I’ve gone to bulk warehouses since I was a kid, tagging along with Dad while he ran errands. My dad worked a lot of nights when I was young, building the cleaning business that he and my mom had started just before I was born. The way they tell the story, in the early days, they mopped up apartments for a local university, my mom then heavy with child. They had me, then my brother, and meanwhile the company grew. By the time I was in elementary school, there were several accounts to keep up with, taking Dad away from us most nights. So to make up for it, he’d take me with him—to work and on errands, the two of us riding together into the night sky.

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My dad, who sports short, graying hair and a neatly trimmed moustache, stands 5’10”, which today is just two-and-a-half inches higher than me, but I’ve always had to jog to keep up with him. When we’d arrive at the almost-empty parking lot of a shiny office building, I’d be trotting behind his white sneakers, pumping my arms to keep up. Wearing the same pleated Dockers and collared shirts he still wears every day, whether it’s Monday morning or Saturday afternoon, he’d be talking with employees about sealants and floor polishers and machinery, and I’d be hanging behind, hunting for a vending machine.

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It was the same when we went shopping. In the beginning, I think we went for work supplies, but later, we went just as often for laundry detergent or water or something else my family was in the habit of buying in bulk. While he’d be on a mission to get the items on his list, I’d be scoping out cases of candy or granola or chips. I’ve always been able to count on Dad for snacks. It’s one of the main things we share, besides our dark skin and giant smiles and ability to talk in-depth for hours: we like keeping foods on hand that are easy to grab and eat. Cashews, almonds, dark chocolate, dried bananas. We could go to Sam’s Club for fabric softener, but we’d emerge with a bin of something tasty I’d be able to break into and eat fistfuls of in the car. I knew this as well as I knew my name.

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Today, living in Nashville, Tim and I have bulk memberships of our own. This feels as much a proof of our adulthood as voting or paying bills. When we walk up to our local warehouse, flashing cards with our pictures on them to gain entrance inside, we’re essentially announcing to the salesperson and our fellow shoppers and anyone who sees us that we are responsible. We plan for the future. We buy toilet paper in advance.

Never mind the fact that both our memberships have been gifted to us (the first as a birthday gift last August; the next, directly from Sam’s Club, who wants us to talk here about the warehouse shopping experience and a summer promotion they’ve got going on). From the first moment we walked those aisles together, calculating the savings on a giant bag of frozen organic fruit versus the 16-ounce bags from the grocery store, we were hooked. Generally speaking, we look to buy local and to support small business, but true confessions: if you show us a 12-ounce container of organic raspberries at Sam’s for $3.99 ($3.99!), we’re sold.

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A few weeks ago, we used our new membership to buy 24 ounces of fresh organic raspberries, a bag of lemons and a case of Pellegrino, which we took home and turned into this refreshing, sparkling summer drink. It’s part of Sam’s Club’s current “Fruit Cooler” challenge, wherein they’re inviting bloggers to create refreshing summer recipes based on produce from their stores.

As part of the project, they’re giving away one of their beautiful cookbooks, “Fresh, Fast and Fabulous,” to a commenter on this post (will be chosen Friday morning Congratulations, Kendra!). They’d also love you to try the challenge in your own home. The idea’s not that different from the way my dad and I have always shopped together: go into the store, hunt down what you like—although, I will grant, my preferences today lean more towards organic produce or cases of oranges than they do towards candy bars—take it home and, enjoy.

For more information on Sam’s Club produce, visit SamsClub.com/meals.





Sparkling Raspberry Lemonade
Makes 6 to 8 servings

There’s nothing better for beating summer heat than a cool, tart, refreshing lemonade, especially when it’s pretty and pink with raspberries and fizzy and sparkling from Pellegrino. Note: as written, this drink is pretty tart, so you may want to add more sweetener until it’s to your liking.

Ingredients:
3 cups water
1/2 honey (or more)
2 cups fresh raspberries
2 cups fresh lemon juice (from about 11 lemons)
Leaves from 1 or 2 springs fresh mint
1 cup sparkling water, such as Pellegrino

Directions:
MAKE HONEY WATER
Begin by heating 3 cups of water and 1/2 cup honey in a medium saucepan over moderate heat. Continue heating until honey is fully incorporated and dissolved.

MAKE LEMON JUICE + RASPBERRY PUREE
Meanwhile, juice about 11 lemons or enough to make 2 cups fresh lemon juice. Set aside. Puree 2 cups fresh raspberries in a blender; then, strain berries through a fine strainer to remove seeds. Set aside.

COMBINE; MUDDLE MINT
In a tall pitcher, combine honey water with lemon juice and strained raspberry puree. Muddle fresh mint with about a teaspoon of the raspberry mixture; add to everything else.

ADD SPARKLING WATER
Add a cup of sparkling water to the raspberry lemonade. Chill mixture until very cold. If desired, top off individual glasses with fresh sparkling water for more fizz and to dilute the tartness of the lemonade.

Disclaimer: In addition to the cookbook, Sam’s Club provided us with a club membership, as well as a $25 gift card to purchase supplies for this recipe. All thoughts and opinions expressed are our own.

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 28 Comments

    1. Shannalee

      There is this tea shop in Chicago, Argo Tea, that I used to get a “sparkle tea” from sometimes. It was basically an iced, sweetened tea with sparkling water and it. was. amazing. I swear that sparkle changes everything!

  1. Lan | angry asian

    i haven’t been to costco or sam’s club in so long! the immensity of the place is overwhelming, as well as the fear of grabbing everything. we have a soda making machine & dw loves his water flavored. i love the use of fruit in this drink! we generally just add whatever organic juice is on sale…

  2. Le'Ann

    Love the memories that you’ve shared here! I’ve been a Sam’s Club member for over 20 years. They are my go-to place for paper goods and pet supplies. I also like browse their book and movie selections. Lately, I’ve been buying a lot of cheese, fruit and wine… which is way more interesting than toilet paper. :)

    1. Shannalee

      Le’Ann, You know, I’ve noticed there are a ton of books and movies.. I need to check them out. Also, I keep telling myself to remember their baby clothes next time I need a shower gift. : )

  3. MaryAnn

    I go to Sam’s Club just about every week – I love the organic spinach & carrots :-)
    When I was little I used to go to work with my dad, too. He’s a landscaper & I spent many hours watching him (lots of times from inside the house because the customers thought I was cute & they’d bring me in & let me watch tv!). But still, special memories with Dad!

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