I started writing Small Town Grocery Shopping Part One before I wrote 11 Favorites from 11 Years in California where I said,
I made about 80-90% of our meals from scratch at home. I came back to Waseca, Minnesota and realized that living like that was a bubble. There is no such thing as purple cauliflower here and every single time I check out at the grocery store, a clerk asks, “Do you know what this is?” (And still, I’ve had people argue with me for years that you can’t “eat healthy” in a small town. Now I know the truth. It’s different, but you still can. How do I know that? Because one -> I’m doing it and two -> the clerks ask me questions like that which means stores do carry things, you just need to seek them out and then be willing to learn how to prepare and eat it. I’m still working on that post for y’all.)
A huge (hard) part of this move from California to Minnesota for me was leaving behind all the food I’ve gotten accustomed to the past 11 years. After a little more than a month into the move, I thought I’d share small town grocery shopping part one because you can find the food you’re looking for, it’s just not nearly as easy and you have to plan a little more than those in the heart of California.
Why is there a part one?
Because I can guarantee things will change and evolve over the next 6-12 months, and then I’ll do the part two – the part that I believe will be our mainstay for all the years to come. (Updated in 2019: As promised -> Small Town Grocery Shopping Part Two.)
What I am writing and sharing today are all the things I am currently doing on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis.
Small Town Grocery Shopping Part One
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- Hy-Vee. If you’re in the Midwest, you know what I’m talking about. If you’re in a small town, then you probably really know what I’m talking about. In one month of being back, I have been to 3, yes 3, Hy-Vee stores. Here is what I’ll say – they are not all created equally, but living here makes it sort of necessary to figure out which one is best for all the situations. (Also, the Fuel Saver card is fantastic.) Here is how I have broken them down:
- Hy-Vee in Shakopee, Minnesota. This one is, by far, the best I have been to. It’s really incredible, actually! They have pretty much everything I might be looking for except purple cauliflower, there is no purple cauliflower 🙂 They have a huge bulk bin section, food to fit any diet and lifestyle, and aisles and aisles of fresh fruits and veggies. Their meat department is still nothing to write home about. The best I did was a whole Just BARE chicken, and I’m not a fan of BARE. On the whole, though, I was able to buy almost all essentials.
- Hy-Vee in Owatonna, Minnesota. I believe that this is going to be the spot I do most of our everyday grocery shopping. Is it perfect? No. But they do have so many things that I was not expecting. I get a lot of Thousand Hills there, and their “health foods” section is actually filled with plenty of things we eat on a daily basis. Also, they have Organic Valley French Vanilla Creamer which is so lovely.
- Hy-Vee in Waseca, Minnesota. You know what’s crazy? I found edible flowers at this Hy-Vee when I was looking for an herb. I was shocked because I barely ever found that in California. That said, I will only shop at this Hy-Vee when it’s absolutely necessary. This store is a hard one for me, and that’s sad because it’s 1 minute from where we live. The bonus? They are super friendly there! Then again, that’s just Minnesota.
- Fresh Thyme Farmer’s Market. I think this is a newer chain, as there are only 7 in Minnesota. There is one close to where my cousin lives. She asked me if I heard of it, and I wondered why I had not until I noticed it’s because they are only currently in the Midwest-ish. I was a fan the first time I stepped into one, but then I downloaded the app one week and noticed that GT’s Kombucha was BOGO. My cousin quick went in, and sure enough….each bottle came out to like $1.82 which is ludacris (in California, I typically paid $3.49+ for that same bottle). I bought a case, and I even got Katie hooked on it. The store has pretty much everything any other natural food store would have. Again, even there, though, not 100% impressed with the meat selections.
- The Daily Grind. This is the little coffee shop where we live. Because it was Tracy’s coffee shop, and she cared deeply about quality food and organics, whenever I’m in a bind, I know I can always find something there. It’s super small, but what they do have is meat – quality, organic meat. I have gotten their ground beef, hot dogs, whole chicken, and ground breakfast chicken. For now, quite honestly, for a quality, in-a-bind-need-a-meat now situation, I’d go there. If you’re reading this and don’t live here, then the takeaway is that you should always check out the little, local place to see what they carry. You never know!
- Walmart. I never thought I’d see the day when I grabbed grocery things at Walmart especially because I hardly went there at all while we lived in California. But here in this small town? It’s the store. I don’t get much there, but here are some things I do grab each time I’m there: Justin’s Vanilla Almond Butter, bananas (I never buy these organic, FYI), organic apples (they come in a bag), oranges, Kombucha (in a pinch), raw almonds, flax milk, coconut milk ice cream, Made In Nature snacks, root vegetables (seriously – they have them), and organic milk. Some Walmart’s are now huge and have huge “health foods” sections, too. I’d love to see that here, but until then, this is perfectly fine.
- Amazon. Obviously. It’s my jam, and I order from Amazon probably once a week. I already put together a Recommended Food Products list and even Recommended Supplements and Recommended Kitchen Items (most of the items on all lists can be purchased right via Amazon). We have a Prime membership, which I believe is critical for anyone using Amazon from a small town. When The Gutsy Girl’s Bible: an approach to healing the gut 3.0 launches, there will be an entire spreadsheet of items and things I recommend and buy all the time.
- US Wellness Meats. Full disclosure: I have not ordered from them yet, but people rave about their products. As I mentioned above, I have been less than impressed with almost every single meat option (except the ones at The Daily Grind) so far. People swear by US Wellness Meats, and I’m looking forward to purchasing from them. I will say, though, that I think they are a bit pricier, but from what I’ve been told it’s worth it.
- Thrive Market. Last, but definitely not least – because this might be my favorite –> Thrive Market. I featured them for the first time on my holiday wellness list, but now that we live in a small town, I am so grateful we have a membership. It’s like a Costco membership, only all the items are high quality and delivered right to your door (yup, even right here in this town with a population of about 9,000)! Here is what I purchased last week:
- 2 x 12oz pouches of Kelp Noodles
- 4 x 7oz bags of Wonder Noodles (I’ve never had them before now)
- 2 x 4oz bags of Plantain Chips (aka Monkey Chips according to the kids)
- Mediterranean Greek Herb Blend
- Organic Coconut Aminos
- Sir Kensington’s Dijon Mustard
- Organic Yellow Mustard
- Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers
- 2 x bags of Organic Whole Grain Rice Cakes
- The New Primal Snack Mates Turkey Sticks (perfect for the babies)
- Organic Kalamata Olive Spread
- Organic Capers.
The total was $55.08, but once you sign up the first 3 orders are 20% off (this is only second order), which brought it down to $44.06. Then, if you spend $49, shipping is free (we got free shipping because the original total was over $49). For $44, these things will last us a long time.
What I love most about Thrive is that you can, literally, find something for every single diet or interest. Under, “Shop Values” you’ll find things like, “gluten-free, moms, Paleo, raw, Vegan, staples, etc.” There are even things like laundry detergent, which I bought in the last round from Molly’s Suds.
I foresee a Thrive order 1-2 times per month for us. Click HERE to learn more about how it works.
How We Eat
We are super basic, as in, most nights, dinner consists of rice and meat and all the fixin’s plus a vegetable and then later fruit or some other dessert.
I do not buy only Organic, lest what many people think.
I believe in the power of Organic, especially for that Dirty Dozen, but I also know that it’s a Marketing ploy for so many products these days. How do I know that? Because I work in the industry.
For me and for our family, my goal is to provide variety and to keep it basic so that my children learn how to enjoy food for what it is vs. needing all the things. I love that they know the difference between Kabocha and Kombucha and that they ask for “mama’s special cheese” (aka nutritional yeast) and “mama’s special ketchup” (aka coconut aminos) on the daily.
Last night for dinner we had:
- “French Fries” – I bought a bag of Organic potatoes (yes, they are on the Dirty Dozen list) and sliced them. I laid them in a baking dish and covered with Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil with Garlic Buttery Flavor (which you can get at Walmart!) then sprinkled with salt and pepper. I baked at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. We dipped them in the Sir Kensington’s Dijon I just bought.
- Rice (from Lotus Foods – which we use strictly because they are a client and the best of the best for rice, ramen, and pad thai noodles) with nutritional yeast, coconut aminos, and slathered with Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil with Buttery Flavor.
- Thousand Hills hot dogs
- Bubbie’s pickles
And that’s it. Nothing fancy about it.
After all that, what I can say is at least I don’t have to worry about my skin and body care and makeup. I’ll always have Beautycounter, coconut oil (by the gallon from Nutiva), and Dr. Bronner’s (via Amazon + Thrive Market) for that. 🙂
Okay, so here are my final two questions:
- Meat and seafood – If you are in a small town, too, what do you do? I’d love more thoughts on this.
- What questions do you have for me?
Whew! Grocery shopping is hard.
If you don’t have time to read these posts daily, but don’t want to miss them, be sure to follow via Bloglovin’ and/or join my personal e-newsletter HERE. I am doing my best to send a once per week email recap of prior week’s posts.
If there is a topic surrounding change that you would love for me to include in this series, please just CONTACT ME.
Previous 101-Day Change Series Posts
- Beginnings are Scary
- Change Pain Point
- Making Sense of Change
- Gratitude Journal
- Love Your Baby Girl
- Little Things Add Up
- House and Home
- Sunday Reflections
- Chocolate Shake
- 3-Ingredient Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Shake
- Chaos is a Temporary State
- Thirsty Thursday
- Month One
- The Nudge to Connect
- 11 Favorites from 11 Years in California
- One Box at a Time
- Good Enough is Enough
- There is No Dishwasher
- WWDW Number 8
- Move Initiated
- Sharing My Journey
- Back with the Tribe
You will heal. I will help.