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bob_'s avatar

What can you tell us about your grocery shopping habits?

Asked by bob_ (19685points) June 29th, 2011

After going through some pretty heated up threads, I thought it’d be a good idea to ask a more relaxed question.

Are there items you always buy, even if you still have some, because you’d rather stock up than risk running out of them? Are there things you’d like to buy, but for one reason or another don’t? Do you go by yourself? At night? Do you eat before you go, so that you won’t be hungry and crave things you wouldn’t ordinarily buy?

So, basically, anything you wanna share.

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42 Answers

tranquilsea's avatar

I’m very pragmatic when I grocery shop. I shop a list…if it’s not on the list I don’t buy it. I also only shop (with the exception of milk) once a month. The bill usually comes to $800. But that is cheaper than shopping once a week with all the temptation that go along with it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

There is this cheese that I call crack cheese because I’m addicted to it and it makes me a bad vegan the rare time I eat it, obviously. More generally, we’re all about fruits and veggies and fake meats as well as soy milk and nuts and seeds and stuff at the Russian store. Dark chocolates abound, as well. We go when we must get something, no specific time.

mazingerz88's avatar

I don’t really enjoy it, to be honest. I’d rather watch porn. Lol.

DominicX's avatar

When I’m home from college, as I am right now, I typically go shopping along with my mom. It’s usually just myself and my mom that do the shopping. I’m really particular about food and my siblings and my dad are more lax about it so they trust us to get what they put on the list, but I’d rather be there to pick things out. My mom likes to go in the morning, so that’s when I go. We have 6 people to buy food for (when we’re all home for an extended time) so there’s always a lot to get. We use a list, but the list is not the be-all end-all. The list is usually just “I noticed we’re out of this so it’s on the list”. Anything else is thought up while we’re shopping.

One thing I like to buy but often don’t are those frozen desserts (pies, cakes, eclairs, etc.). They’re good, but so fatty and terrible for you that I almost never get them and I’ve gone entire years without them.

I don’t typically eat right before I go, but I don’t starve myself either. One time I went while really full and got almost nothing and had to go back out to the store soon after that, so that was stupid.

Jude's avatar

Organic milk, organic coffee creamer, whole grain bread, natural peanut butter, Peanut Butter Cups, Ice cream, gourmet hot fudge sauce, eggs, asparagus, red/yellow peppers, potatoes, Dill harvarti cheese, fresh tuna, oranges (to go with my Oberon), bananas, watermelon (when in season), strawberries, raspberries, yogurt, organic coffee beans, organic cereal, avocados, pitas, tomatoes, pistachios, fresh pasta, tomato sauce, onions, garlic, and wine.

I pretty much always get the above when I shop.

I am a creature of habit when it comes to grocery shopping.

ucme's avatar

I like to ride around on the shopping trolley/kart & have races up & down the aisles with unsuspecting fellow shoppers, that way I always win.
It’s fun to nudge folk in the arse with the trolley too….“excuse me, i’m so clumsy today!”

Cruiser's avatar

Coffee beans, oatmeal, plain yogurt, granola, and fresh fruit…anything else everybody is on their own!

Hibernate's avatar

I always buy sodas, beer and shelling .

I enjoy shopping especially when I go with the ladies .. this because I can tell them things don’t fit, that items don’t match them or they do not look [ colour, shape ] . Not mockery but it’s nice to see them running around and trying to find something .

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

It’s interesting, because I have considered asking this question many times… and obviously I never have.
Now that someone else has asked it I can’t think of anything interesting to write.

The items that are consistently on my grocery list are produce, of course, specifically lettuce, cucumber, broccoli and carrots. Bread, milk, eggs and yogurt.
Otherwise I really buy the same items every time I shop. I used to go once a month, but I have to go weekly now because of some changes in the household. I pretty much always go with my husband, and he knows that we stick to the usual list…. so the temptation to buy junk is pretty limited, because I’m really obnoxious about sticking to the list.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I’m usually hungry when I end up at the grocery store, so I come home with a lot of munchie stuff that would be great if I were a pot-head, LOL. I do have a list of usual necessary things that I pretty much always buy, though.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I shop more like Europeans – as needed and at different shops. Given where I live, this is possible, because there’s the bakery, the butcher, the vegetable market, the cheesemonger, the wine shop, and so on.

When I was a kid, we’d take a bus to the suburbs once a month to the big warehouse supermarket, Cub Foods, and share a gypsy van with others that would bring us home with our month’s worth of food. The stores in my childhood neighbourhoods were horrible.

Kardamom's avatar

I love to go grocery shopping and go fairly often, like 2 or 3 times in a 7 day period. I go to a regular store (like Ralphs or Vons) for staples like flour, Bisquick, canned beans, canned tomatoes, dried pasta, milk, orange juice etc. Sometimes I will just go in there for my Dad’s milk (fat free Lactaid) but I will mill around the aisles and the produce section, because I do a lot of meal planning just by walking around and seeing what looks good or what is on sale, but I don’t necessarily buy anything other than the milk I came for.

If I want some specific produce, I will go to one of the 3 green grocer-style stores near my house, because the produce is usually cheaper and much better looking, and they have more choices. Again, I usually buy what’s on my list, but I also might get something else, produce wise, if they have a really good deal on something that I’d like to cook. I tend to buy kale, corn on the cob, beets, green beans, Brussels sprouts, apples, carrots, celery, nectarines and squash at these stores, rather than at Ralphs (better selection, better price). But I will also mill around the aisles in these stores to find out what kind of new and interesting items they have, especially in the frozen foods section, where they have a lot more vegetarian items than the regular grocery store does, but it’s also pretty expensive. I’m more likely to buy vinegar at one of these stores too, because they have a bigger variety.

Then, of course, I go toTrader Joe’s quite a bit. There are a whole bunch of frozen entrees that we regularly buy, but I also like to check out the “new items” section here. My folks, who don’t particularly enjoy grocery shopping, actually do like to go to Trader Joe’s, so we sometimes go together, but I also go on my own, because I’m the main grocery shopper for our household. At TJ’s I buy bagged lettuce (whole romaine heads or mixed greens) mushrooms (which I cook with every week and the price is the best here) bagged, washed Brussels sprouts when they are in season. We also get our yogurt and most of our cheese (fancy sharp cheddar, sliced gouda for sammiches, ricotta for lasagna and whole Parmesan) at TJ’s. I also get whole grain bread, tortillas and English muffins and nuts here (those are staples in our house). I also get pasta sauce and olive oil, plus cartons of vegetable stock and free range eggs here. And my mom likes the ground turkey. I can easily spend an hour and a half in Trader Joe’s, even though I’m pretty good at resisting the temptation to buy things that aren’t on my list, but I hang around in there and get ideas, and I often chat with the employees or other customers about recipes and what’s new and good at TJ’s. I even help customers find certain items, because I’m in there so often, I know where they are.

Then, my folks and I will ocassionally go to Costco to get big blocks of cheese (jack and cheddar) which we cut down and wrap in smaller individual sizes and store them in a freezer bag. Then you can pull out a hunk when you need it. And we just bought some ground beef and hamburger buns, because we’re having a barbecue tomorrow. We usually get bread and buns here too, and then freeze them. And if I’m going to attend a potluck party, I will often get a big jar of pesto and some refrigerated cheese tortellini to make a cold pasta salad. My dad’s favorite cereral is purchased here, too because he eats it every day and it’s much cheaper to buy a big bundle of it. He has a tendency to buy a massive apple pie when we go here too (which mom and I don’t like) and then he will cut it up into individual portions and freeze them. That is why everytime I open our freezer, I’m usually hit on the toe with a tupperware full of pie that falls out. My folks also like to get frozen bags of orange chicken and teriyaki beef and frozen burritos here.

I’m also a big fan of Big Lots and the 99 Cent Only store. They change what they have, every time you go there, but they often have items that we use, and if they do and I know that the price is good (hint: you can sometimes get canned beans on sale at Ralphs for 69 cents, so paying 99 cents at the 99 cent store is not a good deal during that time). Since I shop all over town, I have a pretty good idea of how much things should and can cost (when they’re on sale). The 99 Cent Only store often (but not always) has big 5 lb. bags of russet potatoes, that cost $3.99 at Ralphs! I can’t use that many potatoes at once, so I usually share them with my next door neighbor. I also buy lots of pickles and instant coffee here. And white vinegar.

All in all, I enjoy grocery shopping, but I’m pretty frugal and very organized when I go.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I have shopping lists I use as templates and then choose from for each shopping trip. Each item is already priced because we buy the same stuff pretty much all the time but I like to have the price handy to compare to any sale items. We go late at night because we work until late at night and also because it’s too damn hot during the day to transport stuff from the store to home without some of it becoming liquid or at least grody gelatinous.

No matter what, we always buy boxes of butter, cans of Rotel, eggs and kitchen sponges. It seems we never have too much of those. On grocery nights we usually pop in a frozen pizza because we’re exhausted, it’s late and the pizza is small enough for us not to feel gorged after.

There are items I never before believed in or would buy that I do now such as frozen hamburger patties, pre shredded cheeses, and bagged mixed salad greens and frozen sliced bell pepper mixes. I know these things are more expensive than how I used to buy them fresh, whole and separate but the convenience has kept us eating better.

AmWiser's avatar

Since the pantry and freezer are usually overstocked, I don’t have to shop much except to pick up an ingredient or 2 for a recipe. I like to shop sales but have lately found myself buying to many duplicates, or to much meat. The prices were too good to pass up….good thing I have a food saver and know some less fortunate families I can help out.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I am an impulse buyer, but I tend to impulse buy really pretty stuff, mostly fresh produce. Now that’s pretty stuff! I rarely buy junk, but something bakery fresh will have me all aquiver and I’ll over-indulge. I have no filters. Immediate gratification has made me her bitch.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Didn’t we just clear this up on another thread? You’re nobody’s bitch. =0)

Coloma's avatar

Admittedly I am quite spoiled these days. I pretty much buy whatever I want, whenever I want it. lol

I have been divorced for 8 years now and 20 plus years of daily cooking has completely evaporated from my conscious memory. haha

I sometimes think ” What the hell DID I cook every night all those years.”

I stock up on TP, Paper towels, and laundry detergent, bleach etc. and cat food.

Otherwise I am with at @JilltheTooth , I’m an impulsive shopper and also like my instant gratification. Last shopping trip about 5 days ago came home with watermelon, bananas, cukes, grape tomatoes, white sweet corn on the cob, olives, swiss cheese, eggs, chicken, California pizza kitchen frozen pizza, and OJ, peanut butter and crackers.
Then there was the whoppers, orange & vanilla swirl sherbert, salt water taffy, kettle korn and my favorite local wine and some Stella Artois Belgium ale.

Wine, watermelon and whoppers makes a fine dinner on a hot summer night! lol

I also admit to occasional impulse DVD buying if it;s a new release I really, really want to see right NOW!

josie's avatar

I always buy carrots, onions and celery, diced tomatoes, beef stock and great northern beans, because I make a pot of soup almost every Sunday in case I don’t have time to cook during the week.

Kardamom's avatar

@josie I love soup!

erichw1504's avatar

Are there items you always buy, even if you still have some, because you’d rather stock up than risk running out of them? Refried beans, fruit, veggies, water, cheese…

Are there things you’d like to buy, but for one reason or another don’t? Candy. So tempting in the checkout lanes, but I always think to myself that it’s really not worth it. Also, beer. I brew my own and usually have some on stock.

Do you go by yourself? Always with the wife, unless it’s just to grab a few things. If I went alone on the big shopping days, I would feel lost and get half of the items wrong, while half of the other half I’d completely forget.

At night? No, usually on Saturday mornings.

Do you eat before you go, so that you won’t be hungry and crave things you wouldn’t ordinarily buy? I’m hungry every two hours, so 75% of the time I will be very hungry at some point during the shopping. And everything looks delicious! To my wife: “Oooo, those look good!”, “Mmm, can we get these?!”

Coloma's avatar


Oh yeah, refried beans!

I make the best veggie burritos, I like alfalfa sprouts on mine with the beans and fresh tomatos and sometimes even diced cucumbers and cheese, cheese, cheese!

erichw1504's avatar

@Coloma That sounds awesome, minus the tomatoes. We hate tomatoes.

We have some sort of Mexican dish at least once a week.

flutherother's avatar

My local 24 hour supermarket is just 100 yards away and so I walk over most days. The standard things I buy are bananas, oranges, apples (Granny Smiths), milk, bread, rolls, cheese, cold meat and orange juice.

I occasionally buy mince, fish, shrimp, nuts, chicken, strawberries, pasta, chocolate and pre packed sandwiches.

Coloma's avatar


I thought, at first glance you said ” I occasionally buy MICE, fish, shrimp…”
Mmm….mice! LOL

flutherother's avatar

@Coloma Mince is ground beef in the US. You can’t beat a plate of tatties and mince

Coloma's avatar


Aaaah… looks good, I am starving right now!

MilkyWay's avatar

We always have salami at home, but always buy more. I’m a fan of cold meat and salami is a really quick alternative and can be eaten in different ways.
We also have baked beans and chick peas, again, something quick but satisfying. The more cans the better, we get em whenever we go shopping, whether there’s some already at home or not.
Full fat milk. mmm is brought home weekly, reluctantly by my mother. No one is a fan but me, but she goes out to buy it for me anyway . Crisps ( Potato chips ) cannot be finished in the house. We have to get some every time, again, like the baked beans even if there is some at home already.
Eating before I go, so that I don’t get tempted? Nope.
We always end up with more than we needed after a trip of grocery shopping :D

flutherother's avatar

@Coloma You add a little Bisto gravy to the mince and mash the potatoes up with butter and a little milk. I’m sending a plate right over.

YARNLADY's avatar

We buy as much on sale, and low price as possible. My husband does most of our shopping because he passes all our favorite grocery stores between home and work. We keep our pantries full, so whenever I have food brought in to fill the kitchen cupboard, he shops to restock the pantry shelves.

He keeps a computer generated list on the refrigerator for me to mark whenever I run low on anything. He reads the weekly sales pages and stocks up on specials. Last week, I cooked three tri-tip roasts because they were such a good price. Our freezer is now well stocked with beef, in addition to the chicken and pork from earlier sales.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Yum, the things I don’t buy because 1) they’re out of my food budget and 2) they’re things we don’t need because one of us is getting older and the other has health issues- salami, pastries, specialty cheeses, good sourdough baguettes, corned beef hash.

Berserker's avatar

By the cereal, they always have toy cars. Different sets, different brands…once, there was a little toy hearse. I bought it. That was like four years ago. To this day, everytime I grocery shop, I go by the cereal and check out the toy cars, to see if I can ever find another hearse.

Coloma's avatar


Haha..cute! Jeez..with the way kids are maturing these days next thing ya know they’ll be making “Birth Control Trix” and putting Condoms in the Lucky Charms.

Trix are for kids!

Berserker's avatar

LOL XD Condoms in cereal lmao. ribbed, for her pleasure Mom! Check it out!
Mom; that’s nice sweety- WHAT THE HELL?? XD

mazingerz88's avatar

@Kardamom Ralphs and Vons. Los Angeles then? : )

Coloma's avatar


Was it Vons that had that weird bird in striped old fashioned bathing suit with the giant sunglasses? I always thought that was the WEIRDEST logo ever! haha

augustlan's avatar

I usually have a list, but I don’t really stick to it. It’s just to make sure I don’t forget items that I really need. My list is written by hand, and organized to follow the layout of the store. The things I buy pretty much every time I’m in the store are Bounty pick-a-size paper towels, sprite zero, and bread. On a bigger shopping trip, I’ll get some kind of fruit, lunch meat, several varieties of cheese (sliced, bricks, and shredded), granola bars, yogurt, nuts, sunflower seeds, crackers, cereal, milk, salad stuff, chips, onions, potatoes, meats, etc. Oh, and paper plates and plastic cups (I know this is bad.) Some kind of sweets (I know this is bad, too.)

When my laundry detergent goes on sale for buy one, get one free, I always buy several, no matter how much I already have at home. Same with Prego spaghetti sauce, good bacon, and kielbasa. I’m very brand loyal, so I generally don’t buy other brands even if they are on sale for a better price. Gotta’ have my Hellman’s mayo and Heinz ketchup, you know! I try to always keep the stuff around for several go-to dinners (ingredients for spaghetti, frozen pizzas, some fresh and frozen veggies, pork chops, soups).

If I’m starving, I’ll have a snack before I go… more so that I don’t faint than to curb impulse buying. I either go alone, or with my kids, depending on when I go (which varies a great deal).

Kardamom's avatar

Why on earth aren’t we throwing a Fluther potluck? We clearly know how to shop and we like to eat. Let’s do it! What is everyone bringing?

bob_'s avatar

Thank you everyone for your answers. @YARNLADY wins the prize for most organized. @Kardamom wins the prize for most detailed.

Since I live with my parents, my mother does most of the grocery shopping. She buys some things from supermarkets like Walmart, other things from Costco and others (mostly fruit and vegetables) from the market. Going grocery shopping with her can take a long time, and it’s not really fun, but when she decides to go on a weekend (which is when I’m usually home during the day), I go with her, being the good son that I am :P

In addition to those sporadic weekend excursions, once a month I get about $150 in ‘vales de despensa’ from my company. With that, I go to a Walmart to buy some things, mostly personal stuff like deodorant, tooth paste, etc., but also some specific things I want to make sure we have, because like @augustlan I’m very brand-loyal. They include ham, ketchup (always always always Heinz, and since recently organic Heinz), salsa, oatmeal cookies (that I eat at the office), yogurt, crackers, this roast beef salad spread thing that tastes like heaven and chocolate. That usually comes to about $65. I give the change to my mother (see how I’m a good son?) :P

bob_'s avatar

Hey, I forgot to add, I never, ever but Nutella, not because I don’t like it, but because I like it too much. I could literally eat it with my bare hands, so it’s best I don’t buy it, tempting as seeing it just sitting there is.

MilkyWay's avatar

@bob_ I’m afraid I’m not as strong as you.

bob_'s avatar

You guys might find this interesting.

augustlan's avatar

@bob_ I remember the day (many years ago) that it first dawned on me that I didn’t have to buy the multiple in order to get the discount. They’re tricky bastards, no?

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