Throwback Post- Grocery shopping in 1999

Back in 1999, I used to do the grocery shopping with my mom. At the time, we lived in an apartment on the second floor, all 8 of us. And I still remember most of what we did on those shopping days.

In our house my Dad and I were the only ones who knew how to drive, and we were in charge of getting everybody else around.

We had a routine for groceries, we would not buy all of our groceries in one place, we simply couldn't afford it. And if there is one person in the world who can stretch a $1 as far as possible, that is my mother. So after our Saturday work shift at To-Jo Mushrooms, we would head out to the following places

The Fruit/ Vegetable stand in Kennett Square- We would buy all and any produce there. 3 lbs of tomatoes, 2 lbs of Bananas, 6 apples, Onions, cucumbers, lettuce, cabbage, lettuce. Now, we didn't splurge on things that would not get eaten quick, like Strawberries, Mangos, or Avocados. This gave me some sort of trauma, because I didn't find myself feeling able to buy avocados until many years later.

Then we would head out to The Barn in Maryland. It is not actually called the Barn, but that is the name we gave it. Now, hold on to hear the story of this magical Barn Place.

Oxford PA is about 25 minutes from Maryland, and we had found this amazing barn place because my Dad took us there once for their Flea Market Mondays. We ventured out there on our own, because my dad refused to take us on Non -Flea Market Days.

Anyway, the barn sold bulk items that nobody in a regular grocery store would want. That could be cans with a dent, boxes that were smashed up, boxes that had a cut or tear, items that were single (as in 1 granola bar from a box of 60), all at bottom shelf prices. So back then a can of corn would run about $0.60 and a can of corn at the Barn was 3 cans for $1. None of the food items were expired, only slightly damaged.

The Barn never had the same things, so we had to rummage through the things that they had that week. A few times we got lucky and found awesome things, some of our best finds were: A giant can of corn, a 3 gallon bottle of corn oil, a 10 lbs. sack of rice, all staples for our meals. I also still clearly remember buying 20 rolls of TP every time we went there.
I found out years later, that the Barn sold items that were take out of the BJs Wholesale Club because they were damaged or returned.
After our car was loaded up to the top with our wonderful finds, we would head to The Dollar General for Cereals, cookies and toiletries. The Barn rarely had this products by the time we got there.

Our meats and daily came from the regular Grocery store.

I used to enjoy all the driving around and coming home with bags and bags of groceries for my family. My brothers were little and whenever we took them to the Barn, they would treat it as a treasure hunt. Now they are big and spoiled... I love those boys!

Now your turn,
Do you have any Grocery shopping memories ? or is that a weird thing to have memories of?
Anything that you were not allowed to buy growing up and now love?
Are you a savvy shopper? 
Have you ever been to a magical place like the Barn?


  1. I really do love reading all of your throwback posts sharing details from when you were growing up! I think our families had a lot in common. My mom is also one who was very focused on stretching every little penny possible. She spent so much time cutting coupons, looking at grocery store ads, and plotting out the strategy for how to get the best deals. Anytime something was on clearance or major sale, my mom would stock up big-time. When the stores had the "Limit 1 per customer" sales, sometimes my mom would buy one, drop it off in the car, then come back and buy another one at a different cash register. =) So many little tricks of the trade!

    1. Oh my god Emily! My mom would load up on things too ! Once we had a limit one per customer and she wanted to buy 4 of whatever it was, so she made me and 2 other sisters go, we each paid for one of the items, she was so proud of herself !

      Moms are so awesome at doing so much for us!

  2. I really enjoyed reading this post!

    I don't remember getting to go grocery shopping when I was young child very much -- I think my mother probably prized it as time away from the house and a break from us. The first time I really started to experience grocery shopping and trying to budget and plan meals in a more comprehensive way was when I went away to college. Because food items are so expensive where I live now (most things have to be shipped up), I feel like my dollar can't get stretched very far at all.

    1. Thank you Raquelita! I think I need to do a post of how we did grocery shopping in Mexico too, because it was completely different. My mom used to have all sorts of things delivered to the house.

      What are the things that your order to have delivered ?

  3. I love these TBT posts and I love learning about what growing up was like for you. Who knew grocery shopping could be such an adventure! I feel like I was never very aware of the ins and outs of groceries when I was younger. I remember my mom using coupons, but I also mostly just remember being annoyed but the cold section of the grocery store and how long the trips seemed to take!

    1. Thank you Ali! I enjoy writing them, and if at least one person enjoys them, that makes me very happy !

      I still don't like the cold section of the grocery store, so I'm with you on that one !!

  4. It's nice you have such fond memories of spending time with your mom and grocery shopping for your family! My very first memories of grocery shopping was going over to Bell's Grocery which was a tiny little mom and pop type place that you would expect to see in the 60s or something like that. We would walk two blocks into town and I particularly remember her getting meats there. The store no longer exists. In fact, years later my mom opened a women's clothing store in that very building! Now it is a catering place. Man I would have never thought of Bell's had I not read your post!

    1. Thank you Megan! Bells sounds like a really cool place! There used to be a store like that in Nottingham Pa, small and with really old refrigerators and old shelves.

  5. I'm a super savvy shopper, mostly because wasting $$$ is ridiculous, especially if I can't taste the difference between two brands.

    I specifically remember wanting name brand Hamburger Helper SO BADLY, but my Mom cooked 99% of our meals at home from scratch, so I never got it. And when I finally lived on my own & could cook my own food I went on a HH BINGE for like 3 weeks straight. I also recently told her this & she laughed so hard. She used to make her own version of it, which was fairly identical, but I didn't believe it because it didn't come in the box.

    1. Jessie, I completely feel you on the hamburger helper! My mom refused to buy it, she didn't like the fkavors, and would make her own versions of it. And like you,when I was on my own, I bought 3 boxes of the stuff! But I hated it !

      Do you still get hamburger helper? Did you ask your mom for her recipes ?


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