27 April 2012

where i buy food + a look at the new shoprite

I had the chance to check out the new Albany ShopRite store last week before it opened. Having started as a Potluck blogger before there was a really convenient location near me has gotten me all hyped up. It also got me analyzing where I shop for food. Here's the scoop:

I'll always be loyal to our local co-op for certain things, especially bulk items, their delicious prepared meals & other hippie goods. I support the co-op as much as I can and talk about it to anyone who will listen. If you are local, you should shop there. Quit complaining about the parking or the cramped aisles, because it's worth it to navigate. Try it out, I think you'll like it.

I'm very much looking forward to the start of our new CSA season with the lovely Denison Farm. Knowing exactly where my vegetables came from and who grew them makes eating them all the more delightful. Just listen to Episode 2 of the FSC Podcast and you'll hear how excited I am about CSAs. Similarly, Saturday mornings at the Troy Farmers Market are some of my favorite times and we try to buy as much of our produce there as possible when we aren't in our CSA season. There's a great community that gathers at local farmers markets and it's one of the most fun ways to buy your food. Plus, you are directly supporting local farmers and producers, and that is always good.

We are nearing the end of our second season of being part of a community-supported bakery. At the beginning of the "bread season", we made an upfront financial commitment to All Good Bakers in exchange for weekly loaves of fresh, locally-sourced, artisan loaves of bread. So that's primarily how we get our carb intake each week.

With all of that being said, a good portion of our weekly grocery shopping still happens in supermarkets. There, I said it. Slay me!

What do we buy at the supermarket? Well, we buy bananas. And avocados. They aren't local, but I love them. We buy tofu, tempeh, English muffins, cooking oil, almond milk, granola bars, frozen berries and a few frozen vegetables, veggie burgers, cereal, yogurt, juice, crackers, cheese, toilet paper, paper towels, beer, an occasional convenience food and whatever else tickles our fancy. These are things that we buy regularly and that we appreciate paying cheaper prices for. We stock up on pantry items. Sometimes I buy People magazine there with a candy bar. And I'm guessing, and this is just a guess, that many of you are at a grocery store on a regular basis.

Which explains the excitement over the new Albany ShopRite. I mean, I'm excited! Genuinely.

They've hired over 500 employees from the area and are regionally-owned. They have an on-site dietitian who provides one-on-one nutritional consulting and will walk around with you and help you shop for a diabetes-safe, gluten free, low-sugar, allergy free or whatever else fits your lifestyle. For free. But, and I think this is more impressive, they also do community outreach to places like schools and senior centers to talk about healthy foods.

They make a lot of prepared foods, from straight up home-cooking and fried chicken to hot paninis and Asian fusion. The prepared foods are made from scratch daily by what appears to be a staff largely trained by the Culinary Institute of America.

85% of their bakery goods are made from scratch, on site. They also feature baked goods from local companies like Coccadotts (cupcakes!), Cookie Factory (Fudge Fantasies!), Villa Italia (yum!), Neighborhood Bakery (halal products) and Bread Alone (natural, local & organic). They also have a gluten free bakery section though, of course, watch for cross contamination. ShopRite has a full kosher grocery section too.

ShopRite's produce section has an impressive organic selection. Right now, their "local" produce comes from New Jersey but they've committed to sourcing a fair percentage of their produce from actual local farmers by July. I was also guaranteed that their produce staff is well-trained and will actually be able to answer questions about vegetables, which... you don't find at all supermarkets. ShopRite also has a big cheese counter with an actual trained cheesemonger plus they have house-made mozzarella-- perhaps we should team up? :)

If you're into fish, it all sounds pretty good in that department. I believe that ShopRite is the only supermarket with its own USDC Grade A fishery, so that's something. You order weird things like live eels & sea urchins, if you so choose. They'll marinate, season & cook your seafood on site for free- although I think Price Chopper might also do that, no? I was impressed that their fishmonger actually mentioned seasonality when talking about what types of fish were in stock or expected soon. In the butcher department, while they don't offer locally-raised meat products, they do make their own ground beef in small batches several times a day to ensure ultimate freshness. ShopRite only sells Grade A poultry, which I'm sure means something good, and they also have Boars Head (gluten free, no GMO) deli meat. 

Look! Battenkill Creamery! The best chocolate milk ever. And they are even in their glass bottles.

And hey! Locally-made Gatherer's Granola! It's really delicious, if you haven't tried it yet. Sweet and crunchy.

They have a huge variety of these aloe drinks, which Chris loves but I'm not so sure about. There's no other local place with the same selection, apparently.

Oh & did I mention that you can place a grocery order online and either pick it up or have it delivered to you?! WHAT?! Yup, ShopRite from Home. I will absolutely be trying this out soon and reporting back.

Now you know where we buy our groceries. We're kind of crunchy and pretty locally-minded but yes, we go to grocery stores. I've been a member of the ShopRite Potluck blog team since last summer but this is the first time I've had a store that is actually convenient for me to shop in, so I'm eager to see how it will impact my weekly grocery shopping. I know, it's just a grocery store. But I'm feeling pretty good about it as a supplement to my CSA, farmers market & co-op excursions. As always, you can read my Potluck blog posts right over here. (I should mention that I am never obligated to post about ShopRite on my own blog. I just thought I would share in the new store frenzy that has swept the area.)


  1. Great job, Christine!

  2. Did you happen to notice if any of the prepared foods were vegetarian friendly--dishes with tofu or tempeh, etc? (like ones you would find at whole foods hot bar, for example) or were they mostly meat based dishes? That's the one thing about the grocery stores in this area (not including the co-op)---they never have any good prepared food options for vegetarians...boo!

    1. There were definitely more prepared food options for meat-eaters, but when I was there for a store tour they had: vegetable wraps, grilled veggies, mashed potatoes (I believe they are vegetarian), roasted potatoes, salads, vegetable fried rice & veggie lo mein. I know they have other dishes, but those were the ones I noticed. I agree COMPLETELY that there aren't enough veg-friendly prepared foods options, apart from the co-op. I didn't see any with tofu or tempeh.

  3. I love this post. I'm also genuinely excited about the new store!

    1. Thanks :) You've inspired me to try ShopRite from Home!

  4. I was just there yesterday, and it wasn't a madhouse at 10:30 a.m. on a weekday. It feels like the Nisky store may have more organic produce, but that could be a flawed first impression. I also didn't see happier roast chickens (like the Nisky store or the Nature's Place birds at Hannaford).

    I was thrilled that they have sliced cheese made from the milk of cows that weren't treated with artificial growth hormones or antibiotics. Previously this had only been available at The Fresh Market, but now it comes from a place where I can also get a bunch of other staples. They also have tahini in glass jars, which means no BPA from can linings or other nasty stuff from plastic bottles.

    By the way, if you are buying tofu from the grocery store, you've got to stop. They are robbing you blind. Stop by the Asian Supermarket to find American made products from non-GMO soybeans for about a buck a pop.

    Shop Rite really seems to have it going on. But like anyplace else, some things are competitively priced while other things are more expensive. The savvy shopper is still one who shops around, stocks up on things when they are on sale (and in season), and avoids buying items when they aren't priced right.

    It doesn't take a lot of overpriced items to eat through the savings of an otherwise careful shopping trip. A few blocks of $3 tofu will do it.

    1. Thanks for the tip about the Asian Supermarket- it wouldn't be as convenient but the non-GMO soybeans might seal the deal.

  5. mrs. christine i have aquestion about Neighborhood Bakery (halal products),it's food for muslim people?


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