Grocery Shopping: love or hate


Let’s talk groceries. Richmond has quickly become what I am going to call a grocery store mecca. Business Insider states there are 36,536 grocery stores in America totaling sales of 17.08 PER STORE average in millions. For any native Richmond-ers like myself, I grew up only shopping at Ukrops in Midlothian. We knew the manager and the employees, my dad and grandpa framed the store, and it was a small and friendly place to shop. You might wonder why I am including that in my synopsis; but I really enjoy the small town feel and relationships and that plays a factor for me. Now, depending on where you are in the Richmond Metro Area, you now have Kroger, Food Lion, Martins, Trader Joes, Aldi, Wegmans, Fresh Market, Tom Leonard’s, and Whole Foods. The sheer number of new stores in our area is exciting but also a tad overwhelming for some. I will also note that this is not taking into account Target and Walmart superstores where you can now buy groceries as well. If you are anything like how I used to be – I loathed grocery shopping. I worried about how to entertain my son so we could make it through the store without a full-fledged melt down, I didn’t go with a list, I hated how much we were spending, and then I really became frustrated when 2 days later it was all gone. I took control of our grocery shopping situation in Spring 2016 before baby 2 arrived. I knew we needed to do something differently in regards to our planning /shopping but I wasn’t sure where to start. The Smith family has our shopping down to a science these days and it relieved a lot of the stress. I hope my review may help you avoid the wasted dollars and frustration that I experienced for a long time. 

Just to put the cost in perspective – The average family of 4 in America is spending 180-200$ on groceries A WEEK!! I am happy to report that we spend 85-90 a week for our family of 4.We eat yummy healthy meals and have plenty of food in the pantry/fridge at all times. Gone are the days of going to the store with no list or plan and we always check the sale circulars at the big stores by our house in case there is a buy one, get one free fresh fruit/veggie that week (Martin’s does these pretty much every week!) Taking into account friends/family input and reader perspective I have compiled a list of the things people have listed as pros/cons of some of the stores we have locally that I have tried.

1. Martin’s

• PRO’s- Ukrop’s bakery items for all you rainbow cookie lovers still out there , Fuel Points, fresh local seafood, great weekly deals on fresh fruit.

• CON’s- Unless you coupon, can get pricey if you do not plan ahead/use generic brands.

2. Trader Joe’s

• PRO’s-Small atmosphere, friendly employees, very affordable foods and wine, easy to get in and out of the store.

• CON’s- Unless you live in Short Pump area, it can be a bit of a hike with hectic Broad Street traffic and 288 back up’s. 

3. Kroger

• PRO’s- Click list (Order online and pull up to get groceries; great for rainy days, little ones in the car, napping kids, cold weather, lunch break, on way home from work!) Coupons on their app and accept manufacturer coupons, have great buy 5, get 5 mega sales, fuel points.

• CON’s – Huge stores that can take a while to navigate.

4. Wegmans

• PRO’s – Hands down amazing prepared foods section, pub in the store, have cooking classes for parents and kids 4 and up for free, friendly employees, lots of fresh items, can combine online app coupons, paper coupons, good meat prices. You can make a list on their app and it calculates the price of your groceries and tells you what aisle you can find the item on. If you are shopping with little ones that makes it easy to get in and out faster or if you are really being budget focused this is really helpful.

• CON’s – Expensive, easy to get carried away on the extra’s, easy to over purchase on the bulk items, hectic and massive parking lot/store.

5. Food Lion

• PRO’s – Stores tend to be quiet and less crowded, cheaper overall than the other mega stores like Martins, Kroger, Wegmans. App with coupons and can combine with paper coupons.

• CON’s- Produce is not fresh and often goes bad or is bad same day.

6. Aldi – I saved Aldi for last because it is the key to success for my family. It’s a Germany based company which is now in 18 countries and the newest addition to our Richmond grocery store empire.

• PRO’s – small store, easy to navigate, friendly staff, CHEAP prices, gluten free/organic section, clean, promotes shopper responsibility to return cart to get your quarter back after shopping, and shopper bags own groceries with reusable bags.

• CON’s- So far I haven’t heard any! Would love to hear if there are comments out there I haven’t heard.

Overall, the reason why my family shops at Aldi is because we can get in and out quickly with both kids and we do not get overwhelmed by the extras that we do not need. We can buy everything we need in one place. I wholeheartedly support the store only using reusable bags and having shoppers bag their own. I like the requirement of using a quarter to retrieve the cart which you get back when you put the cart back. There is no hunting for a parking spot because of random carts that lazy shoppers left in the middle of a space. The store is able to operate more affordably for shoppers by cutting these extra employee costs. I rely on couponing like crazy to keep cost down at the bigger stores and it’s easier for me to go to Aldi and just shop and not have to remember every coupon and brand and scenario to get a good deal, when Aldi’s base prices still win. 

I will note that if you are in the Midlothian area like we are, there is a new grocery store opening soon called Lidl, which is Aldi’s main competitor by Chesterfield Towne Center. I will be sure to check out and let you guys know how it compares when its open for business!!

Let me know what other pros and cons you guys have!! Keeping our grocery store costs down has helped us tremendously and I would love to ensure your family has more cash left for making memories!




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