As we're down to one car, I have been having to walk or bike to do our grocery shopping. That means that I cannot fill a grocery cart as I normally would do. I have to be able to physically carry (or ensure all of the bags fit into my bicycle panniers) the food that I have chosen.
I wonder how long I can keep this up? Going to the grocery store every day or every couple of days seems like an inefficient use of my time. But I like the benefits- intentional exercise, reduction of our carbon footprint and reduction in meal preparation stress due to the knowledge that what I pick is part of an already chosen meal plan.
It's been hard though to get over the mindset of being prepared for all contingencies. I feel that I am so ingrained to "be prepared" that I even find myself doing it when at the store with our grown son. He might be shopping for his own groceries, for his own household and still I ask him, "Need more toilet paper? Have enough eggs? What's the status of your canned soups? What about laundry detergent?" I feel an unfounded anxiety that if he doesn't purchase those things he will be unprepared and disaster will befall him. I seem to have this compulsion of asking him to pick up more things than he was planning and that he actually needs.
I have been acutely aware of this familial tendency as I have riffled through my parents' cupboards trying to clean out and keep fresh the contents for my dad. I am amazed at the amount of cream of chicken soup cans my mother kept in her pantry. She was prepared to make casseroles for the home front and for the invaders if we ever had a nuclear attack. (But then who would really want to eat them and would anyone be around?)
But the action of making smaller purchases has resonated with me. I feel so much freer, lighter and healthier. First of all, I have to be mindful of what I purchase- when will I use it, how much will I need and how heavy is it? Secondly, I am mindful of using all the items that I purchased because my time is precious and I don't want to waste any of it going to the store unnecessarily. Thirdly, I am saving money because I am not buying unnecessary and unused items. I don't need to keep my cash on my pantry shelves in the form of mega packaging. Do I really need to outlay a week's paycheck for the ginormous package of toilet paper?
I am thinking about starting my own small purchasing movement- Basket Shopping. I guess it is counter to the anti-Costco, mega purchase shopping experience. I am harkening back to the practice of the daily round to the shops to pick up enough in one's market basket. The hand carrying market basket which was used to transport the purchased items, was a staple for all households and is used in some form or other even today. It was in 1937 that Sylvan Goldman designed a basket on wheels. It was designed to make the shopping experience easier and more pleasant, which in turn would encourage the shopper to visit more frequently which consequently would increase sales. The original shopping cart has been expanded over the years to accommodate more merchandise and hence increase sales for the company. I wonder if it is a coincidence that part of our obesity epidemic can be correlated to the enlargement of shopping carts and buying in bulk?
So, I am wondering what the smaller purchasing model will do to our eating habits, our budget, our health? Will it be a total inefficient model or one that works well for us and our lifestyle? Can it be sustained especially in the winter months? Will I grow weary of riding or walking to the store? Will I find that I have to make an occasional car run to the larger, better stocked grocery every couple of weeks? How will that work with budgeting and planning? I'll let you know how I progress.
What about you? How are you with grocery shopping? What do you do? Monthly trip to Costco? Daily trip to the local shops? Online purchasing and at home delivery? Eat most meals out so you don't have much in pantry or fridge? Are there items in your pantry that you cannot even make out the expiration date due to age related fading? Do you feel the need to be prepared for any food related worst case scenario? Coffee, wine, chocolate, favorite snacks for the apocalypse?
You might not be in a position to walk or bike to the grocery store, but you can try basket shopping. For the next couple of weeks, plan out your menus- taking into account the items in your fridge, freezer and pantry. Try to incorporate some of the items that have been there forever. Write out your list of what you need from the store. When you go, plan on using only the hand held basket for your items. Once it is filled up then you are done for the day. After a couple of weeks, what happened? Did you become best buds with the checker? Have you been more intentional about your meals and what you eat? Have you spent more or less on food?
Have you tried basket shopping?