Budget Day 59: Complete Waste of Time

It is very important to me that I am efficient…always. I like to put things away in the most optimal order so I don’t backtrack. I often multitask to get things done faster. I like to be quick if I am shopping on a mission with a list. And last, but not least, when driving somewhere I like to get from A to B as efficiently as possible (while still staying safe of course). So when I decided to try Lowes Foods for the first time this week and it ended being a complete waste of my time (30 minutes to be exact)…I couldn’t help but be irritated!

I know a lot of people think Earth Fare is expensive, and as much as I agree that I should be trying other stores there is something to be said for a grocery store that provides you with the following (even if it is sometimes at a slightly higher price)…

  • The ability to know where almost everything is in the store (thanks to numerous previous visits)
  • The confidence to know that they will have everything on your list (including a fresh-looking organic version)
  • Employees that can provide you with complimentary services (like cutting down a block of cheese to make it cheaper) and answer your questions quickly and accurately

When I walked into Lowes Foods I already knew that I didn’t have all the time in the world (if I was going to be on time for the afternoon school bus). And I couldn’t easily find their organic produce – if they did in fact have any – so I decided to ask an employee. This individual didn’t even know if they had organic produce (?) and made an attempt to locate the produce manager over the phone after unsuccessfully searching for him on the floor. Maybe this was an isolated incident for their store, but it took (what felt like) 10 minutes to have my very simple question answered. And once I got the answer it was no wonder I didn’t see their “organic section” because it was TINY with only a few fruits and no vegetables! I immediately knew I was not going to try to shop my list there…and oh how I was wishing I was at Earth Fare even if it meant spending a few extra bucks in exchange for convenience.

I wanted to be fair though and not bolt right away. So I at least did a spot check with one other simple thing on my list…a can of black beans. They do have an organic store brand and it did offer black beans, but it was packed full of sodium (of course) and no cheaper than a very low sodium can of organic beans from Earth Fare. So that was it for me. I did pick up a bag of slightly old (that sounds awful doesn’t it?) conventional limes for 50 cents. I figured it couldn’t hurt to spend 50 whole cents on it because I always seem to forget to buy limes when planning to make quesadillas or fajitas. So I thought it would help to have a dozen or so on hand just in case…but that was all I bought!

I then got some much-needed relief by quickly and efficiently shopping my list at Earth Fare. Since figuring out that a few of our weekly staples are cheaper at Trader Joe’s I’ve simply been buying everything from Earth Fare except for those items (which includes cheese, nuts, yogurt, coffee, and now honey although TJ’s honey is not local). This does mean I have to go to two stores (aside from the farmer’s market and bread store), but I’ve been warming up to this new game plan. And it is actually very much working for me. So I am not sure what your expectations are with the remaining 40 days or so of this project, but don’t have any high hopes that I am going to keep trying new stores!

Below is what I spent $48.48 on at Earth Fare the other day. And I should mention that every single item was organic except for the honeydew melon and the chicken (although the chicken was local and also Earth Fare “all natural” brand which is very close to organic)…

  • Rolled oats $1.84
  • Sesame seeds $2.41
  • Butter $4.49
  • Grapefruits free (thanks to coupon)
  • Flour $2.50
  • Black beans $1.39
  • Local chicken breast $3.55
  • 2 apples $3.99
  • Avocado $1.66
  • Bananas $1.07
  • Carrots $2.69
  • Cauliflower $4.79
  • Cilantro $1.79
  • Honeydew melon $1.52
  • Garlic $0.71
  • Red grapes $3.42
  • Lemon $0.50
  • Green onions $0.77
  • Yellow onion $1.17
  • Orange $0.66
  • Pear $1.22
  • Spinach $2.49
  • Tomatoes $3.14

Below are the “staples” that I picked up at Trader Joe’s. I hate that we ran out of coffee and espresso at the same time. They are both expensive items that provide very little sustenance, but they are oh so important during this cold cold weather that we’ve been having!

  • Coffee beans $6.49
  • Espresso $7.99
  • Cashews $5.49
  • Frozen corn $1.69
  • Plain yogurt $2.99
  • Honey $4.49
  • Frozen blueberries $1.99
  • Monterey Jack cheese $2.58
  • Cheddar $4.29
  • Swiss Gruyere $3.13
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  • Comments

    1. Ven R |

      Im just catching up on your blog and its so helpful because we are about to be transplants to your area. Im a huge frequenter of the farmers markets around here. :) My question is:
      Have you ever looked into getting a Costco membership?
      They have a ton of cheap bulk organic staples. For instance my chia seeds,coconut oil,tomato sauce and quinoa are all from there and all organic. They also have organic beef,cheese,cream,butter, and chicken at low bulk prices.

    2. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy) |

      Hi Ven. We have a Costco locally but it is not one of the stores Lisa frequents. I, personally, rely on Costo for many of the staples you mentioned. I love it especially during the winter months when there are slim pickings at the farmer’s markets. Thanks for the input. ~Amy

    3. Mysha Poche |

      Do you have a online store recommendation?

      • Assistant to 100 Days (Amy) |

        Hi there. We use Amazon quite a bit. Also, Vitacost also seems to have a wide selection and good prices on their food items. ~Amy

    4. phillip |

      Want to eat better on the cheap

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