I am going to just come right out and say it. I have been having an affair … with H-E-B.
The first time we met, I didn’t know what I had. I was young and foolish. I used you to buy almost ready-made meals and cheap beer or a bottle of Strawberry Daiquiri Boone’s Farm. I took home cans of Progresso Soup and name brand snacks.
I didn’t know; I just didn’t know all you had to offer.
I moved away and really never looked back. Sure, my grocery bill climbed higher over the years, but I just assumed that was the way life went. Could one grocery store really be better than another? I started buying the store brand at my new stores thinking that would help, but it didn’t. The quality and price just wasn’t the same.
As luck would have it, we met again.
This time, I was older and wiser and had many more people to feed. While we weren’t in dire straits, it sure felt like that after returning from an overseas tour. That Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) can make a huge difference in monthly income, am I right?
I immediately went for the Hill Country Fare and the H-E-B brand to save money, but soon realized that it was just as good or better than the name brand. And my weekly grocery bill was manageable, whether we ate mac or cheese or steak.
I was hooked. H-E-B, I’m madly in love and will never leave you again.
Are you new to Texas? Let me tell you why to ditch the commissary, Kroger, Walmart, etc. and race to the nearest H-E-B.
H-E-B’s fresh food is fantastic. The produce, the meat, the fish, the bakery … it is all high quality. Some of our family favorites are the fresh flour tortillas, tortilla chips, and salsa. H-E-B can make a mean hot guacamole too! As far as I am concerned, if you live near an H-E-B that makes the tortillas in-house, you are winning the grocery experience game. Not only will your children think the tortilla machine is the best thing to see at the store, you can feed them with hot tortilla samples during your visit.
Let’s start in the coffee and coffee creamer department because, let’s face it, where else do most moms start their day? There are at least a dozen H-E-B brand creamers and just as many coffee choices. Try out the Café Ole line. You won’t regret it. It even comes in K-cups. Now if we could only get them to make pods for the Nespresso, we would be in business. Aside from that, H-E-B tailors its selection to the neighborhood near the store. Why is this important? First, it helps with the convenience of your shopping. Next, you know that if you can’t find it at your local H-E-B, it could be worth the drive to a nearby store to find a specialty item.
I am a huge fan of tracking prices and keeping data. I tend to add things up over the course of a year and often end up canceling the service once I realize how much it will cost me. So it shouldn’t come as a shock when I tell you that I can give you the exact price of most of the regular items on our weekly grocery list.
I have to admit that I have never been a huge fan of the commissary. Prior to living in San Antonio, we were in Italy and the commissary is what you would expect from an overseas commissary: limited in its selection, picked over, and items often on the brink of expiration. After our PCS to San Antonio, I quickly made the jump to H-E-B but occasionally went to a commissary if it was convenient. If you are a commissary shopper, you know that they don’t have a store brand. Well, guess what? H-E-B prices for H-E-B brand and Hill Country Fare are cheaper than what the commissary can offer. And as for quality of the H-E-B store brand, it is just as good as name brand.
Sadly, we had to leave Texas and our beloved H-E-B last summer and my kids still ask for the H-E-B brand macaroni and cheese over Kraft or another brand. If that isn’t enough, H-E-B does awesome in-store coupons where you buy a certain item and get an item (or items!) for free.
Sometimes it’s logical to buy the chips, get the salsa, and sometimes H-E-B has a great sense of humor like buying cheese and getting a laxative for free.
H-E-B now has Curbside Pickup in many of their locations. This means that you can sit in your jammies drinking your Café Ole while you “shop” for your groceries. You make the list, pick a time and place to pick it up, type in your credit card number, and then park outside H-E-B while an employee brings out your loot and loads it in your car. If you are like me and are super picky about the quality of your produce, have no fear! Items are carefully picked out and triple checked for accuracy and quality. The staff is depending on your happiness to make Curbside Pickup successful, so they don’t want to give you bad food.
In addition to Curbside, you have the option of Deliver to Home. This is best for people like me who don’t live near an H-E-B anymore. Now I can order all of my H-E-B favorites and it is shipped straight to my door. They even ship to APO/FPO addresses! See our post on this service.
There are a couple of things to mention here. The first is Sunday afternoons. As far as I am concerned, this can be the worst time to shop for the week. The store is packed; people aren’t moving quickly; and many shoppers have a spouse or child with them slowing things down. Enter H-E-B and the most amazing “happy hour” of samples you can find. On any given Sunday afternoon, you will have your choice of a half dozen samples and several tastes of alcoholic beverages. It definitely puts me in a better mood while I stroll down the aisles.
The next thing worthy of a mention is the customer service. I won’t name any names but have you ever been to a large chain store like Walmart (oops!), and while it has 22 check out lanes, only 2 to 3 are open? I can tell you right now that isn’t the case at H-E-B. At 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve with the entire store crawling with shoppers, all lanes are open and moving efficiently. I was able to walk in, do all of my shopping with three kids in tow (I’ll save that story for another post), get through the check out, and be home within an hour. The same is true for the more mundane shopping days as well. You will never wonder why only one out of 14 lanes are open. The best part is that the employees are always cheerful and seem genuinely happy to see you in their store.
I love my H-E-B, and I want you to as well. If you are new to Texas or a strict commissary shopper, give it a try. I promise, you won’t regret it.