shopping carts and squeezing produce

So a major debate has come up in the House of Green:
which local (or not-so-local) grocery store do we most favor? I’m having a hard time calling one store “mine”.

What’s the best grocery store in town (and is there just one)?

(my 2 cents after the jump…)

The contenders in my life:

Rainbow Foods at the Quarry.
Pros:
cheap, convenient, big
Cons:
not a great organic selection, can be semi-sketchy at times

Lunds on Central and 4th in NE
Pros:
Brand-spanking new and gorgeous, excellent meat and produce, that damned genius deli area
Cons:
limited selection, and its kinda spendy. Also, the parking has sucked recently.

Kowalskis (generally speaking, the one in Uptown)
Pros:
I feel like a princess when I shop there. And can find almost anything my little culinary heart desires. Mostly kickass organic things I am proud to bring home and play with in the kitchen
Cons:
it’s further away from home, and again… not the cheapest grocer in town

Whole Foods
Pros
I think this is the least expensive (or second-least expensive) place to buy organic staples.
Cons:
Not overly impressed with meat or produce. And getting to the Minneapolis location any time other than the dead of night makes me cry.

Trader Joes
Pros:
3 buck chuck. Really tasty, super-cheap shelf goods (crackers, cereal, dry goods, juices, etc.) And damned good hummus.
Cons:
hands-down my least favorite produce and meat section in the cities. Also, can I mention the rinky-dink parking lot?

Byerlys (I tend to gravitate toward Roseville, since i’m in that direction, but have been known to frequent the St Louis Park and Minnetonka locations if I’m in the neighborhood)
Pros:
I trust byerly’s meats and cheeses above anyone else. Produce rarely lets me down
Cons:
The attached price tag, and the significant lack of Byerly’s in non-suburban locales (this is perhaps a strategic marketing move on the part of Lunds/Byerlys… but Byerly’s wins for me between the two because they are bigger and generally have better stuff).

Out of contention: Cub (I don’t have one close enough and I despise their crappy produce and meats), the co-ops (Linden Hills, Wedge, Eastside…all of which are awesome in their own rite, but I consider them specialty stores.)

Alright, Twin Citians, weigh in: where do you shop, and why? Which stores do you refuse to patronize — why so? Any horror stories about bad meat, rotten service, price gouging on rainer cherries (it’s a conspiracy, I tell you…)

10 Comments so far

  1. Moe (unregistered) on September 12th, 2007 @ 10:07 am

    Excellent post topic. I think we have a nice variety of grocery stores in the area, even if one specific place doesn’t cover it all.

    We are all over the place. Midtown Rainbow for the staples, Midtown Farmers Market for produce when we can, St. Paul Whole Foods for meat or if we need just a few things, and Trader Joe’s for pre-packaged stuff.

    The Highland Park Lunds is the closest to our house, but I’m trying to avoid that place (too expensive, not all that great).

    I’m really looking forward to both the downtown Whole Foods if that ever opens up, and the new and bigger Seward Co-Op.

    Oh, and we try to buy local whenever we can. Hummus from Holyland, salsa from Salsa Lisa, bread from Franklin Street Bakery.


  2. Wendy (unregistered) on September 12th, 2007 @ 10:11 am

    I shop at the Eagan Rainbow, because they have the best deals on frozen dinners and Chef Boyardee. Seriously.


  3. Erica M (unregistered) on September 12th, 2007 @ 10:20 am

    I’m not a foodie. In fact, I don’t know how I manage to keep myself fed.

    I loooove TJ’s for the pre-packaged stuff. And the vitamins (the chewables are like Flintstone vitamins for grownups).

    I prefer Lunds for deli bar, “I don’t want to eat out, but I don’t want to cook” stuff. Because buying it from the grocery store isn’t eating out.

    For the rest of my meager needs, Cub and Rainbow work just fine. But my standards are low. Really low. I usually end up at Cub in SLP or Uptown Rainbow. (The Rainbow in Eden Prairie is horrible.) For shopping in EP, my girlfriend (who is much more discriminating than I) usually ends up at Kowalski’s, and Cub only in a pinch. We’ll go up to SLP to go to Cub before we go to the one in EP.

    I’ve only ever been in the Wedge once, but lawdy the traffic on Lyndale around there drives me insane.


  4. Michelle (unregistered) on September 12th, 2007 @ 10:50 am

    I like Super Target (I go to the one in Roseville). Not only can I get my target shopping and my grocery shopping in one place, they have really good prices. Cheaper than Rainbow. A good organic selection and the produce isn’t too bad, either.


  5. sarah green (unregistered) on September 12th, 2007 @ 10:52 am

    I actually cannot believe I forgot to put SuperTarget on the list. Again — I don’t have one super close (though I forget that one in Roseville is there now… and I think the one in Fridley was just converted)… but they have good prices, and better quality (typically) than a Rainbow or Cub.

    Only downside: I’m compelled to wander over to the non-grocery side and spend more money. Good for Target — bad for my checkbook.


  6. Greg (unregistered) on September 12th, 2007 @ 11:39 am

    Aldi has super cheap produce and good quality. I normally hate tier III discount grocery store chains but cheap fruit is worth it. I used to hit the one on Rice St. when I lived in St. Paul.


  7. Jess (unregistered) on September 12th, 2007 @ 1:29 pm

    I’m all over the place. I hit Trader Joe’s a few times a week on my way home from the gym. Parking isn’t bad at all if you go late enough on a weeknight. I’ve loved nearly everything I’ve ever bought from there. However, I do tend to avoid their produce. It’s pretty sketchy with all that packaging.

    Still kinda new to SuperTarget, but if I’m feeling lazy and don’t want to go to to Target and then Rainbow (Uptown) or Byerley’s, I’ll head over to the Knollwood SuperTarget. Their prices on Morningstar Farms and Boca stuff (Kashi waffles, too!) are way better than Rainbow.

    My produce luck is fairly good most of the time no matter where I go. Sometimes the selection looks so bad at Rainbow, though, that I don’t even bother. That’s pretty telling, I guess. As for meat … I rarely buy it, so I can’t comment on anyone’s quality. Guess there are benefits to growing up on a farm!


  8. James Norton (unregistered) on September 12th, 2007 @ 1:39 pm

    I tend to go to the St. Paul farmer’s market or Midtown Market for produce. For heat-and-eat meals, Trader Joe’s. For spices, Patel in Northeast. For plain old groceries, Cub or Rainbow for staples and Lunds for meats and cheeses. Although I slightly prefer Kowalski’s for cheeses. For seafood, Coastal Seafoods.

    In a nutshell: I don’t think there’s any easy one-stop answer to grocery shopping — every store has its own strengths and weaknesses. The only place I really don’t frequent is Whole Foods. So. Expensive. And frankly, I don’t like their cashiers. Any time you put a grad student or, worse, a person with a graduate degree, into a service job, you get a whole bunch of attitude. There are definitely Borders/Barnes and Nobles in college towns that suffer from this same “I’m too smart to be doing this job!” thing, except way more so.


  9. ryan (unregistered) on September 12th, 2007 @ 2:43 pm

    I shop at the Ghetto ass Rainbow in Uptown…I swear thats were they send the people they want to fire but can’t cause of union policies


  10. Foster (unregistered) on September 13th, 2007 @ 3:19 pm

    I have Uptown Kowalski’s, Lunds and Rainbow all within easy walking distance. I prefer Kowalski’s.



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