Topic: Mainstream Snacking
The Dish: I've written about my favorite veg-friendly grocery stores before—Trader Joe's, Aldi, hidden-gem discount shops—and I'm still happily surprised at all of the new great products and deals they offer. But sometimes, I'm not within walking distance of one of these veg havens when hunger strikes, be it when I'm out in the city, in Missouri visiting family, or driving through a random town on a road trip. In those cases, I find a Walgreens.
In San Francisco, there's a Walgreens on pretty much every corner. I'm certain its numbers compete with Starbucks. At first glance, all of the edibles seem frustratingly not vegan, especially when I'm in dire need of a pick-me-up and bags after bags of "cheese"-flavored chips are staring me in the face. After careful perusal of the shelves, I've come up with my favorite snacks under $5. Are these healthy? Um, no. But they're for special occasions! Like, you know, when I'm hungry.
- Deerfield Farms Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. ($3.49) Holy crap. This delightful off-brand replicates the chewy version of Chips Ahoy!, but leaves out the milk products. The result is a package of accidentally vegan cookies that must be hidden in a cabinet to prevent total annihilation upon opening. If you're not into chewy, the regular, crunchy variety is vegan, too.
- Walgreens Peanut Butter Bars. ($0.99) These old-fashioned candies are little wrapped bites of happiness. They sort of remind me of the inside of a Butterfinger, but far less gross because they're just peanut butter and sugar. At less than a dollar a package, it's the perfect sweet purchase when you know friends are going to be mooching off of you.
- Blue Diamond Wasabi and Soy Sauce Almonds. ($1.49) A single-serving of these roasted almonds will completely cure any savory craving you have, thanks to a generous dusting of wasabi powder and a little soy sauce flavoring. And of course almonds are good for you with all of their protein and good fats, et cetera et cetera. More importantly, they're delicious.
- Original Chex Mix. ($2.49) I'm sorry, didn't Chex Mix used to have whey in it?! I recently discovered that the original party snack either removed the animal products, or I have been mistaken all along. Whatever happened, it's made it possible for me to revel in this childhood favorite.
- Lindt Excellence 85 percent Cocoa Dark Chocolate. ($2.99) It's dark chocolate. What else can I say? Lindt makes a decent bar, and it's more affordable than a lot of frou-frou brands who ruin a perfectly good chocolate bar with some funky non-vegan filling. It's perfect for my daily 3pm, "Where is the chocolate?" moment.
The Final Word: If junk food isn't your forte, the big W also stocks some healthier veg standbys, such as Odwalla juices, Probars (I'll take a dozen), vegan Clif-brand bars, and fresh, nearly free fruit. Of course besides the snacking, it also has the necessities in life, including BioBag's biodegradable doggie bags, L'Oreal EverPure vegan hair care, and tons of products from the cruelty-free Yes to Carrots line. Keep an eye out for sales, do the vegan label-check, and you'll be good to go.