Don’t Spend Your Whole Paycheck on Groceries in Alpharetta

You know the old maxim:  “A fool and his money are soon parted.”   Do you feel like a fool for spending so much money on groceries?  It can be a challenge to shop wisely.  Of course, if your goal is just to make a big, fat paycheck every month, then by all means spend it where you will.  But if your goal is to accumulate wealth, then that starts with the little things – like buying groceries.

The other day I watched a family of 5 go through the check-out line at Whole Foods.   And I saw the bill.  This sweet family spent so much money.  And they didn’t have to.  Here are the rules of grocery shopping that this family broke.  When shopping for groceries, always…..

  1. Buy in as much bulk as you can, rather than small pre-packaged goods.
  2. Know that you pay for all that packaging – and that goes for all goods.
  3. Don’t fall for gimmicks (like fancy hamburger buns that the store carefully places next to the beef so the you’ll pick it up and pay twice as much.)
  4. Limit your specialty items, but if you must buy a specialty item (like organic potato chips), try to get the best deal.
  5. Shop around for deals on things like toiletries and household cleaning products, as prices vary widely on these items.

You don’t have to part quickly with your money at grocery stores.  If you’re new to Alpharetta, here is a quick run-down on various food stores in the area and how to shop wisely at each one.

Whole Foods (at Avalon) –  They don’t call it Whole Paycheck for nothing.  That being said, even I go to Whole Foods for very specific items that can’t be found anywhere else.  I buy the item and then I leave!  Here are some Do’s and Don’t for Whole Foods:

  • Do shop Whole Foods for a good selection of fruits and vegetables (but know there is significant mark-up on these fruits and vegetables).
  • Do shop Whole Foods for their store brand salad dressings that are kept in the cooler.
  • Do shop Whole Foods for the fish selection – frozen and fresh; and Bell and Evans chicken.
  • Do shop Whole Foods for the wine selection.
  • Do shop Whole Foods for the organic dairy products – milk, yogurt, butter, kefir.
  • Do shop Whole foods for a great selection of tortillas, corn and wheat (in freezer case).

Don’t go to Whole Foods for aisle products; bread; pre-packaged food items or the food bar.   You will pay an enormous, un-justified mark-up on these items.

Publix (3 in Alpharetta – in Crabapple; downtown just south of City Hall; on the east side on Old Milton Parkway).  If you aren’t from the south, you may not be familiar with this Florida based chain of grocery stores, but this is a high quality chain.  Publix is more expensive than other chains in the area, but if you shop their BOGO’s (buy one, get one free) you can save big.

  • Do shop Publix for a big selection of fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Do shop Publix for bakery products.  They’re the best/best buy among their competitors.
  • Do shop Publix for a reliable selection of fresh fish.  Also, they carry at least one brand of grass fed beef and organic chicken.

Don’t go to Publix for paper products, cosmetics or household cleaning products UNLESS they are BOGO.  Then, definitely buy the product at Publix.

Kroger (in Crabapple and at corner of Hwy. 9 and Windward Parkway).  This Cincinnati based store is probably on par with Publix although some people say they like the “experience” of Publix better.  You’ll save money at Kroger if you use the “Kroger Card” every time you check out.

  • Do shop Kroger for fresh fruit and vegetables.  Kroger has worked hard to be on par with Publix when it comes to this.
  •  Do shop Kroger for a good selection of beef cuts and variety of poultry.  They carry at least one brand of grass fed beef and “organic” chicken.
  •  Most Kroger’s have a superb, dedicated “aisle” selection of organic goods, as well as a dedicated cooler selection of frozen organic goods and organic dairy selection.

Don’t shop Kroger for the seafood.  Don’t shop Kroger for their bakery goods.

Wal-Mart (at Hwy. 9 and Windward Parkway, across from the Kroger) There is a reason to shop Wal-Mart.  You will generally save big on aisle food products as well as household cleaning products, paper goods, toiletries.  Personally, I avoid everything else; but that’s my choice.

Smaller, Boutique Food Stores:

Puzzlingly, Alpharetta proper doesn’t have any of the small, boutique food stores.  To get to Trader Joe’s, you have to go Roswell.  To get to Sprout’s you have to go to Roswell or Cumming.  To get to The Fresh Market, you have to go to either Roswell or Johns Creek.

These smaller specialty stores all have their strong and weak points.  The strong points are very specific per store.  You shop Trader Joe’s for inexpensive wine and a fantastic selection of frozen food.  You shop The Fresh Market for a lovely experience….the smells, the music.  Also the pre-packaged food is excellent and the fruit and vegetable selection above average.  As for Sprouts, I have not personally shopped here but I hear good things about it.





4 Replies to “Don’t Spend Your Whole Paycheck on Groceries in Alpharetta”

  1. You have one glaring omission in your list: Costco.

    Yes, there is a membership fee. Yes, the variety is not what you’d get almost everywhere else. Yes, you often have to buy a mass quantity of something that you might not be able to use before it goes bad or you get tired of it.

    However, the unit cost is low, the quality is high, and the ability to take fewer trips is a plus. Additionally, the gasoline prices are excellent.

    I’ve had a Costco membership for probably 24 years in total (4 years, then a gap when I was stationed where there was no Costco, then 20 more years), and I’ve found it worthwhile when my household varied between one person and three.

  2. I second the mention of Costco. We buy organic fruit there that is better than anything I have ever tasted at Publix or WF. Baked goods are awesome; we put in freezer what we don’t eat and it lasts. Same with prepackaged Indian food and pasta.

    But mainly the fruit. The organic strawberries right now are to die for, as good as anything I’ve ever tasted from Hood River, OR.

  3. Go slightly east to Super H-Mart in John’s Creek. Not only do they have an amazing selection of fruits, veggies, and meat, but you will find some options that you cannot find elsewhere. Want to experiment with a star fruit? How about a durian (no, you don’t want to experiment with that)?
    Plus, they have food booths inside if you want to enjoy a good quick Korean or other Asian meal, and where else can you find a good kimchee refrigerator?

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