I hate going to the grocery store. I never really ever liked going to the grocery store, but now, as a Non-GMO Mom, I hate it even more. And I always tell my kids never to say “Hate” but I seriously do. I dread going to the grocery store, for so many reasons. If I bring my kids with me, it’s pure torture. My little one ends up screaming so loud that people give me (and her!) dirty looks. My oldest one begs for ice cream and candy and it ends up in the cart just so I can get a break from the whining and begging. Then, add the whole Non-GMO and eating/buying organic thing to the mix and it’s a recipe for a breakdown. Searching out Non-GMO food and looking at ingredients takes me twice as long to shop, and while I’ve been doing it long enough that I have a method and am getting better at it, it’s still difficult.
My grocery store trips used to take me 35 minutes- in and out. I could get everything on my list and be out of there for usually under $100. I used to do this once a week. Now, sorting through ingredients and watching out for GMOs, it takes me an hour to an hour and a half to get out of there, and usually for no less than $130-150 or so. That’s if I don’t buy alcohol! (Which, I’ll be honest- I usually do!) 🙂
Another one of my frustrations when it comes to grocery shopping is the price differences. I was pretty irritated this weekend- I needed strawberries (we’d eaten all the ones from the garden) and I had the opportunity to get away from the kids to run to Whole Foods. When I got there, they had some ok-looking organic strawberries (you know the kind that will only last a day or two once you get them home) and they were $4.99 for a clamshell. 4.99??? That was crazy! I couldn’t remember the last time I spent that much on organic strawberries and I just couldn’t stomach it. I figured I’d have to make a second trip to Trader Joe’s where I had just seen them for $2.49. It would be worth the trip. Then the blueberries (which I also needed) were also $4.99 for a clamshell, which is just crazy- Roundy’s had them the other day for $2.99 for the exact same brand and weight. While I love Whole Foods, and sometimes feel healthier just for shopping there (;)) I was really disappointed at their prices. I know stores have to stay in business, but when I have to leave a store and go to another, because the prices are different enough to make it worth a second trip, then I think they should make some changes. That will definitely weigh in when I need strawberries next. I won’t be going to Whole Foods for them.
So between the time it takes to grocery shop, the multiple stops and the added expense of it, it has become something I despise doing. That said, I’ve found a few ways to make it a little more manageable to buy Non-GMO and organic foods. Many of you guys have asked what my top “11” tips for going Non-GMO grocery shopping are, so here’s a good start:
1. LEAVE THE KIDS AT HOME! Whenever possible- leave the kids at home! 🙂
2. Trader Joe’s. My greatest relief when it comes to grocery shopping is going to Trader Joe’s. All their Trader Joe’s Brand food labels are non-GMO, have no preservatives or crap like MSG in them. So when I do have to take the kids, I go to Trader Joe’s. They have little carts and stickers for the kids, and we always open an apple crusher or two to get through the store. It’s so much nicer knowing that I can go to a store and not have to spend all the extra time looking at ingredients. And while they have a smaller selection, I have my top products that I pretty much always have in the house from TJs, and they are much lower in cost than if I buy the alternatives from stores like Whole Foods or Jewel.
3. Good Alternatives. Unfortunately, not everyone has a Trader Joe’s by them, so my next favorite store is Mariano’s (which is actually a Roundy’s). They have the best prices on organic produce. We have two within 5 minutes of our house, so we usually head to these for the best organic produce. They also have a huge selection.
4. Make small trips. While I hate going to the grocery store, I inevitably forget something after my monstrous trips and end up having to go back anyways and then end up spending even more money because I see something else I think I need to buy or make. So I try to just run in and grab a few things and keep the trip short.
5. Walk to the store. If you’re lucky enough to have a store within walking distance, I’d recommend walking. With the kids, I have a stroller, so we walk through the store with a stroller and I know I can only carry and fit so much into the stroller, so it makes me keep the list down. (Not really a Non-GMO tip, but it’s a good money saver and exercise tip!)
6. Grow a garden. My garden has saved me so many trips to the store. And it’s prevented me from having to throw away stuff that I’ve bought and has gone bad in the fridge. I can’t tell you how much kale and spinach that I had to throw away because we didn’t eat it fast enough. There is nothing like making a salad and just running out to the garden and grabbing a few leaves of kale! I haven’t bought any type of lettuce, kale or spinach in months.
7. Buy what you can online. You can find a lot of organic and non-GMO products on sites like Amazon. If you get the Amazon Prime membership, you get free shipping. And sites like Ecomom have great deals and lots of coupons, as well as good shipping prices. I get a lot of products from Amazon and Ecomom and then I save myself a few torturous trips to the store.
8. Alcohol? After making it through the grocery store with two kids, and a cart full of Non-GMO products, you need (and deserve!) a drink. When it comes to things like wine though, I’ve yet to find many good non-GMO, organic wine that I like. I love red wine- especially cabernet and pinot noir, and I drink it often 🙂 but don’t have much advice what wines to try (yet!). I have tried Frey- they make a good cab. It’s organic and non-GMO wine, at a fairly decent price. I think it’s usually around $11 or $12 a bottle. I do buy a lot of wine from Trader Joe’s too, but as far as I know, it’s not organic and non-GMO. And I always stay away from the Two-Buck Chuck, it gives me a nasty headache. I’m also keeping an eye out for more Non-GMO and organic wine, beer and whiskey- my husband is a bourbon and canadian whiskey kind of guy, and as far as I’ve found, they’re all loaded with GMOs.
9. Talk to store managers. One thing that I’ve done is asked the store managers at Roundy’s and Dominicks if they would be able to get certain Non-GMO or organic products in stock. Most of the time, they will try their best to get a product for you. Chances are if you want something, someone else might too and they’d rather you get it from their store than anywhere else. We eat pomegranates like they’re going out of style, and we walk to Dominick’s a lot for fast trips. They didn’t used to carry pomegranates, so I asked if they could get them. Two weeks later, there was a box of them near the produce. And when I told the manager that 2.99 was a lot for them, and I could get them at another store for $1.99, they actually lowered the price. CRAZY! But it works, and now I get a lot of pomegranates from Dominicks!
I don’t shop at Jewel very often, but I was there last week and they had in all the aisles, a product request form on various shelves. You could fill out the form, tell them what product you wanted, where you bought it last and for how much and they would try to get it. That was kind of cool. I think next time I go in, I’m going to fill one out asking just for more non-GMO products, they don’t have too many that I’ve been able to find.
10. Find local farmers markets and CSAs. Make sure you verify that the products are organic and Non-GMO. You can find both of these in your area here.
11. Find Your Staples. And last but not least, take a look at my top Non-GMO GMO alternatives. These are some of the “staples” I always try to have in the house. I stick with these, and they’re all pretty easy to get and lower in cost.
What tips do you have for grocery shopping and buying Non-GMO? I’d love to hear them! Leave a comment or head over to my Facebook page and share!!