How Do You Do Groceries?

grocery store

When I was fresh out of college, back in the days where we still thought email was a substitute for letter-writing instead of a method of assigning and confirming responsibilities, I wrote a friend a long email letter about my low-paying telemarketing job and the realization that grocery shopping was my only form of discretionary spending.

(Later, when I watched The Office, I got to the part where Ryan Howard says “Now that I’m back to doing the job of a temp, again, I find that food is one thing I can control,” and laughed uncomfortably.)

So I used to spend more time in the grocery store, looking at everything and thinking about what I could buy.

Now that I have enough income to have other forms of discretionary spending, I’ve got grocery shopping turned into probably the least discretionary shopping experience of all. Nobody should be surprised that I keep a grocery list, but I’m curious if other people’s grocery lists always contain the same 10 food items.

I cook and eat the same thing nearly every day. Breakfast is coffee, of course, plus oatmeal with almonds, fruit and honey. Lunch is a deli meat sandwich with a side of “exotic vegetable chips” (I know, that language is racially problematic even for chips) and a piece of fruit and a square of chocolate. I have ginger cookies for an afternoon snack, and dinner is baked fish with a side of rice, a green salad, and another square of chocolate.

I also keep a box of noodles and cheese, as well as general frozen burrito and nacho ingredients, in case I need a really quick meal.

This means that when I go to the grocery store, I’m pretty much “there are 15 things in this store that are My Foods, and the rest are Not My Foods, and I’m going to find my foods as fast as possible and get out of here.” The only place I really make choices is in the produce section, because I look for seasonal fruit and vegetables.

Is this how other people do things? Grocery shopping is one of those experiences that you rarely get to see other people do, because even though there are other people all around me, I’m focused on my own grocery journey, not theirs.

So let’s talk groceries. Do you make lists? Do you buy the same things all the time? Does grocery shopping feel like discretionary spending or household spending? Do you feel like you’re spending too much money on groceries? (I always feel like I spend way too much money on food in general. If you saw my Monday check-in, nearly all of my spending was on food.)

Yay groceries! Until we all start our own fully-sustainable small farms, we will always have to buy you.

Photo: KitAy (cropped)

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