A frequent topic of conversation with my clients each week is the multiple of different grocery stores one has to visit each week to purchase healthy food items in Los Angeles. We go to one store for produce (or the Farmer’s market), another store for fish, another for cheese and organic dairy and another for toiletries and home supplies.
I still remember in my youth my Mom going to one grocery store and what we called the “fruit” stand around the corner from our house, which I would compare to our modern day Farmer’s markets. It was a small stand that a local family owned. They sold seasonal produce from their farm and it was always yummy and started my love for fruits and vegetables.
I’ve been thinking about doing a blog on what I buy in various grocery stores in Los Angeles for some time. If you want to chime in or email me this week I will do a follow-up soon to add to this list.
Here’s the list of stores and what I shop for at each one:
Trader Joe’s – one usually has the most purchasing power at Trader Joe’s. Although some of their items come from abroad, many items you can purchase at Whole Foods are actually made for Trader Joe’s with the Trader Joe’s label on them. One item I know is that Straus European yogurt is the same at Trader Joe’s – it just has the Trader Joe’s label on it.
Nuts and Dairy: you can’t beat the price or quality – almonds, dry-roasted sliced almonds individual almond packets, cashews, and peanuts. The dairy I purchase at Trader Joe’s is yogurt, cottage cheese, and cheese. They have all the organic dairy products and European/grass-fed cheese at reasonable prices.
The Co-op – the Co-op in Santa Monica was remodeled in the last two years, and has the friendliest employees. My only complaint is the parking lot so I choose to park on the street.
If you can’t find an unusual item anywhere else, you will probably find it at the Coop. They have good produce, organic dairy, cheese, grass-fed meat and pastured chicken. They have a nice selection of products in bins (seeds, grains, beans, etc.), and loose-leaf teas.
In addition, they have good prices on organic toiletries like lotions and soaps if you need them. If you need an unusual supplement they probably have it as well as people who have worked there for years who are quite knowledgeable. It is worth the $35 dollars per year to join.
Sprouts – fairly new to the Los Angeles area, Sprouts has a great selection of supplements including fish oil, vitamins, ground flax seed, etc.
They also have bins of nuts, seeds, the Spanish raw peanuts I love, and a nice selection of cheese, and produce.
Whole Foods – Jeffrey and I call it whole paycheck for good reason. However, some things you can’t purchase other places. Besides the organic dairy, cottage cheese, and cheeses, they have some good quality prepared foods if you are short on time for lunches and dinners. I am not a fan of their grass-fed meat or wild fish.
Gelson’s – although pricey, shopping at Gelson’s is just a pleasure. They pretty much have everything you need except the supplements and nuts. Amazing produce, European cheese, many interesting choices for prepared foods, etc.
Vincente Foods – for a small store Vincente pretty much has most of what you need. I love that they carry the whole line of grass-fed meat. They also carry the spice line I use at the house – Morton and Bassett – great quality spices in glass jars that make your food taste more amazing than other spice lines. They carry wonderful produce and a few selections of prepared foods.
Bob’s Market – a small grocery store in Ocean Park area that has the best old-fashioned butchers one could ask for. Whatever you need, they will do it. At Thanksgiving we like to have our Turkey butterflied and they do it like none other.
They have a fairly good selection of produce and other grocery store items.
Ralphs/Vons/Pavilions – standard grocery stores that carry basic items like your toilet paper, paper towels, etc. They are starting to carry more organic items, such as cheese, yogurt and produce.
Bristol Farms – I think of Bristol Farms as a small scale Gelson’s – high end products with pleasurable aisles. Bristol Farms is not geographically desirable to living in Santa Monica but my clients east of the 405 enjoy shopping there.
Santa Monica Seafood – since it’s challenging to purchase good quality fish this is about the only place in town or on the westside. I’m always skeptical if the fish labeled “wild” is actually wild or farmed but this establishment seems genuine and the fish I’ve purchased there has always been quality with no fishy smell.
If you want to chime in about what you purchase at these various stores, it might help others to navigate the waters of grocery store shopping in Los Angeles.