What's worth getting at Wegmans?
January 21, 2015 12:32 PM   Subscribe

I've heard a lot of good things about Wegmans, but I've never been. What do they have that's especially good and/or unique?

A few months ago, a Wegmans store opened up in the area - near enough to be an easy drive, but not near enough for us to go regularly. I've wanted to go and see what all the fuss is about, and I'd like to have some idea of what to look for and what not to bother with.

I'd welcome recommendations for either specific products or entire departments. I'm especially interested in healthy snacks and easy-to-prepare meals. We're unlikely to stop at the food court, just going for groceries.

To give you an idea of what we normally have access to: my husband and I mainly shop at Trader Joe's, with occasional stops at Whole Foods and Market Basket and very occasional stops at H Mart.
posted by Metroid Baby to Shopping (38 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
They make a great chocolate cake. It's not a healthy snack, but might qualify as an easy-to-prepare meal.
posted by jon1270 at 12:39 PM on January 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: If you already shop at Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and H Mart, you won't find much new at Wegman's. You'll find everything in one store, which lots of people like, but, personally, I'd rather have several less-intense shopping trips than one big blowout. The folks I know who are most impressed by Wegman's are folks who live in the outer suburbs and don't have easy access to specialty groceries.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:47 PM on January 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Wegmans brand stuff is generally pretty good. They also just have a *lot* of stuff and varieties of stuff. They have a big prepared foods section so maybe plan to have a meal there - there is so much to choose from (subs, pizza, salad bar, sushi, soups, etc.). Big bakery, big cafe, cheese! I don't know where you are but I don't think there are many stores with big bulk foods sections near me - Wegmans has a lot of bulk foods, ranging from oats to candy.

They also always have a huge "seasonal" section in the middle of the store which I always want to pick over because I once got a great book case there (it folds flat! and stacks!). The frozen section will have a lot in the way of easy to prepare meals but also look at the recipes on their website - if you're going, you can buy the marinade that only Wegmans makes and doesn't have a counterpart in non-Wegmans stores.

But yeah, at the end of the day, I am really into the ultimate white cake with white frosting. They make a very little one that looks like it's about the size of a few generous cupcakes but 100x more elegant. They sell slices too but it's such a pretty simple cake.

Also, for what it's worth, I used to do most of my shopping at Whole Foods and now I do more of it at Giant but I still find Wegmans to be cheaper than either. But I'm definitely biased because I grew up near Wegmans and think that every metro area that doesn't have one is a little worse off for its absence.
posted by kat518 at 12:47 PM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: In my experience Wegman's works fairly hard to target each store's stock to local demographics, and they can differ quite a lot from one another (for example, the store closest to me, in an area with a lot of African Americans and West Indians, has a soul food hot bar and an "international" aisle with Marmite, Branston Pickle, and other products from the UK and Caribbean - the one in the largely white, highly affluent suburb that my brother lives in has neither).

That said, I'm at the former weekly, and its advantages over the competition (around here, Whole Foods, Giant, Safeway, Trader Joe's, and Harris Teeter) are:

1. Size - all of the DC area stores are huge, with a lot of stock and selection.
2. Produce quality - consistently better than Giant and Safeway, comparable to the others.
3. Produce price - marginally cheaper than Whole Foods on some organic items.
4. Bulk foods - better selection than Whole Foods.
5. Staff - consistently more helpful and seemingly less disgruntled than other area groceries.

Also, if anyone in your family is gluten-free, both Wegman's I've been to have an entire section catering to them.

It's worth having a look at if you're nearby, but I don't really get the hype, either - it's a solid, useful, pleasant grocery store, though.
posted by ryanshepard at 12:50 PM on January 21, 2015

They have a really good brand of salami called... Rosetta di Lyon? Something like that? It's really really good. Lots of good cheese options too.

They had an awesome train at Xmas.

They have some soda I haven't seen elsewhere locally.

I also found fresh tamarind there, but I haven't figured out what to do with it yet. The produce was very nice, but I'd call it comparable to Whole Foods.

I'm not sure it's totally worth all the fuss. It was a fun trip. If you want to do lots at once, it's good.

Definitely better than Shaw's. Not as much fun as TJ's or H-mart.
posted by maryr at 12:53 PM on January 21, 2015

Basically, it's no Market Basket, but it's worth a visit.
posted by maryr at 12:54 PM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Mine has relatively large international sections where you can find stuff that's normally only available in specialty markets (thai or kosher or scandinavian, for example), and a particularly good beer selection. But like many people have said, it's more just a great one-stop grocery than it is an ikea-style make-a-special-trip kind of place.
posted by you're a kitty! at 12:57 PM on January 21, 2015

One thing I saw there that I have not seen at other supermarkets in the area is a dedicated charcuteria (in addition to the normal deli). So if you want some fancy meats and don't feel like going to Dave's or some of the other local specialty stores, you could try Wegman's. Other than that, I didn't see a ton that really called to me over some of the other local mega marts; I think Whole Foods' cheese selection is better, produce variety and quality was ok, and the meat and seafood counters were decent enough. They did have about 100 linear feet of cooler space devoted solely to their store-brand unsalted butter, which I found a little amusing.

Maybe I was having an off day or they were, but the checkout person I had last time had to ask me the name of every single produce item I had purchased which did not speak well to their employee training. Apparently there are are scales in the produce section they "encourage" but do not require you to use which will print bar code labels for the cashiers to scan.
posted by backseatpilot at 1:00 PM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Wegman's produce is of a consistent very high quality, while also being much cheaper than Whole Foods or similar. Ours has a very nice bakery, both the sweets and breads are great. They make these dinner rolls that are like soft pretzels, only in a ball, that I adore. Ours has an international section that is super-extensive, though I live in a town with a large international population. None of it is going to be an incredible surprise in the context of your usual places, but I think of it as the perfect one-stop happy medium between all of those things. I don't need to stop at the local Asian market AND the local hippie co-op for fancy cheese and baba ganoush AND the kind of crummy place that has the cereal-and-milk basics, I can get them all in one place. I wouldn't make a major out-of-the-way trip for it.
posted by tchemgrrl at 1:00 PM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, having moved from the land of Wegman's to a place near where you are now, the main thing I miss about it is that it has fancy/unusual/imported things and good produce, while also having staple-type things at reasonable normal-grocery prices, so I didn't have to do the nonsense I do now where I get produce at Whole Foods and make a separate trip to Star Market or whatever because I don't need artisanal all-purpose flour, seriously.
posted by dorque at 1:03 PM on January 21, 2015

Best answer: Oh, and yes, do use the produce section barcode printers. They often carry unusual things that I don't often see elsewhere (galangal and Jerusalem artichokes come to mind, or all the different apple varieties that are all under different PLUs) and it's much faster for you to look up the PLU as you choose it than to make the cashiers do it. They usually know the PLUs for common stuff (bananas etc), but telling the difference between an Empire and a Macoun apple quickly on sight is a pain.
posted by dorque at 1:07 PM on January 21, 2015

Oh, I forgot to mention my very favorite thing about Wegman's; they have an app which tells you the exact location and price of anything in the store you are shopping at. My pre-literate kid can navigate the app, pick out what fruit he wants for lunch, and check things off as I get them. Loving the Wegman's app makes me feel like a corporate shill but oh well.
posted by tchemgrrl at 1:32 PM on January 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

All my Wegman's shopping was in the Rochester, New York area but I believe I've read that they carry the Rochester derived white hots in places where other local grocery stores don't.
posted by Jahaza at 1:32 PM on January 21, 2015

Best answer: Previously.

Assuming you do your main shopping elsewhere, Wegmans does a good job at filling gaps. What those gaps are depends on the customer and the region. I grew up in Wegmans' birthplace, and now live in an area where Trader Joe's and Whole Foods are crowded and/or expensive, and Stew Leonard's "is just like Wegmans." No. No, it is not.

When I go home, I get at minimum: white hot dogs, store brand organic BBQ sauce and hot sauce, pumpernickel bread, specialty peppers, whatever bakery stuff looks good, whatever cheeses look good, local beer, sometimes one of the "ultimate" cakes. Certain items I buy regularly, like KIND bars and various seaweed snacks, are often worth picking up because there are more flavors and lower prices. If there's anything you like at your regular grocery store that seems priced like a novelty item, check on it at Wegs.

Also I get one chocolate chip cookie...because the long-defunct Wegmans Cookie Club still lives in my heart.
posted by gnomeloaf at 1:49 PM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I love Wegmans! Here are some things that you should try out:

1. Prepared food section. Plan on having lunch there - they all have seating areas. If your state allows it, they also have a great selection of beer that you can drink in the restaurant area or take home. Everything is delicious, but I love the arancini (stuffed risotto balls) the most.

2. Cheese selection. Ask to taste anything you're interested in - they will happily give you a slice.

3. Ready to cook meat and fish. They have a really big selection of meat and fish that is all prepped to cook. Their cedar plank salmon comes on the plank and all you have to do it throw it on the grill or in the oven.

4. Bread. Most of the time you can get it hot out of the oven. Get the ciabatta baguette or 7-grain sliced bread.

5. Organic and gluten free sections. If either is a concern for you, you'll fine a huge selection.

6. Bulk candy.

7. Any Wegmans brand product. The ones you should try are the basting oils, any frozen vegetables (they have some really unique blends), fancy frozen appetizers, cous cous/quinoa/rice blends, and basically everything else.

I'm a little homesick for Wegmans and miss it terribly since I moved. Go hungry, have lunch, and go up and down every aisle.
posted by elvissa at 1:50 PM on January 21, 2015

Also omg gnomeloaf reminded me about the chocolate chip cookies. You need those in your life.
posted by elvissa at 1:51 PM on January 21, 2015

Best answer: At least the ones near me (not near enough!) have great bulk sections and good selections of natural/organic foods with better prices than Whole Foods (and sometimes better stuff, too). I think Wegmans' house brand stuff is usually great (and I sometimes like it better than "national" brand stuff) and at a good price.. Produce is always good, too.

Prepared foods are great. They do have some good salads (like pasta/grain/etc.) that are in containers to go. Also some take-home-and-bake meals (which I did once or twice). They are very "special" diet friendly (gluten-free, vegan, whatever) and I always found everything very clearly labeled.

None of mine are close enough to shop at regularly but I do find they're great for a "restock my pantry" run every few months. Even factoring in gas/etc., it is worth it and it's fun.

(Also, all the employees seem super nice -- I've never had a bad experience with one. It's just a super-pleasant shopping trip. I used to work near a Wegmans and I miss it terribly.)
posted by darksong at 2:00 PM on January 21, 2015

They have Q tonic and another brand I can't remember (upscale great tasting tonic)
Wegmans Basting Oil
Grapeseed Oil
Pan Searing Flour
Very good Store Brand Steel Cut Oats
Thai Culinary Stock - great tasting to add to stir frys

Many more - I will post if I will think of them
posted by MrsMGH at 2:02 PM on January 21, 2015

The submarine sandwiches from their deli. With the sweet pickles.

-Born and bred at Wegmans
posted by Tandem Affinity at 2:06 PM on January 21, 2015

Also, seconding, nthing, etc. the earlier mention of all the generic Wegmans products. EXCEPT their salad dressings, which I generally find to be too salty.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 2:08 PM on January 21, 2015

Our shopping is almost entirely at Wegmans, and they do a very good job on consistently good quality produce,, fresh fruit and vegetables. They also carry everything, but I wouldn't treat it like a specialty store like Trader Joe's.

Some of the more interesting things in ours:
- Bulk trail mix constituents. Make your own, or just stock up on dried pineapple.
- A shockingly good beer selection for a grocery store, including obscure bottles of Belgian ales and specialty brews in large bottles.
- The six-dollar meals are a frequent go-to when we're running low on leftovers.
- Good (and improving!) selection of Indian (and other) stuff in Foods from Around the World.
- Great selection of cheese; olives in the Mediterranean bar.
- Oven-fresh bread, and roast-your-own fresh coffee beans.
- Super friendly and helpful employees.
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:15 PM on January 21, 2015

The Wegmans brand bottled green teas appear to be the Ito En Teas' Teas, just relabeled and cheaper! That always makes me happy.

The Wegmans near my mom's house has a lot of thrilling child-related things like free diapers in the bathroom, a stool for little kid hand-washing, a model train running around the ceiling, and FREE CHILDCARE for 3 and up. The one in Boston didn't seem to have that, but I only poked my head in and didn't take a good look around.
posted by chocotaco at 2:17 PM on January 21, 2015

Wegmans is wonderful. They're high on the list of Best Places to Work every year, they pay (and treat) their employees well. It's headquartered in Western New York so they carry some WNY-specific products outside the region like the aforementioned white hots, Chiavetta's marinade, and Weber's horseradish mustard. Some stores carry Perry's* ice cream, it's some of the best non-fancy ice cream I've ever had. I think you should try all of those, but I am biased.

The store brand products are really solid. Most of what we get there are Wegmans brand. Some of my favorites: the boxed mac and cheese (spirals), packets of portioned and premarinated meats, yogurts, the 'italian classics' line of pasta & sauces, flavored seltzer, coffee beans. We also use their cat food on occasion, I can't really verify whether it's better than other cat foods but our cat likes it.

They often have produce difficult to find elsewhere, like feijoa.

*if they do, you might see some Buffalo Bills and Sabres-themed flavors, which is a great source of delight for me, ymmv.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 2:21 PM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Lime Mint Seltzer. Holy cow.
posted by oflinkey at 2:40 PM on January 21, 2015

And this. Sorry for the multiple posts.
posted by oflinkey at 2:44 PM on January 21, 2015

Depending on the store and the season, they may have actual black truffles. The price will be in the hundreds of dollars per pound range but that translates to a single truffle (which is all you need for most things) being around $25 (make sure they weigh only the truffle and not the rice it's stored with - but keep the rice it comes with and cook with it as it will have become truffle infused). They are a nice splurge every now and then.
posted by Candleman at 2:47 PM on January 21, 2015

Best answer: If I had to choose only one store to shop at, it would be Wegmans. I rotate through Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Wegmans and Stop and Shop, but Wegmans would be my go to if I had to choose only one. No other place around me has the breadth, depth and quality of selection that they do. Specifically, I like their cheese department, bakery and produce. Their seafood department is pretty good, too, and they have enough meat raised without antibiotics to keep me satisfied, if not truly pleased. They also carry Fentiman's tonic water, which I think is fantastic. They have good deals on items like garbage and storage bags, paper products and cleaners. I can't point to one specific item that makes them indispensable, it's more the aggregate selection.
posted by mollweide at 2:55 PM on January 21, 2015

Oh, if they're currently making it (it varies by location and timing), the purple wheat bread with apricots and blueberries (eat it fresh with butter) and the cheese bread (toast it and slap some butter on) from their bakery are a m a z i n g
posted by you're a kitty! at 3:15 PM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

CHEESE! I will disagree with backseatpilot in that I think Wegmans has a bigger cheese selection than Whole Foods (though this could depend on the WF location). Echoing the others that their prepared foods are great, though apparently they don't carry the arancini they make at the Burlington store (OMG those things are delicious). I like their deli selection a lot, though I will say we were disappointed by their macaroni salad.

I am totally going to buy a truffle there someday.

They have a pretty decent beer selection too, though their western MA location is bigger. That's really far, though.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 3:37 PM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Unusual seafood, aged meats and charcuterie sausages are where Wegmans offers something other grocers don't. With that said, they also charge a fair premium on those items.

Beyond that Wegmans shines in convenience, service and selection. They have everything, lots of stuff made in house, and it is hard to turn around and not find something to distract you into buying it somewhere in your eyesight.
posted by Nanukthedog at 3:57 PM on January 21, 2015

Also, YMMV but in general, Wegmans strives to go the extra mile for customers. If you want someone to walk you to your car, that's not a problem. Sometimes they'll let you drive up and they'll load your bags for you. And little things, like they pack the bags like they're not completely insane. I've heard stories like that someone dropped a cake in the parking lot and they just replaced it, no problem. I returned something once (I think my dad bought a coffeemaker he already had) and it was just super easy.

Also, if you ever need light catering for an event, like platters or trays, they're on it. Most of my family gathering have some Wegmans catering going on.
posted by kat518 at 6:15 PM on January 21, 2015

I agree that the most wonderful thing about Wegmans is their generic brand products. I'll buy things that I'm normally brand-loyal to, like frozen pierogies, tea bags, ice cream, Greek yogurt, sandwich cookies... (The Wegmans brand things I don't like are the slice and bake sugar cookies and the toilet paper.)

I love their individually packaged marinated chicken pieces and meats (try the Jamaican jerk chicken thighs).

The buffalo chicken cheese dip (in the cheese section) is delicious.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 8:42 PM on January 21, 2015

Response by poster: Cake, cheese, and charcuterie. Sounds like a balanced meal to me.

Thanks for all the answers! And for pointing me to the previous question (I swear I searched thoroughly, but I didn't think to search "Wegman's" with an apostrophe). We are rather spoiled for choice as far as grocery stores go, and these answers have helped manage my expectations a bit. Sounds like it's worth checking out when we have time, but won't replace our usual stores.

I'm marking some best answers, but every answer here has been informative and helpful, and I'll keep following this thread if anyone else has anything to add.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:08 AM on January 22, 2015

the 'italian classics' line of pasta & sauces,

Just popping in to mention my delight in finding that at least some of their house-brand sauces do not have added sugar.

Added sugar is a deal-breaker, and we don't have to buy the most expensive sauces to get there.

That's the thing about Wegs -whatever specific algorithm you have - they'll have what you're looking for.

(*this is also where I mention my disappointment that Wegs in my WNY area is letting the working-class suburban stores slide into a shit-hole of crappiness -with slim fruit and vegetable pickings, dirty floors, general overall shabbiness, while maintaining their newest stores and rich suburban stores to a tee. We've noticed, Wegmans, we've noticed.)
posted by vitabellosi at 5:17 AM on January 22, 2015

You need their Tuscan garlic bread. But what I like best about Wegman's is that it's just so much more pleasant to shop at than other stores near me.
posted by maurice at 9:37 AM on January 22, 2015

Chiming in late. A friend and I have regular Wegman's "dates." It's too far (30 minutes min.) for me to shop regularly, but I get there at least once a month. There are some things I would never buy at Wegman's and some things I can only buy at Wegman's. Wegman's consistently ranks as one of the lowest cost supermarkets in the country, when a standardized market basket is used, so your routine grocery items are always a good buy - but it's the specialty stuff that will hit you in the pocketbook and tempt you over budget, and that's the stuff that is usually Wegman's only.

I never buy cheese at Wegman's. Amazing cheese department, and if variety is what you want without consideration for cost, then this is the place. But specialty cheeses are routinely twice the price per pound compared to Trader Joe's. Examples: mascarpone is 6.99 at Wegman's and 2.99 at TJ's. Basic French brie is $14.99 at Wegman's versus 7.99 or less at TJ's. OTOH, the olive bar, which is part of the cheese department is amazing, and the prices are reasonable if you make the right choices. I could eat their Italian bruschetta mix with a spoon (and have done).

The bread bakery is great, the prices are reasonable, and they slice to order. All the other baked goods, especially the patisserie, are astronomical. $12.99 for a fruit pie? No thanks.

The deli counter has suprisingly reasonable prices if you're getting meat sliced to order. The prices here are definitely comparable to other grocery stores, and certainly better than prepackaged meats. They also have very high quality sulumi and charcuterie.

The butcher counter and prepacked meats are hit or miss on value. If you select wisely, you can do OK. The quality is impeccable and really superior to almost anywhere else, so again it's hard to do a direct comparison based on price. But if you love veal shanks or fresh lamb, this is the only place that will always have them.

The prepared foods can be a great deal depending on what you buy. The more "prepared" the food is, the lower the value for money gets, i.e., a full prepared meal is less of a deal than the premade sauces that you can use to make a meal. My favorite buy in the prepared foods is the Cheese Sauce, which keeps forever, and can be used for everything from quick mac n' cheese to steamed vegetables.

The produce section is relatively reasonable, but again, the big benefit here is quality of produce, as well as selection, so hard to compare to other supermarkets. The freshness is beyond compare. Stay away from the prepared and sliced vegetables - especially the vegetables sliced to order. Craziness! Do sniff the truffles in their locked plexiglass cabinet. Just because.

The health food "market within a market" is comparable in price to Whole Foods, which is to say, ridiculously expensive.

Again, as CR consistently reports, the basic supermarket stuff - eggs, milk, canned goods, dry goods are always priced very well in comparison to other supermarkets.

To reiterate what so many others have said, it's just so damn pleasant to shop there, and you can't really put a price on that.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 2:00 PM on January 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: when a standardized market basket is used

As an aside - I didn't realize that "market basket" referred to something other than the grocery store chain around here! Today I learned something!
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:44 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

The Wegmans here is miserably crowded on weekends and at peek hours on week days (lunch crowd and after work)--like, circle around both levels of the parking lot trying to find a space crowded. On the other hand, they have longer hours than most stores here, 6am-midnight, so if you can go early or late it's good. Usually it's too much hassle for me, but the selection here is definitely bigger than other stores so if I need something specific and can't find it at one store, I usually go to Wegmans next.

The olive bar is enormous, they probably have about 30 kinds of olives and my friend who likes olives says they're better than other stores' olives.

My grandmother likes the sushi bar better than other supermarket sushi.

I like the bakery better than normal supermarket bakery (even simple things, like bagels).

Wegmans brand candy corn during Halloween season is definitely fresher tasting than other brands (and vegetarian). I was actually making a weekly run basically just for this stuff.

The bulk nuts and dried fruit area is also enormous and fresher/nicer than average.

I never get any of the cheaper "normal" items here, it's just not worth it to battle the crowds.
posted by anaelith at 12:45 PM on January 24, 2015

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