I fashion myself a man of routine. I keep things pretty simple and in order; no big adjustments. This only really works as a lifestyle if you have quality staples to that routine. Keeping a pattern day-to-day and week-to-week is buoyed by highlights that you look forward to no matter how many times you repeat them.
By rough estimation, 90% of my Saturday mornings pass with roughly the same chain of events. Wake up with the offspring and make us both some breakfast. Keeping the routine trend, it’s likely a smoothie and/or pancakes. We’ll watch a bit of ESPN or Golf Channel then, like clockwork, load up and head to our preferred grocer: Texas legend HEB.
A weekly trip to the same grocery store at the same time might sound boring and redundant, if not for two factors. 1. I love to cook and 2. HEB is the greatest grocery store on the planet. Feel free to @ me.
My son and I are #blessed to live about two minutes from an HEB Plus and, frankly, even with this weekly haul, I don’t spend enough time in there as I wish he did. Should fortune smile upon us when we arrive and one of those sweet ass race car shopping carts are available we snag one, but regardless of our shopping vehicle, enthusiasm is always high when we roll through those doors at food/supplies mecca.
Much like AT&T Park or the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, HEB just passes the eye test. Just sleek and modern enough to feel fresh, but at the same time not overdoing it to the extent that you feel like you’re shopping in a 23rd century Wachowski siblings movie. No ugly looking displays or light bulbs that need to be replaced (looking at you, Walmart) up in HEB; just pure, clean visual attractiveness from the health food section all the way to the pet aisle.
But the aesthetic isn’t everything, as any grocery shopper worth their salt knows that the lifeblood of a store is the goods. Are you walking out with a quality cart full of solid product or does your cart resemble the feel from a backwoods convenience store? Well HEB never lets me down, especially in the departments that make or break a quality experience.
Any store worth a damn can stock the right brands in-between the aisles, although needless to say I’m thrilled with the selection I find at HEB considering I’ve been about that clean eating life this year. As I load my cart, I’m also never afraid to dump in a large quantity of HEB-brand product because their home stock can compete with any name brand out there. Half my fridge is HEB Organics, and I sleep soundly knowing that.
But, it’s the meat, produce, deli, and fish departments that are the true trenches of the grocery store industry. A subpar performance in any of these can take a store from a contending prizefighter to that guy who gets his ass beat in the first fight of the night.
No letdown at HEB, obviously. The produce section looks like it was picked fresh from a farm right outside the building, and it doesn’t hurt that they’ve got a kitchen setup right there with an employee possibly whipping up some fresh guac or pico before your eyes. It’s one thing to be surrounded by the freshest fruits and veggies; it’s another to see the potential they give you in the kitchen appear before your very eyes. And frankly, it’s boujee as hell too. I practically have a timeshare in their organic fruits/veggies section.
The fish market, deli, meat section? All obviously up to snuff. Maybe they’re just selling me the same stuff as any other grocer, but dammit, it looks nice and the vibe is fresh as hell. HEB brings the heat when it comes to variety and quality, but my local store really hit a new gear two weeks ago when it upped its Halo Top flavors from four to twelve. Absolute game-changer.
However, what really makes HEB the cream of the crop is the people who work there. I’m fortunate to live in a state full of nice people, and it seems like HEB hunts down every single one of them. Maybe they all just have a good game face, but walking through that store seems like the opposite of walking through a corporate office because everyone seems happy as hell. Every Saturday I share a point and a head nod with the meat aisle chef because we cheer for the same CFB team (Go Hokies). Shopping at HEB is like the opposite of flying United.
Everyone offering delicious food samples extends them to you with the tone of your grandma offering you to try a sneak peek at what she’s cooking tonight for dinner. The guy working the fish counter is always ready to dish advice on which tuna steaks to use. The previously mentioned store chefs happily answer every single stupid and monotonous question of “Will this sauce work on this food?”
Best of all, I’m never worried about a clog of lines with only three registers open. Not only are a majority of checkout lines kept open no matter when you visit, there’s always a manager guiding incoming shoppers to the best available line like he/she is an overachieving intern working the mail office of a big New York City firm, just dealing letters like a fiend. The cashiers round out the experience by being beyond friendly, asking me about my morning, and doting on my offspring with stickers and hella Buddy Bucks (if you don’t know what Buddy Bucks are, frankly I just pity you).
So you can tout your Whole Foods or your Kroger. Maybe you’re in the region where you’re a die-hard for Publix, or Trader Joes is your thing. Possibly you just want to watch the world burn and only shop at Walmart. Just know you’re wrong, because HEB is the best grocery store on the planet. .
Image via YouTube