In episode 064 we talk to Ashley about what the best grocery stores in the country are. We each share our top 10 list. Discover some new stores to check out in our area or on your next vacation.
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Here is the transcript from our interview with
.Eric: Hey everybody. Welcome to the Eat Shop Waste Not Podcast. It's the end of the year now and as so many people are doing, um, I wanted to come out with my own top 10 lists you know, I thought, I could do it by myself, but wouldn't it be more fun if I bring someone on do it with me? So today we're gonna talk about the top 10 grocery stores in this country that I love and also that someone else loves as well. Who would be the most perfect person to bring on than Ashley from Confessions of a Grocery Addict. Ashley welcome to the podcast.
Ashley: Thank you so much. I'm excited to be here with you
Eric: Yeah, we're gonna nerd out about grocery stores as we both are grocery store nerds We we love checking out new places and we have our definite favorites so we're gonna share with you um some of those favorites But to introduce my audience to who you are Ashley could you uh tell us about who you are what your blog is, where you're from and all that fun stuff?
Ashley: Yeah absolutely. Um, so I'm Ashley Schuering. I am the Grocery Addict. Um, my food blog is designed to share money saving tricks, time saving tips, and easy grocery hacks to make being, what I call the C F O or the Chief Food Officer of your family, a little bit easier.
Eric: You got that tagline down Really Wow it
Ashley: I had to pull up my notes if I'm being totally honest.
Eric: Yes I got it too Sometimes like when you're just talking to someone asking what you do about your blog and sometimes I'm like I start just rambling, like I'm I'm like about all this know, So especially like I've been doing it for so long like it's kind of changed over the years too a little bit
Ashley: Oh yeah. You have so much. You have like a thousand posts on yours. It's crazy.
Eric: we are getting close to 2000. Um can't say all 2000 are good um but they're we're working on some of them, We're working on it. All right Um so today we're gonna talk about our top 10 favorite grocery stores Uh we're not gonna put them in order because you know I couldn't do that I couldn't like try to narrow it down to that. So but I did come down with my top 10, We came down with Ashley's top 10 and we're gonna just go chat about 'em. So let's start first and uh why do you love Trader Joe's
Ashley: Oh man. They just have such fun rotating seasonal things that you really can't find anywhere else. Um, and I love their prices. oftentimes they're. Relatively affordable. Not quite as affordable as some of the other ones on our list, but, um, you can find all kinds of frozen things. It's great for entertaining.
It's the best place to get all of the charcuterie and the cheese that you need. Um, so I try to go at least every six weeks and stock up on stuff just for, I mean, you can get hostess gifts there. It's just a lovely.
Eric: I usually try to make a beeline for like the depending on the store they always have like some endcap that has like a fun new item so they kind of like categorize those thing all together. And so wanna come in and say like, oh what new thing they have or what kind of new theme they're going on? Because it like like they love being "themey" they'll hit on something. Like they you know they have the everything but bagel seasoning and then it became everything But the bagel seasoning on everything.
Eric: They will go into like these themes. A while back They have like a mango theme. They had a whole bunch of new mango stuff. And so and of course that Pumpkin and Christmas time. So it's always kind fun to see what new products they're gonna um kind of pull out with here so yeah definitely. And and price-wise they're good, you know there's some there's solid prices on like the like you said the cheeses usually amongst the best of prices but also the quality's there too. Even like their cheapest like you know Wisconsin mild cheddar is still like a good cheddar
Ashley: yes. And there as a proud plant mama. I also can't resist their plant section. I almost always walk out with a new plant baby.
Eric: And it's a it's a small place too It's nice to if you don't have a lot of time to just head into a smaller store
Eric: depending on where you're at too Like they can be more spacious or really cramped Like kind of get either or.
Ashley: We have one of each in Nashville
Eric: I I've into there was one Trader Joes I walked into and I thought like okay this is gonna be like it's bigger once they're gonna have more stuff in it here. And I'm like no they just have more aisle space it wasn't actually like anything additional in terms of items It was just like more room to breathe.
So next up on our list we both love Sprouts
Ashley: I mean that bulk section, how can you not love that
Eric: Yeah it it's nice. I'm big on the the produce. Like it's the it it's a place to go where I know I'm gonna get like quality produce and more of the specialty type stuff they have lots of varieties of apples. They'll have lots of varieties of citrus.
Ashley: They'll have the microgreens and they'll have the fennel and they'll have all the stuff. Yeah, that's totally true.
Eric: They're re really good at stocking all the different like you know it's a dependable place to go, it's my number one thing for there is is produce. I buy as much in the grocery department, but definitely produce is the like that's their their game
Ashley: they have some, um, like really cool department discounts. So like if you have Four bottles of wine, you get automatically 10% off of all of them. And they do that in different departments. It's different amounts for whatever you're getting. Um, but that bulk section is amazing to get all kinds of dried legumes and rices and you know, even chocolate chips and stuff like that.
Um, and I also love, their buyers, I guess, really um, try to focus on things that don't have artificial flavors, preservatives, or colors. So you know that what you're getting is good quality and you're not putting crap in your body.
Eric: And another tip too like they do have some localized stuff here Like um my wife um found her favorite she's ever had in New Mexico like like you you still they definitely do cater to like you know like coffees and like you know treats and stuff you can find some um local stuff too. So that's also good to check out.
Ashley: Oh, and if you're, I mean, I know I'm a lady, so. A little different, but their wellness section with all of their like creams and salves and deodorants and all of that. It's a fun place to shop if you ever need stocking stuffers.
Eric: Yeah I've I've gotten a couple things there to you know for stocking things and and finding like the different um good option for like supplement type things vitamin things you know find sales especially like when we hit after New Year they'll be they'll have they'll have good sales on on those type of things. Um and I've also found this kinda another tip that they'll put some stuff on clearance and oftentimes be by the bathroom Like they'll have some shelves like right near the bathrooms that will have some like clearance items. And I found some really great gems on those. Like last year I found um some chocolate bars from chocolate Love
Eric: and and they were like on like you know they were like a dollar a bar or something or
Ashley: that's incredible.
Eric: for like their Christmas ones and they're it's really good chocolate. It was so that was really good chocolate. So i totally stocked up with that. But it's weird they like they like shove it in like the bathroom area like in a lot of stores so make sure like you know
Ashley: Wash your hands people.
Eric: bathroom wash your hands go out and find the yeah find this up by the bathroom.
Ashley: If anybody from Sprouts is listening, get one closer to the east side of Nashville, please. I don't wanna drive all the way to Franklin
Eric: Yes That's Oh yeah there's when I was in California they all over the place so it
Eric: easy to get to ones but you do sometimes have to drive a little further. There is a grocery store chain that's up more in the Midwest called Fresh Thyme that is much modeled off of Sprouts. Um and so it has very similar time set up I think Sprouts is better and I'm kind of hoping one day that they're just gonna come and swoop in and buy them out. I don't know if that's the game plan but I but no I have it on record here If I am if I am right and they buy them out someday I called it.
Ashley: I will buy you a coffee
Eric: yes So we'll see that if it's happens. Okay so those are the two that we both matched up with here. So I'm gonna kinda look down some of Ashley's list of some of the other places that she has. Um we got Publix uh I'm in Florida right now as I'm recording this here So I am in Publix country so I will be spending a lot of time in Publix. So so what do you love about Publix
Ashley: First of all, I know this sounds so crazy, but the people that work at Publix are always so nice and so helpful and like have a smile on their face. So if you are into customer service, I highly recommend Publix. Also,
Pub Subs, they're Sub sandwiches are like, their deli section is just insane. And actually all of their baked goods that I've tried their cakes and stuff are very inexpensive or like at least reasonably priced by, you know, whole Foods standards and taste Incredible. And they're pretty, everything's good. And then I also love their BOGOs. Their BOGOs are insane.
Eric: I was gonna say that too , Yeah they aren't necessarily the cheapest chain out there, they're not gonna be ALDI prices
Eric: when you go to Publix Um have those buy one get one free sales. So you know always check the ad each week and try to figure out that's you Um and then stock up like on like cereals.
Ashley: I don't eat a ton of meat because it's so expensive. Publix is typically, if it's not at Aldi or Costco, Publix is where I go because they'll have BOGOs on, you know, bags of frozen fish. They'll have BOGOs on organic chicken, they'll have BOGOs on all of the meats, and so that's where I go.
Eric: It's where you go to bogo
Ashley: I like that. I need a shirt,
Eric: Hey Publix, if you're listing that, you need to make some t-shirts. I've only been them a couple times yet, so I'm like interested to see all the different buy one free one free stuff. And the produce is good Is good too. There's you know they they have a good selection of different bagged apples right now that I've been buying. And also um they have another place that has a local end cap So they'll have an end cap with local stuff on it. So I've seen it in up in Tennessee I've seen it in um uh here in Florida and Georgia They'll have end cap here and they'll have most of 'em It'll have things like honey, coffee, barbecue sauces Um kind of check out. It's usually On endcap kind of towards the meat department I've I've noticed in most stores. Most stores have been kind of similarly set up so definitely something look at. Support that local economy and get those cool things
Ashley: for sure. Yeah. No, that's one of the best parts about going to different places. I always try to try new foods.
Eric: Um so next up your list
Ashley: ALDI is right around the corner from my house, and it is easily the best priced option consistently. . Like if you wanna go and walk out with two full bags of groceries, that will feed a family of four for like $25. You can't do it anywhere else, but ALDI really, um, so it's also only a three minute drive from my house.
So I'm there several times a week.
Eric: They're place to go for Just to save money. That's yeah WHY we've been trying to hit them up a little more just to save money. especially the dairy right now cuz dairy has been this like ouch, everywhere It's just expensive expensive expensive. I think like all Aldi definitely is like the place to go to to save money um on those items. I've been publishing a couple guides here to kind of help people like on the budget how to make a good meal from Aldi. Cuz you can sit like, oh it's a cheap store ,Can I make good food? Yeah you could you could definitely. You know there's definitely good thing things there. Um is it my favorite place to buy produce? No not necessarily. But there's still, you know, they've been bringing in some of the new varieties of grapes Like they'll have the candy hearts, candy snaps um these newer really fruity good tasting grapes that they'll that they'll pull in
Ashley: Even though they're not my favorite produce, because they are so limited, they have great clam shells of arugula and spinach mix for like $3 and they have huge bags of kale for like $3. So it's definitely cost effective and they give you quite a bit of cilantro for, you know, the dollar 29 they charge.
Eric: I've told people like I didn't realize this like you look at herbs per pounds they are the most expensive thing the grocery store unless your grocery store also carries truffles
Ashley: Or saffron
Eric: Yes I I'm gonna take that as a segue cuz I've I've only been to one grocery store that actually had truffles that they were selling in their produce department And that is Central Market owned by HEB in Texas.
Eric: So um I don't know you been to an h HEB store before in Texas
Ashley: don't think so. No, I haven't, I haven't spent too much time in, in the Lone Star state that, that Texas is lone star. Right. I hope.
Eric: yeah you're good
Ashley: I don't mean to offend any of y'all.
Eric: HEB is a chain that's in most of Texas. They don't only have much penetration in Dallas Fort Worth. I I think there's some kind of reason for that, but they're trying to. In Fort Worth they have their central market store so it's like their version of Whole Foods. So it's more upscale, it has like the most beautiful produce displays of any store. Um they are just just fantastic like with just like the amount of stuff that that said they actually had truffles. Um all of the types of mushrooms, lots of potatoes. The apple section is ginormous probably I think when I went in there there was 25 to 30 varieties of apples.
Ashley: That's amazing.
Eric: I mean so they're rocking the varieties. The displays are beautiful. I mean you know it's more it's more work to do all the. it's like the opposite of ALDI in some ways. Put the container out we're good. This place is meticulously like stocking stacking things and they kind of kind of got that going on. SO it is kind of the opposite in that way yeah definitely the place to go to find like just unique types of produce. They're, ya know high end cheeses, high quality meats and all that kind of Super fun stuff. And they also have they have scales at eye level you're pushing the buttons or like you're like having to bend down to like um put something on a scale and then and it print and it prints out your your total price. You can have that already figured out you know you're like oh this is the cost of this here print out make checkout faster for your checker too. Um and and they're like all over the place Like I've never seen like a store like Do well with the scales a as good as they do.
Ashley: That's awesome.
Eric: where people are actually people are actually using 'em. I've seen stores that have skills are pronounced here but I think people like ignore like ah it's too difficult to use. These are just like it's like so easy and they're so plentiful. So what like so I I adore adore That place. I was so excited the first time I went there I probably spent two hours just looking at the fun different things.
Ashley: I was gonna say, that just sounds a lot like, uh, Berkeley Bowl in Berkeley, California. It's amazing. Amazing.
Eric: I have I have heard about that one .So like when when there's new different Um,unique um produce coming out different types of apples and citrus and stuff here I try to like track where they're available. And Berkeley Bowl comes up a lot and I haven't been there before. So Ashley fill me in on what's about Berkeley Bowl.
Ashley: oh man. It is like, Okay, Northern California, and particularly the Bay Area is like the center of crunchy, granola, health, food, nutty people, um, aside from the Pacific Northwest. So , um, and Berkeley Bowl is this massive place. I mean, it's enormous. So like you were saying with your H E b, I forget what the name of the actual spot was,
Eric: Central Market was the other their their their other grocery store chain that they own That's high end.
Ashley: So if you wanna go in there, I mean they have like a whole line of chicories. So you know, there's radicchio and endive and you know, like 17 different varieties of chicories that you can get. There's, you know, 25 different kinds of apples. There's every kind of herb you could possibly imagine. I mean, they're produce section and it's all beautiful and meticulously set up.
And then they have. Huge two aisle thing of bulk stuff. So it definitely competes with sprouts on the bulk. And then they have tons of frozen things, a lot of regional things. Um, so like if you want Laura Chennel goat cheese or, you know, um, I'm trying to think of other specific things, but you can get all of that.
And then they have a big wine section. Um, all kinds of organic meats and produce and packaged goods. It's just, it's a lovely, lovely experience.
I, the first time I went in, I, you know, I did the same thing where it was like two hours wandering up and down the aisles with a basket just being like, oh.
Eric: So I I've traveled the country so much now I've been all 48 It's all 40 at these lower states So it's if some if someone said um here I'll transport any grocery store you haven't been to before that'd probably been number one
Ashley: I highly recommend it
Eric: But I'm I'm always in Southern California I'm never that far north Um so I need to do that for that for that purpose Someday. So we talked about um scrolling the aisles for a couple hours it doesn't beat um that experience than going to Jungle Gyms International market in the Cincinnati Ohio area. This place is like ginormously huge. It is I'm pretty sure it's the biggest grocery store in America. It is is giant there's two them in the area here I it's like it makes Costco look like a convenience store.
Ashley: Oh my gosh.
Eric: This place is just is huge. There's like, they have a regular grocery section like the size of like Walmart .And then there's, they an international produce section that is the size of most stores produce section of just international produce.
Ashley: That's incredible.
Eric: You know with all the different like tropical fruits. Um they have Durian they have jackfruits bananas and plantains and sweet potatoes and the different types of roots and it's just So so much produce. And then they have grocery grocery sections like every single region of the world. There like you know, like there's an English section, um you know there's Japanese, you know like so many countries. Like every like you know if you're looking for some type of like regional maybe found in another country or just wanna check out. like things like this place is haven't gone Ashley you need to go sometimes.
Ashley: I mean, I'm, I'm like about to text my husband and be like, can we go Cincinnati?
Eric: It's not too far from Nashville at all! but it it is definitely Yeah It's yep it was four hours for me. I took a trip just to go there I saw it on um food Network or something at some point. Um they also now here's another cool part, They have Animatronic robots throughout the store.
Ashley: Oh, Joe Love that! He has, he has idea. He wants to have like the, um, like the Chucky cheese band behind him playing music. This is his dream. His his band is called Electric Bill
Ashley: I gotta take him to Jungle Jim's
Eric: You go to the English you go to the English department there's Robin Hood and there's like Sherwood Forest and there's like a tree top of it. There's like in in in the honey department I I mean there is a honey department not just like honey's like shelf it's like a department of honey. There's like beehives above there and little bees flying around and my kids love going to to see that like it's entertainment. Like, Can we go to Jungle Jim's dad? Like all over There's a giant you walk in you' dream it're greeted by this big thing of corn, and and that's singing next to a thing of butter. There's like Lucky Charms guys and all those cereal characters are above there. Um cool And they have fish like live fish so you can
Eric:Oorder your fish right there.
Ashley: Can't get fresher than that.
Eric: Yeah You got outta the ocean. So yeah they're a destination here. So now I've I've added something to your list here for sure. You need to go check that place out.
Ashley: Oh, that is like top of my list.
Eric: So you have this place on your list. I don't know how to pronounce it, it's in New York
Ashley: Oh, Kalustyan's
Eric: Kalustyan's. All right
Ashley: Yeah, so I have only had the pleasure of going in there once. My brother, uh, Luke, used to live in New York City and last Christmas just on a whim, um, Joe and I went to go visit him, and I had heard about this place. I had made some online orders. They're the place to go if you can't find whatever the international ingredient is.
I can find a lot of stuff here or online, but Kalustyan's, you walk in and they've obviously expanded into like another storefront, but the aisles are super tiny and packed. And they have every kind of like bagged, legume, bagged rice, bagged, everything that's all dried. They have every kind of spice, every extract, like there's a whole wall of extracts.
I didn't realize that there were more than like maybe 25. I thought that was all there was. There's like apparently 200 or something like that. Um, they have a smaller produce section, but the produce is stuff that's impossible to find anywhere else. Um, unless you're at Jungle Jim's, apparently . Um, but it's really cool and you like go up and they have a huge tea section and it's all just kind of, I don't know, you feel like you're in this little dream world and you turn a corner and all of a sudden you're in a different room that has tiny little aisles that you have to navigate through.
It's just, it's a whole experience. I highly recommend it.
Eric: While we're on the kind of international type themes here I got two more on your list here Um uh H-Mart And K and S is also international correct If
Ashley: yes. KS is international. Um, so H Mart.
Eric: So what can he tell you about those
Ashley: We sadly don't have one here. Um, but that's like a Korean specific store. I mean, they have other things, but they are mostly known for their Korean items. Um, so if you, I think they have 'em in Chicago. They've got 'em, uh, they definitely have it in Philadelphia and Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Um, cuz I've been in those.
Eric: We have a random one in Michigan too and my sister-in-law lives like right next to
Ashley: Oh, nice. .
Ashley: Yeah. And I think there's one in Georgia. Like they, they have a few. I'm hoping that one will come here. Um, but they just have, you know, you can get all the huge bags of rice you can get. Um, lots of instant ramens, but my favorite part is their wall of bonchon. I don't know if I'm pronouncing it right, if I'm not, I apologize listeners.
Um, but that's like the Korean side dishes and they have them all in these like little clamshells. And I love trying all kinds of. So I used to go and just, you know, get a random sampling and try things and be like, oh, this is delicious. Um, they also have a huge selection of kimchi, um, which is one of my favorite items to keep in the fridge.
So, yeah, it's just a, it's a solid international market. And then, K and S is the closest that we have here. We've got two locations in Nashville, one on Nolansville Pike and one off of Charlotte. But they have like fresh fish like you were saying. You know, where they pull out a lobster, they pull out a whatever and bop it on the head and you get to take it home.
Um, and then they have. You know, a bunch of Chinese foods, they have a bunch of, uh, Thai food, then they have a bunch of Korean foods. And so it's kind of a mishmash. You know, you'll find rice in probably seven different places throughout the store because it's different types and different cuisines. Um, but that's where I go for produce.
It's my favorite place to go for produce here in Nashville. The selection is huge and you can get a huge, like, readers can't see me, but it's like maybe the size of a normal book, like a, a paperback book, um, filled with dill or with parsley or whatever for 99 cents, and it's enough to last me for two weeks and just using it on everything.
Um, it's where I can get all of my oyster mushrooms and trumpet mushrooms and all of the weird ones, you know, in Enokis that you can't get at Kroger or Publix most of the time, like I feel like at most grocery stores, all I can get are white button mushrooms, crimini mushrooms, portobellos, and maybe shitake. But at the international market, you can get all of them.
Eric: We might be in Nashville again next year possibly so I I missed the first time around so I definitely won't if we head back there again. Okay Let's see what else is on my list here I'm gonna kind of other ones kind of quickly. Wegmans.
I love them out on the East coast I once took a vacation to go there and then we also went to Niagara Falls, thats my joke here.
That trip was basically going there like, Hey Niagara falls Let's go there too. Okay so
Ashley: Love that
Eric: store good produce. Um another great produce place. Lots of selection there. Prices are are good. It's a pretty significant sized store. One thing that that we discovered that we would like there is they have like like um their store brand cottage cheese is like 10% milkfat.
Eric: More than the normal like 4%
Eric: so it's like indulgent cottage cheese and it's so good. Um like we bought like a couple of them last time We're like oh we're just you know get our our milk fat in um with those.
Ashley: I am a full fat dairy lover. I'm with you
Eric: And being I grew up in Michigan and I have to go with um one other top on there is Meijer It's so like you know if you guys haven't to a Meijer before It's like better Walmart It's Walmart done better.
Eric: it's it's were do they were selling grocery in and all the general merchandise before Walmart start doing it. So that you know kind of I think they started
Ashley: They started
Eric: That trend at least here. They were the ones Yeah,
I'm a Michigander so of course I believe that but um that's true they started.
So they're Michigan, They're in Indiana um Ohio, Illinois some, Kentucky's at the very northern Kentucky's probably as far as they go. But a really good store, you know if we come have good sales and I'll just say good It's like I said Walmart better. It's just like the produce is is better than Walmart. The the selection of things. Meat stuff is better than Walmart. So it's and you get like similar similar type prices .Um so a place we were definitely missing it when we have to like shop and we have to go in to places like Walmart. It's like oh I wish I was going Meijer right now. Um they they've definitely ended up on my list.
Ashley: I definitely love Meijer. It's just been a long time since I've been near one.
Eric: Stayed in that region like Michigan Midwestern type thing. They haven't like expanded much um beyond that I like there was much plans to. Yeah they were 24 hours and the pandemic ruined that. I'm remember like I had a job where I had to work until one 1:00 AM so I could go to go go shopping right after working at 1:00 AM and no one would be in there and you'd be able to get everything. So it was the place you could you could go anytime of the day My oh something's closing up Meijer's still open. But the pandemic ended up changing that so they're not.
Ashley: I don't think there are any 24 hour groceries anymore. Cause I used to love that too when I was living in Chicago, you know, go to the gym until like 11:00 PM and then go and grocery shop when nobody was in there. It was so peaceful.
Eric: Well that is the perfect segue for next thing on on the list because there is a place that is doing 24 hours um still and that's WinCo Foods.
Eric: so WinCo which it I know the um so the WinCo is a the W stands for Washington the I is Idaho The N is Nevada C is Colorado and O is Oregon but they're also I I think or no the C is maybe be California. But I think that that's why they can't live in they're in other states. But they are um open they're open 24 7. Their bulk section the biggest of any grocery store I've ever been to. They are twice twice as big bulk section wise as like sprouts or like they just have tremendous amount of bulk everything. Like bulk cereal, bulk pasta like the like they go beyond the traditional type stuff. Like uh most and nuts they have like everything. So if you wanna like, hey try this cereal before here I'll buy it in bulk here you know . All the different pastas and popcorn and and spices and a huge section of of like their store brand coffee all sorts of different you know, flavors, and and and all that kind of like they're bulk It is just absolutely like everything. all the gummy stuff, all the treat stuff here. Like they it is just Ridiculously big. Like I fir I first encountered them in in in in Fort Worth Texas. Actually two stores my list WinCo and Central Market I saw back to back days when I took a trip to Fort Worth.
Ashley: What a great deal being in an RV and loving groceries as much as we do.
Eric: It's it's a challenge. It could be. Well I have to go all the time then so I get to go more.
Ashley: I guess that's true.
Eric: but the yeah the bulk thing, that that was really hard, picking on the bulk, and like oh I could stock up on this here. Or oh I can't do that here. You know but they had really good prices too. Um Produce is okay. They have you know, they have good amount of stuff good prices here. Nothing like you know They're they're pretty basic in terms of like like stocking like they're more like the ALDI style. They're not making it look fancy. prices prices are very good, they're open you know, anytime. So yeah they're one of my they're one of my favorites that that we've that we've encountered on our travels. Definitely. Yeah More west I think the furthest east is is Fort Worth. That's probably the furthest east they go. But definitely um have a good presence out west.
Ashley: I'll have to see if there's any near where my family lives in California, cuz I've never, I've never been.
Eric: Yeah there's a good change, they're pretty well spread in California. I mean they weren't like when I was in like Orange County California, they were they weren't like they weren't in Orange County at all. Maybe like the outer parts of it. But I know they're further up north and they're definitely a presence like up in Oregon, Washington. So yeah you should be able to to find one. And while I'm on West Coast um stores, let's talk about Bel Air then Yeah That's on your list here but yeah!
Ashley: Oh, sorry, .
Eric: I not haven't been there I know one
Ashley: I was like, I'll jump in. .
Eric: But let's talk Yes
Ashley: Uh, so I grew up in Sacramento, California. Um, and Belaire was our go-to grocery store. Um, I think they are now owned by Raleys. Um,
Eric: you I I looked it up Yes they are.
Ashley: Um, but they have really nice produce, nice big. I mean, it's a place where you can get everything. But the thing that I like most about it, and don't hold me to it, I don't know if they still do it, but the deli counter used to sharpen your knives for like $3 a blade.
Eric: Oh that's nice Yeah
Ashley: you know, if you don't have your own knife, sharpener, That's, I like getting, I used to like getting mine done and then finally I was like, you know what, here in Nashville it's crazy expensive. It's like $12 a blade, so I just bust out. I got myself one of the ones where it's two stages, but sharp knives.
Eric: Often I see 'em at farmer's markets but like I never think like I'm gonna like around sharp knives with me in a farmer's market, you know . It's I don't think I'm gonna do that really. You know I mean. It's a great idea to have someone there with their knife sharpening things. They're probably extremely good at it too. Like they're probably gonna do a very good job. Yeah and usually last time you're parking for far away too. So but yeah that's really cool to do that. I love that. Um so yeah I'll have to check them off if I'm ever in that area Um the the store I was going to say that was on the West
Eric: No no that's great too so we found here is it's um Grocery Outlet. It's like if you've been into like a Big Lots.
Eric: Big Lots but all food. Um like it's not like you you don't go in there like expecting things. You you go on their kind of on a search. And the nice thing that they have is that they will get like the like high end premium products that you probably don't wanna buy at Whole Foods. Um cuz they're too much money. And then they'll have 'em in there, so like you'll get to try it. Like, Ooh I wanted to try that before but I didn't wanna spent Whole Foods prices, but I'll spend your cheap prices on them. Cuz they'll get things that were like Big Lots, like the things that were overstocked or short dated or things like that. So like a bargain hunt. So you're going in there trying to find you know different things that come in. So it's not like you you know if you're in there saying oh I want to get, I want to buy Kellogg's cornflakes here, while they may not have 'em.
My friend Mari lived right around the corner from one in high school, and I remember going in there and we were searching through the ice creams. And on the West coast, the ice cream brand is known as Dryers. And so we saw this ice cream that looked like dryers, but it was labeled Edys. So we were like, is this just like some weird knockoffs?
Ashley: And then of course they also had Hellmann's mayonnaise. What I grew up with was Best Foods, and I was like, what is this stuff? Like, did they just like steal other people's names and like try to make it look like this? Like how is there not a copyright infringement? And it wasn't until I moved to Chicago that I figured it all out
Eric: That's hilarious. Yeah I was like oh Yeah. Yeah I I we had once we were traveling here we were traveling from Best Foods to Helmanns regions so we had both in the fridge at one time. So I took a picture of the side by side like, Ooh they got 'em together right now! Cause normally don't have them together. so so we had both at the same time. So it's it's cool. It's just kinda that like I said, it's one of those places you go to discover unique and fun things. Which will then segue again now to to the best places to discover the the unique artisan awesome items ,Zingerman's in Ann Arbor Michigan I happen to love that because I worked for the company Um, on a couple occasions. I was part of their bakery .Um so I love them. So I want to out the outsider you gonna share me your love for for this company.
Ashley: Um yeah, so they have also a beautiful deli section, so you can go and get like an amazing sandwich inside, which I love. So I like to eat first. Before I go, cuz otherwise I'll spend my entire paycheck . Um, but they have ,
Eric: Yes you will
Ashley: they have all of the beautiful vinegars and oils and tinned fish and beautiful chocolates and homemade breads and cookies and.
Just incredible stuff. And if you are somebody who likes the Trader Joe's aesthetic, you will love the Zingerman's aesthetic. Like it has sort of that cartoony, cute,
which I just love. I, I find it so charming.
Eric: yes there's a Zingerman's font They have their specialized font.
Ashley: they will open anything for you, which actually, I didn't know this about Trader Joe's, but they will too. They'll let you try anything, um, in store. But Zingerman's people like, they'll be like, oh yeah, you wanna try this $200 bottle of vinegar before you buy it? Of course you do. Here, let me crack it open and give you a sip of it.
Eric: Yeah After they unlock it from the case Because because the the really expensive vinegar they do have behind a Padlock here. You gotta you gotta get the key for those ones.
Ashley: I am like, I'm clearly not going to buy this, but I need to know what $200 vinegar tastes like. Sorry.
Eric: yes If say there a nightmare to go to If you are a um Socially awkward person because they will talk to You. You will not go in there and not be talked to. You know they they they want to interact with you here. You know so, it's it's the place not a place to go to hide, It's a place to go to find um you know really big in customer service. They teach classes to other companies and how to do customer service
Ashley: Yeah, they have great books. If you're like in business school or whatever, read them.
Um, and then they also have a great mail order program. So if you are looking for unique gifts to send people, uh, they're one of my favorites to lean into.
Eric: Yeah Yeah They they have some of the the most unique stuff they had Um they ha they have a $75 fruit cake so not one of the cheapest things, they they always go for the high quality stuff over price .That um the guy grow grows the fruit he grows all the fruit for his fruitcake and then makes the fruitcake with it. And and it's sold like old school that the guy uses um the the legal notepads instead of like a computer Like it's all done that way Still.
Ashley: Amazing. It's a person after my own heart.
Ashley: I literally, I'm this person gonna cross things off my list.
Eric: All right so we're almost through here I think I see one more on your list And that's Patel Brothers
Ashley: Hh, yet another international store. This one is specifically more like the Indian and Southeast Asian diaspora. Um, but if you need to go and find, um, Hang. What, what's Asda? Or if you need to find, um, like amster powder, which is like the sour mango powder. Um, they have all of the different kinds of dahls.
They have lots of different kinds of beautiful Basmati rice you can get. Um, Frozen roti and like all of the different kinds of flat breads, um, they have a great produce section also. You can get all of the paneer there. So if you like Indian food and you are interested in trying to make it on your own, Patel Brothers is always where you should go.
You can get your fresh curry leaves there. Um, cause the thing about Indian cooking that I have noticed, uh, there's just so many spices. They use so many spices, so, and they sell them all in like the bags and their whole spices. So they'll last forever on your shelf or almost forever. Um, yeah. So Patel Brothers is pretty rad.
Eric: That's awesome. Definitely Yeah definitely I mean you know India when you know that stuff's local you can grow all those things that definitely
Eric: out being able to to use them while while you're cooking. they're they're a good story I've By a couple times here I haven't spent a lot of time in them but I'm definitely a good one. All right Um so the last two that I have left remaining on my list I'm gonna go with um Woodmans. So they are a store they are up in Wisconsin. Um might be 24 hours a day too possibly still. um pretty large sized store They're known for having a giant smiley face on the outside. Um kind of similar to WinCo in some ways. They both WinCo and them are both employee owned places here. So they uh You know this place doesn't take credit cards It's debit only or cash. Um keep keep in mind. But what I love about this place here is like the cheese department I mean you're in Wisconsin so you better have cheese.
Ashley: You better
Eric: And this department is just ginormous. It is so big There is Everything. Like you know like 20 different types of Colby. You know 20 different makers of cheese curds. There's like every everything there. It's just like amazing how and the prices are really good too. I mean it's I fill our small RV fridge drawers like full of cheeses I can I can I can stock up on one there cuz it's like quality is so good. The prices are so good They're I just.
Ashley: I could live on cheese, I think cheese and bread.
Ashley: could do it.
Eric: Definitely Yeah So yeah it just they just do such a good job of just sourcing so many things. They get like they get like really fresh cheese curds don't like like refrigerate them. They're just sitting out cuz they just come they like I think every other day or so. You know and they're super squeaky. When you when you have good cheese curds they should squeak.
Eric: You can you should be able to hear them across the room. Like someone should know you're getting cheese Curds.
Ashley: uh, tell me you made some poutine.
Eric: You know I don't like that kinda thing actually. Sadly no. Like it's too heavy for me.
Ashley: French fries, gravy and cheese.
Eric: I'm just like. I like my french fry just for the ketchup. Like I don't like fancying 'em up .I just like to eat 'em like straight up. So um but so I didn't do that. I'm sure my wife would've definitely wanted me to but for sure my daughter. But yeah I didn't actually do that. Uh okay And so the last place on here um was a place that's inter um that was introduced to by my wife's late aunt Um she died of breast cancer.
Eric: or so kind of a a special place here called Horrock's. Um that it's in Lansing Michigan they're all local produce in Michigan. We have lots of great seasonal and all that kind of fun stuff here. So they have really good prices on that. They keep expanding too. Like this place is like know where they're finding the space. They like somehow like have reconfigured things to be like even bigger. They have like there's a gelato area, they have different like olive oil and vinegar sections here. They have like you know, they come like the big containers and you pick your pick your own thing out here, and the coffee and um. And they pop popcorn in the store too. So they have like um you fresh kettle corns and stuff here. All you know 20 different flavors of popcorn they pop right in the store for you. Um um a big a big soup section and there's probably like 20 or so hot soups on hand So
Eric: shop there eat lunch and get all your things you need Here. they have have they have a local um on I'm I'm from Michigan Midwest so we call soda Pop
Eric: So and they're pop machines they have um like a local company providing some of some of those with fountain machines, which is really cool. Um big big huge cheese department with tons of different cheeses. They have a kind of fun, the kids don't like this part, but the dairy section is walk-in.
Eric: So freezing. Yeah I having worked at grocery store before, I'm totally okay with that cause they do it all the time. So they you go in there to get like the like the milk and the yogurts and all the good stuff there. So the really cool place to find all this amazing um awesome stuff expanding and finding new little niches to come uh come in with here. So they're one of those places that like uh yeah definitely we're driving this area. We're gonna go to Horrock's. We're gonna get what they have. Their parking lot's horrible though. So it's one of those places I hate going when it's busy cuz like it's like it's really hard to park.
Ashley: Yep. I hear.
Eric: I think we had a great list
Ashley: Yeah, I mean, I will go grocery shopping with you anytime and jungle Jim's is now at the top of my must go see list.
Eric: Yeah exactly It's something that's what I said not that far away from Nashville. And there's two different locations you could go to Both of'em You go one right to one one to the other because they have different robots in each one. Um they're they're they're totally awesome. I hope you guys listened this here If you haven't heard of these places maybe you'll or you've seen one and drove by it and say, Oh I need to go in there now because we recommended those places. So really awesome. And I say you know get there now before, and my joke is, before Kroger owns everything.
Ashley: Oh God, please. No, please, no.
Eric: as they one of the jokes that have while we're traveling is I trick kids cuz Kroger owns so many different chains. And we'll go in the store and I'll say Hey we're hey we're going into Ralph's right now, going like daddy is this really Kroger? I'm like yeah it's actually Kroger.
Ashley: It is
Eric: They used to be kind of like, kind of keep their own like personality a little bit too. But now it's just like the only difference is the name on the outside. So Ralphs, Pick and save, uh um Smiths.
Ashley: I think they took over Harris Teeter
Eric: they took over Harris Teeter.
They owned Marianos in Chicago. I haven't been there lately, so cause that was really nice store.
Ashley: Yeah, it was,
Eric: yeah so I hopefully it still is. I haven't been there in a while I'm going to Chicago in March.
Ashley: oh, I'll be here on March. Are you gonna go for the, the conference?
Eric: Yes Tastemaker
Ashley: Yay. We'll get to meet!
Eric: Yeah with Kroger, is um they've now with the Safeway all Alberton's deals that, makes them
Ashley: that great conglomerate
Eric: They just get bigger. So maybe so 10 years now we be having like which is your favorite Kroger chain.
Ashley: hope not
Eric: Nope not.
no Um anyway sorry Sorry Kroger lovers here. And I've probably ruined myself for life now from ever getting a sponsorship.
Ashley: Yeah, seriously. Me too. That's ok
Eric: Screw that one. Anyway, um, so it's great talking with you today here Ashley. I should say here. And I, um, everyone have a happy New Year. This is the last I think this, Yeah, this is the last episode of the year. So happy New Year's everybody, and
Ashley: Yeah. Happy holidays. Thanks for having me.
Eric: My pleasure.
Great podcast and great blog!
Thanks Zach! I appreciate that!