that time I almost went to jail

The day was October 22nd, 2014.

I had just left a particularly trying sculpt class when all I wanted was FOOD.

I was heading to a friend’s place so I figured I’d just go to the nearest grocery store and pick up something quick to make. As I turned a corner I was face-to-face with a Whole Foods. Woooo! I figured now was as good a time as any to try out their hot food bar. It seemed like a happy compromise – that way, I wouldn’t have to do any real work but I could still feel good about what I was eating. Wins all around!

By the third time I circled the store I was, in a word, overwhelmed. I guess it’s never a good idea to lose your Whole Foods hot bar virginity at 6pm on a weeknight but hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. Aside from the masses of men in suits, the dreadlocks, and the women in yoga pants (I’m ashamed at how much I fit in), THE PRICES. I mean, I’ve shopped there before and if you play your cards right it’s really not as bad as people say. But the prepared food…I could have spent enough money to put a down payment on a car if you let me roam around there long enough.

auto-9gag-1137266After half an hour or so I finally narrowed it down to a piece of fish with a baked potato or a piece of chicken with veggies. I figured, how bad could it be?

I politely asked for the most simple of the fish: a piece of salmon. No frills, no sauce, no sides, just a piece of fish with some salt and pepper on it. “Did you want a particular piece, miss?” I was surprised by this question and it got me to thinking how annoying it must be to work there with snoopy people leaning over the glass pointing “no no no, THIS one, no no no, THAT one.” But I smiled and said “Just the one in the back, thanks.” Bada bing, bada boom, she slapped the price tag on the bag and handed me my piece of fish as I examined the sides deciding which one I would take to go along with it. Oh, how naive I was. I could’ve had some of their homemade pizza so I was pretty proud of myself at this point. Until I looked down at the price tag.


For a piece of fish.

As the woman eagerly waited for me to pick my sides I smiled and said, in the most convincing tone I could, that I was going to continue looking around the store.

I couldn’t stop looking at the packaging. I wish I had taken a photo! It was such an unassuming piece of fish, the size of my palm and plain as could be, with just the little specks of black pepper showing.

I panicked as I walked up and down the aisles of that Whole Foods, trying to decide what my next step would be. Dollar signs began flashing before my eyes, visions of student loan payments and upcoming Christmas gifts dancing in my head. And here I was, starving, holding a $10 piece of salmon.

I thought about giving it back. I really did. But I had a feeling there was going to be some health code issue where they can’t take back meat like that that’s already been taken from the counter. But I just KNEW I couldn’t walk out the door with that stupid piece of fish.

It was then that I decided to commit my very first crime (that I know of).

If you’ve ever been to a Whole Foods during peak hours you know that there are about seven hundred employees in the aisles as well, so disposing of said-fish was going to be tricky.

I meandered up and down the aisles looking like a straight-up idiot carrying a piece of fish by itself until, by some grace of God, I came across a frozen food aisle that was empty AND out of view from any of the counters that lined the perimeter. I approached the gluten-free bread section, pretended to compare the cinnamon raisin and the sprouted whole grain, had one last moment of remorse, opened the door, and threw the fish in the freezer.

I figured at least there it had a chance. A chance to be discovered, nursed back to health and put back on display. I was even a little proud of myself that I had enough self-control and wherewithal to not shove it behind a cereal box or something where it would stink to high heaven the next day.

And then I ran.

I was 30% sure that someone was going to stop me and ask where my fish was. After all I had been roaming alone with that sucker for awhile and then *snap* it vanished. But I was able to escape without being arrested and charged with salmon swindling.

And that, my friends, is why I will never buy from the Whole Foods hot bar.

(Oh, and immediately following this I went to Potbelly and got a toasted turkey sandwich + chocolate smoothie — $8.25).

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  • Anyone know what the jail time is for salmon swindling?
  • Do you shop often at the Whole Foods hot bar? If so, which street corner are you prostituting yourself on that makes your trips there possible?
  • What’s one food that you’ll always splurge on, no matter the price?


  1. Oh my goodness, this story was HILARIOUS. And I wouldn’t have called you out on it at all. I bet if an employee had caught you and you just explained you didn’t want to pay $10 for a piece of fish, they’d probably understand. Who pays $10 for a small piece of salmon?! I’m a frugal girl, so I feel ya. Ridiculous…Did the salmon have caviar stuffed inside or something? Sheesh.

  2. I do love shopping at whole foods but I shop savvy – I know what’s a good price for things and what is overpriced – I am one of those sad people that just ‘tend to know cost of food’!
    So that is why, I avoid, like the plague, the hot and cold food bars aka daylight robbery!
    You totally did the right thing Lauren! I actually think they should tell you the cost before packing it up.
    One thing I do spend crazy money on is Kombucha – it’s like £3 a bottle! and I know I can make my own at home, just need to buy a scoby!

  3. Girl you crack me up hahahha omg yeah Miguel and I went to the WF hot bar for breakfast last weekend and it was $17 for not that much food. Such a disappointment, really. The only time I eat there is if I go grocery shopping right after work… which is never a good idea in the first place.

  4. I’ve seen Whole Foods hot bar hacks that I’ve found to be quite helpful. Someone once hacked it and walked out of there with it only costing $4+change, though! What I do remember from the hack, though, is that the #1 thing to do if you want to eat from the hot bar (really from the cold bar, I guess) is to grab a box and fill it with lettuce first. Lettuce = lightweight = cheap(er). Then you put your toppings on, but again: think light! Nothing heavy! Or, if you do get something heavy, only get a couple (like their rosemary [I think] tofu things or their sweet potatoes…ohmagahhhhhh. But one must resist! Or only take a couple pieces of tofu or like half a scoop of sweet potatoes. Otherwise $$$$$$). Of course, finding lightweight stuff in the hot bar itself is a pretty tall order, but if you fill your box with lettuce first and then maybe leave a little corner empty off to the side, you can sometimes swing putting a little something from the hot bar in that corner, but you’ll probably regret it later haha 😛 . Anyway, I can usually walk out of there with a $7+changeish salad following that method, and I put enough stuff on it to make it a pretty substantial meal. Plus I’ve found it’s way easy to let your eyes get bigger than your stomach when it comes to the hot bar anyway — you want something of everything and end up getting way too much food (at least I always do!)

  5. haha you’re cracking me up. i go to Whole Foods several times a week at least — yes, this is my guilty food pleasure that i will always spend my money on. i love love love their salad bar even though it’s super expensive, and i buy their juices, even though they cost more than 2 meals at my work cafeteria…and i’m not yet prostituting myself on the corner to substantiate this habit. i’m just obsessed. 🙂

  6. Hehehe, too funny! I know, Whole Foods can be super duper pricey sometimes… which is why I go there just here and there as more of a foodie adventure, rather than actual food shopping. One of my best friends works for corporate WF and she gets mad that I shop at TJs! Ha. I mean I already spend a lot of $$$ of food shopping at TJs, the farmers market, and the food store on the Marine Corps base since I go for high quality/organic/natural stuff a lot of the time… I can’t even imagine how much I would spend if I did all of my shopping at WF! Whomp whomp.

  7. The salmon at the prepared food section is $21.99 – AHHH and it’s ATLANTIC SALMON – if you go to the fresh fish section, it’s $12 or $13!!! At the WF I frequent, they can GRILL IT FOR YOU over there!!! And you save like $8 – WHAT WHAT! A little trick for ya! 😉 And Wednesday’s the salad bar is 1/2 off, just sayin’! I am a Whole Foods – WHORE!

  8. AHHHAHAHA. I would have eaten it…I mean NOOO that would be wroonngg. No really though the hot bar (actual hot bar, not the spots you get fish, sandwiches, meats ,pizza etc…) IS SO worth it. I have no problem spending my money there.

  9. Haha! Your story made me laugh. Those healthy hot food bars can be killer. One time I decided to try out this health joint called Hu Kitchen. Everyone raved about it. I decided to get a few things for my husband and I for dinner. I think I spent like $40 and we ended up not even liking everything! Luckily I know of some inexpensive healthy to-go foods but geesh!

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