Whole Foods seems to be synonymous with the mecca of all things organic, weird, healthy, and vegan. This is why it wasn’t one of my first grocery tours! We are lucky to now have 2 stores in the RVA, both north of the river. Our original store is in Short Pump, and a new one opened in the city of Richmond earlier this year. Another nice thing about this national chain is consistency among stores. If I’m traveling for a race, I know I can find a decent meal and snacks at Whole Foods.
These stores are well stocked, organized, and friendly. I love that if I need something really specific for a recipe, I can normally find it here reliably. (I went on a mad search for garam masala about a year ago, and could only find it here!) And, of course, they have all the vegan basics like tofu, national brand vegan cheeses, and all the meat substitutes.
What are some of my must-haves here?
- I know. I buy produce everywhere! They have a wide variety of both conventional and organic produce and carry locally grown in season. This is also one place where I can buy sprouts!
- If I need to replace part of my regimen ASAP, this is one place I can reliably find what I use. They also have good choices in their 365 store brand. I currently use their zinc supplement, but can purchase on Amazon. Whole Foods staffs this section well, with at least one well-educated associate available to answer questions. If you are newly vegan, this is a great place to go to purchase supplements to help in your journey for this reason.
- Body care products
- Whole Foods carries a wide variety of natural/organic/cruelty-free brands.
- I love the Alba line of facial and body care products, especially their facial moisturizers. This is one place I can consistently purchase the whole line of products. Certain items are sometimes available at Target, Wegmans, and even discount stores like Marshall’s and TJ Maxx, but I know I can get what I need here.
- 365 brand products
- Everything I have tried of this affordable store brand has been good. It’s a great, affordable choice for veggie stock, canned tomatoes and vegetables, and cereal (love the raisin bran!).
- JUST egg substitute
- Although it’s pricey at $7.99, you can always find it here. (This product has also appeared at Aldi for $6.99 and Publix for as low as $5.99, but price at Publix varies depending on location, and is not always in stock.) I love that you can use this product for baking, too!
- Sweet treats
- Vegan molasses/gingersnap cookies. You can buy these in singles from the cookie bar or in a smaller version in a take-home pack. You would never know these are vegan!
- Peanut butter fudge dessert. This will be near the salad/hot bar in packages to go. Such an indulgence!
- Vegan doughnuts. These are absolutely delicious!
- Vegan pumpkin pie. This is obviously seasonal, but having missed this over the years I’ve been vegan, I decided on a whim to buy a whole pie once while visiting my parents! It really was worth it…
- A meal! (under normal circumstances)
- Vegan pizza. They always have a pre-made vegan pie on their hot bar during lunch and dinner hours. You can also order a whole pie to go. Always prepared in their wood fired pizza oven!
- Salad bar. Lots of selections, all of which are clearly labeled if a vegan choice.
- Hot bar. The buzz on the local vegan social media has been about the “chicken fried” tofu. I haven’t had the chance to try this yet!
- Beer bar. Grab your meal, and then sit at the bar to enjoy a draft beer or cider to go with! You can pay for both at the bar.
- Obviously, the salad bar and hot bars look a bit different right now due to the pandemic, and the beer bar is now closed. Hopefully things will return to normal one day! So for now, they have some pre-made take and go items that are new. Clearly labeled vegan if so.
As sad as it sounds, Whole Foods is a great place for a “date” with my husband. We have met for lunch during a busy work day. It’s also nice to grab a healthy meal then fit in a quick grocery shop. I don’t typically make Whole Foods my big shop of the week due to location and price, but you certainly could. Purchasing their 365 brand products does help alleviate cost, and Amazon Prime members earn a discount and special sales as well.
As the pandemic drags on, Whole Foods is adapting with increased grab and go meals, improved efficiency with pick-up grocery orders, and expanded local vendors. On this trip to the Short Pump store, I noticed they are now carrying the Kite Hill vegan fresh pasta! I picked up the tortellini to try. Since I love their vegan ricotta, I’m expecting this to be amazing as well!
Do you shop at Whole Foods? What are some of your favorite items here? I’d love to hear about it! As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.