Amanda Sorena

Blogger, Writer, Urban Adventurer

Houston Moms Dish on Their Favorite Local Grocery Stores

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An article recently popped up in my Facebook feed of vintage photos of grocery stores through the years. I found them fascinating. If someone took a picture of us shopping now, would it be a sea of organic produce and yoga pants? Probably.

I feel like I spend 1/3 (easily) of my time planning meals and shopping for my family. With three kids, food seems to disappear out of our pantry faster than I can say “goldfish.” With that in mind, I can’t be driving around Houston making multiple stops when we shop. I need locations where I can get all (or most) of what I need at one time. I know what works best for my family, but we got to thinking—where do other Houston moms grocery shop and why?

Here’s what they told us.


ALDI

The ALDI stores are new to the Houston area and growing in popularity fast. It’s a German chain of grocery stores known for low prices and cost-cutting measures, like bagging your own groceries. They also sell almost exclusively their own ALDI brand products.
Favorite Houston locations: Bissonnet or Old Spanish Trail
Why real moms love them:
• “Since the ALDI opened in the neighborhood, I’ve been doing most of the shopping there because the prices are incredibly low, and I also like the commitment to the environment with the bring-your-own-bags policy. I also like the European products; they have lots of German, French and Italian items that I enjoy such as cheese, beer, bread, and around Christmas they had wonderful German chocolate and wine.”–Gabriella M.
• “I’m obsessed with ALDI. It feels like my own little secret in northwest Houston. Prices are insanely low and everyone who works there is so nice. I’ve been really impressed with the quality and that means a lot coming from a somewhat grocery store snob.”–Terra B.
Consider it if: You’re eco-conscious, or a no-frills shopper


Central Market

We often call Central Market the “fancy” grocery store, but its affiliation with H-E-B means you really do get great quality on a number of everyday shopping needs. Their seafood, sausages and produce are high quality, and you can’t beat some of their pre-made meal selections. You can also pick up “Dinners for Two,” which are great to drop-off for any new moms in your life.
Favorite Houston location: Westheimer
Why real moms love them:
• “Central market has three seater carts, and I find the produce is better quality than my local Kroger and H-E-B. It has a great bakery too!”–Ursula S.
• “Central Market has great prices—don’t be fooled by the gourmet reputation. A produce manager confirmed the prices; they’re the same as H-E-B for better-than-H-E-B produce. Did you know the H-E-B apples arrive in plastic crates? Central Market apples arrive in wooden crates. Yes, it matters. Freshness also really matters in relation to reducing waste at home. When plans or inspiration change, I don’t always use the items I bought when intended. Their employees are knowledgeable, available and interested in food. That’s important to me.”–Kerin M.
Consider it if: You love using prepared foods/meals at home.


Costco

My love of Costco is well documented. This is one of my family’s weekly shopping staples. With three growing kids, we go through produce, milk, eggs and meat quicker than I could have ever imagined. The double carts, free samples and cheap hot dogs don’t hurt either.
Favorite Houston locations: Bunker Hill or Inner Loop
Why real moms love them:
• “We are family of six, and I can barely keep anything in the house unless I head to Costco. Produce is amazing, as long as we eat it in the first week and half.” –Jennifer R.
• “Some items I save just for Costco, like blueberries and avocados—Costco has the best.”–Shelly S.
• “I like Costco for buying things in bulk, like some groceries (we can go through grapes and berries!) and household supplies (why do I feel silly walking out of H-E-B with 20 rolls of TP yet not silly when walking out of Costco with 20,000?!).”–Barbara C.
Consider it if: You’ve got a big family to feed, or for items you always need (lookin’ at you toilet paper).


H-E-B

H-E-B is a Texas staple and I know a number of people who are brand loyal and wouldn’t consider shopping anywhere else. Many H-E-B branded products are cult-favorites, and made from Texas-sourced ingredients. You also have to admit the H-E-Buddy bucks are pretty genius at keeping kids engaged during a shopping trip!
Favorite Houston locations: Buffalo Market, Montrose Market or San Felipe
Why real moms love them:
• “I grew up in San Antonio, so I’m a die hard H-E-B fan. I love it. I can always count on their produce, meat selection and I really do use their H-E-B brand/Hill Country Fair products consistently. Their prices are very reasonable and you don’t need to be a member. You can’t beat H-E-Buddy, as my four-year-old thinks he’s playing ‘No Whammies’ every time. I may or may not own an H-E-B shirt or two I’ve bought off a store employee.”–Jennifer V.
• “H-E-B is my pick due to the quality of their mobile app. I can scan barcodes to add items, add by searching by name, and add through the H-E-B recipes. Then, it puts everything in the order that it’s found in the store. You can also incorporate digital coupons through the app. H-E-B store brand products are superior to most of the name brand counterparts. The friendly, helpful service is also great, especially when I’m shopping with my kids and trying to be speedy.”–Morgan D.
• “We like H-E-B for their crazy meal deals (quick easy meal for the week), in-store coupons, and H-E-B and Central Market brand products. My four-year-old prefers H-E-B, so he can gamble on the Buddy Machine.”–Elizabeth D.
Consider it if: You love perks when you shop—samples, the H-E-Buddy game, a handy mobile app and curbside pick-up (at select locations!) are all part of the H-E-B deal.


Kroger

A quick Google search turns up about 50 different Kroger locations in the Houston area. Kroger is nation-wide supermarket chain, and the new Kroger Marketplaces that are popping up also offer more than just groceries with décor and small appliances also for sale. At our local Kroger, the kids have made friends with several employees and can greet them by name.
Favorite Houston locations: Shepherd or Buffalo Speedway
Why real moms love them:
• “I like Kroger because they are consistently cheaper than H-E-B and have more of the products I specifically need—gluten free, health conscious, dye free.”–Lisa S.
• “I like the Kroger, because of their coupons. And because they always have good sales on staples like milk, bread, meat, fruit. And I love their pharmacy prices. They are lower than most of the other chains and the pharmacists are super friendly and available.”–Gabriella M.
• “Kroger on North Shepherd and 11th street is my nirvana grocery store. They have the best combination of good prices, good enough produce, all of the “natural foods” and special diet stuff for my allergy kids (without going to Whole Foods). The store isn’t physically too big, and the pharmacy team is great. My kids get free balloons upon entry and I can also get my gas there.”–Kristine H.
Consider it if: You want a one-stop shop for everything: food, pharmacy, gas, etc.


Trader Joe’s

As a Californian, I was elated when Trader Joe’s finally made its way to Houston. The beverage department (hello two buck chuck) and mix of TJ’s own products make them a really special store. When I was on bed rest for my twins, I even got a care package filled with my favorite Trader Joe’s snacks.
Favorite Houston locations: Alabama or Memorial
Why real moms love them:
• “I will go out of my way to go to Trader Joe’s so I can get shopping done ASAP with or without kids. I like not having to compare prices and products. I know their products are safe, and they offer a bigger variety of non-GMO, organic and preservative-free stuff. I love their flowers and cards, too.”–Jenny V.
• “Trader Joe’s is undoubtedly the best as a mom. They take my groceries to the car and refuse a tip. They’re always giving my kid stickers and snacks and just being kind.”–Aliza P.
• “I can fill my trolley to the top with organic fruit and veggies and the bill is never more than $150. Trader Joe’s always packs your bag…I’m nine months pregnant and I’ve had Trader Joe’s force me to accept help to get my stuff in my car.”–Meabh B.
Consider it if: You’re on a super strict budget.


Whole Foods

Whole Foods is my go-to place when we are planning something with friends who have specific food allergies. I also love how no matter what I pick up in the store, I know it will be dye free and have no artificial anything. Since we are trying to make a move in our home to more “real food” products, that makes shopping easier without as much label reading.
Favorite Houston locations: Bellaire or Post Oak
Why real moms love them:
• “I love Whole Foods products, produce and salad bar. They have a lot of yummy options for diet restrictions such as gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, etc. Obviously I end up spending a fortune so I can’t go all the time or my husband would have a heart attack!”–Lesley C.
“We love Whole Foods Bellaire! They have great produce and meat, the staff are friendly and helpful, and they have double carts! They have mini carts! Great hot bar and prepared foods selection for when cooking just can’t happen. Whole Foods also has Mill King Milk! Mmmmm.”–Lolita M.
Consider it if: You’ve got a lot of dietary restrictions at home.


With a city as diverse as Houston, we can’t neglect all of the ethnic and specialty stores in town!

• Belden’s is a Jewish staple in Meyerland, but they offer so much more than their Kosher selections. They are an independent store with great selection of gourmet offerings, organic foods and gluten-free items. Local mom Michelle C., told us she loves it because “their bread, produce, cheese and wine selection are all amazing and the best on my side of town without having to go to Whole Foods in Bellaire.”

• If you are looking for Indian flavors, look no further than Keemat Grocers. Anthony Bourdain actually made a stop here for his Parts Unknown show on Houston! “They have great prices and an extremely helpful staff,” Aarti G. told us. “I was able to find my favorite Indian cookies there that I haven’t been able to find at any other store!”

• Phoenicia Specialty Foods carries 15,000 products from more than 50 countries. It is not a place we go out of our way to drive to, but if we are already in downtown (it’s super close to the Discovery Green!), then it’s a must stop for lunch.

• 99 Ranch Market has a great selection of seafood and Asian foods. We shop here for my Italian husband to make squid sauce for Christmas Eve dinner! “I can buy all my produce for the week for a family of three for under $20. Pineapples for under $2, avocados for three for a $1, mangos for 50 cents, green peppers for 18 cents,” Patricia S. says. “Plus, I stop for a bubble tea or smoothie on the way in for shopping stamina, and pop in the bakery for a fresh red bean bun on the way out.”

Main image: Whole Foods Market

Originally Posted on Mommy Nearest 

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This entry was posted on April 16, 2017 by .
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