To clarify up front, this posting is not about the cheapest possible bread or cracker crumbs to introduce into or onto your food. Although that is one possible interpretation of the title, today, I am singing mostly the praises of “day old” (or longer) bread stores.
We have purchased all of these items at pretty good discounts in the past:
- Doughnuts: we enjoyed the donuts at the Hostess store more than the Mrs. Baird’s store, but when Hostess closed, we some how found we could eat the Mrs. Baird’s offerings…occasionally.
- Bread: Many varieties and many sizes. When you have kids packing sandwiches, you always have to have some in stock. Although you give up a few days on how long the bread can dwell on your counter when it is bought “day old”, 5 lunch-packers does not make this a huge concern. The cinnamon swirl bread is especially good for french toast.
- Bagels: Many flavors and a few new ones. They have had french toast and apple bagels. The pumpkins ones are also kind of fun in the fall. The bad thing is during the summer the bagels may only last a few days (or 2 days) before the “mold” moves in. The bread/bagels ride around in a truck for a few hours before being brought to the discount store. The summer heat makes the preservatives retire more quickly than cooler temperatures would.
- Buns: Lots of saving here, and in some cases the price is 1/2 to 1/4 what it is at the store. (Although the Aldi’s up the road is pretty cheap.) Most of the time it is still significantly below store brand prices. So, if you need a bun for every hamburger, hot dog, or brat that goes into your body, it might as well be a cheap one!
- Tortillas: Yeah, they have these, too. A couple different flavors and a couple different sizes. Saving is good!
- Pizza crust: They sell Boboli pizza crust. A couple different sizes and thicknesses. If you look carefully, they have had football shaped crust during the appropriate season. (Baseball & basketball fans can make a regular crust resemble their sport at any time. Apparently football players just need a little inspiration to make their pizzas more popular for tailgating.)
It may not take much effort to work a register or to sort bread. Maybe it is the lack of stress in the employees of the discount bread store that makes them so open to conversation. The two employees I see the most are very likely to ask about my kids or even our exchange students. They will recommend new products, and/or ask (as an example), “If you make french toast, you might want to consider the cinnamon swirl bread. You won’t believe how great it will taste.” I truly appreciate their willingness to help me stretch my “breading” dollar as much as possible! I assume they do this for every customer who walks in the door, but maybe asking questions about their lives makes them care about me a little more. (Allow me to assign some value to my existence–please?)
The one gal has a few tattoos and a few kids. Her father works in a union job, and he has had a heart attack. I don’t know her politics, but a few factors make the first guess “Democrat”. I am not sure if she is married or not. (The title of “customer” does impose some limits on what questions are asked. Of course, I would listen to anything that was volunteered.) She has a very positive attitude. She smiles easily, and she greeted me with a quick smile when I walked in the door today. One day I greeted her and barely got a blank stare–the other employee let me know her grandfather had died. The next time I saw her, she was her old self. She felt horrible she was in such a daze that one day–such a good heart!
The other gal is probably closer to my age. She is the one who recommended the french toast w/ cinnamon swirl. She gives me a quick smile and thinks nothing of calling me “hon” when I am shopping. She has a daughter who has gone a couple of short term missions trips with her church to work with girls involved with sex trafficking. Her daughter now lives in New York where she works with those involved w/ sex trafficking. I believe she said her daughter has had great success using art therapy to reach these sometimes forgotten members of society. Unfortunately, she no longer works there. She was a great person to visit with. Likely, the salary she received failed to reach the level of headaches the job generated.
Despite a sometimes uneventful day, I like to have some weekly errands to anchor me into life. A slowing internet business and kids who seem to be unable to do anything buy grow make these predictable encounters something I happily put on my schedule. Their are too many employees at Walmart to have much hope of building a relationship with an employee. I sometimes fail to think of those small businesses out there who provide more than a receipt and a bag of supplies. (groceries, hardware, etc) They provide a smile and a acquaintance-ship. (Discussions on more than weather, but less than politics) Did small town, pre-internet businesses all used to be this way?