10 Things You Should Know Before Shopping at Publix for the First Time
Publix Super Markets is as Florida as gators, beautiful beaches, and dolphins. Founded in 1930 by Mr. George Jenkins, the award-winning retailer is the largest employee-owned company in the U.S., according to the store’s website. Today it can be found all across the South, with locations also in Alabama, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, with planned openings in Kentucky in the near future.
Fans and frequent shoppers are familiar with the bright and welcoming stores — they even accept coupons from other competitors! But if you’ve recently joined us here in Florida (as so many have), or another state, or a new Publix has opened up in your town, you may be curious about this retailer. Here’s what you need to know before you step foot in the store.
1. You’ll find three different Publix private-label brands on shelves throughout the store.
Like many of our favorite retailers, Publix carries its own private-label items, which span across every department in the store. The three brands — Publix, Publix Premium, and GreenWise — are comparable to (if not better than) national competitors, and often lower in price. Look for Publix-branded everyday food and household items. Publix Premium focuses on specialty items, like high-quality meats, coffees, limited-edition ice creams, flowers, party supplies, and even cosmetics; all GreenWise products are made with at least 70% organic ingredients and without a select list of other ingredients. There are also free-standing GreenWise Markets in Florida and Alabama.
2. The bakery section is not-to-be-missed.
Publix’s bakery is on par with any other bakery I’ve found around town. The bread is baked fresh in-house every morning. I buy the 12-grain and seed loaf for everyday bread in our house, and the French baguette is another favorite for sandwiches or to make garlic bread on pasta nights. A weekend favorite is the “breakfast bread,” full of dried fruits and nuts. Warmed with a schmear of cream cheese and a hot cup of tea, it’s a little slice of heaven. (Add a little apple butter in the fall to make it extra memorable.)
You’ll also find freshly made pizza dough — shaped like a ball for the professional tossers out there or pre-rolled for those, like me, who could use a little help. Another highlight is the desserts, like cookies, cakes (including ice cream cakes!), pies, and other pastries. If you have your children with you, you can grab them a cookie (or a piece of fruit from the produce section) on the house!
3. The deli section could be a cafe — and in newer stores, it is!
Famous for its sub sandwiches, affectionately known as the “Pub-Sub,” there is a full menu of subs available in the deli section. They are made fresh to order, counter-style (some of the newer stores even have actual cafes). You can order off the menu or have a custom sandwich made with your choice of bread, meats, cheeses, and toppings — a local favorite is the chicken tender sub.
And like most major supermarkets, Publix has a bunch of ready-made items, like chicken salads, potato salads, soups, hummus, and hot sides. The savory tarragon chicken salad is … just take my word for it, and get some!
4. The fried chicken is legendary.
IYKYK. Perfectly seasoned and fried fresh, the fried chicken is crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. In the deli, you’ll find pre-packaged boxes of eight pieces (mixed) or 20 wings. They usually run about $9 and $15, respectively. It’s an easy grab for a busy weeknight dinner or an always-welcomed addition to the potluck. You can also buy individual pieces or customize your own mix. Different recipes, like spicy or original, and breaded or unbreaded, are also available.
5. If you’re shopping on Wednesday, stop by the sushi section.
Wednesdays are the best days to shop for groceries, and if you’re a sushi-lover add this reason to the list of reasons why. That’s when you’ll find select rolls — tuna, salmon, shrimp, California, or vegetarian rolls — for just $5. While you’re in the seafood section, pick up some fresh shrimp, seasoned and steamed to order, at no extra cost. There, you’ll also find a variety of butter and sauces to add a little razzle-dazzle to your own recipes at home. In the same case, ready-made steam packs with fish or shrimp and vegetables and cold seafood salads are available for quick lunches or dinners.
6. The store’s app is packed with convenient features and extra savings.
Before your next Publix run, download the retailer’s app. There you’ll find weekly deals, digital coupons, and extra savings that aren’t in the store’s weekly ad pages. You can preload coupons and payment of choice for hassle-free checkout. Beyond dollars, it’s also a time-saver! Convenient features, like ordering deli items and family meals ahead for in-store pick up, allow you to skip the lines and keep your cart moving. Ordering meats and cheese pre-sliced to my preference of thickness and weight is the grocery shopping level-up I didn’t know I needed! Feel like a VIP when you breeze by those, not in the know. If you pick up your groceries curbside or have them delivered, you’ll need to download a separate app: the Publix Delivery App, which is powered by Instacart.
7. The weekly BOGO deals are front and (almost) center.
Speaking of deals, the buy one, get one sales — my favorite part of the store — is up front, and not quite center (it’s just to the right of the registers). The exact items rotate week to week, but you can find coffee, jarred sauces, granola bars, cereals, snacks, and I’ve even spotted my favorite gum. These same BOGO deals can also be found throughout the store, along with additional BOGO items.
8. You might walk out of the store with some free stuff.
When the cashier rang in my box of organic strawberries and it came up as the regular price instead of the sale price, I politely questioned it and ended up getting the box for free. I thought it was my lucky day, but it turns out it’s just the Publix Promise.
Publix guarantees that if during checkout, the scanned price of an item is higher than the shelf or advertised price, the cashier will give you that item free (excluding alcohol and tobacco products). If you have multiples of that item, you’ll get the first for free and the lower price for the remaining items. How nice is that?
9. You can return anything.
In addition to the Publix Promise, the chain has the Publix Guarantee. It goes like this: “We will never knowingly disappoint you. If for any reason your purchase does not give you complete satisfaction, the full purchase price will be cheerfully refunded immediately upon request.”
10. There’s a full pharmacy inside.
The Publix pharmacy offers full-service care, including medication management (including for pets!), vaccinations, and even telehealth medical care in some locations. You can also set prescription orders, manage refills and appointments, and set up medication delivery or curbside pickup, but you will need to download a separate pharmacy app.
It doesn’t matter whether you bought too many bags of chips for your party and need to return the extra ones or you opened a gallon a of milk and it spoiled the next day — unopened or opened, Publix will take it back and give you a full refund.
11. You can take cooking classes with Publix chefs.
Whether you’re an aspiring chef, looking for a fun date night, or just want to brush up on your knife skills, you can view free virtual cooking demos from Publix chefs. The nearly 60 videos range from fundamentals to more advanced dishes, and include recipes across seasons, holidays, and global cuisines. In stores, you can also look for Aprons Meal Kits with pre-measured ingredients and recipes for you to follow (similar to online delivery meal kits) and Ready-to-Cook Meals, which just need some time in the oven.
12. The flowers are super fresh.
I know we’ve sung the praises of flowers from Trader Joe’s here at The Kitchn, and they truly are fresh and cheap — but so are the flowers at Publix! My husband has surprised me a couple of times with bouquets that he’s picked up on his way home from work and they’ve all lasted a solid 10 days, if not 12. Since Publix is much closer to our new apartment than TJ’s and I love to have flowers around, it’s quickly becoming a staple purchase.
13. The beer and wine selection is expansive.
You will find hundreds of beers and wine on the shelves at Publix, including national and imported brands, along with artisan wineries and local breweries. Wines are tagged with details about the flavor profiles and pairing suggestions. (Look for the tag guide in the wine aisle or grab a booklet from the info center at the front of the store.)
Select locations even have a nearby — and, in some cases, an attached — liquor store. According to Publix’s website, the first Publix Liquors store opened in 2003 and there are more than 300 locations and counting. In addition to liquor, these stores sell beer, wine, mixers, and accessories. Liquor is also available for delivery and curbside orders.
So, are you excited about your first trip to Publix? Do any long-time shoppers have some pro tips that I missed?