This Sunday morning we hit up our local Grocery Outlet. This is actually a different chain than most Grocery Outlets that seem to be more popular on the West Coast of the US. Ours in Knoxville, TN just bills itself as “Grocery Outlet” but in fact, it’s a United Grocery Outlet. (www.myugo.com) However it is very similar to the other Grocery Outlets and many times the products there overlap. It does seem there are more vegan finds at the West Coast ones, from what I can tell, but I usually find some deeply discounted gems here too.
I found both some purposely vegan items, like the blocks of Follow Your Heart mozzarella blocks, the Truly Wholesome plant-based bolognese and the Beyond burger patties, some just naturally vegan items, like dried beans and nuts, to some big-picture vegan items, like the hamburger buns and oranges (perhaps the enzymes or coatings are not strictly vegan), and some technically not vegan items like wine, which likely uses isinglass, a by-product of fish. I don’t feel bad about that though because there is no reason to believe animals are raised for the purposes of by-products. I think it probably has no impact on the production of animal products, but worrying about these trivial ingredients would have a major impact on my ability to eat a big-picture vegan diet. Here in Knoxville, in the area I live in, vegan wine is not easy to come by. Yes, I’ve heard of Barnivore, folks! And if you can easily find vegan wine in your area, that doesn’t require a long drive, then by all means, feel free to go for strictly vegan wine. Also strictly vegan ingredients and products can run double or triple the prices. For example, I paid $1.59 for these Lewis hamburger buns (which actually, I just found out are vegan!*) while a bougie, ~vegan-approved~ pack of buns, like Dave’s Killer Bread, might cost over $6! Personally, I find it just as important to reduce gas-mileage, limit the number of stores I visit, and try to stay fairly local most of the time. I find traveling outside my area of town very stressful and time-consuming plus I have to wonder how many tiny little insects I’d kill going 15 miles to a Whole Foods to buy resin-free oranges? Would it actually be worse for insects to travel? Hmmm, I don’t know and I don’t think it’s worth worrying about, I just want to share a reason why worrying about every little ingredient is probably not worth it, and conversely, why reduction and big-picture are actually worthwhile!
On that note, I would encourage anyone who would like to consider eating more vegan/big-picture vegan items to check out any kind of discount grocery store in your area. This isn’t the only one we have in Knoxville. In my neighborhood, we have small bodega-style discount store, too where I also find great vegan items. Most of the time, there is still quite a bit of time for the “best-buy” dates and don’t be shy about chucking it in your freezer. For example, my Follow Your Heart mozzarella blocks were only $1.29 each, while they normally go for about $4-5 dollars here. The date is until 12/13/22 so I put two in the fridge and two in the freezer. I know I like this brand of vegan cheese so I really wanted to take advantage of the deal. I’ve never found vegan cheese has suffered from freezing either, but it tends to mold more quickly than dairy cheese.
Some other items I have enough of currently but were still available today were vegan meatballs, Ozo ($1) and Farm Rich Garden Inspirations ($1.29) and Morningstar pepperoni pizza bites (I think about $3 for a family size bag). The 3-pack non-dairy Magnum bars a few years ago were probably $6 or 7. I remember them being pretty pricey and we scored them for $1.67! We have had them in the last few weeks and they are not stale nor freezer-burnt. They are just pure deliciousness! The Honest to Goodness Creamer appears to run at about $5 a bottle and I paid $1.29. I’ll definitely use this in my afternoon coffee and matcha drinks. I wouldn’t buy anything I wouldn’t eat**, but I’m not a very picky eater so taking advantage of a discount grocery outlet is a great way to try new vegan items and save some money.
*https://www.lewisbakeshop.com/frequently-asked-questions/#:~:text=Because%20our%20mono%2D%20and%20diglycerides,Healthy%20Life%20Cinnamon%20Keto%20Bread my buns actually are vegan but I wasn’t very concerned if they weren’t 100%
**There was a point in my vegan-ish journey where I felt obligated to buy all the vegan products but I got over it. For example, I’ve been seeing some Sweet Earth vegan hot dogs at Grocery Outlet the last few times but I’m not crazy about the protein to calorie ratio so I ignore them these days. 2018 me would have definitely bought them and grudgingly ate them.