Thursday, July 12, 2012

Grocery Shopping Fun?

Ask my husband and he'll tell you I am no fun when shopping for groceries.  As much as I love to cook and bake, I abhor the grocery store experience.  The stores are crowded with tons of people, the aisles are small, checkout lanes are never open, tons of mass-produced food products...I could go on and on.  I actually get grocery store anxiety every time I visit.

I tried going to the Farmer's Markets on the weekends to purchase our fruits and vegetables, but I can't leave there without spending lots of money - I think DH and I get overly excited when we go.  I really do prefer to eat locally as well as organically, when possible.  Alas, I haven't been able to turn the Farmer's Market thing into my regular (budgeted) food shopping routine.  After all, if you can't go on Saturdays, you miss out.

I have found a solution, although it is one that may seem questionable to some:  HEB Central Market.  I absolutely love shopping there.  I get a kick out of the beautiful and exotic vegetables and fruits as well as all of the rest of their gourmet items.  Their displays are brilliant and their fresh foods can not be beat!  Shopping there makes me feel like I am carefully selecting foods to prepare a nice meal, instead of the mad rush and jockeying I do at a normal grocery store.  I imagine this is the type of experience Ina Garten, Emeril Lagasse and Tyler Florence have when they shop for fine ingredients for their recipes.

If you've never been to a Central Market, you absolutely must go.  You should at least go check out their prepared foods section - incredible!  Some people complain that it is more expensive than regular HEBs, and my experience is that some items are more expensive, but then, you are not necessarily comparing apples to apples.  I actually found that some items are less expensive, if you can believe it.  To have an un-stressful, and even fun, experience, I don't mind paying a few extra dollars.  Check out some of the cool things I spotted at Central Market during my shopping trip this week:

Aren't these so weird?  They are beans called 'Dragoon Tongues'.  You can see by the price that they are kind of expensive, but they may be fun to try out at least once!

I love these French Radishes!  These are the kind that Ina Garten uses for her gorgeous vegetable platters and now I know where to find them!

Central Market also has a FAB kitchen wares section with lots of beautiful dishware.  I always check out this section when I visit to see what's new.  Isn't this elephant-shaped teapot too cute!  At $13.99, I thought this was very well priced!

Look at this enormous cheese wheel!  I couldn't resist and bought a wedge to add some yummy flavor to my meals this week.

A fun area of Central Market is their bulk foods section.  They have everything from granola, grains and beans to dried fruit and honey.  I opted for the honey since we were running low.

This bottle of honey (from the Austin area) cost me just $2.87, a great price considering that we paid $8 for a jar of honey at the Pearl Farmer's Market.

It is frustrating that I don't live closer to Central Market, but I do work pretty close to it.  I've decided to take the stress out of my grocery shopping and turn it into a pleasurable one by stopping by after work each week for the 'Central Market Experience'.

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