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Monday, March 23, 2009

Kinnelon NJ's Pathmark and Stop&Shop Grocery Stores

Kinnelon's main 2 Grocery Stores are Stop & Shop and Pathmark.

It's worth noting that both stores have web sites, as evidenced by the links above -- interestingly the Pathmark site is quite extensive, and offers Internet or web only specials and coupons as well as email notification of specials and sales.

You can click on items in Pathmark's weekly circular to add to a printable shopping list. I was surprised -- it's actually pretty cool. Pathmark is even on YouTube for goodness' sake. Weird but true. Facebook, too!

OK, what are these stores good for?

Obviously they are grocery stores, but still there are differences, beyond the fact the Stop & Shop is smaller and Pathmark bigger.

And they are our closest stores -- they are convenient. And the prices are OK -- if you buy the items on sale. There is a huge variation in cost from regular to sale price.

For many items the 2 stores are interchangeable -- if you are coming home north on Rt 23, it's often easier to hit Stop & Shop; going the other way, Pathmark can be more convenient.

But beyond that.

Well, I often find that Stop & Shop has better prices on produce, cheaper Vidalia onions, plum tomatoes, better hot peppers, cheaper sweet bell peppers, cheaper scallions and so on.

They consistently have grated carrots, specials on fruit, and cheaper mushrooms. We often buy 10 lbs of sweet onions at a time and with a $.50 to sometimes $1.00 difference in price we can save 5 to 10 bucks on onions alone.

Stop & Shop has better cold cuts, hands down, no contest. The Stop & Shop house brand is excellent, and they have Boar's Head premium, too, which I like at a higher price point. Stop & Shop's house brand Virginia Ham and turkey breast are really good as are their other cold cuts.

Pathmark's aren't so good, and their Dietz and Wesson cold cuts have an off flavor I do not care for. Prices are higher, too.

Pathmark has a wonderful rice selection, huge and good, and they offer my newest favorite, Carolina brand Jasmine which we buy in 20 lb bags. Boy, is it good. Try making it in a rice cooker with 2 cups of rice, 3 cups of water, 1 TBS of powdered chicken stock, 1 finely chopped onion, and 3 TBS of butter.

Stop & Shop has better muffins, and a higher end selection of baking staples.

Meats are comparable; the selection at Pathmark is better and Pathmark runs specials that are truly cheap. We recently bought loin lamb chops on special at $3.99 per lb! Pathmark regularly runs a Black Angus strip steak or ribeye special at $5 per lb or less.

I am not crazy about the fish at either place -- the Pathmark fish doesn't look super fresh to me, and their shellfish is mediocre; I know we've had the clams and mussels -- had to throw out 1/3 of the mussels and clams -- they were dead. Stop & Shop's selection is minimal, but seems to be OK.

Pathmark has the excellent and cheap A & P (they are owned by A & P) Master Choice brand frozen shrimp -- 2 lbs of 26 to 30 count at $12 -- great price, and great shrimp. Stop & Shop's very limited fish selection is fresh and good; I have tried their wrapped salmon and trout and it was well priced and fine.

So my rule of thumb is, for produce or deli, first I try Stop & Shop, for paper towels, baggies, cleaning stuff, and the like, I go to Pathmark. For something a little higher end, capers, for instance, or cornichons, Stop & Shop will have it when Pathmark will not. Bakery goods, I like Stop & Shop.

It's important to remember, too, that specials rule -- you can get many items regularly at close to 1/2 price if you buy enough to tide you over to the next sale; those specials come around once a month or so. If you like the Black Angus steaks at $4.99 per lb, buy 'em and freeze them. Every 6 weeks or so Pathmark has a 2 for 1 sale on vitamins.

The specials have yellow tags and you can just go from yellow tag to yellow tag. Who cares if you buy Hotel Bar butter instead of Land O'Lakes if you save $2 per lb?

And of course, I do always remember that BJ's is the first choice, except in convenience: every gallon of milk you buy at BJ's saves you 2 bucks, every pound of butter, at least 1 dollar, every cooked chicken, $2 or more ... the list goes on.

By the way, did you know that Stop & Shop offers store tours for children?

Other posts in this series:

+ BJ’s (Cheap) Gourmet Food Store in Riverdale NJ
+ Corrado's in Wayne, NJ -- Foodie Destination
+ Zeytinia -- NY Specialty Foods in NJ
+ Market Basket -- Local NJ High End Specialty Food

~Ted

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