I’m covering the big ones today, but this is NOT comprehensive! There are so many little markets where you can find great foods that are culture specific – one of my favorites that fits this description is United Noodles but I could do an entire video and post on that place alone.
Today is more about soothing the furrowed brows of worried transplants. There are definitely your hometown local things that you may miss, but I can assure you that you’ll find other items that make your mouth happy here. Minnesota has been the beneficiary of several groups of refugees and with these people come their foods, so we now have more diverse options even at big box grocery stores.
I’m going to start out with my main squeeze – Costco. I love this store and even though there are only 3 people in my family, and no matter what you buy you get a LOT of it at Costco, I still shop there. They carry a little bit of everything – including the kitchen sink! You can get kitchen appliances, large and small, TV’s, books, and clothes, but I go there for their produce – we eat a lot of fresh fruit and the quality is amazing. I also love their meat and seafood selection, well priced and high quality, they are famous for their $5 rotisserie chickens… Other things that are a regular purchase for price and quality – milk, eggs, butter, cheese, anything for laundry and cleaning, TP, paper towels, coffee! There is a membership fee, but you get cash back on every purchase – up to 4% on another favorite feature- gasoline, which is priced lower as well.
My husband & I have bought insurance through Costco, we bought a car through their auto program, it’s just a great place to shop. If you care about company ethics – they pay a living wage to all their workers and if you love great customer service, they take ANYTHING back no questions asked no matter how far past the purchase date. That sense of security make me spend way more money in the store and on their web site too.
We also have national grocery store options that you’re probably very familiar with – Target is headquartered here in Minneapolis and I bet we have more Targets per capita than any other state, Walmart is here, and HyVee is starting to pop up in the suburbs. I am not as familiar with HyVee, but have been in one and it had a full “food-court” area of prepared foods, along with an enormous store that reminds me a bit of Cub Foods, which is a local option…
Cub Foods is a midwestern chain with stores in MN and IL, the store is enormous and the selections are great. They have everything you would expect in a large grocery store, but I do think of Cub as more of a budget store. You will bag your own groceries, there is no carry out service, I think it’s profit model is based on volume.
Another budget friendly option that is springing up all over is Aldi. Aldi has a decent selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, but the store is mainly focused on package goods. The packages will look familiar, but not exactly the same – Aldi has a LOT of store brand packaged items that are reminiscent of bigger brands. If you aren’t super stuck on an actual brand name, I’ve heard great things from people that love to shop at Aldi. One quirk that you should be ready for is having your quarter ready to release the cart – you get it back when you put the cart back. Oddly this isn’t the first time I’ve seen this.
The Twin Cities is also home to a couple of very local chains – Lund’s and Byerly’s and Kowalski’s. These are the two I shop at most for my everyday needs mainly because I’m under a mile from either one.
Kowalski’s market is cozy and they have higher end brands of food – free range chicken, lots of organic veg and boxed items, they have an extensive hot food area, you can order to go specifically to what you want to have or you can pick up salads, sandwiches or heat and eat food. One of my favorite things is the soup bar – it’s delicious and perfect when you’re out running around but don’t want to eat fast food. This is the store I would come to for my cheese fix. They focus a lot on local suppliers and you can find some really wonderful choices here from MN and WI.
Kowalski’s bakes all of their pastries and bread on site. They have a small gift area in every store that has some charming items that you would not suspect of being from a grocery if you need to grab a quick gift for someone. Kowalski’s does carry out to your car, and they deliver as well.
Lunds… Lund’s is what I think of as a middle ground – not huge like Cub or Costco. It feels friendly and the right size for everyday shopping. Lunds is a full service grocery – they bag and carry out for you. They have increased their focus on including organics, if that is a concern you will be OK shopping there. They also sell things like dog food, cleaning supplies etc, but in my opinion you can do far better for that type of thing elsewhere. I stick to food here. Withe the exception of a few locations, this is not really a place to go grab a sandwich or soup, this grocery sticks pretty closely to its original mission.
If you ARE committed to organics or sustainably sourced foods – the Twin Cities has a large number of food Co-Ops that you can shop at – you can buy a membership and pay slightly lower prices, or not. Anyone can shop there.
In addition to co-ops, we of course have Whole Foods Market – or “whole paycheck” as it’s known. It’s not inexpensive to shop there, but they have things you won’t find elsewhere and generally their produce section looks like a work of art, so if you need a pleasant shopping experience or are just used to the brands that Whole Foods has you can continue to enjoy that here. A couple of my favorite things are the really amazing hot food selection at lunch and I believe dinner hours too, as well as their bakery, where you can find really beautiful pastries that might be too pretty to eat.
Any other lifestyle questions? I’m always looking for content ideas that people want to dig into! Let me know.