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Let's build a best-of list for grocery store products

Deborah R. Dec 7, 2012 09:28 AM

Hello --

I would love to know what products (and brands of products) people purchase at the usual grocery stores -- Giant, Safeway, Harris Teeter, Whole Foods. I often see lists of specialty offerings available by mail order, but I'm curious about the noteworthy items people have found cruising the aisles on their regular shopping trips.

To kick things off: I recently discovered refrigerated almond milk. After doing an informal taste test, I've concluded the best is Harris Teeter's unsweetened vanilla. You can add sugar if you feel it's necessary, though I don't think it is -- it's naturally sweet. It makes a dynamite banana smoothie.


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  1. m
    mdpilam RE: Deborah R. Dec 7, 2012 09:49 AM

    You know our Giant used to stock Uncle Brutha's hot sauce, but inexplicably quit carrying it. That stuff is delicious. Now whenever we randomly see it, we'll stock up.

    3 Replies
    1. re: mdpilam
      hill food RE: mdpilam Dec 19, 2012 12:35 AM

      Uncle Brutha's is indeed quite good. he has a website and does mail order if you're really 'jonesing'

      1. re: hill food
        TMFOtter RE: hill food Feb 15, 2013 06:21 PM

        Uncle Brutha's is available at the Whole Foods in Old Town Alexandria. I put that stuff on everything!

        1. re: TMFOtter
          hill food RE: TMFOtter Feb 15, 2013 08:59 PM

          I find a depth in his 'green' that I don't in other commercial sauces. when the storefront (7th and C SE) closed, I was sad. but wholesale distribution is better handled by the pros anyway.

    2. c
      CDouglas RE: Deborah R. Dec 10, 2012 08:02 AM

      Kerrygold Irish butter and Dubliner cheese
      Berger cookies
      Zing Zang Bloody Mary Mix
      Wright's applewood smoked slab bacon
      Boar's Head Kosher dill pickles

      All from Harris Teeter.

      18 Replies
      1. re: CDouglas
        mselectra RE: CDouglas Dec 10, 2012 12:14 PM

        For a while I was going to the Harris Teeter near me, on Kalorama in DC, specifically because they carried Berger Cookies. But they don't sell them any more there. I did ask when I first couldn't find them, but it was just somebody working that dept who said, I believe, they were told not to order them any more.

        I'd love to find them somewhere in my normal shopping circuit around here....

        1. re: mselectra
          CDouglas RE: mselectra Dec 10, 2012 12:51 PM

          I go to the Darnestown, MD location and while they stopped carrying them for a time this year they are definitely back now.

          1. re: CDouglas
            lalajane RE: CDouglas Feb 15, 2013 03:19 PM

            I have found that HT is really restricting what they have now. Every time I go now, there are at least one or two items I used to buy there that they no longer carry. And the cheese selection has really gone downhill as well.

            1. re: lalajane
              fldhkybnva RE: lalajane Feb 15, 2013 03:48 PM

              Wow, this is unfortunate as they used to be my go to for any and all things as they carried a wide variety of most products.

              1. re: fldhkybnva
                alkapal RE: fldhkybnva Feb 27, 2013 04:25 AM

                i have not noticed any changes in harris teeter. product mix (say, hot sauce selection) may vary with poor sellers being dropped (or for some other reason). the product mix does also seem to be tailored to the neighborhood; for example, the harrison street store has a slightly different mix of hot sauces and mustards and pastas than the glebe road store. those stores are no more than three or four miles apart.

                store sizes vary, and the largest store(and therefore best selection in the northern virginia area is the duke street store.

                1. re: alkapal
                  flavrmeistr RE: alkapal Feb 27, 2013 08:30 AM

                  For some reason, most of the grocery stores where I shop have dropped B&M Baked Beans from their shelves and replaced them with the grotesquely sweet line of Bush's beans. This makes me sad and somewhat angry, because Bush's beans suck.

                  1. re: flavrmeistr
                    alkapal RE: flavrmeistr Feb 27, 2013 11:55 AM

                    the bush's vegetarian beans are nice, and not sweet like their other beans.

                    1. re: flavrmeistr
                      hill food RE: flavrmeistr Feb 27, 2013 04:42 PM

                      that's why I (an admitted control freak) go for the regular plain great northern beans over on the canned vegetable aisle (dried if I have more time) and season/bake them myself.

                      1. re: hill food
                        flavrmeistr RE: hill food Feb 27, 2013 05:56 PM

                        Me too, black beans usually. But I do like B&M beans now and again and they seem to be disappearing. Life is unfair.

                        1. re: flavrmeistr
                          hill food RE: flavrmeistr Feb 27, 2013 06:45 PM

                          "nothing ever works in this stinking world"

                          Faye Dunaway's character in 'Barfly' on trying eat stolen green corn.

                          1. re: hill food
                            flavrmeistr RE: hill food Feb 28, 2013 04:39 PM

                            "A drink for all my frieeeends...!"

                            1. re: flavrmeistr
                              hill food RE: flavrmeistr Mar 1, 2013 07:42 PM

                              (going OT) She was great, but I can think of so many people that would have been better than him.

                              but that brings up the idea of a small grocer accepting purchases on house account. does anyone do that anymore? there was one in my old 'hood on 4th SE that did for regulars, but they retired and sold to cousins, who I don't think continued the practice. the paperwork/records must have been a pain, but they had a lot of regulars on monthly income who sometimes ran out a few days before the next 'bump' I was surprised as she could be a bit abrupt, If I worked overtime and stopped off for something (and never daily) I was berated "you're late" but then once someone who was clearly a single mom and struggling was dealt with sympathy and tenderness while I did my best to ignore what was going on and 'forget' something I needed to go back and fetch. I'd like to see more of that in stores (I know, ain't gonna happen)

            2. re: mselectra
              Just Visiting RE: mselectra Dec 12, 2012 04:23 AM

              Just inside the Beltway, just off Connecticut, is a grocery store called Chevy Chase Supermarket. They sell them - over by the deli counter. Caveat - I haven't been there in three years. But it was a regular item - they always had them.

              I would also try Rodman's.

              1. re: mselectra
                TMFOtter RE: mselectra Feb 15, 2013 06:23 PM

                Rocklands Barbecue on Wisconsin Ave. sells Berger Cookies. So does Chevy Chase Market on Connecticut Ave in Bethesda.

                1. re: TMFOtter
                  Mister Big RE: TMFOtter Feb 17, 2013 09:52 AM

                  Chevy Chase Market is SO expensive. Snider's Super Foods (three miles east) is a much better choice.

                  1. re: Mister Big
                    Deborah R. RE: Mister Big Feb 27, 2013 09:14 AM

                    Snider's is a great grocery store -- worth the trip. You never know what you'll find there, at a surprisingly low price. But you always know you'll find first-rate deli (chopped liver, corned beef, roast beef, their own marble rye). They even carry halvah.

                    1. re: Deborah R.
                      The Big Crunch RE: Deborah R. Feb 27, 2013 09:27 AM

                      They also have great rotisserie chicken.

              2. re: CDouglas
                ocpitmaster RE: CDouglas Dec 11, 2012 11:24 AM

                Sounds like the perfect meal!
                We have a HT nearby in Selbyville DE...thankfully!

              3. littlew1ng RE: Deborah R. Dec 10, 2012 09:35 AM

                harris teeter fried chicken
                giant deli's sesame noodles
                whole foods pizza
                safeway deli's mediterranean orzo salad; safeway store brand cheese-garlic croutons

                1 Reply
                1. re: littlew1ng
                  agarnett100 RE: littlew1ng Dec 10, 2012 09:44 AM

                  Costco brand (Aka: Kirkland)
                  Olive Oil
                  Hot Dogs
                  Tequila - available in CA, DE
                  Vodka- "

                2. alkapal RE: Deborah R. Dec 14, 2012 06:13 AM

                  harris teeter --

                  "brookwood farms" eastern carolina style pork bbq in a pound tub. good stuff. lean and really smoked in siler city, n.c.

                  "honeycup" mustard -- mustard with a hint of honey and a bite. not your typical honey mustard. great with ham on dinner rolls for a party!

                  "eat smart" brand asian salad kit. if you like asian slaws with sesame oil, and crunch from almonds….try this!

                  "amelia springs" *spring* water -- the best bottled water in a gallon jug. giant also has the small cans carbonated, when you want some fizz.

                  1. d
                    Deborah R. RE: Deborah R. Dec 14, 2012 07:02 AM

                    Hello again --

                    A few more of my faves:

                    * Smuckers line of "Low Sugars" jams. No artificial sweeteners, half the usual amount of sugar but more than sweet enough.
                    * De Cecco olive oil
                    * Silver Palate oatmeal
                    * Wegman's brand whole-wheat pita

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Deborah R.
                      mdpilam RE: Deborah R. Dec 14, 2012 07:42 AM

                      Agree with Wegman's pita.

                      Also reminds me, Wegman's organic air-chilled whole chicken is great (markedly better than any other chicken I've had and that includes at restaurants). Wegman's everything bagels are good for store bought bagels.

                    2. d
                      DCDOLL RE: Deborah R. Dec 18, 2012 01:03 PM

                      I'm glad you started this thread...i have been meaning to ask and forgot...does anyone know a store in the DC/NOVA area where you can buy H.K Andersen "Salty Stix" pretzels?? They are just like the Mister Salty pretzels of our (some of us!) youth and i can't find them anywhere around here. Dont' really want to order from their website, as you get 12 boxes and i don't want that much. Any info on a local grocery store appreciated!

                      1. r
                        rHairing RE: Deborah R. Dec 18, 2012 06:35 PM

                        Costco rotisserie chicken and the chicken salad they make from it.

                        Wegmans has these fresh lasagna sheets. You don't have to boil, just cut to fit. I'll never go back. They also have italian classics dried pasta line in a green box...just as good as de cecco, the gourmet in the blue box? They also have their own line of marinades/dressings. I don't have any on hand so I don't have the name but it's a tangy spicy red sauce that is wonderful for grilling.

                        Whole foods pleasant morning buzz coffee and their brand organic teriyaki sauce which has wonderful ginger flavor.

                        1. r
                          reiflame RE: Deborah R. Feb 16, 2013 05:11 AM

                          Safeway's Tomato Bisque. It's really, really good. I'm talking about the refrigerated one by the deli, not anything in cans.

                          I use it when I want grilled cheese and tomato soup.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: reiflame
                            hill food RE: reiflame Feb 17, 2013 02:11 AM

                            I worked for a while in the bldg. that became MTV's 'Real World' house at 20th and S NW by the now-closed? 'Pseudo Safeway' (Townhouse sub-brand) and found that one pint of those soups made a good 2 days of must-snarf-at-my-desk-as-I'm-on-deadline lunch.

                            1. re: reiflame
                              DGinDC RE: reiflame Feb 20, 2013 12:54 PM

                              Yes!! I've thickened the bisque further and used it for a creamy, tomato-y pasta sauce. It's very, very good.

                              1. re: DGinDC
                                hill food RE: DGinDC Feb 27, 2013 12:54 AM

                                a caveat on the Safeway Select soups, if you're concerned about fat and salt, read the label carefully, some are through the roof. no worse than a canned alternative, but some are no better, the content does vary by flavor.

                            2. f
                              flavrmeistr RE: Deborah R. Feb 21, 2013 09:55 AM

                              Otterbein's Cookies. Made in Baltimore, they are excellent, better than homemade. They are available at the Giants in Maryland. Not sure about Virginia.

                              1. t
                                The Big Crunch RE: Deborah R. Feb 21, 2013 02:38 PM

                                Bonne Mamman jams and jellies - Their strawberry jam is THE BEST!!

                                Honeycup mustard - I wouldn't use any other honey mustard

                                Arnolds Potato Rolls - The best thing to use for hamburgers and BBQ sandwiches

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: The Big Crunch
                                  reiflame RE: The Big Crunch Feb 21, 2013 04:28 PM

                                  That's nice, but what grocery store can you buy them in? That's the point of this thread.

                                  1. re: reiflame
                                    The Big Crunch RE: reiflame Feb 21, 2013 07:21 PM

                                    No, the whole point of the thread was to point out "what products (and brands of products) people purchase at the usual grocery stores."

                                    I've bought Honeycup Mustard and Bonne Mammam jams and jellies at Kroger, Safeway, Publix, Lowes, Giant, Harris Teeter, and Bloom across an expanse from Pennsylvania to Florida. They may not be at EVERY location, but they are at most.

                                    Arnolds does distribution in the mid-Atlantic, where potato rolls are quite common, so I don't know if you can find them outside that region, but from Pennsylvania down to Virginia you can find them at nearly any grocery store.

                                    Whole Foods is the exception for Honeycup and Arnolds. I guess neither is organic enough for WF to stock them. However, they too carry Bonne Mamman.

                                    1. re: The Big Crunch
                                      hill food RE: The Big Crunch Feb 21, 2013 11:13 PM

                                      technically Crunch is right, although naming a source for a product is helpful.

                                  2. re: The Big Crunch
                                    alkapal RE: The Big Crunch Feb 27, 2013 04:28 AM

                                    i second that honeycup mustard pick. i get mine at harris teeter. i like several mustards, but that one is PERFECT for little ham sandwiches on soft rolls. i made some as a potluck snack a few months ago, and everyone raved. it is a mustard with a very slight honey flavor, and with a little kick. (it is the only "honey mustard" that i've ever liked).

                                    HT also carries bonne mamman.

                                  3. j
                                    Just Visiting RE: Deborah R. Feb 22, 2013 04:00 AM

                                    Early Bird Bread at Whole Foods. We actually call it bird seed bread, but the real name is Early Bird Bread. It is a store-brand packaged bread.

                                    However, shopping at Whole Foods can be an exercise in frustration as they are often out of items - for weeks at a time. They seem to have serious problems stocking shelves.

                                    In the Whole Foods Bakery department, which is otherwise meh (looks great, tastes like nothing):

                                    Fresh (unpackaged) oatmeal raisin cookies. Incredibly good. Caveat - only the large ones. Sometimes they have small ones and they are inexplicably not nearly as good.

                                    Fresh bread: Seeduction bread/rolls. Better than any cake!

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Just Visiting
                                      The Big Crunch RE: Just Visiting Feb 22, 2013 05:29 AM

                                      Yes, yes, yes to WF bakery criticism!! I wondered if I was the only person who found their bakery goods to be really quite bad, despite how gorgeous all the breads and such look. I also wondered if it was just the WF I'd been to in DC. Looks like it might not. Also agree about the oatmeal cookies. Actually, all their fresh cookies are pretty good, except for the peanut butter which is a bit meh.

                                      1. re: The Big Crunch
                                        alkapal RE: The Big Crunch Feb 27, 2013 04:29 AM

                                        WF used to have the best rolls with raisins and pecans …dinner rolls. i have to see if they still carry those.

                                        1. re: The Big Crunch
                                          Deborah R. RE: The Big Crunch Feb 27, 2013 09:22 AM

                                          In general I agree that WF baked goods are disappointing, but I appreciate that they're now selling tea cookies by the pound, some of which I've found to be quite tasty. It's so nice to be able to indulge in one small cookie (or two), which is not the case at most bakeries, where the single cookies are the size of your head.

                                      2. alkapal RE: Deborah R. Feb 27, 2013 04:32 AM

                                        here is a thread on good grocery store "shortcut" products -- pretty widely available. it is a good thread for reference here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/566008

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