LivingTravelSupermarkets in San Diego: where to get your purchases

Supermarkets in San Diego: where to get your purchases

Whether you live here or visit San Diego, at some point you will need some food… or toilet paper. The chance that you need to find a grocery store for some reason is pretty good. In San Diego, the grocery field is dominated by the big three: Albertsons, Vons, and Ralphs, along with a few smaller local and specialty markets.

A supermarket a supermarket, you say? Not in the highly competitive Southern California market, where you have mega stores offering banking, dry cleaning, Starbucks, and, well, food. Here is a subjective summary of what you are likely to find in the city.

Albertsons

Head-to-head with Vons for the largest presence in San Diego, Albertsons offers its usual supermarket fare. Pro tip: Albertsons has the best fried chicken, and generally the cheapest. Go with their 8 piece chicken dinner, a much better value than KFC.

Vons

As part of the Safeway family, Vons is also your main standard supermarket player. You need a club card for your store discounts, and if you want friendly service and your cashiers to thank you by name (via the club card database and your receipt), this is your place. Most stores are going through makeovers, with softer lighting and more attractive food displays. Pro Tip: Vons with in-store bakeries make some good, fresh muffins.

Ralphs

The third major player, Ralphs is part of the Kroger chain. Prices at Ralphs tend to be slightly higher than Albertsons and Vons, but not by a significant margin. Ralphs also uses a club card for store discounts. Ralphs stores are also not as nice with amenities as Vons or Albertsons. Pro Tip: Ralphs staples are very good quality. And the Ralphs at Hillcrest has one of the best deli / deli sections ever seen in a supermarket.

Whole-grain foods

This unique specialty market offers high-quality (trendy?) Food, as well as more eclectic and health-conscious items and brands. Prices are significantly higher at Whole Foods (hence the nickname “Whole Paycheck”), but the selection is unique. Prepared foods are available, as is a cafeteria and a juice bar. Where else will you go when you need your morning fix of wheatgrass juice?

Cabbage farmers market

This modern local chain specializes in agricultural and grocery products with a healthy lifestyle angle. Along with your carrots and oranges (which are extremely low priced), you can pick up your vitamin supplements while on Sprouts, plus a variety of bulk staples like granola and trail mix.

Trader Joe

This cool chain specializes in quality food at reasonable prices, much of it under the Trader Joe’s brand. Frozen foods are their specialty, as is their eclectic selection of wine and beer, many of which come from boutique wineries and breweries. Irresistible is the wide variety of chocolate sweets, plus it has a growing selection of fresh and packaged products. Pro Tip: Trader Joe’s Frozen Enchiladas are the best investment in terms of quality, and this is the only place you can get your cult-favorite Charles Shaw (Two-Buck Chuck) wine.

Fresh and Easy

You may not have heard of Tesco, but this company is regarded as the WalMart of the UK and Europe. And one of its hallmarks is the Fresh & Easy neighborhood grocery store concept. Smaller than your standard supermarket, Fresh & Easy stores are more than the size of a typical Trader Joe’s. But they are located within neighborhoods, and unlike some independent supermarkets that often have an uneven selection and high prices, Fresh & Easy offers many fresh and healthy food options, including prepared meals and organic foods.

This helps make healthy eating more accessible and affordable. And their own brand Fresh & Easy is the main brand that they stock.

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