There is a lot to brag about when it comes to Austin: the tacos, the live music, the beauty of the Texas Hill Country, the overall lifestyle, and more. Looking at our restaurant scene, abundance of food trucks, unique food festivals, and more — it’s obvious this is a town that loves its FOOD! And so it goes, we have some amazing grocery stores around these parts.
Sure, there are the favorites I had when we first moved to Austin and lived downtown…the days when we could decide at the last minute what we were in the mood for at dinner. These first loves are top-notch and deserve a mention: Wheatsville Co-Op, Whole Foods Market flagship, Central Market, and Thom’s Market. Now that I’ve got two preschoolers and am knee-deep in snacks.
If you’re bringing the littles along with you, here are the best grocery stores in Austin:
- H-E-B: By far, an Austin favorite. H-E-B is just the best! I love the big & bright race car-shaped shopping carts, the ample samples throughout the store, and the reliable stock of all my staples. It’s a grocery brand I grew up with and is kind of a hometown hero in my book. They donate to a ton of local charitable organizations, sent truckloads of resources to hurricane-ravaged areas along our Gulf coast, and are proudly Texas-owned. Plus, there’s the Buddy Bucks program which allows kids to insert ‘bucks’ received at checkout into a machine comparable to “The Big Wheel” on The Price is Right. You can collect points that print out, but we skip that part. Mine are so little that simply playing the game is a hoot. When there’s an “Instant Winner,” we all cheer like crazy and make a big deal of it. Such a cute idea that makes grocery shopping exciting for little kids!
- Aldi: If you’re a babe on a budget, nobody beats Aldi’s prices. There are jaw-dropping prices on basics like conventional milk & eggs, but I appreciated the price points on extras like nuts/seeds, fresh florals, and organic health foods. This German-born chain is commonplace in the Midwest but we’ve got only one location in the Austin-area. Is it worth a drive out to Pflugerville? Depends. If your main goals are to save money and feed a big family, then yes, Aldi is definitely worth stopping by. Or, if you’re just into checking out new grocery stores like me (Nerd Alert!), it’s worth experiencing the unique way they operate. See, there are some quirks: shopping carts require a quarter to operate and grocery bags aren’t included with purchase, so bring both. Also, there are few name-brand items (most things are in-house labels) but that’s where the savings come in. It’s a bit amusing to see the similarities between their generic labels and the name brand stuff…the resemblance is uncanny!
- Trader Joe’s: There are loads of things to love about Trader Joe’s, where do I begin? Let’s start outside: my daughter enjoys posing for a pic in front of their wooden carnival cut-outs. In the entry: they have child-sized shopping carts so littles can push alongside you. In the back: there’s always a sample of coffee & cooked food waiting for ya. And finally, all around: the cult-favorite products abound. Some of my favorite Trader Joe’s finds: the fresh flowers (orchids, in particular), frozen appetizers, coffee products like the cold brew concentrate, 19-cent bananas, 99-cent greeting cards, and cold-pressed organic virgin coconut oil.