That's what my father in law calls Whole Foods.
As you might have noticed, I'm notoriously cheap. So you might think I would buy my groceries at Sam's (A six-pack of pound cake! Brownie mix that comes in a box the size of my closet!) or a co-op (5 gallon drums of dried pinto beans! 144 frozen tofu burgers!). Would you be shocked to know that I actually shop at Whole Foods?! (cue gasping, infomercial-esq).
Really I shop at a number of stores, but one of them is Whole Foods. To get the best bargains and freshest foods you have to commit the time to shop at several locations. Here's how my grocery stops break down:
*I buy most of my cheese from Whole Foods - it's actually less per pound than most stores, and there are often amazing sales. When feta cheese is on sale for $2.99/lb, I stock up (those tiny 4 ounce tubs of feta at the grocery store are usually over $3!).
*Whole Foods also offers a good selection of bulk rice, beans, dried fruit, and spices. Obviously you should always buy bulk spices, but some large health food stores undercut Whole Foods prices, so double check. The bulk rices are a good price, as are most fruits and nuts (and their pistachios are very high quality so I recommend them), but don't buy the bulk maple syrup, honey, peanut butter, or cereals. Most are stale of overpriced, and the honey is not local (buy local honey for pollen allergy protection!).
*Check the wine sales: regular prices are high; sales are good.
*Check the produce sales, too. I'm not a huge fan of Whole Foods produce since it is rarely local and very expensive, but I do buy the occasional bargain. Last week cherries were 2.99/lb.
*Don't buy herbs, supplements, cleaning products, beauty care, etc here: you can probably order most of these items online for much less.
*I don't buy meat from Whole Foods because I don't eat a lot of meat and I don't really care if it's hormone treated, free range, etc. I WOULD care if I ate more, but since we eat so little it's not high on my agenda right now. So I can't really advise in this area.
I pick up other groceries in the area from:
Farmer's Market:Our markets are small, so I basically buy whatever fresh produce they're offering this week. I go prior to a grocery store trip so I can fill in the gaps at the grocery.
Produce Truck: I stop at the roadside produce trucks for amazing deals on avocados and fruit. It's not usually local (with the exception of satsumas), but you can't beat the 99 cent avocado prices.
Rouses: My main grocery store. They have a store-brand organic line and great produce, so I buy most food items here. They also have a decent meats section that I trust for cleanliness.
Roberts: This is another local grocery but I go here just for the bread. They have the best french bread in town. Their bakery is good altogether; I buy a lot of my breads here or at the patisserie down the street from my house.
Wal-mart: WHAT?! Wal-mart?! Yes...I do shop there, but for only two items. Let me get on my little Wal-mart soapbox. YOU WILL NOT SAVE MONEY DOING YOUR GROCERIES HERE. You won't! Some items are less expensive, but you can't take advantage of sales. Grocery stores price a few items and loss or minimal profit, hoping to lure you into their aisles. Wal-mart doesn't, so you can't get create with your menus and save on super low sales. Plus I just plain old don't like Walmart, because it's gross and dirty and slow and awful and makes me doubt humanity.
However, I force myself in there a few times a year to buy grated parmesan in the refrigerator section and Great Value columbian coffee. It is awesome coffee and almost worth standing in line for 45 minutes.
Odds and Ends: Since I work in a drug store and get a discount, I wait for paper products to go on sale and buy them with my discount then (even better if I also have a coupon!). If you don't happen to have a 15% discount going for you, try to combine sales and coupons. It feels a little like stealing.
How 'bout you? Where do you shop? Do you buy from many places or tend to get it all over with at once?