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Supermarket Secrets

March 14, 2012

I love grocery stores. I do. I love just walking in, strolling down the lanes, and scanning the shelves. What I’m lacking is Mr. Dave’s eagle eye for the truly bizarre, but I do pretty well at spotting the occasional treasure.

Just recently on my first outing to Aldi I found an 8.5 ounce bottle of Canadian Grade A maple syrup for just $3.99. For the record, Aldi is nothing like Trader Joe’s, even though they may be owned by the same company. Well, maybe they share the same love of private label brands, but the ones in Aldi are filled with dreck.

Plus Aldi has a strange smell, and the lighting makes everyone look sickly. Yet even here there was something worthwhile to buy.

Savvy shoppers know that some supermarkets have special features that may not be readily apparent to the naked eye. These are not simply interesting or hard to find products. No, these are better.

Now here’s the deal. I’m going to share a few of my favorites and I fully expect you to cough up some other ones in return. That’s what the comments are for, please use them.

Free childcare at the Niskayuna Price Chopper
Wow. It’s like a little bit of Ikea in Albany. This is a place to stash your toilet-trained kids for up to two hours, with responsible adults, while you shop and maybe relax with a cup of coffee. Simply amazing.

The first time I ever saw something similar was in rural Pennsylvania at a store called Giant Eagle. That was before I had kids of my own and I thought of all the awful parents who couldn’t manage to bring their kids through the store without fits. After all, isn’t grocery shopping with your kids an opportunity to be a great parent?

Now I’d put my little ones in the care of Price Chopper in a heartbeat.

To be fair, I have yet to take advantage of the service, but I have a mom-friend who will not shop anywhere else thanks to this service. Maybe one day I’ll grab coffee with her while our kids play together in the Price Chopper childcare. It’s brilliant.

Battery recycling at the Honest Weight Food Co-op
The co-op has presumably a lot of awesome hidden benefits going for it, but my favorite is a battery recycling bin. I really hope you know that it’s a very bad idea to throw batteries in the trash. We collect ours in a bag, and when it’s time to re-up on our bulk bin purchases or stock up on organic apples, I try to remember to make a dead battery deposit to ensure these nasty chemical things will be disposed of safely.

Complementary dietician counseling at ShopRite
Albany Jane recently brought me back to the Niskayuna ShopRite to meet with their corporate nutritionist. Even though I covered the opening of the store for All Over Albany, I completely missed the little glass alcove by the pharmacy that houses the office of their on-site dietician.

The amazing thing is that anyone can call ahead and make an appointment with her and learn how they themselves can eat better – free of charge. So say your doctor tells you to lower your cholesterol.  You can sit down with the dietician, and not only will you learn about the connection between diet and health, but she’ll walk you around the store showing you specific products that you should be eating.

This does not have to be just for a medical necessity. Say you want to eat lower on the food chain, or you are interested in eating cleaner foods (less processed, with fewer synthetic pesticides/herbicides/fungicides), or removing high fructose corn syrup from your diet. She’s here to help.

But you do not need an appointment to pop in with a question about some unusual vegetable or to request a healthful recipe (the office is conveniently located by the produce section). She also conducts regular classes that can be found on a calendar of events.

– – –

Surely there are other amazing things out there at our local supermarkets. I just happened to stumble onto these. We are all friends, and you shouldn’t keep secrets from friends.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. March 14, 2012 10:28 am

    Another plus on the child care: tv monitors set up around the store so you can see what your little one is doing as you shop. Price Chopper also has a kiosk at the deli section where you can put your order in on a touchscreen display, and have a text sent to your phone when it’s ready. No more waiting at the deli counter!

  2. March 14, 2012 12:44 pm

    Hannaford offers nutrition classes with tours of the store to point out healthy eating options.

  3. March 14, 2012 3:39 pm

    This is a very informative post, Mr. B. Also, the calendar of events link is sad panda.

  4. Kerosena permalink
    March 14, 2012 3:40 pm

    The SEFCU branch at the Slingerlands Price Chopper is open 7 days a week, and on most “bank holidays.”

    Due to unusual schedules in our household, it makes the most sense for us to do our banking on Sundays. Sunday bank hours have been incredibly valuable to us.

    Also, as Lydia said above, the ordering kiosk at Slingerlands has been useful on those Sunday mornings because the store is usually hoppin’ with customers.

  5. Amy permalink
    March 14, 2012 3:46 pm

    Before holidays the Hannaford on Central (and maybe the others, but that’s the one I shop at) has craft projects for kids. They have a table set up at the front and a friendly grandmotherly employee helping the kids. I shop on Saturday mornings and that’s when I see it. Last Saturday they were decorating 4 leaf clovers for St Patrick’s day.

    The same Hannaford used to grill burgers and hot dogs on Saturdays in front of the store. I don’t know if they still do it since the guy who did the grilling passed away last year.

  6. March 14, 2012 5:07 pm

    Last time I was at HW, they told me they had discontinued their battery recycling. Can you confirm they’ve resumed it?

    As for extra services, I vote for the Ben and Bill’s Deli inside the Saratoga and Slingerlands (or is it Guilderland?) PC? It’s not free child care, but you can order an excellent NY deli-style sandwich and they’ll make it while you shop.

  7. March 14, 2012 6:10 pm

    I find a lot of things at Aldi to like. Frozen berries, and frozen wild caught salmon filets are staples that I pick up there. They have limited runs of special foods regularly, and I found the goat cheese they sold a few weeks ago to be very good. I also am a big fan of the Moser Roth chocolates (which I’m sure you won’t like, because they aren’t fair trade and do use lecithin, but I’ve found I really prefer the flavor and texture of their 85% to any others I’ve tried from other brands). They did have a Lifeway kefir special in the last couple of weeks or so, for a buck less than the Hannaford generic brand. It’s worth a trip if it’s not totally out of your way, and if you skip the processed food.

  8. March 15, 2012 1:27 am

    I didn’t know the Co-Op did that. You should cover the positive side of a battery with tape or a sticker before recycling. When battery terminals touch, they can generate heat and cause a leak or fire.

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