With grocery prices on the rise and the quality of produce looking a little questionable lately, I’ve struck out on a mission to find fresher fruits and veggies for less; not an easy quest. However, Vallarta Supermarkets are popping up all over my area and I decided to give them a try this past weekend. Not only was I impressed by the quantity and quality of their meat and produce, I was equally impressed with their lower prices.

For those readers unfamiliar with Vallarta, they are traditionally an Hispanic supermarket that caters to a growing and diverse Los Angeles population. Vallarta has been around for many years, 25 to be exact, yet until recently they remained in predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods. However, over the past few years they’ve begun to expand their reach throughout the valley (the valley’s population is 40-45% Hispanic, so it makes sense that Vallarta is expanding their brand.)

During my visit to my neighborhood Vallarta market I found that it is slightly smaller than a chain grocery store, yet their meat selection is tremendous – at least three times the size of my neighborhood Ralphs market. Not only do they sell all kinds of meat and poultry, they sell cuts of meat I normally wouldn’t find in a standard store, like say….tongue. Now tongue and intestines aren’t cuts I’d normally buy, so I instead purchased half a pound of carne asada ready for grilling; perfect for tacos. They also sell all kinds of cheese and dairy items, like Mexican cream and goat cheese.

Vallarta’s produce section is about the same size as a chain store with a few select items I wouldn’t be able to find at Ralphs, like cactus leaves. Yet their produce is fresher and less expensive than what I’ve been finding lately at larger markets. Below are some sample sale items to compare:

Ralphs vs. Vallarta - compare the prices
Ralphs vs. Vallarta – compare the prices

Notice the difference in citrus prices. I can either buy one pound at Ralphs for 99-cents, or eight-pounds at Vallarta for $1.00. When comparing their meat prices, I had a little difficulty finding similar cuts, but the chicken price alone was a huge difference!

Of course I won’t be able to completely abandon Ralphs altogether as their boxed and canned items offer more of a variety than Vallarta. Yet I’m glad to announce that I’ll be shopping at Vallarta for my meat and produce from now on. Sometimes a little research and cultural diversity can make a huge difference in the quality of living.

Have you tried international markets in you area? Do you have a particular marketĀ  you shop to find great deals on certain items?

16 Comments

  1. Comparing a whole chicken to chicken leg quarters is not the same. You are comparing a whole chicken, with the expensive breast meat, etc. to one of the cheapest cuts off a chicken.

    • @Bob – You’re right. I was definitely having some trouble comparing the meats. Vallarta’s steak cuts were really inexpensive, but I couldn’t match them with the larger store. Though, overall, I think Vallarta is still less expensive.

  2. Eliza from Happy Simple Living Reply

    I absolutely love this idea. I haven’t been to the Hispanic market in over a year, and the last time I went I found great prices on produce and coffee, plus a much bigger selection of fruits and vegetables. Thank you for inspiring me to get out of my King Soopers rut!

  3. I wish Vallarta was here in Michigan! 8 pounds of oranges for a dollar?

    I will say though that my parents prepared tongue, heart, intestines, you name it when I was growing up, and I hope I never see those cuts of ‘meat’ again.

    • @Everyday Tips – There produce prices were amazing! I was really surprised. As for the “cuts” of meat I saw, it was really impressive – but I don’t think I’ll ever buy the internal organs…yuck.

  4. retirebyforty Reply

    We don’t have any chain ethnic grocery stores here. There are a few larger stores, but their price is not much better than a regular grocery store. They just have different selections. I think CA is a special case here. I would love to have Vallarta or Ranch 99 where I live.

    • @Retireby40- I do think California is a rare case, they have a lot of choices when it comes to grocery stores. Especially due to our diversity – a definite benefit.

  5. That’s definitely what I miss about being in a city, the ethnic grocery stores. I also love indian and korean markets for spices and rice. They are super cheap there and the quality is usually very good.

  6. Squirrelers Reply

    Here in the Chicago area, I’ve visited an Asian supermarket and a Hispanic supermarket on different occasions, though they don’t exist where I currently live. Anyway, the ones I saw in the past had some incredible deals on produce, and had great varieties of produce as well. If the stores were close by, near the other stores I go to, I’d get things there no problem. It pays to be open to considering different shopping sources!

  7. Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter Reply

    We don’t have those here where I live but I am a huge fan of shopping at ethnic markets. They always have awesome produce selections and cheap prices.

  8. Barb Friedberg Reply

    You and I are on the same track. I have tried an Hispanic market in our area with similar results. Also, Aldi is cheap and great fruits and veggies (limited selection). I’m also obsessed with frozen fruits and veggies. Cheaper, and fresher in this part of the country (not CA).

  9. I wonder how they swing such great deals!?

    I know that I’ve always read that the grocery business is cut-throat, operating on the thinnest of margins. But perhaps that was because the store I worked in was a union shop?

    I think I would check it out too, the meat section sounds incredible!

    • @Money Reasons -I believe they are still a family-owned and operated grocery store. They also claim to purchase a lot of produce and meat locally -I think they just mean CA. Maybe that’s why their prices are a little lower. What ever the case, I love it!

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