Theme: Healthy and Organic Foods
Pros: Prepared Food Options, Fresh Fish and Meats, Produce Options, Unique food items, Cool Factor
Cons: Cost, Difficult to find typical ingredients
I love the healthy options and homemade prepared foods at Whole Foods. I usually go here when I want an excellent cut of meat, fresh prepared sausage or ground meat, fresh seafood, and desserts. Their produce is quality but the prices are too high for my liking; especially when I have other store options. I rarely buy any pre-packaged foods from here for the same reason. In a pinch, this is a good place to go when you need a prepared lunch or dinner on the go. Most stores have a salad/soup bar, impressive deli counter, and a hot food bar with varying options. Some of the larger stores even have a beer/wine bar inside. All in all, this is a lifestyle store and not for someone on a budget.
Theme: Traditional Grocery Store
Pros: Wide Fresh and Frozen Seafood Selection, Cheese Bar, Sales on Canned Goods
Cons: Cost, Difficult to find unique food items, Deli and Bakery Goods not Homemade
Marsh is a major chain grocer in Indiana so it's your typical grocery store set up. Each store is different but the store I shop at went through a major renovation within the last couple of years. The renovation improved their produce, deli, sushi, seafood, meat, wine/beer/liquor, bakery, and hot/cold food bar areas. While the renovations did improve the store, the quality of their prepared food options is not that great and does not appear to be fresh or homemade. Additionally, many of their pre-packaged food items are more expensive than at competing stores. This store is the closest to my home so I usually go here when I need a few things quickly. I also go here occasionally for seafood. They have an extensive frozen seafood section, including various fish varieties, crab legs, lobster, scallops, shrimp, etc. All in all, it's a solid neighborhood store but again, not the place to shop if you're on a budget.
Theme: Everything under the sun
Cons: Size, Difficult to find unique food items, No Quality Deli, Bakery, or Hot/Cold Food Bars
I love Target!!!! And I love Super Target even more!!!!! I can just about get everything I need in life at this store. I used to do most of my grocery shopping here but recently I have changed my (and by default, the family's) diet to more clean eating and less processed foods so Target is no longer on the top of my list. I still shop here for canned or pre-packaged foods when I need them because they tend to have the best prices. I also get most of the family's personal care goods (e.g. lotion, toothpaste, medicine, diapers, etc.) from here. The produce section exists but is…ehh. You can find some good deals on fruit sometimes but it's not necessarily the best quality. There also isn't a fresh meat department which is a must for our family. All in all, it's an awesome place, especially if you're on a budget, but doesn't offer many options for fresh and healthy foods.
Theme: Healthy and Unique Foods
Pros: Cost, Wine, Produce, HMO-free meats, Healthier Pre-packaged Food Options, Unique Food Items
Cons: Difficult to find typical food items, Limited Produce Selection, No Fresh Meat/Seafood Section, No Hot/Cold Food Bars
I find myself shopping here the most as of late. I appreciate the small size of the store and know that I can get in and get out without a fuss. I also appreciate the friendly customer service. Because the store is so small I know where everything is and can order my shopping accordingly. Their fresh foods and packaged fresh (and previously frozen) meats are consistently of good quality. They have an awesome wine selection at varying price levels. Most important, their prices are reasonable and don't fluctuate. What they are lacking is a fresh meat/seafood counter, deli counter, and hot/cold food bars; but I suspect if they included these things, it would slow down the customers ability to get in/out of the store quickly. All in all, this store has cornered the market on how to present healthy food options in an non-intimidating way. And it doesn't break the bank.
Theme: Traditional Grocery Store
Pros: Cost, Improved Produce and Organic Foods Section, Improved Deli and Bakery
Cons: Better Store Alternatives
Kroger is a national chain grocer. The store closest to me just went through a major renovation in order to compete with a new grocery store that just opened across the street (Fresh Thyme). Before the renovation, the store wasn't that great. The lighting was dark, the produce wasn't especially inviting, and the fresh meat/seafood section was limited. Since the renovation, the produce section is brighter and has more options overall but has specifically added more organic options. The deli and bakery have also been expanded, and they have added an aisle specifically dedicated to healthier pre-packaged foods. While I appreciate the updates, it almost feels like it's a little too late. However, what they do have going for them are their prices, which for the most part, are pretty reasonable. They also run a lot of specials and accept most coupons. All in all, it's a solid grocery option now that they have updated the store.
Theme: Healthy Food and Personal Care Store
Pros: Bulk Food Section, Deli, Fresh Fish Section
Cons: Cost, Difficult to find typical food items
This store is less than a month old so it's still working out it's identity. It's had a lot of good sales/specials during its first weeks of opening but I have a feeling those prices won't last. It reminds me of whole foods but not as good. I also don't like the way the store is arranged. It seems a little disjointed and this makes it difficult to find things. What I do like about it is the bulk food section. It's self serve and you can select the amount of grains, legumes, nuts, dried fruit, and candy you want. A bonus are the machines that churn out fresh nut butters. My favorite is the roasted honey peanut butter. The deli and fresh seafood sections are solid and offer great quality selections. They also have a fresh juice bar which is pretty cool (unfortunately, it's stuck in the back and unnoticeable unless you're already back there for something else). The pre-packaged foods are limited in selection and are more expensive than the same/similar good at other stores. All in all, the store needs some more time to find its identity but will probably land somewhere between Whole Foods and Trader Joe.
AND THE WINNER IS…
Like I mentioned, Trader Joe is my go to store for the ease of the shopping experience, quality of the goods, and reasonable prices. When I need something Trader Joe doesn't have I usually shop at Super Target or Fresh Thyme (which has edged out Whole Foods).