I’m going to preface this post by saying that grocery shopping, as a chore, is not my favorite thing to do – like, you know: a list, ingredients for recipes, milk, eggs, etc. As a military spouse, I have also equated the trudge of regular grocery store trips with the commissaries in Japan and Guam, which somehow made grocery shopping even more depressing…but, now we’re in SAN DIEGO!
We have been in San Diego for 6 months, which is insane. I’ve finally come up with a weekly routine, which includes Monday as my grocery shopping day. I LOVE to eat out, so I get us enough food for snacks and meals during the week. I usually don’t cook at all over the weekends with the exception of Sunday dinner. I’ve been alternating my Monday shopping trips with the commissary at the 32nd Street Navy Base one week, and the Trader Joe’s in Mission Valley on the other. I supplement with trips to Northgate and Pancho Villa for our Mexican food needs, an occasional trip to Zion for Korean supplies, and we have also been getting a Farm Fresh To You Box from Suzie’s Farm for the past few months, which is fabulous!
The 32nd Street Commissary is the biggest and most well-stocked Commissary I’ve ever been to. It will take you at least an hour to walk through all the aisles, which is wonderful and not-so at the same time. They have a huge produce department with organic offerings, and lots of brand variety for any item you might be seeking. But, it is still a Commissary, which means making sure to have cash to tip the baggers, and the checkout lines can be frighteningly long at times. It is to be avoided at all costs over the weekends – the traffic getting onto base gets backed up, and the parking situation is even worse. This place is either busy or SUPER busy. I come here to get our necessities because the price is right.
I am also known to sometimes frequent the Coronado Base Commissary if I want a quick run. There are never people there, and it is a small store, but it is easy to pop in and out in no time at all. Check it out if you want a more peaceful experience than the hustle of 32nd Street.
I like the Trader Joe’s in Mission Valley because the parking sucks – but not as bad as it sucks at the other locations, ha, ha, dagger. I will admit to this shopping experience being much better than my Commissary trips, though I now have a list of items I like from Trader Joe’s, so it isn’t as fun as it was when we first arrived. There is always something new to try at TJ’s, so I appreciate that. My latest TJ obsessions are: Riced Cauliflower, Lemon Bars (so yum), Orange Chicken (tastes just like Panda Express, don’t judge), and Pickle flavored popcorn. Wow, that is a really impressive list of nutrition-less food! #Momoftheyear.
My supplemental trips are to either Northgate or Pancho Villa, which are definitely my most fun grocery shopping ventures. These Mexican grocery stores are both equally wonderful, in my opinion. To be honest, my go-to items here are the prepared foods. I grab piping hot, fresh flour or corn tortillas, some pollo adobado or asada, freshly made guacamole, salsa verde, and refried beans. Add a side of veggies, and dinner is served! So, I always pick those things up, and then I spend the rest of the time browsing.
The meat selection is mind boggling. The pre-marinated carne and pollo asada are musts for BBQ’s. The avocados are super cheap, so I grab those, and then I marvel at all of the freshly baked breads and the colorful array of pan dulce. Northgate has a deli counter just dedicated to different kinds of ceviche. Swoon. Pancho Villa features a freestanding island where women make tortillas in front of your eyes, and put them into a bag, piping hot for you to take home. I dare you not to hide in your backseat and stuff one into your mouth on the ride home. I do it every time – and Estelle enjoys the treat, too! These tortillas have completely ruined me – omg, try one with Nutella smeared inside – heat it up in the microwave for a few seconds. Thank me later.
I’ve made a couple trips to Zion Market on Convoy Street for Korean staples like Kimchi and pre-marinated bulgogi. They have a great prepared foods section, and a pretty stellar food court and bakery. They also have great Korean cosmetic lines for sale here. After wandering around grocery stores in Asia for the past few years, Zion isn’t such a big departure, and if I want Korean food, we usually just go out.
Now that we have a toddler, exposure to a variety of veggies and fruits has been important to me. To help with this, I rely fairly heavily on my organic produce delivery box from Farm Fresh To You. We get a box of organic, locally grown produce delivered to our doorstep every other week – I love it. The best part about this box is that you can customize it. That’s right, you actually get to pick what goes into your box, so nothing goes to waste. There are always so many fruits and veggies to choose from, so it is really fun to customize your box (that sounds dirty, sorry, had to). You can make adjustments online up to the day before your delivery, which is awesome! Their online interface is easy to use, and their customer service is excellent. I’ve also been able to halt deliveries if I am out of town through my account online with no issues. I really love this service, and would recommend it to anyone.
My next fun food shopping outing will be a gourmet store. I’ve heard great things about the food shops in Del Mar. I’ve also been meaning to try Boney’s in Coronado.
So, that is my grocery shopping game in San Diego so far. Have you tried any of these places? What are your favorite haunts for fun food shopping or serious food shopping in San Diego?