Monday, July 18, 2011

Grocery Store Adventure Part Deux--Double TUF

i know i said that the next post would be the bread post, but i recently had another important Grocery Store Adventure that i have to discuss first before i forget.  this one was a combo GSA--i went to a new grocery store this time knowing the following things: a) we would be making a trip to the downtown farmer's market the following weekend; b) between the grocery and the farmer's market, i needed to make an Epic Shopping Trip, replenishing all aspects of our usual stockpile.

usually, this would mean going to the big box, grabbing whatever i need without even thinking about it, then shuddering while swiping a chunk of my checking account away at the register on decidedly non-TUF stuff.

today's adventure would take place at Wheatsville Co-op, a longtime austin institution of local and ethical/organic grocery shopping.  like my first GSA to the natural grocery by vitamin cottage, this would be meticulous: calculator out, everything accounted for, sticking close to a prescribed budget.  i was interested in spending no more than half of the most i'd ever spent on a big box grocery run, taking into account both our low larder level and our planned trip to the farmer's market.

wheatsville has really done a great job with the inside of their store!  i hadn't been there in years, and it used to be a little scruffy-lookin', but these days it looks great.  they have a wide variety of produce, much of it locally produced, and many different all-natural and organic products to choose from on the aisles. they also boast a fish/butcher counter, a deli, a fancy cheese section, and an extensive bulk section.  it definitely has that expensive natural grocery store smell, and i shrunk a little as i walked was i going to get a hefty haul at a good value from here?

BUT.....i did.  i went right up to my budget, but i got EXACTLY the produce, frozen vegetables, dry goods, dairy and seafood that i wanted--too many to bore you with a list!  now, i didn't get the free stuff and rather attentive treatment that i enjoyed at the natural grocer--wheatsville ain't new in town, and they don't have to scramble to impress all the curly-clectic austinites that pass through there.  but i did bring all my own re-usable bags this time (another TUF first!), and they gave me a nickel back per bag, which i was then able to donate to their charity of the month.  all with friendly, chatty service!  i will definitely be going back to wheatsville!  (and shhhhhh, i totally liked it better than the natural grocer, even though those guys were REALLY NICE.)

now for the second part of the Epic Shopping Trip, enacted at the downtown farmer's market.  if you haven't been to your local farmer's market, please do go just for fun sometime.  saturdays here in the ATX, all the people and kids and dogs are out with the fruits and vegetables and tacos and vendors, and it smells great and looks vibrant and that cantaloupe rosemary lemonade is so delicious....

and you get to take home amazing food!  we have been getting all of our non-seafood meat and poultry from the farmer's market, which is expensive, but worth it.  and why buy cheap factory beef from the big box when you can get...

--ethically-raised bison (ground and steaks)
--free-range organic chicken (whole)
--grassfed lamb (chops)
--ethically-raised pork (chops, ribs)

...all from less than 150 miles away, and so flavorful you can taste the wildflowers that animal ate. as far as produce, we also got: peppers, chilies, rainbow chard, rainbow carrots, garlic, pickles, raw sauerkraut (SO GOOD), a snow leopard melon, and some zucchini.

final financial assessment: farmer's market meat+produce+wheatsville co-op food run = (a bit) less cashola than the most i've ever spent at the big box on an equally Epic Shopping Trip.  and we have full meals for weeks!  another Grocery Store Adventure affirming the original purpose of this TUFsperiment.  whoopeee!

now for real this time: THE BREAD IS COMING. stay tuned.


  1. man, i love wheatsville. the new store is tops! it is a little expensive, but i think you definitely get what you pay for. same for the farmers market - so much higher quality, particularly with regard to meat (knowing that the animals aren't raised in the typical appalling conditions makes it even nicer, aside from the fact that it simply tastes better). that said, i do miss h.e.b. for random things for cheap.

  2. Good posting; I am interested in learning about a "snow leopard melon", where is it from? Also, raw sauerkraut is called cabbage; now you can slice it or dice it, but it only becomes sauerkraut when it has had an opportunity to ferment.

  3. noel! thanks for reading! :)

    snow leopard melon is a type of honeydew, i just discovered; and it feels JUST like a honeydew while tasting JUST like a cantaloupe, so that means it's delicious! it seems like some kind of hybrid, and the seeds are all over the intertoobs for sale. one company even suggested they are good for farmer's market and restaurant sales, ha!

    the 'raw sauerkraut' actually has been fermented, and is VERY sauerkrauty. it doesn't seem like it's as sweet as some sauerkraut i've had in the past? i have never liked sauerkraut but i'm kind of obsessed with this stuff. does one normally cook any aspect of the sauerkraut making process?

    i am clearly a sauerkraut noob. ;)