Sunday, January 20, 2013

Grocery shopping in the Lehigh Valley

It's been well-established that I love Trader Joe's, blah blah, you've heard it before and maybe you cry a little in your TJ's black bean soup when you can get it when you're out of the area. But I'm also a fierce bargain shopper, especially when it comes to groceries.

I do most of our household shopping at Price Rite, once I did the math and figured out that short of "Extreme Couponing" type behavior (which I don't have time or space for), about 75% of our groceries are a better value there than anywhere else. This is not a store-brand or off-brand situation. I'm talking imported Italian specialties like prosciutto and mozzarella, every flavor of Chobani yogurt, organic milk and soy milk, Arnold Palmer iced tea, organic spinach, dried fruits and nuts, and sometimes Ben & Jerry's ice cream.

For bulk stuff, it's Sam's Club. I don't love it, but it works for our family, for paper towels, diapers and Dunkin Donuts coffee. I can't beat the prices, even on sale at Weis, with coupons. I've tried. The Valley is getting a Costco soon, on Krocks Road in Macungie. I shopped at Costco when I lived in the DC area, and the one in Alexandria was so crowded you had to get there before it opened in the morning to get a parking space. So I never really fell in love. I doubt I'll go "all the way" to Macungie for the same privilege.

For the really special stuff, like ingredients for Asian dishes I cook, Ezekiel bread, and organic produce, I'll go to Wegman's, Nature's Way and Queen's Market (and farmer's markets, in season). But you'll never find me at any of the three Wegman's stores on a weekend afternoon, when it's ridiculously crowded!

But just for fun, every now and then I'll add a little to our pantry collection by shopping at Big Lots. They're a discount closeout store. I've found they carry brands I buy at the regular stores (Kashi, Nature's Mill) at a fraction of the price, undamaged and still "in code" (not expired). How do they do it? Check out this Mint.com story.

I have read about Swann's Pantry (240 S West End Blvd. Ste 2, Quakertown, (215) 529-0220), but I've never been. Any thoughts? Any other local grocery shopping tips?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5/10/2013

    Swann's is a bit of a bummer with funky brands but ok if you just need some staples (like pickles or bread) and don't care about brands. Last I was there (a year ago) they were carrying an alarming array of off-brand junk food, maybe more than your average supermarket, and with labels cheesier than Little Debbies.

    The place is reasonably clean and well lit, with items often displayed warehouse fashion on crates. You should go once at least to see for yourself. Personally, I avoid the frozen and refrigerated stuff, wondering how many transfers it went through before it got to Swann's.

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