We’ve been spotted. Someone recognized Mr. Frugalwoods and me in the flesh for the first time ever this past Sunday. I believe it was the beard that gave us away… either that or perhaps we emit frugality sonar. Both seem equally likely. Naturally, the sighting occurred at our discount grocery store, Market Basket.

I can’t think of a more perfect place to happen upon fellow frugal weirdos. It’s one of the very few stores we actually shop at (the others being Costco, Home Depot, and wherever we have a gift card). And, it’s by far the cheapest place in town for groceries.

I'm an amazing runner, thank you very much
I’m an amazing runner, thank you very much

We were on our traditional Sunday morning grocery sojourn, which is the strategically optimal time to go to Market Basket. You see, everyday except Sunday morning, the Basket (in common parlance) is what one might call “crowded” in the way that one might call a greyhound “an OK runner.” It’s not merely crowded, it’s swamped. Aisles are all but impassable at peak hours and it’s fatalistic to attempt the use of a cart (hand baskets only). Sawdust is used in lieu of cleaning the floor, as there are far too many feet for a broom to pass through.

Reading labels is a near impossibility, but no worries, everyone already knows they going to buy the store brand generics. But despite its rough edges, Market Basket is a proud, hometown company. The manager makes frequent and exuberant use of the loudspeaker to announce employee birthdays, weather reports, Red Sox scores, random tidbits of local news, and pleas to patrons not to jostle one another. All delivered in a rich, sonorous Boston accent.

Market Basket bananas!
Market Basket bananas!

To shop at Market Basket is to experience the native culture. Clearly, we love it. Doesn’t hurt that the prices are about half that of a regular grocery store and the quality of produce is superb.

Mr. Frugalwoods and I, being efficiency fanatics, went through a period of beta testing various different days and times for prime Market Basket shopping. We arrived at the conclusion of: early Sunday mornings. Our secret to crowd-free errands has always been Friday nights, which holds true for every store but Market Basket! We were aghast our first Friday night at the Basket to discover so many like-minded shoppers.

This leads me to believe that most of Market Basket’s cliental is similarly frugal and thus similarly happy to score efficiency points by shopping on a Friday night. But early Sunday mornings (as in, before 9am), yields a Market Basket no longer teeming with grandmothers, uncles, fathers, mothers, children, dogs, cousins, wolves, young couples, and wildebeests all clamoring for the cheapest organic produce in town.

A typical Market Basket haul
A typical Market Basket haul

Oh Market Basket, how we relish our languid Sunday morning trips, when we need only stand in line for a few minutes as opposed to 15. We even dared to use an actual cart this past week and no one lost an arm!

Given this backdrop of frugality at its zenith, it wasn’t terribly surprising that an enterprising reader of ours, A., just so happened to be in the aisles of the Basket right on our heels. As we selected a $2 bag of tortilla chips for our customary weekend splurge dinner of homemade guacamole, I heard someone say “Are you by any chance the Frugalwoods?” My heart skipped a beat… I was overjoyed, elated even! I must say, kudos to A. for recognizing us as we were both in coats, boots, and hats (though I was in my trademark trash coat). We introduced ourselves, chatted for a moment, and invited him to join our rather informal (and still nascent) frugal potluck group. Since I know you all want to see what A. saw, here’s a picture of the Frugalwoods family that one of our dear readers, MEL810, created for us (you can check out more of Mel’s art here):

MrMrsFW_FrugalWeirdo In addition to stroking my ego, this encounter cheered me with the knowledge that there are other people on this journey to financial independence. That it’s becoming a viable option among young professionals and that so many of us are recognizing we don’t have to buy into the consumption-fueled standard lifestyle. It’s inspiring to know that there’s an entire cadre of people right here in Cambridge who feel that they can be their best selves by removing the need to spend and to amass stuff and money. And who instead wish to pursue fulfilling lives that bring them great peace and meaning. And who believe that the point of life is more than just working a job you don’t like to buy stuff you don’t need. So thank you, A., for saying hello and thanks to all of you for reading, commenting, emailing, tweeting, facebooking, instagraming, and otherwise sharing your story with us.

I know I run the risk of sounding like I’m 90, but, the power of the internet to forge connections among like-minded, but not mainstream, folks is astounding. Without it, Mr. Frugalwoods and I would be following our own little journey to our homestead, largely unaware of the incredible number of other people charting a similar path. The power of community in any endeavor is vital, but I think it’s especially important when you’re operating outside the realm of normal. I think it’s often on the margins that you find the most genuine, thoughtful, intelligent, and interesting people.


Dis is just embarrassing
Dis is simply mortifying

Today’s grumble is brought to you by none other than bunny hound Frugal Hound. I realize I am a gorgeous hound and that many people want to photo me. And I’ve put up with being a ballerina, a unicorn, a bumble bee, and so much more, but the bunny ears* are a bridge too far.

Greyhounds chase bunnies, they don’t dress like them. If my friends see this, they’ll never invite me to another BYOB (bring your own bunny) party again. And that is all that a greyhound has to say on the topic of grumbles.

*Mrs. Frugalwoods note: the best part is that these bunny ears were a hand-me-down from our frugal friend P. who thought Frugal Hound would look smashing in them. And she was right.

I mean seriously, humans.
I mean seriously, humans.

What time of the week do you grocery shop? Would you put bunny ears on a greyhound?

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  1. I love the fact that you were recognised in the grocery store 🙂 that must have been a great moment! I do our grocery shopping late Saturday afternoon normally, when it’s quieter 🙂

    1. It was definitely a pretty funny moment! Late Saturday makes sense too–always best to find that quiet window 🙂

      1. I find weekday mornings — or even early afternoons — when just about everyone else is at their jobs to be great “quiet windows” for shopping. And not just for groceries. For everything. Of course, that’s easy for me to say given that I am already earlier retired. But it’s true, nevertheless.

  2. Thanks to your post, I think you might find that Sunday morning will now become the busiest time ever at Market Basket : ) I will have to find out more about your frugal potluck group. What a great idea! (And by the way, my city’s hockey team is just behind yours in the race for a play-off spot. We’re 3 points behind, but very eager to catch up!)

    1. Agreed–weekday evenings seem to be the worst times to shop! It really is more stressful when it’s jam packed.

  3. LOL, that’s a great story. I feel like I might easily recognize you if I happened to bump into you in your native habitat 🙂 I am an early-Saturday-morning grocery shopper; since the farmer’s market is open then, I can hit that, Whole Foods, and the normal grocery store all together. Sometimes I go Friday night, though, in which case it’s just WF and the grocery store. When I have to go on Sunday after church for whatever reason, it’s always packed (for Indiana definitions of packed) and I prefer to be alone as I fondle the Italian parsley, you know?

    1. I prefer to fondle my parsley alone too :). That’s a pretty good deal if you can hit all three in one fell swoop–nicely done!

  4. Pretty cool that you were recognized, and even cooler that you invited A to join your little frugal group. Being frugal without the right support can be incredibly isolating. Thank goodness for the occasional frugal friends, the internet and the internet’s power to find other frugal friends.
    Bunny Hound! I’m so sorry to hear about your humiliation. You aren’t the only pup that suffers though. Picture to follow on twitter.

    1. She really is a patient girl! Plus, she got a ton of treats for this particular photo shoot 🙂

  5. I wonder if A had to stalk you guys for a few aisles before he mustered the courage to ask. It must have been the beard! I would think that’d be the only recognizable thing since you didn’t have frugal hound with you.
    If this doesn’t confirm to you that you’ve made it as successful bloggers, then I dont know what would!

  6. Never been recognized IRL from the blog, but I think that would be an interesting experience. I’ve definitely meet lots of Internet folks IRL but they were always planned meetups. Heck, while I met my lovely wife in person first, it was only during our first Christmas break that we started courting via AIM.

    For groceries, I tend to prefer the places with large amounts of self-checkout lines so I can bypass the people with carts piled high with things only charitably called food. Since we buy a lot of stuff bulk mail order or grow/get via CSA, even with a family of 5, I rarely have a ton of groceries to buy, so visits go quickly and I’m on the bike and soon speeding away.

    1. That’s funny–Mr. FW and I largely got to know each other over AIM the summer between freshman and sophomore years of college. Oh AIM, how handy you were 🙂

      I love the self-checkout lanes at Costco! I can run the groceries and the household goods through in two separate transactions. It’s a frugal person’s dream. Sadly, Market Basket lacks such lanes.

  7. Ha ha, LOVE the pic of Frugal Hound! Since we’re so busy with the business during the week and we do the majority of our shopping at Costco we’re sort of stuck with a best time. I don’t know about your Costco, but ours always seems like it’s packed. We usually go sometime on Saturdays and fight the crowd to get all our organics. We’ve even gone on Friday evenings, but it’s still busy – oh well. Awesome that you & Mr. FW were “spotted.” 🙂

    1. That’s too bad about your Costco–our Costco is remarkably un-crowded on Friday nights, which we love. We’ve never actually dared go during the day on a Saturday–we’re too afraid ;).

  8. Ha! If FrugalHound would have been with you it would have been a dead giveaway. We were recognized by one of Mr PoP’s colleagues of all people, which just goes to show that he works with some pretty astute folks since we don’t put the actual location that we live in on our blog, but he had sussed it out from some familiar landscape shots and then put together what he knew about IRL Mr PoP (being a work acquaintance but they didn’t work together on anything) and me (having met me only once at this point) and and our faceless internet versions of ourselves. It was kindof weird, but he was sworn to secrecy and has since moved on to another office, so the weirdness has faded into the past. =)

    1. Oh that is kind of weird! That’s nice he swore to secrecy though, I would definitely ask the same of a colleague.

  9. Frugal Celeb sighting! Whenever I’m in Cambridge I’m always on the lookout for Frugalhound, but no luck so far.

    It’s hard for me to get to Market Basket because I don’t have a car, but I’ve heard tales about how cheap (and crowded) it is! I’m wondering, do you always get your produce there or do you go to farmer’s markets in the Spring/Summer? I worry sometimes about where the Market Baskets and Trader Joes-type places source their produce (likely far, far away).

    1. Frugal Hound would love to say hi in Cambridge! No one has recognized her yet–she’s still waiting for her big debut 🙂

      We do indeed occasionally go to farmer’s markets in the summer.

  10. I live in the Boston Area and have determined that the best way to shop Costco is to

    1) Always, always, always go to the one in Everett (never really crowded and the parking lot is easy to deal with- the one in Waltham always seems to be crowded and the parking lot poorly designed to induce craziness!

    2) Go mid day, which I can do because I work in Charlestown and am lucky enough to have a very flexible schedule.

    1. Haha, yes! We only go to the one near Everett as well. We go on Friday nights and it’s always incredibly un-crowded–we love it! I bet going mid-day is even better though. But the real question is, do they have tasters out?

  11. You’re famous! How fun to be recognized and meet new friends. We usually shop on weekends and it’s crazy. The best Costco experience we’ve ever had was last year when the Seahawks were playing. It was a ghost town and we loved it!

    1. We’ve gone to Costco during big sports games too–no one else is there! We’re not into sports, so we’ve found it’s a great time to run errands 🙂

  12. I try to get to the Somerville Market Basket before 7 am on Sundays. That parking lot fills up fast!

    1. Good strategy! That’s our Market Basket too so maybe we’ll see you there some Sunday 🙂

  13. Since I work only part-time, I shop during weekdays whenever possible. We just moved to a new, more urban neighborhood, and I did go to our local Sprouts on a Sunday. Never again by car! I had to circle for a space and then when I was leaving, there was a fender-bender between two people waiting for my space! Next time, I biked, even though the return trip was about three miles uphill with seventy pounds of toddler and thirty pounds of groceries stuffed behind them, testing the limits of the bike trailer. Sprouts has uber-expensive natural processed foods, but also good deals on attractive produce.

    How awesome that you guys were recognized! We’ve passed through Longmont a couple of times and I always look for MMM, but have never seen him :-). I did have a coworker see me looking at the forums and exclaim, “I LOVE Mr. Money Mustache!” It is nice to feel not alone.

    1. Oh wow, I’m impressed with your grocery bike trip–that’s a heavy load! I don’t think we have a Sprouts here, but it sounds nice. I’ve never had anyone at work identify themselves as frugal or an MMM reader, but I suspect there are a few…

  14. Were you joking about the sawdust? That sounds more like the county fair than a grocery store. And I love it.

  15. Oh how I love to go grocery shopping in the middle of the week at 10:30 am or so. 🙂 Other than really slow moving octogenarians, it’s usually a very easy process. Little traffic on the roads, hardly any lines, mostly well-stocked shelves.

    We used to make our weekly Walmart run on Friday nights. Otherwise it’s a madhouse crazy panic at the registers. We’ve mostly ditched the walmart habit in favor of even lower cost options (like Aldi) and consuming loss leaders at regular grocery stores.

    1. Ahhh, weekday daytime grocery shopping is something we seriously look forward to. We had Friday off together a few weeks ago and we ran errands during the day and thought “this is amazing!” I think Mr. FW actually invoked your name in envy that this must be your normal routine 🙂

  16. We usually go grocery shopping on Sunday with our carefully prepared list and make it a family affair. I love that you made plans for a frugal potluck in the grocery store! And yes, I would totally put bunny ears on my greyhound. It’s Easter- why not?

    1. A carefully prepared list is such a wonderful thing! And yes, poor Frugal Hound could not escape the bunny ears–it was just too cute.

  17. That’s funny! It’s like when you see one of your Facebook friends IRL, and you think, “I know a lot about you.”

    Mel810- you have some mad skills with paint. When I make pictures it looks like barf on a screen.

    1. Hannah, I wish I could say I can paint that well. I can draw and paint but my skills have gone way down hill for lack of practice these last years. All my work online is done via Photoshop or Photoshop and photography.
      I will say my landscape stuff on that site is built up entirely ‘from scratch’ in Photoshop. It is not altered photography.

      1. I think Mel has mad skills too! I love that she drew that without ever actually seeing our faces! I think my favorite part is Frugal Hound’s little tongue sticking out.

  18. Awesome! How long until you are mobbed for autographs and photos and have to head out in disguise (in a BMW and over priced clothes)

    “The power of community in any endeavor is vital, but I think it’s especially important when you’re operating outside the realm of normal. I think it’s often on the margins that you find the most genuine, thoughtful, intelligent, and interesting people.” – I think this is so true. I didn’t really think so at first, as I often go off and do things solo. “Any one fancy cycling 150 miles this weekend? No? Ah well, I’ll do it solo then”. But in something as long as complicated as the journey to FI, the oddball community definitely helps! 😀

    Good to know it’s not just me that plans trips to the store based on when it will be calmer rather than when is most convenient.

    Mr Z

    PS – FrugalHound looks ACE.

    1. I’m a big fan of the oddball community, makes a big difference for me to have people to share ideas with and draw inspiration from. I’m super impressed with 150 miles of biking–wow!

      Frugal Hound says “no thanks!” 😉

  19. Saturday or Sunday mornings are when I make my trek to Trader Joe’s in NYC. I think it’s a combination of late nights out the night before and brunching that paves the way for a less crowded TJ’s. The line for the registers isn’t its normal 100+ people but maybe a more manageable 30 or 40.

    1. Oh man, grocery shopping in NYC is a whole other level of crowded–I feel your pain! We made the mistake of going to the Whole Foods in Union Sq at about 6pm when we were in NYC a few weeks ago and we waited in line for easily 25 minutes. For one item!

  20. Aw, poor Frugal Hound! Although she does look adorable as usual. 😀

    We generally do our grocery shopping Friday nights after work. Back in the day I used to go early Thursday mornings. Mr. Mandalay wants to put me back in solo charge of grocery shopping so I may go back to that.

    1. Speaking of frugal groceries: I heard that two of the new Aldi’s will be opening on April 23. One is on Parham Road and the other is in Colonial Heights.

      1. You know, it’s funny, we’ve always gone grocery shopping together even though I suppose it would be more efficient for just one person to go. But then we wouldn’t have our grocery store date ;)!

        Aldi’s is great!

  21. Super fun to get recognized!! I can only imagine the excitement. And I’m supremely jealous of your Market Basket. It sounds like a DE-lightful grocery store. I manage to keep prices in check, but it requires going to multiple stores based on the strengths of each place. Doable, but cumbersome.

    And glad to see the woots back. Plus a grumble that can only be considered a wee grumble!

    1. Market Basket really is a lifesaver–it’s dirt cheap but still has great quality produce. My problem with other discount stores is that their produce is usually terrible, so, the Basket really feels like a dream come true. Good on you for shopping around for the best prices!

  22. You know you’ve made it when someone identifies your anonymous online persona.

    Your post reminded my of my MA family’s accents (Pembroke and Manomet). Being from Pittsburgh, I have an appreciation for awful accents. 🙂

  23. “And who believe that the point of life is more than just working a job you don’t like to buy stuff you don’t need.” – It makes my very soul happy to read those words.

  24. We always shop really early in the morning for the same reason. I just don’t like being bumped and jostled. A random woman hugged me last week. I’m not a hugger. It was outside of my comfort zone for sure. :\

    So cool you guys were recognized! I’m pretty sure I’m safe, since I really have no real likeness to my cartoon avatar. I don’t think so anyway. However, “Junior”, my avatar artist, disagrees. 😛

    1. I’m with you–not a fan of being jostled while I’m trying to select my banana bunch. You mean that isn’t your real face, Kay???? 😉

  25. This is pretty funny, because my husband and I went to Market Basket (Somerville) last Friday night, and I wondered if the Frugalwoods would be there. You are right, it was packed! We’re usually Trader Joes/Whole Foods shoppers, but I was inspired by your posts to try out MB. I may have gone overboard in the produce section.. it was great!

    1. Oh I’m so excited that you tried out Market Basket! We do indeed go to the one in Somerville, so maybe we’ll see you there :)!

  26. Wow, that’s crazy that you two were recognized IRL. That must have been pretty surreal.

    As for shopping, I do agree with your assessment that Friday evenings are usually pretty good. I like to go to Trader Joe’s around that time. We usually try to do our usual shopping and recycling returns early Saturday morning. Not exactly my favorite thing to do early, but I hate fighting off the crowds.

    Frugal Hound is a cute bunny, but I think that’s about the most annoyed I’ve seen her look! My dog would never stand for any type of dressing up, so I will live vicariously through the cute pics of Frugal Hound.

    1. She was pretty annoyed, but it was short lived and she got lots of treats. I think she has forgiven us by now 😉

      It was kinda surreal, but really fun!

  27. Tell Frugal Hound that she is not the only greyhound to wear bunny ears. We too subjected our darlings to having their picture taken with the Easter Bunny wearing the bunny ears. They were not amused…

    1. Oh that sounds adorable and tragic all at the same time :). There’s something really funny about the long greyhound snout with the huge bunny ears…

  28. Hi,
    I just found your blog and am enjoying it very much. Perhaps you have addressed this issue and I have yet to find this post…but how do you plan to address health care when you “retire?” Especially if you have kiddos? I was curious what the cheapest options are that I am sure you have considered. I guess with Obama Care you might be all right…who knows if that will stick around. Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Jessica! Thanks so much for reading and for commenting! Great question on healthcare–we plan to use Obama care and we’ll likely discuss it in greater depth in a future homestead post.

  29. Cool beans! Being recognized in public for your frugalisciousness!
    And Frugal Hound, you are a creature of great dignity and beauty, no matter what ridiculous outfits you have to suffer in the name of Internet fame. As my French ex-hooosboond once said: ” You must suffer to be beautiful!”

    1. Hahah, poor Frugal Hound, she must indeed endure the ridiculous outfits, but she’s such a good girl about it. And she gets lots of treats! Thank you again for our portrait–we love it :)!!

  30. First of all, I almost fell out of my chair laughing at FH’s bunny cuteness!!

    Congrats on being the subject of a celebrity sighting!! How fun!

    I tend to grocery shop on weekday mornings (I work p/t), around 9. It’s nice and quiet, but on Monday mornings, the pickings can be slim in produce. 🙁

    1. I almost couldn’t take the photos I was laughing so hard 🙂

      Weekday mornings sound like a pretty ideal time for groceries!

  31. Oh my, frugal hound looks fantastic in that bunny outfit! She must be showing off all the other dogs her awesome outfit! Pretty neat that you guys are getting recognized in public for your frugalness.

    1. Pretty sure Frugal Hound is totally embarrassed by her bunny outfit… but we love it 🙂

  32. Long time reader, first time commenter. I’ve spotted you two, with and without the hound, several times and it’s definitely the beard! I live in the same neighborhood (I’m near the City Hall Annex) so please don’t think I’m stalking you. 🙂 Nice blog — keep up the good work!

    1. Not freaked out–he was a really nice guy :). I think we were more surprised/honored than anything else.

  33. It was great to run into you guys! I figured if I saw you around town that Frugalhound would be the giveaway, but I suppose bringing dogs into grocery stores is generally frowned upon. Market Basket really is a great option in an otherwise pretty pricey area. See you around!

    1. It was great to meet you too! So glad you said hi! Frugal Hound would, I think, love Market Basket, but they probably wouldn’t love her there ;).

  34. I LOVE your story about being spotted in real life. I am like Stefanie, my picture is everywhere and I sometimes think I will run into someone on the subway or something because NYC really is like a small town, but it has yet to happen.

  35. That must have been fun being recognized! Especially since you’re fairly stealthy on the blog with photos and such. Frugal Hound should be a dog model! Can’t believe she poses for you. Imagine trying to put those ears on a cat. I tried dressing up my first cat for Halloween…such a bad idea. I’ve never attempted it with Maggie…although I’m sure it would be fun.

    1. It was pretty fun, and unexpected! Frugal Hound has really learned how to pose for Frugalwoods in the last year :). She knows that if she holds still for a minute, she’ll get treats! I think cats in general are more difficult to dress up–they’re much less willing to let humans be in charge 🙂

  36. Great story! It really is incredible how you can make connections on the internet. Ron Paul is the reason I was initially introduced to a fellow personal finance blogger nearly 10 years ago…and landed me my first paid job working for his blog!

  37. That must have felt great! I try to avoid going to the grocery store. I make a weekly menue and get the food delivered on Fridays. So I stick to the budget and we dont get side tracked. I save at least an hour of my time not searching the store and I dont have use the car. I pay between 2 to 5$ for delivery (depending on the time table). Bulk items i get delivered using amazon prime (dog food and diapers). Not only do I save a lot of money compared to the pet store, but especially when our car broke down I dont have to worry how to get the stuff home.

    Greetings from Germany,
    Auf Heller und Pfennig

    1. Grocery delivery sounds pretty ideal! We’re big fans of Amazon as well–makes it so much easier than needing to run to the store. Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

  38. Know this is an old post, but I just discovered your site and started browsing around. I’m a MA native as well, (live in New Bedford), and I always thought Market Basket was the cheapest- until I started to shop at Price Rite and Save-A-Lot. Neither are the biggest stores, and they don’t have the widest selections, but I find them dirt bottom cheap and I hit them once a month to shop their sales and stock up on certain things. Just make sure to bring your own bags or you’ll have to buy some. 🙂

    Love your blog!

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