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Monday, September 12, 2011

Shopping for the Hunger Challenge

Foods Co

Hunger ChallengeThere will be no coffee, no tea, no chocolate, no ice cream this week. No matter how much I stretched my budget shopping at less expensive stores this year, some things are just out of the question. In the past I have shopped at Safeway and at Whole Foods for the Hunger Challenge. This year, I did my primary shopping at what is considered a "price-impact warehouse store" Foods Co and picked up a few bulk items at Rainbow Grocery (a coop). What exactly is a price-impact warehouse store? Warehouse stores are often located in low rent areas, have spartan, warehouse style interiors and most importantly, low prices. They are not as service oriented or as high priced as traditional supermarkets.

Shopping at Foods Co was eye opening. The demographic of their shoppers is clearly not the typical supermarket shopper. I saw mostly Asian and Latino shoppers many who were not speaking English, primarily young families and some older couples. The store was bustling on a Saturday and people were clustered around the sale items and comparison shopping, looking at prices. More than once I heard someone talking about pay day. One woman complained about the price of chicken. She told me she has a small refrigerator and freezer now and cannot buy the larger "value packs."

While prices for some things were good, the quality of the produce was not consistently high. The pears, 4 pounds for a $1, were small and hard, and many had cosmetic imperfections. I couldn't find one good eggplant. They were all old, wrinkly, many with mushy brown spots. There were virtually no organic products. When I couldn't find something employees pointed me in the general direction but never stopped what they were doing to help me.

My initial shopping list of items cost me $40 at Foods Co would have cost $65 at Safeway (according to my virtual shopping cart on Bottom line: Foods Co = CHEAP.

At Rainbow Grocery I bought bulk items that I would not have otherwise been able to afford such as extra virgin olive oil, roasted soy nuts, raisins and couscous.


Here is my entire shopping list for two people, for one week:

Foods Co
Cilantro .33
Turnip greens .78
Lemon .33
3 yogurts 1.00
Bok choy .41
Chile peppers .88
Green onions .33
Mixed fruit (12 apples, oranges) 3.98
Bartlett pears (6 very small) .48
Ginger .27
Mushrooms 1.98
Rice 1.98
Chicken thighs (10) 4.04
Chili powder .99
Italian style canned tomatoes .98
Mexican style canned tomatoes .98
Canned corn .75
Bouillon .98
Milk (quart) 1.48
Red beans (1 lb bag) 1.25
White bean (1 lb bag) 1.25
Lentils (1 lb bag) 1.28
Eggs 2.50
Corn tortillas (30) 1.08
Salsa 1.50
Instant oatmeal (10 packs) 1.98
Pasta .25
Panela cheese (10 oz) 3.18
Quesadilla cheese (10 oz) 3.85
Garlic .49
Bacon (12 slices) 3.50
Italian seasoning .98
Zucchini (1 small) .68
Onions (3 large) .65

TOTAL $47.74

Rainbow Grocery
Extra virgin olive oil 2.31
Cinnamon .31
Couscous 2.17
Raisins 1.21
Soy nuts 2.19
Frozen spinach 1.59

TOTAL $9.73 (with bag credit)


Note: The total budget for 2 people is 66.08, but my husband is only partly participating in the challenge. I will price out my meals.