Ethnic Grocery Stores in California are Cheaper for Produce, Meat and Spices

Living in Southern California, it’s painful to shop at large mainstream grocers like Vons, Ralphs, and Albertsons. To save on fresh produce and groceries, we shop at local ethnic grocery stores. The Mexican grocery stores sell dry beans for $.69/pound and seasonal produce for under a dollar/pound.

These ethnic grocers (Chinese (NOT 99 Ranch!), Armenian, and Mexican) also sell local produce so most of the produce is from California. Usually when one shops at the mainstream stores, produce is from Chile or other exotic locals. It’s true that the produce at the mainstream stores may be “prettier”, but the less attractive produce at the ethnic stores taste just as good (or even better because they are fresher and riper) as the produce at the mainstream stores. Also spices are at least 75% less than the spices sold at the mainstream stores.

The meat is cheaper and shopping at a combination of Trader Joe’s and ethnic stores, we spend about $30/person/week for our household. I rarely use canned goods and everything that I buy is fresh or if it’s beans, it’s dry.

The trick is to keep a few of these stores on your radar. Sometimes the quality of the produce may drop at one, so that’s usually when you stop by the other ethnic stores on your list.