Friday, September 19, 2008

For the best grocery shopping, here's where to go

I shop four stores to get the lowest prices possible: Walmart, Publix, Harris-Teeter and Kroger.

My favorite place just for the atmosphere and the person in charge is Publix in Cool Springs. Joe the grocer there has been a part of my community for most of this decade. He does some many things to help local schools and charities. He and his employees currently are wearing United Way t-shirts. The guy is very visible with his customers, and so we talk about prices and other things on a regular basis.

He recently featured a message on a sign in the Publix lobby. It said that Publix understands these are hard times and they are not going to sacrifice the quality of their product and indeed will find more ways to cut prices.

And Joe has been true to his word at the Cool Springs Publix. Gee, if newspapers could adopt the same philosophy, they might be seen as an essential in consumers' lives.

I always buy milk at Joe's. He has kept an incredible price of $3.39 a gallon for non-hormone milk. The best, fresh red meat prices are there, too. Produce is always quality. Soft drink prices are really good. So are cereal prices. Frozen vegetables under the Publix brand are cheapest and of quality. Peanut butter prices are great. Cat food prices are the lowest among the traditional grocers. All in all when it comes to prices and quality of the product, Publix is the place to shop.

As far the lowest prices, no one beats Walmart. Non-hormone milk there, however, is higher. Wheat bread, low-fat butter, canned brand soups, luncheon meat, diet Sunkist Orange Drink, paper towels, wheat bread, dry cat food, tuna, corn and potatoes, watermelon, bunch broccoli, eggs, Quaker Oats oatmeal and dried beans are cheaper on my grocery list. The size of fresh meat packages are too big and costly for our household.

One note on the eggs. Walmart does not feature half-packs with six eggs. Publix and Krogers do. I don't remember about Harris-Teeter.

Be cautious with the Chinese products at Walmart. I bought cinnamon for the incredile low price of about 50-cents for a nice-sized container. Sometimes cheap is not always best. My wife nixed the Chinese cinnamon after I bought it and went for a more expensive but traditional American brand. And it tasted better. Cinnamon helps reduce cholesterol.

Now you can also get a tire changed on your car while you're shopping at Walmart. But I bet if you brought Joe at Publix a new tire, he'd find a way to change it while you were shopping there. He is that kind of guy.

Kroger offers a salad bar for the fast-moving life. Its fresh meats are very competitive. Its produce also is cheap but not the quality of Publix or Harris Tetter. Milk with hormones is cheapest there along with Walmart. Canned vegetable prices are comparable. Specials are frequent on spaghetti sauce and other staples. Kroger also sends out coupons to shoppers on items they've been recorded as buying.

Harris-Teeter has the best samples of all the stores. Yum! It also has a salad bar, prepared foods like Kroger and a nice dining area with a TV. Its produce is quality, but often pricey. Its fresh meat selection is limited and pricey. Along with Publix, it is the best place to buy fresh fish and shrimp. It also has specials, particularly good ones on fresh produce.

Overall, my shopping for price and value is centered on Publix and Walmart. And it sure helps when you have a friendly, conscientious grocer named Joe.

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