In my perfect world, there is a mall a few blocks away from my house with about 5 different markets, each one with the few essentials I want and need every week. As it is, I am running between Trader Joe's, Safeway, and Fresh & Easy. With limited time during the week, it's frustrating that there isn't just one place that stocks everything I need.
I got a one year anniversary flier in the mail yesterday for a new chain of markets that moved to our neighborhood. I was excited about something moving in within walking distance of our house, but it takes a while to get acclimated to a new market, especially when you have food allergic children. After a year and several visits, I am pleased to say that I am impressed by the efforts that Fresh & Easy has made to cater to a clientele with an ever growing list of dietary restrictions and food allergies.
The first thing I like about Fresh & Easy is their coupons. They are plentiful, and although I know they are a marketing ploy, I appreciate them nonetheless. They come in the mail and they come with the newspaper. They're everywhere.
On top of that, the store is always impeccably clean and bright with ample parking and a few spaces earmarked for customers with children.
Next, the bread. Sandwiches for 3 kids at least 3 to 4 times a week and toast for breakfast means I buy a ton of bread. You see that crazy lady buying two loaves of bread at a time? That's me. Rainbo bread used to be my go-to for sandwiches. But since they changed their recipe a few years back to include dairy, we can't buy it anymore. I am constantly checking ingredient labels on breads at every market I visit, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that Fresh & Easy carries their own brand of white bread without dairy. Soft and fresh tasting too. Yippee!
After a bit more searching, I found a number of items that I cannot find at my local TJ's, including a variety of So Delicious frozen treats made with coconut milk instead of dairy. Our favorites are the dairy free Minis vanilla sandwiches and the Minis vanilla bars.
Other Trader Joe's-less items found at Fresh & Easy include Vegenaise vegan mayonnaise, Daiya dairy-free mozzarella cheese shreds, Aidell's chicken apple sausage, and IM Healthy Soy Nut Butter.
Now, for my biggest con: there are no employees to help you check out. It's all self-service. I mean, minus the one who inevitably comes around when your machine stalls. Which drives me nuts with the number of glitches those machines have yet to work out.
I still fill my cart to the brim at TJ's, and need to make my Safeway stop, but I know that my Fresh & Easy visits are definitely worthwhile too.
Now even though it does require a bit of effort, a new environment can inspire new meal ideas. Here is my latest inspiration from shopping at Fresh & Easy: chicken salad sandwiches. An oldie but goodie, one of the things I made pre-allergic children. Now that I've started regularly stocking Vegenaise in our fridge, I can add these sandwiches to my weekly lunch rotation. My version includes canned or rotisserie chicken, Vegenaise mayonnaise, chopped celery, chopped green onions, a squeeze of lemon, thawed frozen petite peas, chopped cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste. Add chopped apple or raisins for a touch of sweet if that's what you like. My hubby and I love having a bowl of chicken salad stocked in the fridge. Enjoy!