The last couple of days I’ve been sharing the lists of things I buy at particular stores. My food shopping is spread out a little bit. Some might say that is not economical with regard to time or money, but I beg to differ. I have found that I save enough money buying things more cheaply at certain stores that it makes it worth my time driving to several stores. Trader Joe’s and Central Market aren’t super handy, but they are just a few blocks from each other, so I often hit both of those in one trip. I don’t go there but about once a month either. I mentioned yesterday that occasionally my husband will stop by CM on his way home from work, and that works out nicely if we run out of almond milk, or if he wants to get some fresh bananas.
Sprouts is only about 10-15 minutes from my house, and I go there regularly because they often have some really great weekly sales. I love to get their ads each week and pore over them. Some weeks are duds, but others are really worthwhile. They also have what they call “Double Ad Wednesdays,” where they overlap sales from the previous week and ones for the upcoming week. When I go to Sprouts, I almost always do on Wednesdays to take advantage of that deal. So what do I buy at Sprouts? Here is my list:
1. Produce – Sprouts often runs really good sales on their produce, even their organic produce. And they HAVE organic produce, which beats WalMart and Aldi for me (although WalMart is starting to carry a few things occasionally). I always try to buy the “dirty dozen” fruits and veggies organic to avoid as much pesticides and chemicals as possible. So I’ll buy apples, potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, green onions, celery, cilantro, parsley and other such produce at Sprouts. I also buy non-organic stuff there too. They often put their onions on sale for 49 cents a lb., which is really great, and they usually have sweet potatoes for a pretty decent price. I have bought avocados there, but typically don’t because they are usually expensive and tiny. I usually get those at Aldi. I never buy bananas there because they are always overpriced. CM or WalMart are better places for those.
2. Bulk Goods – I love Sprouts’ bulk section. I buy quite a few things in bulk, including oats—rolled, quick and steel cut (often they put them on sale for 69 cents a lb!), rice, beans, flax, sesame seeds, dried fruit, Himalayan pink salt (they have the absolute best price I have found anywhere for this!), sunflower seeds, and other things. I will say that I HATE their bags. They are thin and flimsy and often get holes in them, and they have these stupid gathers in the bottom where your stuff gets in and sticks. They have little twist ties that will often come off if you have a heavy bag-full of stuff, and they are difficult to dump your stuff out of into other containers when you get home. Central Market has nice zippered bags for their bulk goods. I need to petition the Sprouts people to get on board with that. You also have to really check the ingredients on the bins at Sprouts because none of it is organic, and some of it has “ickies” in it. They use a lot of canola oil and even sugar in some of the things that you might not expect them to. But basic flours and grains are safe. They also have a small section of bulk spices. They don’t have the extensive selection that CM does, and their prices are higher, but if I need something and don’t want to have to drive to CM, Sprouts is always there.
3. Organic Grass-Fed Beef – I try to always buy organic, grass-fed beef. Sometimes Sprouts will put it on sale for $4.99 a lb. which can’t be beat, and I will stock my freezer with 10 lbs. or more at a time. Last time I got beef from a semi-local farmer that my mom knows. It’s not certified organic, but he uses organic practices, and it is grass-fed. We got it for $3.99 a lb! Woo hoo! But normally I buy it at Sprouts.
4. Chicken – I want to buy all my chicken breasts organic and pastured. But right now I can’t afford it. Sprouts has organic, but it is so expensive, even on sale (and they rarely mark down their organic chicken). So usually, I will get their all natural (but not organic) breasts and breast tenders when they put them on sale for $1.99 a lb. I was told by one of my “go-to” people that Sprouts’ all-natural chicken is a better alternative if you can’t afford organic pastured than buying it at Sam’s or WalMart. So I am OK with it. One day we will switch to all organic pastured chicken. We may have to win the lottery first. But one day…
5. Organic Juices and Coconut Water – I buy organic lemon and lime juice on a regular basis at Sprouts. I sometimes buy other kinds of juice too. They will occasionally put it on a really sale and also have coupons in their monthly flyers. I mentioned before that we get it for our kombucha. Sometimes, I’ll get some for Nathan to drink, but we don’t do a lot of juice at our house, so it’s more of a rare treat. They will also occasionally put their coconut water on sale for a reasonably good price (coconut water is just pricey) and I will get some when they do. It’s so great for Rex to drink when he’s working outside in the heat, mowing the lawn or doing yard work. It’s also really good to have on-hand in case of a stomach bug.
5. Canned and Pantry Goods – I buy some of my canned goods (especially organic) at Sprouts, when they have a good sale, or if I need something for a recipe and I’m there shopping already. They had a great sale on canned organic beans and also coconut milk the other day and I took advantage of both! Other things I buy on a regular basis include organic soy sauce and organic salad dressing (their brand is good—we LOVE the Balsamic Vinaigrette). I like that they have a pretty decent selection of organic pantry goods.
6. Oils – I mentioned that I will probably get my organic coconut and olive oils from Costco when we get our membership. But Sprouts also has organic oils that I will continue to buy—especially refined coconut oil (this is the one that doesn’t taste or smell like coconut), sesame oil, and other specialty oils.
7. Dairy Products – We are not able to have dairy right now because we are on a medical diet, but one day we will again (and we are so ready!!) When we did buy dairy, I bought buttermilk at Sprouts because I could get a Belgian buttermilk that didn’t have a lot of extra additives and junk in it—not sure if I will buy this again in the future since we will be trying to go to mostly raw milk products, but it is an option. They also have a raw milk cheese there that is fantastically priced.
8. Organic Tea – I buy organic black tea for my kombucha and occasionally other teas like organic green tea, when they put them on sale.
9. Health and Beauty Items – Since this series is just about food, I won’t list all the things I’ve bought from the H&B section at Sprouts. Just know that I sometimes do buy things in that area.
10. Clearance Items – I don’t know if other Sprouts stores do this, but ours has a clearance area in the back of the store where they put items that have been discontinued, or are getting close to their expiration date. I have scored some amazing deals from this area, and so I always make it a point to check it! Once I got 2 packages of Bob’s Red Mill cornmeal for 99 cents each, and last time I went they had Enjoy Life chocolate chips for $1.99 a package! Those are just a few of my steals! You can also sometimes get eggs (from the egg case—not the clearance table) on their last sell-by date for 99 cents a dozen. I’ve gotten some really good eggs that would have cost me 4 times that or more at regular price. We eat lots of eggs at our house, so when I get a deal like that I pick up like 4 or 5 dozen and we scramble and boil and bake a lot!
I really do buy a lot at Sprouts. Overall, their regular store prices can tend toward the high end, but it is their sales, and the fact that they have things that other stores don’t that makes them so popular with me. I think they give a discount (I want to say it is 15%) if you buy a case of something (as long as it’s not on sale). They will also give you a small discount (like 5 cents a bag) if you bring your own shopping bags. Now I just wish they would finish the on-ramp from Hulen Street onto 20 so that it would be easier to get there and back 😉
Tomorrow…let’s talk Costco!