When a mom's group first recommended Market Basket in Ashland, my snob factor rolled on in. No way it would have organic food, excellent produce and whole grain baking products, I thought. But since I am always open to saving money, I decided to check it out. And, despite the narrow aisles and the crowds, I will admit that I instantly fell in love. And, each time, I giggle at how unexpectedly fabulous it is. On a recent visit I even found myself smiling about the great carts for toddlers which had a bench that my boys could sit on.
So, what do I love? First, the prices. They are shockingly low. Friends insist that they save 30% off of prices elsewhere. When ever I can, I purchase the Market Basket brand and have never been disappointed by the quality. For some items, such as the oatmeal I use for granola, the price alone is worth the trip. Second, the turnover is so good, that the produce fits the bill when I need something I can't get at the local farmer's markets.
But what I love most is the selection. They have an fabulous cheese selection with an unusually broad array of Latino cheeses, such as queso foundo, queso fresco, and queso blanco. In fact, their whole Latino selection means I stock up on masa harina, puposas, arepas, and plantanos each time I go.
They also have a wider array of "fun pasta" than anywhere else I have seen. My family has fallen for the Pastene brand with wonderful long hollow spaghetti, narrow lasagna noodles, super curly corkscrews ...
They have inexpensive organic, free range meats. They have the heavenly Kate's brand buttermilk (if you are lucky enough to arrive when it is in stock) and the best ricotta I can find at a supermarket: Biazzo. They have more beans than anywhere else I have been to. They also have a huge selection of all natural and organic products such as Bob's Red Mill Stone Ground Cornmeal, King Arthur Flours and cereals.
I even stock up on parchment paper and other staples.
Best of all, they have the old standbys that we need, such as Stonyfield Farm brand yogurt.
Do I go each week? I wish. But it is just a bit too far out of the way. But when I go, I stock up and always wish I could go more often.
Last (and critical tip): Go at the oddest hours you can. I suspect that they save money by stocking the aisles at the main times. That means that to shop there is a bit like the Indy 500 as you navigate among boxes, people and children. So since it is open on most days from 7 to 7, try and get there early or late.
Market Basket, 49 Pond Street, Ashland, 508-872-7410