The Lure of a Gourmet Grocery Store

What is it about gourmet grocery stores that make me drop all concern for money? Until recently I only had two options for buying groceries: Giant or Safeway. While I can certainly fill a cart full of food in either of these two places I don’t really get excited about cooking or baking when I step into them. I walk in, search for the basic staples and walk out ready to move on to my next errand. It’s in-and-out shopping.

Now if you replace one of those stores with a high end grocery store like Balducci’s then it’s a whole other story. Suddenly I find myself lingering near the dessert case, eyeing each and every loaf of bread in the bakery and walking up and down the seafood section pointing to all of the beautiful fish and shellfish set out on frigid cold ice cubes.

What is it about these stores that lures me in and makes me want to spend, spend, spend. In a typical trip to the grocery store I spend somewhere between $100 and $150. That includes enough food for two solid weeks, plus a bunch of staples that will sit on the pantry shelves until I need them.

In a gourmet grocery store I can spend $150 on a handful of items that won’t last more than a few days. Of course price is the primary issue. Even every day items like hamburger meat or sandwich rolls seem to cost a few dollars more than they do in the average grocery store, but it’s not just that. In a high end grocery store I find myself dreaming of breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Wouldn’t that $25 balsamic dinner taste just delightful on that crusty loaf of freshly baked focaccia bread. How about that $35 pot roast, which won’t be complete without expensive vegetables like fennel and pricey fresh herbs.

It tickles my creative genes and gets me excited about the infinite possibilities for dinner. The only trouble is I can’t seem to make my way out of the grocery store without spending hundreds of dollars.

Does anyone else find themselves lured by gourmet grocery stores? Do you find you can stick to your budget when you go to the local grocery chain, but can’t seem to control your credit card when you step inside someplace a little more fancy?


8 thoughts on “The Lure of a Gourmet Grocery Store”

  1. The only gourmet grocery store I have trouble leaving is Trader Joe’s — and up til recently, there weren’t any in Colorado. You had to go 8 hours drive away to get to a store. (Now there’s one starting up in Boulder.)
    At Trader Joe’s, you’ve got the lure of the bargain getting you to stay! But it seems like the easiest way to keep your purchases down is to only have cash (a certain amount) — or just not go in the store, in the first place.

  2. I’ve given up all hope of a grocery budget in NZ. I don’t have a discount place near enough to bus to, so it’s more convenient to go to the normal grocery stores with the higher prices. It drives me nuts that I spend $500+ a month on groceries alone, but a girl’s gotta eat! I don’t even normally step foot into the gourmet shops, but when I do I am the same as you, dreaming big about food. It all usually ends up as waste, so I go there maybe once or twice a year. Food is the one thing I can’t seem to make myself be frugal about, as I am picky and it affects my health if I restrict myself even more than my palate does.

    • I agree wholeheartedly Sense. While I do try to avoid spending a lot of money at the grocery store I think everyone has their areas for splurging and if good, quality food is high on your list I don’t think it’s such a bad thing. There are much worse vices in the world!

    • Whole Foods produce section gets me every time. I always walk out with the most expensive bag of cherries, grapes or some other fruit I had absolutely no intention of buying šŸ™‚


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