I’m the odd person who enjoys grocery shopping. Or rather, I love the concept of grocery shopping. I love choosing what I’m going to eat. I shop multiple times a week so that I can have fresh food for my family most days for most meals. So when Fresh Thyme Market announced a grand opening near me, I jumped at the chance to see what this new to me store was all about.
Can I just say that I’m in heaven?
Fresh Thyme Market isn’t a huge store. In Crystal Lake, it took over the space vacated by a chain that left the Chicago market, but it only took half the space. Walking in, you can see the entire store because the shelves aren’t so high you can’t reach everything. The openness is incredibly appealing to me, as is the fact that almost half the store is fruits and veggies. I love the sheer abundance of whole foods available.
The focus at Fresh Thyme Market isn’t on having every possible SKU but on having a variety of fresh, healthy, and organic value-priced items. The deli isn’t huge, but it has what we need. I don’t need to choose from seven different kinds of salami. The have Boar’s Head, which is what I buy every time anyway. And there are more than twelve varieties of natural, handmade sausages made in-store daily that have no MSG and use all natural seasonings.
And the fish counter? Again, it is just right size. Because of the feel of the store, Fresh Thyme Market doesn’t have customers take a number but instead simply helps the next customer in a more human manner. When the store is busy (as it was Wednesday and again yesterday when I went back to buy more salmon fillets), it can be confusing as to how to get service because we aren’t used to it anymore, but the staff is friendly and proactive in assisting customers.
And that old school feel? It continues in the butcher paper wrapping of the meat and fish. It’s a small thing, but it makes me smile. And the fish is fantastic. I bought two salmon fillets for dinner at the Fresh Thyme Market grand opening on Wednesday. I placed them in an Asian inspired marinade, and Little Miss must have eaten almost three-quarters of a pound of it. And finished it off in yesterday’s lunch. Needless to say, I bought another three fillets (for $3.97/pound for salmon, how do I not?) to make for dinner tonight.
The other most popular items? I bought two avocados, and Little Miss ate both of them (mashed with some chopped tomato, lime juice, and citrus smoked salt) on Wednesday, as well. Yes, I bought three more yesterday. I also picked up three containers of the gorgeous raspberries on sale for $0.97.
Little Miss asked if she could have some raspberries, and of course I said yes. When I turned around again, it was to see three empty containers sitting on the island. Apparently they were good. I didn’t have a chance to try a single one, but at least my kids are eating healthy foods, right?
Another discovery that makes me pleased as punch (and Little Miss, too?) – Fresh Thyme Market has a plethora of allergy friendly foods. There are over 1,600 gluten free items in the store, most of which are labeled as such. That doesn’t include the dairy free and other allergy friendly items in fresh foods, the frozen section, packaged foods, and more. All our favorite brands are there, along with some new ones to discover from SoDelicious to Daiya (though not the Daiya cheesecakes yet) to Silk and so many more. And yes, that includes the Yummy Earth Lollipops at checkout that are 5 for $1. Just don’t tell the wee ones!
I’m also a huge fan of buying foods in bulk. It’s cheaper, and I can get exactly what I want. If I want to try just a little coconut flour in a recipe, I can. If I want to buy a ton of hazelnuts to make homemade Nutella (yep, homemade Nutella), I can. The little local bulk foods store within walking distane of my house closed down years ago, but now I have over 300 bulk foods items to choose from at Fresh Thyme Market. Am I happy about that? Guess.
The other fun at Fresh Thyme Market is the grind your own nut butters. I love nut butters that have no “extra” ingredients, and so do the wee ones. There are four – yes four – kinds to choose from at Fresh Thyme Market, and you can even make a tiny bit to sample it and ensure it’s a kind you or your children will like. Plus, you can grind your own and get exactly how much you want or pick up one of the containers of fresh ground nut butters that are ready for you if you’re in more of a hurry.
And no, Fresh Thyme Market isn’t all for the kids. Nope, there is a beautiful Hops and Grapes section with an expansive selection of wine and local craft beers. And if you purchase six bottles of wine, you get a 10% discount. It’s a great way to try out new soon-to-be favorites or stock up for entertaining.
So yeah, I might be just a little bit in love with my new local market. This doesn’t count the over 170 organic offerings or the more than 7,000 varieties of vitamins, supplements, and natural body care products. I haven’t had a chance to try the Fresh Thyme Kitchen with prepared salads and meals, sandwiches, bakery, or creative salad bar that were calling my name. But I have plenty of time to visit those the next time I head there.