As I've said before, it's important for me to diversify my shopping to accommodate my budget, but when I want to treat myself, I'm going to Whole Foods. Yes, I've read The Omnivore's Dilemma and am very familiar with the arguments that WFM is just an "organic" supermarket chain - "organic" because the standards of organic in every meaning of the word have been twisted depending on who's marketing a product. I am not much into politics and making a stand against The Organic Man, so I totally buy into the vibe of Whole Foods. My last trip was especially fruitful and I thought it'd be nice to post on a few items I really love.
The first are the apples - they always have great flavor. Gala are in season now but there's always some variety on sale. I head straight to the apple pyramids as soon as I walk through cinnamon-scented doors. By the way, isn't it great to walk in and see fresh produce? The Short Pump Whole Foods is small, but they work what they have...I especially love the tropical fruit stand.
After fruits, I like to head over to the granola bulk bins. Vanilla Almond is one of my favorites and I like to stock up when I can. My mom used to buy this all the time and fill up a GIANT container - I like to nibble on the bigger chucks and put the smaller ones into my bowl of granola in the morning. Spice this up with dried cranberries and some pecans and you have a very healthy breakfast.
Next, to the dairy aisle! I love how the organic Whole Foods brand of milk is only about $3 for a half gallon. I also indulge in one of my favorites...Dutch Processed Chocolate Milk. It is so freaking cute!!! The milk looks absolutely luscious sitting there in its glass bottle. It reminds me of the Dorris Day films, or Breakfast at Tiffany's when Holly brings in the milk while talking to Fred. I save the bottles and use them to hold flowers - super cute and rustic. AND, the brand of chocolate milk changes according to your locations - in Michigan they stock local Michigan dairy farmers and here they use Virginian ones. I really, really like that.
Okie, my absolute favorite part of Whole Foods is the cheese section. I would go broke on cheese if I had a car...seriously. I just love the stuff. And I love 'em sharp and bold. Seaside Cheddar is pretty amazing - Weston makes killer grilled cheeses for me with this (and a lot of butter). At Vicky's bachelorette party I encountered a new favorite, well, an additional one, because you can never fall out of love with cheese. It's called Bellavitano Black Pepper but if you forget, it's the only cheese with a black pepper crust. It's a harder cheese, super tangy and perfect with pretzels or in pasta or...plain...eaten off the block. Don't lie, you know you've done it too.
I must admit, the prepared foods counter always beckons to me, but I ignore it because it's just way to expensive. Instead, I go to the pizza counter and ask for a ball of dough. Isupplement my pizza with ingredients from Trader Joe's or Kroger and make a yummy dinner at home which will last me a couple meals. The Whole Foods prepared pizzas are a great party idea by the way - $11 for a giant one is not a bad deal at all.
Rotisserie chicken is a wonderful thing to have in the fridge - you can make quick sandwiches or throw it into a stir-fry or serve alongside sweet potato fries. Whatever - if you could use one, get it because it'll save you time and add protein to your diet.
My last purchase(s) are usually a sweet treat (or treats) if one catches my eye. The creme brulee is my personal favorite, but I haven't seen this in VA, only in MI because there's a bakery that makes them locally. Boo-hiss. But the other dessert options are yummy. Chocolate Mousse Cake for Two is a go-to when I have a crazy chocolate craving.
And there you have it: Whole Foods Shopping 101
In other news, I am seriously contemplating a Cheese-a-Month special blogging series where I post on the different cheeses I find - could me a fun side-activity, right?