The most boring decision I’ve made all year.

Since I arrived in Arlington, I’ve been trying to find the One True Grocery, and my search has been unfulfilled so far. I mentioned back on the first of November that I’ve been to a crazy number of different grocery stores since my arrival, and I still haven’t settled into a grocery routine here.

When I moved to Germany, I did some of my grocery shopping at the Globus near the office, but the vast majority was at the Kaufland a few minutes away from my apartment. Since I was walking to and from the grocery store there, I fell into the habit of only getting what I could carry. When I repatriated, I started grocery shopping with a car again and the amount of food that I bought was significantly larger. I have a tendency to overbuy, and it’s something I’ve mentioned before in this blog.

Here in Arlington, I’m somewhere between the two extremes. I’m not buying a lot of food, and that is in part because the grocery stores haven’t thrilled me yet. It’s really tough to top Publix. I’ve been to many different stores here so far, and these are my impressions so far:

  • Harris Teeter – I Teetered my Harris on my first day in Arlington, and I haven’t been back. The one I went to was a two-story affair with a very confusing layout. It looked to me like what might happen if MC Escher was really into neon and wanted very much to make a knockoff of Whole Foods. I have not yet been to a second Harris Teeter to see if a different location might suit me better.
  • Giant Food – I’ve been to two different Giants now. The first one was like a dirty, poorly stocked Winn Dixie where nineteen out of every twenty people completely ignored the directional arrows on the floor. The second one was a bit better, but I still had trouble finding everything I was looking for.
  • Safeway – I’ve been to three different local Safeways so far, and the closest location off Lee Highway is the one I’ve actually gone back to more than once. They have a decent selection, and their Zebra Cakes are always really fresh. (Snack standards are important.) I was thinking that they reminded me a lot of Albertsons, but then I found out while fact checking this post that they’re actually a subsidiary of Albertsons now, so that tracks.

I haven’t bothered to shop in Target, Trader Joes, or Whole Foods, even though they’re reasonably close. I haven’t even seen a Wal-Mart, even though there’s gotta be one nearby. And last but not least, everyone keeps telling me Wegman’s is great, but I haven’t felt like driving half an hour each way for groceries.

If even a single one of these stores carried absolutely everything I wanted, I would keep going back to that one over and over again, but some things are just incredibly difficult to find.

For example, my favorite pickles are Claussen, but they’re not carried anywhere locally except for Wal-Mart. I did try Vlasic again, and I immediately regretted that decision. They taste like turmeric and existential dread.

As an aside, when I couldn’t find Claussen in six different stores, I turned to the Internet for reassurance that they were still being sold, and I was treated to the most delightfully unlikely sentence I’ve ever seen online:

“The Federal Trade Commission blocked the proposed merger on the grounds that it would have severe anticompetitive effects, leading to a monopoly in the refrigerated-pickle market.”

So that’s where things stand with the Great Grocery Selection of 2020. They opened a Wegman’s in Tyson’s Corner this week, so maybe I’ll finally give that a try this weekend. Or maybe I’ll finally give in and just go the Instacart route. If you’ve read this post all the way to the end, then bless your heart! It’s definitely not my most interesting work. If you’ve read this far, you deserve a treat, like a cookie or a White Claw or something. Treat. Yo. Self!

Do you have a favorite grocery store?

27/52 (and 6 of 30!)

25 thoughts on “The most boring decision I’ve made all year.

  1. I liked to shop at Trader Joe’s. I loved their frozen veggie patties, cream top milk and tomato soup. Walmart and Costco were reasonable but I hated to stand in the line where people with cart full would stand infront of me where as I would’ve just 3-4 items. So I usually went to Trader Joe’s, sprouts and Safeway

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “They taste like turmeric and existential dread.”, haha! I’m fascinated by the excerpt about the pickles. I’ve deep dived into food justice this year, reading about Big Chicken and the Whats App blackmarket mango trade, and million dollar nut heists, and mafia controlled olive oil situations, and now there’s this to look into. Pickle mergers, 😀

    Here’s hoping you find your one!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. We shop at Fred Meyer every other week. We live in an area with three grocery stores within walking distance, including a Safeway, but the prices are so high in our area that we save enough to pay for gas several times over.
    Fred Meyer carries everything, auto supplies, clothing, groceries, pet supplies, household goods… The local we shop at regularly is Trader Joe’s. They have great products, but are a bit pricey for hard core basics (canned veg, flour, etc.) and they don’t carry a lot of things. TJ’s is definitely the most fun place to shop. We do a Costco run now and then. Since the pandemic started we have been shopping for a couple of older people with medical issues, so we are getting quite a bit at a go these days, unlike when there were just the two of us.
    Grocery shopping isn’t exciting, but a pleasant, or at least not overwhelming, experience is important for sanity.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lorrie

    I have certain food staples that are only available at either Target, Publix or Walmart Grocery. It’s rare that I’ll hit all in one week so I usually rotate them.

    I keep forgetting to mention that a brand new Winn-Dixie opened in the barely-there Earth Fare at BB Blvd. and Lyons so I may give them a shot.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’d give Wegman’s a try. It’s consistently named the best grocery store in the country (https://www.businessinsider.com/review-of-wegmans-the-best-grocery-chain-in-the-us-2017-6), even beating out Publix.

    My fav. is a New England chain called Hannaford. Our house in Manchester is literally 5 minutes away from one, which was great until the pandemic began and I stopped going into stores. However, this week, Hannaford announced that they’ll start offering delivery services so I definitely plan to do that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Now that there’s a Wegmans about ten miles away, I might give it a try. I tend to grocery shop in local proximity though, so it’s really not going to be a regular thing.

      Like

  6. Great post! Hope you find what you’re looking for at Wegman’s. I definitely had a couple favourites in Thailand — Villa Market because they carry foreign treats like licorice, and Foodland because they have a cheap and delicious diner attached!

    Liked by 1 person

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