I once confessed to my friend Joanna that I am often near tears every time I reach the cash register at the grocery store. My compassionate friend quickly told me that I was immediately disqualified from being part of her Post-Apocalypse Repopulating Earth Plan. (“If you cry at the check-out you’re not emotionally stable enough. And we might won’t want your genes, either”. Clearly, she’s a fountain of empathy). But seriously, does anyone else find grocery shopping to be a bit stressful?
If you’re furrowing your brow in confusion, let me illuminate for you the three reasons that I do not like grocery shopping:
1. Too many choices, too many options. So much yummy food. Must stick to budget.
2. I hate dropping $80-$100 in one place.
3. I follow a complicated algorithm of healthy/cheap/local/organic/fair trade and usually get a bit lost in my own head. (It’s something like this. If it’s fresh, it should be local or organic. Less packaging is better. Pick the cheapest option that we love the most. If it’s canned, meat or eggs, it should be produced fairly. It should be low-salt. It should be lean. It should low-fat. Pick the cheapest. I know, I feel dizzy too).
I usually come home thinking I’m ‘broke’, confused about whether my purchases reinforced child slavery or cruel treatment of farm animals, and feeling hungry for double-stuffed Oreos and huge salads with feta and red peppers. Perhaps Joanna is right, I may not be your best post-apocalypse wing-man. Anyway. To combat my grocery shopping issue, I have a few coping mechanisms:
1. We shop at the Farmer’s market. This makes the fresh/local/organic choices easier. And it’s fun. And I get to pay in cash so I think we’re only spending $20 on vegetables and $10 on meat, not a whopping $30!
1.5. Fair Trade Hot Chocolate from Red Hill Coffee at the farmer’s market. I blame my Mom for this one. As a kid she would always get me a free slice of American Cheese from the deli counter while we shopped. I’ve been conditioned that if I’m a good girl while buying groceries I can have a snack.
2. Varun almost always comes with. We team-shop: he carries the bulging green bags, fishes in his pockets for spare toonies and offers me free therapy.
3. I make careful meal plans which yield a clear list. From there I just go shopping and don’t deviate. No surprise items, no going over budget. And by budget I mean my list, not a number I actually stick to (that would be too organized).
In case you’re not yet convinced that I’m a little high strung and a little crazy, I’m going to tell you that I meal plan. Until 7 days ago, it didn’t really occur to me that this was unusual. However, thanks to another friend, I was told that this is a bit odd. Listen, buddies. I don’t meal plan because I’m an organized Super Wife. I meal plan because it didn’t occur to me not to.
Here’s how it happens. At some point in the week, I sit down with my cookbooks and recipes I’ve found online and pick 4. Usually 1 is super easy (read: ravioli or pizza), 1 has meat, 1 is Indian. I tend toward things that are flavour-filled or spicy, vegetarian, high in protein, filled with veggies, and easy to cook in bulk. I put these 4 meals on a piece of paper that also lists breakfast options and snack options. I then create a shopping list.
To me, it’s pretty simple. However, my friends found this pretty amusing. They’re trying to convince me that lots of people just go to the grocery store…and then what? Anyway. The whole thing has been baffling me for the past week. So now I’m curious: what do you do? Do you plan your meals? How often do you buy groceries? Does going grocery shopping stress you out? What foods do you splurge on?