Thursday, June 28, 2007

Adventures in Grocery Shopping

Anyone with a family, whether large or small, knows that keeping to a budget when it comes to buying groceries can be a challenge. Add finicky children (and husbands) into the mix, and sometimes finding a good deal can be downright impossible. So when I learned that a WinCo grocery store was coming to a nearby town I was curious.

We received flyers in the mail announcing the store's opening and displaying some pretty unbeatable prices on items I buy regularly (like 66-cent Kraft Macaroni n' Cheese, which even Costco can't beat). I was encouraged to learn that this company was employee-owned and operated (not a big box store despite it's size) and hadn't (to my knowledge) become the subject of any Michael Moore films. Everyone said it had WalMart prices without the guilt (because I can't shop at a WalMart without getting a sick feeling in my stomach, so I avoid it altogether). The lure of the new store was growing.

Now, I love me a good grocery store.

When our little town was expanding beyond it's original Safeway store to include an Albertson's and the local gem, Haggen, I gave each store an honest try. I've been loyal to Haggen for it's superior cleanliness, soft lighting (yes, lighting is a factor when choosing a grocery store), prices and yummy gourmet items for when I was feeling indulgent. Not to mention that the layout of the store pleases me. I avoided Albertson's for it's harsh lighting, uncleanliness and lack of products that I needed (although they seemed to have everything else under the sun). Plus, the store makes absolutely no sense. Safeway lost my vote because the brand-new version that opened up when the Haggen did has a confusing design, short, crowded check-out areas, and prices comparable to Haggen.

I am not saying that the WinCo has stolen me away from my beloved grocery store, but the prices are UNBELIEVABLE! For a family on a budget, they just may be so unbelievable to make me forget about the soft lighting, earthen-colored floors, smooth jazz playing while you shop, gourmet cheeses and organic produce galore found at the Haggen store.

But there are a few things that I won't ever find at my regular grocery store.

Like this:

Here, nestled between the "dried beef" and the "pigs feet" are 3-pound cans of "One Whole Chicken". Yup, one chicken (sans giblets, according to the label) in a can. Does that include the bones?

May I present, the "Deviled Ham Spread", just a bit down the aisle from the "One Whole Chicken". The spread for the heathens among us?

And over in the refrigerated section, by the bacon I was buying, resides this. Ham . . . in a can. Much better than Spam? I wonder.

There was also a tube of "Baby Bologna", the photo wouldn't load, but trust me, it was a sight. I don't eat regular bologna, let alone the baby type. There was even a picture of a cute baby on the package, suggesting that you actually feed the stuff to a baby. Ick!

Here was the sign above the cold section where the milk, eggs and "dough products" were kept. Dough products? Doh!

Obviously, I made out just fine. Nary a strange meat product in my cart (although I was tempted, just for comic affect on my poor family, "here, try some pigs feet").

I thought watching "Borat" was enough of a cultural shocker for one girl in the course of one week. But however little my knowledge of what the rest of our country eats, it is amazing just how diverse a nation we really live in. I am not trying to poke fun at others, but this trip to the WinCo was definitely an eye-opener. I've heard of some of these culinary delights (except for the baby bologna - that was a new one) but I'd seldom seen any of them in real life! You can thank my mother for my, a'hem, sheltered childhood in which canned meats and processed meat with bits of green olives and pimentos in it were just not allowed.

Mom, thank you.

I made it out of the grocery store with more than enough supplies for our family, with some impulse buys thrown in just for good measure and even a few celebrity magazines to enjoy over the weekend (those were cheaper than the other stores too). My total bill was approximately $70 cheaper than my previous shopping trip (where I bought half as much beer) thanks to WinCo's ridiculously low prices. A lifelong customer, I just may be!

If you need me, I'll be here. Eating my cheap groceries and reading my cheap magazines.

And drinking my cheap beer with my husband.
Don't worry, I bought some cheap juice boxes for the kids too - to go with their bologna!


Stay at home dad said...

A chicken in a can? That's hilarious. I would love going to that store.

Incidentally a huge Whole Foods store has just opened near where I live. Although I'm looking forward to a trip over there, I'm thinking they're not going to have chicken-in-a-can!

Tabba said...

The chicken in a can freaked me out. completely. I mean. I am really and truly scared right now.

That being said, saving $70 is awesome!!

have a great time.

LindaJ said...

EEEEWWWW, I have never seen so many things wrong, I did see bread in a can. Your stash of beer looks pretty good...enjoy and I'll see you and some good red wine on the 4th.

Rebecca said...

I'm laughing more at the thought of you doing your grocery shopping with camera in hand, snapping away!

Oh, The Joys said...

An ENTIRE chicken in a can?!!

mom said...

Hey, wait a minute. Kraft dinner? I remember when it was $.33! But now days it is a guilty pleasure. I find I gravitate to Stauffer's...... still not too healthy.....but I digress.

As far as our earlier meals go, thank your brother, who at an early age refused to eat all of that processed meat. Hence the deli sandwiches. And your dad, who for many years had access to so much seafood.......

And never forget... when he & I ran off to get married, our first meal was Vienna Sausage & Coors. ( It was Idaho, after all). ( And we were nearly broke). The last time I tried some of that stuff.. eeewww is right. Although the Coors is still ok.

Keep on taking those photos. You made me laugh, again.

Lisa Fine Goldstein/Kelly Kelly said...

Chicken in a can? Short of a bomb shelter incident... It's hard to imagine a scenario when this would be preferable..

He he. Funny post.


jen said...

that beer looks like a good time.

and you must go back and buy that chicken in a can. i need to know if there are bones in there. and a head. otherwise, dude, it's not a WHOLE CHICKEN.

Lisa said...

You saved 70$! You don't say. I am intrigued....

Queen of the Mayhem said...

I am frightened by canned meat....terribly, terribly frightened! Don't EVEN get me started on bologna! ICK!

Now a hotdog......I can get over my fear of "parts" as long as it is beef....and on special occasions! That's about as wild as I can get!

Left Coast Sister said...

You are hilarious! Although WinCo does have amazing prices, I just can't do meat there. It seems too weird, I don't know. Let us all know when you see the Entire Cow in a Can. Now THAT would be worth trying out! Happy 4th!

Ann(ie) said...

I am not kidding when I say this. I went downstairs to get a soda once when visiting my folks and in their pantry was a chicken in a can. I laughed so hard! My mother blamed it on my stepfather whose also been known to buy spam from time to time. hahahaha. And ew.

mk said...

On those cans scare me!!!!!! All is made good again with beer and mags!

Anonymous said...

I've got a WinCo just down the street from but never thought to check them out. Your nice guided tour has changed my mind. I think I'll give them a try. And if they have chicken in a can, I'll buy one and let you know what's really in there.

Rock the Cradle said...

Any store that has a sign for "dough products" would get my business.

But...a whole chicken in a can...that's...just...weird.