I don’t know why I had not yet made it to Whole Foods except that whenever I venture to Omaha for a shopping trip, I usually have a list of places I need to go and things I need to get, so groceries and shopping “just because” usually falls to the wayside. Add to that a bestie with her own list and my 5-year-old who can get bored and tired, and we’re usually there long enough and pretty pooped by the time we get home!
This trip was very different, however. I had the idea a few weeks ago for Kim and I to make a Costco run and hit Whole Foods, then head back to her house for a day of cooking meals that could be frozen for later use. Kim was on board and we immediately scheduled it, knowing full well if we didn’t that it would never happen.
My Costco membership from last year hardly got used, again, because we just aren’t usually in Omaha to grocery shop and without a “plan” it would have been a waste of time and potentially money. I also had decided recently that I needed to start looking at Costco differently. When I had a Sam’s membership years ago, I found that most bulk items were processed or unhealthy things I didn’t want or need a ton of, and I rarely thought to check out meat and produce, especially. So my plan for Costco this year was to PLAN a grocery list, focusing on bulk items I know we’ll use as well as meat and produce. I also was going to be very mindful of price and compare to what I’d normally spend for a comparable amount at the grocery store in town. (Between the two of use we were able to do that pretty well, and I had jotted down some prices the other day at Wal Mart so that I had an idea of what some of the regular things I buy cost.) That also meant planning Costco into the Omaha trips more regularly.
Kim and I were armed with our master grocery list for the six recipes we had selected over coffee a week ago, as well as a list of items we wanted for our own use. After a brief stop at Hobby Lobby and our trip to Costco (which took a while because we had to browse and familiarize ourselves with the store, but which was very productive), we headed to Whole Foods.
As we walked into Whole Foods, my first reaction was that of being overwhelmed (a good overwhelmed, but overwhelmed nonetheless). Being a Saturday afternoon, the store was busy and having not been there before we had to figure out where everything was. Immediately by the doors to the produce section they were offering samples (yay!) of Irish Soda Bread. I was thrilled because I’d been meaning to attempt to make it, but wasn’t sure exactly what it tasted like. As I was cautioned by a friend, it is somewhat dry, but I found it more dry in the crumbly way than dry in a “sat-here-for-a-week” sort of way. It was also a little sweet and overall really good. They served the little nibbles with Irish butter, which I thought was creamy and delicious! I wish I’d bought some of the butter.
After sampling the bread, we started to move our way through the produce section, where we had to check a few things off of our grocery list. As we meandered there, Kim said, “Look at those people…they have what looks like beer in their glasses! That can’t be, right?!”. I said, “Looks like beer to me! Maybe for St. Pat’s Day…???”. Kim was convinced it couldn’t be…until we soon arrived at a little kiosk. I hadn’t noticed it as I looked from one thing to the next, but Kim said, “It IS beer!!! Look!”. Sure enough, two sweet young women were selling beer in the middle of the produce section at Whole Foods. Kim said, “I’ll buy…want some?”. Considering I was driving and we still had to do some productive shopping followed by hours of cooking (and I’m a lightweight), I said, “Want to share one?”. Her reply was, “You want to share?”. I knew what that meant. I said, “Well, we’ll be here a while, right? OK, I’ll have my own.”
Twist my arm.
One of the girls working the beer stand gave an elaborate reason as to how we deserved to relax and have an enjoyable shopping experience (something to that effect, anyway), and I knew I immediately liked these girls. First of all, because both of them appeared to think Kim and I were HI-LAR-I-OUS, and second, because they made it a point to justify beer in a grocery store in a way that would convince the biggest of skeptics. Kim and I justify for each other all the time, so she was speaking our language. They also explained that while the beer stand wasn’t usually there, the cheese and wine bar is a permanent fixture in the store. Say WHAT?!
You had me at “wine”.
|So excited we had to preserve the moment with a photo. Yep. We’re the dorks taking our own photo in Whole Foods.|
We walked around, full glass souvenir beer cups in hand, and kept saying, “I can’t BE-LIEVE we’re shopping while drinking beer,” and, “I pray to God I don’t get so tipsy I drop this glass right tin the middle of Whole Foods because THAT would be embarrassing,” and, “They really need cup holders in their carts.”
(Mental note: Email Whole Foods and recommend cup holders.)
We wandered the aisles, checking everything out and trying to fill what was left on our list while familiarizing ourselves with the store. We never really got over our disbelief about the beer in our hands, and Kim kept saying, “But it was for a good cause! It’s a charity!”. I finally cared enough to ask what the charity was (not that I don’t care about charity but let’s be honest…that’s NOT why we bought the beer). Kim said, “Oh, hunger or something.”
Yep. Real humanitarians we are!
It didn’t take long for the beer to take effect (barely halfway through the glass and within about 5 minutes of purchasing it), and I have to say it made for the most fun grocery shopping trip I’ve ever had. (I’m sure the people trying to get through the aisles as we stared blankly in awe at more than one grocery shelf would have other things to say.)
As if the beer and aisle and aisles of novelty groceries wasn’t enough, we then came to the deli section. After a sample of cheese (again, wish I’d bought some) we looked up to find buffet aisles with Indian food and corned beef and on and on. We saw the wine bar. We saw gelato. There was an olive bar with more olives than I knew existed. We were in heaven (and definitely buzzed).
We wound up eating lunch at the buffet, and after seeing all the lunch options (build-your-own sandwiches, for example), I think we’ll be returning to shop and eat on a regular basis.
(Side note: The gelato was disappointing and we won’t likely be spending money on that again. Literally couldn’t tell the difference between small and medium, and either way you only got one scoop.)
After shopping for almost five hours, we headed back to her house to cook. I was gone from home for almost twelve hours total, and while it was a great day (and I’m thrilled to have meals in the freezer), we were ready to be done and rest! But I speak for both of us when I say that we can’t wait to go back to Whole Foods!