Used to be you had limited options for on-the-go food that was easy on the wallet: drive-thru (cheap but not necessarily healthy) or pack it yourself, which meant at least one trip to the grocery store for provisions and time in the kitchen. But now, a visit to your local market saves time and money with scores that are not only economical, but often super healthy.
Huckleberry's Ninth Street Bistro
926 S. Monroe St., 624-1349
There can be no doubt why the deli counter is located at the front of many grocery stores; the smell of cooking meat is like perfume to our primal selves. And while Costco's and other market brand's baked, roasted and fried chicken is already a good deal, a whole Mary's chicken that's organic, non-GMO feed, free range, etc., etc., is a steal at Huckleberry's for just $10. Totally shareable, coleslaw optional.
Moscow Food Co-Op
121 E. Fifth St., Moscow, 208-882-2537
The Moscow Food Co-op has been a hub of goodness since opening its doors in 1973. It's the go-to for that ingredient you forgot (or can't find elsewhere), but also a quick and healthy meal. Grab-and-go offerings and online ordering make the experience much like a restaurant or food truck, if such food vendors offered organic, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options made with local products as a matter of regular course. How about 32 ounces (4 cups; so more than one serving) of scratch-made soup like white bean chicken chili or vegan corn chowder for $7 (providing you bring back the jar and get $1 back, which you will, because now you know where the good eats can be had in Moscow)?
Pilgrim's Natural Market
1316 N. Fourth St., Coeur d'Alene, 208-676-9730
If you've ever eaten where you fill your bowl with some kind of meat, assorted veggies and sauce, but a professional chef cooks it all for you, you already know the secret: Pile on the protein. Same applies at Pilgrim's, where a modest grab-and-go selection offers lots of tasty salads, snacks and the like, though if you have more hunger than cash, get an individual organic quiche, like the one with Brussels sprouts, broccoli, bacon and protein-rich eggy goodness for $7.
Main Market Co-Op
44 W. Main Ave., 458-2667
By the time you read this, Main Market's deli area remodel ought to be complete. Although grab-and-go items have been available all along, Main Market only recently restarted breakfast and has not yet re-launched its hot bar. The new focus is burritos and rice bowls, plus some new cold treats, so in the meantime, take both literal and physical comfort (maybe even spiritual comfort?) in their Buddha bowls. The falafel bowl is satisfying with crunch and tang and savory, yet still vegan: couscous, house-made falafel cakes, arugula lettuce, cucumber, tomato, Greek olive mix, and a tahini vinaigrette for $7.49.
My Fresh Basket
1030 W. Summit Pkwy., 558-2100
This place is dangerous if you're hungry; everything looks amazing including all those in-house baked goods and pretty little macarons smiling at you from the front display case. Yes, please! Focus, if you can, on the hot bar, which for $9 per pound can be a strategic use of your Alexander Hamilton. When it's hot out, it's a total treat to have something like meat lasagna or chicken enchiladas to fill you up without filling up your home space with oven heat. ♦