Author Topic: Philly Mustachian Grocery Options  (Read 7380 times)

truboyblue

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Philly Mustachian Grocery Options
« on: December 01, 2012, 04:36:05 PM »
Hi,

This post is directed exclusively toward mustachian folk in the philly area.  My family (me, wife and 1 yr old) spend about $560/month on groceries.  I'd like to get this down if possible.  Looking for recommendations for where to find good quality/organic food that would undercut our current budget.  As surprising as it may sound, we do most all our shopping at Whole Foods.  For the quality - at least where I live in South Philly - if you know what to buy, they beat or tie Acme and Shoprite in price and easily exceed them in quality.  Ditto the Italian Market (esp quality). I haven't done a physical Costco research trip (we have one about 15 miles away in Jersey which adds a $5 bridge toll to the gas cost) I've looked online and their prices don't look much better than what we do at Whole Foods/Target/etc.  Again, I'm trying to marry mustachianism with high quality paleo/primal foods.  We're considering joining a CSA in the new year but my cost analysis has shown this isn't a much better deal either. 

I want some locals to prove me wrong. Challenge me with your superior knowledge of the local market.  We live in South Philly and if any area locals can point me towards better quality grocery options, I'm all ears.

Thanks for any recommendations/suggestions.

iamlindoro

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Re: Philly Mustachian Grocery Options
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2012, 05:56:42 PM »
Your problem is probably not where you are buying your food, it's more than likely the food you are buying.  That bill is (as you conclude) completely out of control.  At $560/month for three people, you literally have to be buying prepared foods.  If you want to get the bill down, challenge yourself to buy nothing but absolutely raw materials.  Flour, eggs, milk, butter, produce, raw meats, nuts, etc.  The most prepared food you buy should be a decent quality (but not "artisan") cheese.  Tillamook is fine ;). No cookies, no chips, etc.  If you want them, make them yourself.  No prepared salsa (unless you make it yourself).  No convenience beverages of any kind.  You should be able to easily feed a family of three for less than half your current budget.  I fed two of us for $140 last month by limiting myself to only buying the absolute lowest level components of any food (mostly bought at Target). 

Basically, if you pick something up and can say "The ingredients to make this are also in this store," then put it back.  When you do pick up a "raw" material, stand there until you are sure you have picked up the size and brand that has the lowest per-ounce cost.

Also, you could save a lot by not buying organic, but I suspect I might not be able to convince you to do so.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2012, 06:00:19 PM by iamlindoro »

chucklesmcgee

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Re: Philly Mustachian Grocery Options
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2012, 06:00:07 PM »
I just spent two years in the Graduate Hospital and Bellavista Areas. I had this stuff down to a science.

Whole Foods was very competitive with their generic line. Their real peanut butter (just peanuts and salt, no sugar or added oils) is the cheapest I've seen anywhere in Philly at 9.9/cents a pound. Their fancy items are obviously really expensive.

Target was usually best name brand items across stores, cheapest eggs, egg whites and greek yogurt. They'd have insane prices on frozen vegetables, I remember throwing about 100 bags of broccoli into a cart when it was on sale for $1/bag. If you get the Target store card you can get 5% back, which is pretty awesome.

Shoprite was best for fresh meat, plain oats, potatoes and I think vegetables. You could get hosed on some stuff, like sauces, spices, frozen vegetables, bagged items and household things, if they aren't on sale. If anything you buy is a brand, chances are it will be more expensive here. Worth checking the flyer online before you head out to Target to see if there's anything worth stocking up on.

I got a Sam's Club card at one point and went over to Jersey...wasn't worth it for the staples I was buying. Saved maybe 20 cents a pound on chicken vs. Shoprite. Their food is very hit and miss.

So I'd say Target is probably your go to store. Their grocery variety isn't incredible, especially with produce but they pretty much have everything you need. Their prices are also really good for toiletries and other basics. Then I'd say walk across the street to Shoprite if there's something on sale you need to stock up on. Grab a couple of whatever you find to be the super cheap items at Whole Foods.

c

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Re: Philly Mustachian Grocery Options
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2012, 06:02:12 PM »
Truboyblue, what makes up your grocery bill?

We buy organic, cage free, air-chilled etc and at not-cheap NYC stores and I was able to really lower our costs buy only buying raw ingredients, substituting home made stock for bought, home made soup for cartons, dry beans for cans etc.

iamlindoro

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Re: Philly Mustachian Grocery Options
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2012, 06:04:14 PM »
Target was usually best name brand items across stores, cheapest eggs, egg whites and greek yogurt. They'd have insane prices on frozen vegetables, I remember throwing about 100 bags of broccoli into a cart when it was on sale for $1/bag. If you get the Target store card you can get 5% back, which is pretty awesome.

Indeed.  Once you get over the initial "Target has groceries?!?!" squeamishness, they are quite competitive.  Their Market Pantry brand usually (but not always) comes in as the cheapest in flour, sugar, bread, etc.  I use the Target card there (and there only) to get the 5% as well.

Food is a fun Mustachian challenge.  The more you challenge yourself to do the work instead of farm it out to others, the more you (drastically!) save.

truboyblue

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Re: Philly Mustachian Grocery Options
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2012, 06:16:08 PM »
Your problem is probably not where you are buying your food, it's more than likely the food you are buying.  That bill is (as you conclude) completely out of control.  At $560/month for three people, you literally have to be buying prepared foods. 

Hey man, I hear you.  But the crazy thing is, we cook everything - no prepared foods.  No kidding.  We go the WF generic route for the whole store, it's all oils, meats, veggies, butter, flour, etc. 

Just curious - you didn't give suggestions for where to go.  Do you live in Philly, or nearby?  Where do you suggest going for meat that beats Whole Foods chicken thighs for $4.50?  Does the Costco or BJ's near me have better deals on Almonds?  Where do you buy organic fruits and veggies (organic is really important when you have a little one)? I'm not trying to make excuses, but I am trying to find solutions.  And I do feel a certain responsibility to support sustainable and ethical farming practices.  I won't pay out the nose for them, but I am looking for a happy medium.  I've been reading MMM for over a year and I feel guilty for not being better all the time.  Hence this post.  I hear you, I really do, but I need some specifics to move forward. 

Thanks for weighing in.  I look forward to any specific suggestions you have - where do you go in Philly to buy your groceries?  What's your strategy?  I really want to know.

truboyblue

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Re: Philly Mustachian Grocery Options
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2012, 06:27:37 PM »
Target was usually best name brand items across stores, cheapest eggs, egg whites and greek yogurt. They'd have insane prices on frozen vegetables, I remember throwing about 100 bags of broccoli into a cart when it was on sale for $1/bag. If you get the Target store card you can get 5% back, which is pretty awesome.

Thanks chuckles - I've been meaning to sign up for the Target cc.  We've been hacking so many cc offers lately I've gotten a bit weary.  But you make a good point about the frozen veggies.  And yeah, everything we buy at WF is the 365 brand.  No artisan anything.  Since we have a little one who has a flavor of the month appetite we do buy a lot of fruit (the only thing she consistently eats) there which I think contributes to the inflationary bill. 

Thanks for these good suggestions.  We do scrutinize the weeklys, but can def improve on it.  THanks!

iamlindoro

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Re: Philly Mustachian Grocery Options
« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2012, 06:40:33 PM »
LOL, I just wrote the longest reply and hit quit when I went to copy what I had written to make sure I didn't lose it.  Oh well, here we go again :)

truboyblue, I don't live in Philly (I know you aimed the question at Philly folks but figured someone from another high-cost-of-living area could still help/jump in) but I do live in the SF Bay Area where I imagine our cost of living is very similar.

Maybe you could grab a reciept from your last trip to Whole Foods and list out what you got, sizes and costs?  That would be a lot easier to pick apart.  In the interest of fairness, here are the highlights from my last Target trip:

2 x Tortilla package: $1.59 x 2
3 x 25oz Tyson frozen chicken breasts: $10 (3.33 each)
Avocados, Onions, potatoes, carrots, and other produce totalling about $10
Market Pantry Peanut Butter, 16oz (the big one): $3.79
42oz Market Pantry Oats (the big tub!): $3.04
2 x Market Pantry whole wheat bread loaf: $1.59 each
24 oz Nestle chocolate chips: $4.04
8 oz Nestle cocoa powder: $2.49
5 lb Gold Medal flour: $2.29
Market Pantry whole milk, 1/2 gallon: $2.09
Market Pantry Eggs, 1 dozen: $1.69
Market Pantry cheese (not sliced, just the big block of cheddar), 16 oz: $4.04
Market Pantry butter, 16 oz: $2.49

My bill totalled (after the target card 5% discount) $48.73.  There were a few toiletry items I didn't mention here too.  From this, we'll get:

2 weeks oatmeal breakfasts (made tolerable by adding something different every day-- maple syrup, cinnamon, brown sugar, etc)
10 days PB&J or sliced chicken breast sandwich lunches
4-5 batches of oatmeal or chocolate chip cookies
10 or so servings of French onion soup (we already had beef broth at home)
6-7 dinners with chicken breast involved, being a bit creative to vary it
Grilled cheese one or two dinners
Mashed potatoes a few nights
3-4 batches of brownies
Some homemade baked tortilla chips and guacamole (a few snacks worth)
fruit or veggie sides at most meals

And probably some other meals that we throw together by looking in the pantry and being a little creative.  I won't argue that it's the most inspired menu in the world, but we don't go hungry either.  And we're saving a lot of money that goes straight into investments :)
« Last Edit: December 01, 2012, 06:57:04 PM by iamlindoro »

truboyblue

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Re: Philly Mustachian Grocery Options
« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2012, 06:40:58 PM »
Truboyblue, what makes up your grocery bill?

We buy organic, cage free, air-chilled etc and at not-cheap NYC stores and I was able to really lower our costs buy only buying raw ingredients, substituting home made stock for bought, home made soup for cartons, dry beans for cans etc.

Thanks C,

As indicated in other responses I go for the raw ingredients.  I am doing more with soup stocks this year - getting a whole chicken, roasting it, then making soup that lasts most of the week from the carcass.  Just did it with our thanksgiving Turkey. 

It's the produce that gets us I think.  That's why I'm considering the CSA for next year.  Also have some raised beds in my square cement "backyard" that I built, but the alley cat infestation (pissing/shitting in the beds) killed my hope of home grown veggies.  Looking for alternate plots now.  Do you all have any luck with farmer's markets in NYC or do you stick to the grocery stores?

chucklesmcgee

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Re: Philly Mustachian Grocery Options
« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2012, 06:43:41 PM »
Where do you suggest going for meat that beats Whole Foods chicken thighs for $4.50?  Does the Costco or BJ's near me have better deals on Almonds?  Where do you buy organic fruits and veggies (organic is really important when you have a little one)?
Thanks for weighing in.  I look forward to any specific suggestions you have - where do you go in Philly to buy your groceries?  What's your strategy?  I really want to know.

$4.50 for chicken thighs? Whoo that's pricey. I got boneless skinless chicken breast (leanest, highest protein cut) for $1.99/lb from the Shoprite.

Quote
(organic is really important when you have a little one)?

I think you're being a little delirious about the importance of organic food here. It's all well and good to want to reduce pesticide use and such, but there really isn't any compelling evidence that properly prepared conventional foods affect the health of children or others any differently than otherwise identical organic foods. Certainly it's going to have major health benefits to eat a diet with lots of lean protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats, but whether or not that healthy food is organic or not is trivial if anything- and that's probably doubling your grocery bill.

iamlindoro

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Re: Philly Mustachian Grocery Options
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2012, 06:47:54 PM »
It's the produce that gets us I think.  That's why I'm considering the CSA for next year.  Also have some raised beds in my square cement "backyard" that I built, but the alley cat infestation (pissing/shitting in the beds) killed my hope of home grown veggies.  Looking for alternate plots now.  Do you all have any luck with farmer's markets in NYC or do you stick to the grocery stores?

I don't want to come across as dismissive at all, but what can you give up of the organic produce?  If it really makes up that big a percentage of your grocery bill (haven't seen the specifics yet to know) then maybe you could limit the organic to what you feed the baby?  I am lucky to live in a mecca of organic food (get a lot of produce at the Farmer's Market on Sundays, year round and cheap) but in the end, non-organic produce isn't going to make anyone grow a third arm or anything.  Wash your food well to remove any surface contaminants and the reality is you can and would probably go your entire life without inorganic food causing you a single health problem.

happy

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Re: Philly Mustachian Grocery Options
« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2012, 07:00:43 PM »
I recently found this link, which lists which foods are most important to buy organic and which don't matter so much eg leafy greens are important to buy organic...so I grow them. Really easy, honest.

http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/guide/


truboyblue

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Re: Philly Mustachian Grocery Options
« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2012, 07:09:52 PM »
LOL, I just wrote the longed reply and hit quit when I went to copy what I had written to make sure I didn't lose it.  Oh well, here we go again :)

truboyblue, I don't live in Philly (I know you aimed the question at Philly folks but figured someone from another high-cost-of-living area could still help/jump in) but I do live in the SF Bay Area where I imagine our cost of living is very similar.

Thanks iamlindoro,

Sorry about the quit/loss - that always sucks.  Kudos for throwing down the guantlet with specifics, and hardcore!  You definitely kill us in terms of a more spartan diet.  I should say that we follow a paleo diet and try to avoid breads/carbs (actually got turned onto that here at MMM via the Marks Daily Apple post).  We take our dinner leftovers for lunch to work.  And yes, I am not averse to the Market Pantry brand - we were just there today! - but we tend to buy our toiletries and a few packaged food items (yogurt for the kiddo, etc) there. 

Honestly, the trickiest part is balancing our mustachian money saving ethos with our desire for a more just/healthy menu.  We bought Tyson chicken and other industrial food products until the guilt got to us.  And this is another whole debate (which I think is ultimately a personal one, and by no means black/white - i'm actually waiting/hoping for an MMM article on an in-depth cost/benefit of food buying practices).  The things we put in our bodies have real consequences that are hard to quantify, and for the time being - while my daughter is in a vulnerable developmental phase - my wife and I have decided to spring for fresh and organic (when necessary).

All that to say that you, iamlindoro are indeed a badass.  And I am def limiting my selection for the reasons stated above.  However, I'm going to take your itemization with me on my next grocery run and see if I can't match it in some, if not most, areas.

Thanks!

iamlindoro

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Re: Philly Mustachian Grocery Options
« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2012, 07:15:08 PM »
Hahaha, badass is definitely an ongoing journey-- We could probably use a little more produce in our diets, too.  From all accounts, it sounds like you are largely succeeding in being as frugal as you can within your parameters/desires to best take care of yourself and your child.  I guess the only thing I can really think of is to maybe split up the produce and must-be-organic items into a WF run, and everything else into a "traditional" market/Target run.  It's worth a shot!

truboyblue

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Re: Philly Mustachian Grocery Options
« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2012, 07:24:41 PM »
Sorry chuckles - I didn't mean $4.50/lb - that was $4.50 total for 6 air chilled thighs or about $2.15/lb or so.

And yeah, i'm probably a little delirious - I am trying to moderate that where necessary.  A tricky balance when you're a new parent.  I tend to follow guides like this - http://www.marksdailyapple.com/top-9-most-important-foods-to-buy-organic/ - when doing my shopping.

Probably we'll simmer down on a few things as we hone our shopping.  Thanks for the reality check, though.  It encourages me to continue doing more research.

chucklesmcgee

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Re: Philly Mustachian Grocery Options
« Reply #15 on: December 01, 2012, 08:38:30 PM »
And yeah, i'm probably a little delirious - I am trying to moderate that where necessary.  A tricky balance when you're a new parent.  I tend to follow guides like this - http://www.marksdailyapple.com/top-9-most-important-foods-to-buy-organic/ - when doing my shopping.

Probably we'll simmer down on a few things as we hone our shopping.  Thanks for the reality check, though.  It encourages me to continue doing more research.

Try to be really skeptical when reading new age "science", especially when it comes to your dollars.  The author's kind of playing it fast and lose with a lot of those recommendations. For example:

"98% of all conventional samples tested had pesticide residues."

Were those conventional samples tested before or after washing? What level of pesticide residues were actually found on the samples? What's the limit for pesticide residues? Were any of these above the limit? Is there any evidence that that's going to impact anyone's health? Some organic apples actually contain pesticide residues from runoff from spraying of adjacent farms or runoff, how many organic apples had pesticide residues? What was the concentration of pesticides there?

"There’s also some evidence that organic apples have more polyphenols and greater antioxidant capacity than conventional apples"

So the study pulled apples off of 5 farms, tested them for three years, found slightly more antioxidants (15%) in the organic one out of the three years, no significant difference the other two  and concluded that "Overall, the production method had a smaller impact on the variation in the polyphenol content and antioxidant capacity of apples than the yearly climate."  Really, so the climate made a bigger difference in antioxidant content than whether it was conventionally grown or not? Two out of three years I'd be getting the same amount of antioxidants as the conventionally grown apples despite paying a premium?

"...making organic apples a no-brainer decision."

Uhmmm...yeah, sure. More like "...making it not entirely impossible that organic apples could possibly be healthier than conventionally grown apples"

I'm not meaning to knock all of this healthy living stuff, but you do have to be skeptical and look at the sources and the actual evidence when there's money on the line. There's a pretty troubling body of evidence growing about the dangers of BPA, and while I think its effects could be subtle, the cost of avoiding BPA-containing plastics and canned products (almost all of which contain BPA lining) is nearly nothing for me.

PJ

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Re: Philly Mustachian Grocery Options
« Reply #16 on: December 01, 2012, 08:39:40 PM »
Only slightly tongue in cheek, if you're so concerned about ethical issues in terms of food, why not go vegetarian?  It's the ultimate feel good diet, as far as I'm concerned! 
 
But as I don't really expect to convert you to veg lifestyle any more than I think you could convert me to Paleo with one smartass comment, let me add a perhaps more helpful suggestion.  Have you looked at which fruit and veg you're buying to choose the less expensive ones for the season?  For example, which dark leafy greens are cheapest in your area/at a particular time of year?  Are you so used to eating berries all year round that you're buying them even when they're at their peak price in the middle of the winter?  And so on.  Obviously at this time of year, the best prices will be on root veggies, and basic fruit such as apples, citrus, etc. 

etselec

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Re: Philly Mustachian Grocery Options
« Reply #17 on: December 01, 2012, 09:16:05 PM »
Another Philly person here - I'm out west so my recommendations are centered there.

My favorite Philly hidden gem for groceries is the Aldi at 46th and Market. I wouldn't recommend their produce, but they are dirt cheap for things you are willing to eat non-organic, such as baking/cooking staples, spices, dairy & eggs. Definitely bring your own bags, as they charge for bags, and make sure you have a quarter to get a shopping cart (you get it back when you return the cart).

Another good option for spices & bulk goods is Makkah Market at 43rd & Walnut. I don't shop there a lot but I have friends that swear by it.

I get most of my produce at the local Farmers Market or the Coop - some organic/low-spray and some conventional - and I've actually seen my produce bill go down relative to last year when I was buying all conventional produce at a grocery store. I think what the last poster said is really true - you need to think about building your menu around what's in season, rather than just buying what you want at potentially a much higher cost. Start thinking about out of season produce as a luxury item. To get more variety, you can start preserving food by canning/freezing  - e.g. buy a ton of cheap cooking tomatoes when they are in season and make sauce that will last all year.

Though it sounds like you're unlikely to go vegetarian, building more menus around cheap sources of protein like beans and eggs rather than meat could make quite a difference as well.

eyePod

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Re: Philly Mustachian Grocery Options
« Reply #18 on: December 02, 2012, 12:17:08 PM »
Hi,

This post is directed exclusively toward mustachian folk in the philly area.  My family (me, wife and 1 yr old) spend about $560/month on groceries.  I'd like to get this down if possible.  Looking for recommendations for where to find good quality/organic food that would undercut our current budget.  As surprising as it may sound, we do most all our shopping at Whole Foods.  For the quality - at least where I live in South Philly - if you know what to buy, they beat or tie Acme and Shoprite in price and easily exceed them in quality.  Ditto the Italian Market (esp quality). I haven't done a physical Costco research trip (we have one about 15 miles away in Jersey which adds a $5 bridge toll to the gas cost) I've looked online and their prices don't look much better than what we do at Whole Foods/Target/etc.  Again, I'm trying to marry mustachianism with high quality paleo/primal foods.  We're considering joining a CSA in the new year but my cost analysis has shown this isn't a much better deal either. 

I want some locals to prove me wrong. Challenge me with your superior knowledge of the local market.  We live in South Philly and if any area locals can point me towards better quality grocery options, I'm all ears.

Thanks for any recommendations/suggestions.

I did a CSA but holy shit it was super expensive for a lot of shit I don't like.  Send me a PM though.  At least once a year my family gets a whole cow from a farmer in Harrisburg area.  We would probably be fine splitting it.  Philly Cowshare is SUPER expensive.  We paid a bunch less than that.

Otherwise, I don't think organic is that important.  Produce Junction is good quality stuff and there's a similar place right in Norristown.  2lbs of peppers for a few bucks.

truboyblue

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Re: Philly Mustachian Grocery Options
« Reply #19 on: December 04, 2012, 10:35:23 AM »
Another good option for spices & bulk goods is Makkah Market at 43rd & Walnut. I don't shop there a lot but I have friends that swear by it.

I get most of my produce at the local Farmers Market or the Coop - some organic/low-spray and some conventional - and I've actually seen my produce bill go down relative to last year when I was buying all conventional produce at a grocery store. I think what the last poster said is really true - you need to think about building your menu around what's in season, rather than just buying what you want at potentially a much higher cost. Start thinking about out of season produce as a luxury item. To get more variety, you can start preserving food by canning/freezing  - e.g. buy a ton of cheap cooking tomatoes when they are in season and make sauce that will last all year.

Thanks etselec,

This is good info.  I'll have to check out Makkah Market.  And the reminder to focus on in-season veggies is a good one.  Been meaning to do that.

Thanks!

palvar

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Re: Philly Mustachian Grocery Options
« Reply #20 on: December 05, 2012, 08:05:31 AM »

Thanks etselec,

This is good info.  I'll have to check out Makkah Market.  And the reminder to focus on in-season veggies is a good one.  Been meaning to do that.

Thanks!

My wife and I shop at the same store and average about 2/3 of what you're spending.  The Shop Rite on Snyder will be cheaper and the quality is pretty good; you could go up to the Asian supermarket on Spring Garden too.  I'm often tempted by the Italian market, but their veggies go bad a day after I buy them. 

I've thought too about Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA, but it really doesn't pencil out.  There is a Costco in KOP, which will save you the bridge toll but you get the hell of 76 instead.

truboyblue

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Re: Philly Mustachian Grocery Options
« Reply #21 on: December 05, 2012, 11:14:14 AM »
I've thought too about Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA, but it really doesn't pencil out.  There is a Costco in KOP, which will save you the bridge toll but you get the hell of 76 instead.

thanks palvar.  Yeah, I think as previous posters said we probably need to hone our grocery game (buying in-season, being more selective what we get where).  We prob should re-up on Shop-rite as we stopped going there as much in the last year.  I'm curious about the Costco in KOP.  Do you go there?  I'd love to get staples in bulk there (esp olive oil, coffee, etc), but when I've looked at them online it hasn't seemed much diff $ than BJ's by us, and Shoprite seems to match BJs on most those things in my previous comparisons.  I don't mind making a quarterly drive a la MMM if it's worth it - but again my online research hasn't shown it to be that great.  But maybe they only show select items online ... let me know.

palvar

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Re: Philly Mustachian Grocery Options
« Reply #22 on: December 05, 2012, 01:01:18 PM »
I'm curious about the Costco in KOP.  Do you go there?

I don't - it just seems to far to go for groceries with all of the stores within 10 blocks of my house.   Being picky about meat and focusing on using up the staples we already have has allowed us to knock our grocery shopping down a lot.  Making a few vegetarian meals each week helps too.

truboyblue

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Re: Philly Mustachian Grocery Options
« Reply #23 on: December 06, 2012, 11:10:51 AM »

Try to be really skeptical when reading new age "science", especially when it comes to your dollars.  The author's kind of playing it fast and lose with a lot of those recommendations.

I'm not meaning to knock all of this healthy living stuff, but you do have to be skeptical and look at the sources and the actual evidence when there's money on the line. There's a pretty troubling body of evidence growing about the dangers of BPA, and while I think its effects could be subtle, the cost of avoiding BPA-containing plastics and canned products (almost all of which contain BPA lining) is nearly nothing for me.

Chuckles - this is an interesting break down of that source; made me go back and re-read it - thanks!  I pulled that one out of the hat mostly b/c MDA was cited on MMM and b/c it covered more broadly what others have said elsewhere regarding organic food.  I def hear you though and we do try to be skeptical.  My wife turned me on to the dirty dozen lists and such, and really the main reason we paid attention to these warnings was b/c of our new baby.  Here's one of many other sources on this subject: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/health/the-dirty-dozen-and-clean-15-of-produce/616/

Meanwhile - I'd really like to know more about the BPA issue you raised.  I hadn't seen it in connection to canned products - (though we don't by much in cans either except for the occasional diced tomatoes, etc).  Point me towards them please.  Thanks!