aldi’s do not.

Together, we can boycott the ridiculous prices of The Fresh Market’s precious little jars of pickles and instead show love to the stores that have the wellbeing of the consumer’s pocketbook in mind.

Rant over!

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