How to Survive Meijer | Speed Shopper’s Guide

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I have one goal when shopping: get in and get out as quickly as possible.

Each trip is a chance to set a new record. I like to be the guy that defies all the market research on time spent shopping or path taken. I am direct in my attack, unless there is an attractive set of obstacles in an aisle that I can shred like a slalom course.

I don’t enjoy lingering under the fluorescent lights. If I hear the same song twice, I know I’ve been there far too long. Time spent shopping is time that could be spent eating or sleeping.

Not willing to pay for convenience, I will often drive out of my way to save a few dollars, or even just one dollar. Also not liking to spend money out for lunch, I pack a lunch whenever I can. My office moved downtown making mid-day grocery runs near impossible. That leaves me two options: grocery shop after work (with everyone else) or go during the off hours on the weekend.

Bachelor Tip: Go when others ain’t.

Inspired by the below video, I wanted to give Meijer a shot.

The majority of my grocery shopping takes place at ALDI, Walmart and Mariano’s. Each has their appeal and i’ll tackle how to conquer each in separate posts.

I have accompanied my girlfriend to Meijer but previously never went in of my own volition. That all changed tonight when I stepped into the wonderland that is Meijer.

First observation: HUGE. The stores I have been in are massive. They are like Monstro, the whale in Pinocchio, with stores inside stores. Need clothes? They got ’em. Fishing equipment? Middle back. Next time I go I will have to do a perimeter sweep to get a full idea of what they house in there. My trip had one goal: lunch meat and peanut butter. *Not to be used in conjunction.

I entered on the wrong side. Unlike Walmart, Meijer, or this one at least, has produce and the deli on the left side. I passed the 20+ cash registers en route to the deli area. The prices were on par with Walmart and a bit higher than Mariano’s for what was on sale. A man with a name tag that read “Kenneth” assisted, slicing me a piece to snack on while he sliced the half pound of chipotle chicken breast. He was friendly, an adjective I seldom would use to describe most grocery store employees. On to my next grocery item: mushrooms. Yes, I know. That wasn’t on my mental list. I wasn’t satisfied with the picked over ‘shroom options, so I skipped them. Nothing against the store on this one. When I shop at 8PM on a Monday night, I don’t expect fully stocked shelves.

Back to my list. Peanut butter for homemade egg rolls. I hugged the far wall and scanned each aisle for peanut butter, bread or jelly, since these are usually grouped together. No such luck. Here’s another tip for surviving Meijer. Bring binoculars. The aisles aren’t really aisles as much as really high walls that disappear in the horizon. Remember learning about vanishing points in art class? Yeah, that’s every aisle at Meijer. After serpentining my way and not finding peanut butter, I found a staffer tidying a center display. I asked if she knew where the PB was. In her gravely voice, she said she didn’t, but then she started walking with me on our quest. “They change stuff all the time,” she said as we walked and scanned. Then, there it was in the signage high above aisle 13. PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY. It was the second item listed. One of these days I need to learn how to read.

I grabbed Brownberry Oatnut bread, which was on sale for $2 (normally it’s $3-4), and headed toward the checkout. The store was pretty empty, then again it would take a stadium of people to make that place seem full. I walked into the empty self checkout aisle and scanned my four items. Each rang up correctly and I didn’t get yelled at that something was missing from the bagging area. The pay terminals had the little logo to use tap to pay, so I tried using Apple Pay. My primary card was out of date, otherwise it would have worked and I could have been out even faster without handling a card.

After the woman helped me locate the PB, I thanked her for her help and she began walking away to continue her evening responsibilities. She did something I have rarely experienced in a grocery. She turned around and sincerely said “thanks for choosing Meijer.” And there it is. Where we shop is a choice. I often choose cost ahead of anything else. But there’s something special about a store that helps you and conveys it values your business.

Cheap, fast & marginally healthy dinner

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I made pasta sauce Sunday afternoon. It was by no means remarkable. It took about 45 minutes to cook. I started with diced onion, garlic, baby Bella mushrooms and a two cans of crushed tomatoes. Despite all that work, it essentially tasted like a pop-top jar of sauce.

Commuting into the city necessitates making meals ahead on the weekend. Whether that means a soup, sauce, or a bunch of grilled or cooked chicken, any advance cooking sets you up for having healthy meals during the week.

Tonight, I stopped at the grocery after getting off the train. While sprinting down the aisles in my post-work famine/rage, I grabbed one hot Italian sausage link from the butcher, fresh spinach and fruit.

I sliced the sausage link into half-inch pieces to expedite the cooking process. I heated a small skillet with a teaspoon of olive oil. Then add the sliced sausage into the hot pot. That took about six minutes to cook. I then washed and ripped up a handful of spinach. After removing the sausage from the pan, add the spinach to sauté quickly with salt and fresh cracked pepper. I added the leftover pasta with sauce to the pan. Once that was warm, I added in the crispy and spicy sausage.

You could also add grilled or seared chicken breast. Or if you are really fancy, steak. If you are vegetarian and somehow are lost on this blog, you could add in a mix of frozen or fresh veggies like peppers and sliced onion to bulk up and freshen the dish.

The meal with sausage, spinach and pasta cost about $4.

It won’t win any awards, but it will satisfy your hunger on a Wednesday night.
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