Basic Grocery Theory

I’m out of phase this week, so can’t prep you for the Wednesday ads.  The plan, as much as there is of one, is to make Tuesdays ‘Tuesday Ad Days’ so that you know what the big bargains will be that week. Then you can assess your needs and decide what sort of shopping trips you’ll be making, with those deals in mind.

However, in this CheepieAustin Inaugural Week, that is not happening. Partly because I don’t get my mail until 7pm (wth, Post Office?) and don’t have the ads, partly because the web scraper that will help me collect all the information in a more 2000s kind of way isn’t written yet, and partly because I didn’t plan ahead much, but just decided to start this thing and hope for the best. So here we are, with Grocery Theory.

Here are the grocery stores in Austin, ranked:

Sprouts>HEB>Fiesta>Trader Joe’s>Central Market>Whole Foods>Randalls

Remain calm. I’m not saying you have to rank them this way, just that over years of shopping, this is my list.

I’m leaving off some other places that also have groceries (Target, Costco,etc.), that we’ll integrate as we go. If you do all your grocery shopping at Wal-Mart, don’t run away though–maybe I can steer you toward a simpler way to save and still cut down on trips to the store.  I’ve left Wheatsville off, as well, because I’ve only been in there once.

We all have a million things to think about when we shop, not just the grocery list. There’s traffic to consider, the grocery-to-household problem (I want to go to Central Market to get that shrimp on sale, but I need dish soap too!), the cost, and whether or not you can leave the parking lot in the direction you want to go when you leave. I’m looking at you, HEB on Brodie.

My ranking is based on those things, and more.  There’s the quality of the produce, how far I’m likely to have to walk to get what I need, whether they’ve got the meat cuts I want, how much they charge for milk, and will my kids behave or start asking for Cocoa Puffs even though I never, ever buy them? It’s an ongoing evaluation.

I hit all of the ones I’ve listed pretty regularly.  Most of them I’ve got in categories–TJs and Sprouts are produce and yogurt, while HEB is all-purpose. As part of the ongoing grocery discussion here, one of the things I’ll discuss is what each store does well and not-so-well.

Let me know what your rankings are. Do you only go to one store? Do you avoid Randalls like the plague? Put your list up in the comments! Cheep Cheep!


4 thoughts on “Basic Grocery Theory

  1. Jennifer says:

    Here’s my ranking: HEB on Research and Braker.

    That’s it.

    My parents bring up bread and tortillas from Central Market for me. I miss Central Market, and the “north” one is not north enough for me.

    I avoid Costco because the parking lot is crazy. And Whole Foods is nearly double my HEB bill


    • I think that a lot of people have a ranking like yours. They have ONE place, and that’s their place. End of grocery story.

      My hope is that I’ll be able to show you some deals in other stores that might make it worth a trip to stock up, and also have you assessing your market. We all know extra trips take time and effort, so they have to be worth it. My goal is to give people the ‘worth it’ trips to bulk purchase items they know they’ll use often.

      Does your HEB have a day old bread rack? Or a 50% off dairy section? As far as I’ve found, HEBs don’t do that, while Randalls and Sprouts do.


  2. .a. says:

    Yes, I *HATE* Randall’s! Their pricing is ridonkulous. Do they think most people won’t notice they mark everything $3 more expensive than at other places? And I have to fill out a form to get their stoopid saver card? I may have embarrassed my teen last time I was in there. Cashier asked if I wanted a card. I said sure, I guess. And then when I was told I had to go to customer service to fill out a form, I lost my nut. But I shop at several places! Costco, HEB, Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, Target, Central MArket, Wheatsville, Whole Foods. Mostly in that order of relaibility.


  3. Randalls is going to get a post of its own at some point. It’s the closest store to me, and I’ve learned their quirks. The quirks don’t make sense, but at least I know how to make sure I’m not losing my grocery dollars there.

    I do need to make a point on a post that I’m assuming you’ve got a Randalls card. Or people can use my number, and I’ll get gas points. I key my number all the time at Randalls if someone doesn’t have one–no cashier has ever had a problem with it. They get any discounts, I get points.

    I love that your list starts with Costco! Do you buy meat and vegetables there? What do you buy? Are you able to resist the hot dog deal, because I am NOT, and have to include that in my Costco budget.


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