Today could have been any other day, but it was one I dreaded. I woke early enough but tried to find ways to procrastinate. Could I go back to sleep? Was there a project I could do that would make me feel less guilty for staying home?
Today I had to shop. I needed to go to the grocery store.
I have never liked grocery stores, they involve decisions I don’t want to make. In high school I worked in a grocery store which was fine at the time because I didn’t have to make a single decision for myself. I was there to assist the customer. At that time I didn’t have to think about my meals, they were planned by another person, my grandmother. Yes, if there was a food I wanted I could write it on the list that resided on the corner of the counter and leave a few dollars to cover the cost but it wasn’t required of me to contribute to the list.
While a lot of our food came from the grocers even then, not all of it came from what we know as the grocery store of today. We stopped at the butcher where we selected the specific cuts of meat we wanted, had the fat trimmed and wrapped in butcher paper labeled with a wax pencil ready to go straight into the freezer.
We also had meals dropped off by friends, oh how I loved those meals. My grandmother’s best friend used to make huge,commercial-sized pans of Italian dishes which she would divide keeping a portion for her family’s use and the rest would be given to friends who enjoyed her cooking.
We shopped the road-side stands in the summer and bought as much as our money would allow. That produce along with the excess from our small backyard garden would be saved for winter meals. I would wander in and out of the house catching different stages of the food being cooked and canned loving the smells that filled the entire house.
All this is to say that while some of our food came from the store a good number of the meals we ate, make that the majority of the foods I prepared for myself, didn’t come from the grocery store. Lasagna anyone?
If today was 1977, and I had to do my own shopping I don’t believe I would react in quite the same way I do now. My choices would be limited but they would lend themselves perfectly to actual meals. In 1977, I didn’t know what GMOs were nor had the conversation of food miles, dirty dozen or recycling come to our consciousness.
It’s almost time to start the garden but with last year being such a disappointment my homegrown or local food ran out long ago. Farmers’ Markets won’t be open until June so the grocery store it has to be. I had it in my head that I wanted a nice steaming bowl of vegetable soup for dinner tonight, if that were going to happen I had to go shopping.
I couldn’t put this task off, believe me I tried. It was 2:30 in the afternoon before I could make myself pass through the door of my home with my reusable bag and cash.
My grocery store is very small. So small that to stock even a small portion of the foods people expect to find the foods have to be stacked on shelves that required a ladder or be over six feet tall. Not fun when you can only reach halfway up those shelves. The workers are very nice and would gladly help me to reach items I couldn’t on my own but I can never bring myself to ask for help. How would it look if I asked to see that jar of sauerkraut only to then ask that it be returned to the shelf because it contained too much sugar? Better question would be, when did we start making sauerkraut with sugar?
The majority of the store can be summed up as processed, canned or shrink wrapped food-like substances and over priced baked goods. In-your-face displays of chips, soda and sugary cereals outnumbered healthy options by far.
Frozen vegetables were on sale, and knowing the fresh produce is far from acceptable, frozen is the freshest to be found. My choices were; peas, corn, mixed vegetables and broccoli. I knew I wouldn’t find every vegetable but come on that’s all you have? I picked up a bag of peas.
Watermelon and cantaloupe were on sale but after examining three watermelons and finding spots on the rind that were already decaying and soft I turned to the cantaloupes. I found two in the compartment that passed inspection but still I held the one I considered best and contemplated how much fruit I still had because the melons were imported from South America. I put the cantaloupe back and moved on.
I headed to the dairy aisle trying to come up with somewhat healthy options to have on hand for the little ones. Who came up with Go-Gurts? Are we so lazy that we can’t pick up or wash a spoon or is it too tiring to lift a spoon multiple times? Yes, I want to put a plastic pouch into my mouth to then squeeze and suck the food out of it. Do you remember those commercials a while back that tried to convince people to stop smoking by making fun of how ridiculous they looked puffing on a cigarette? That’s what I think of when I see a person eating a Go-Gurt.
I stopped on the way home to say hello to a neighbor when I saw her ten-year old granddaughter with what I am told is called a squeeze pouch. I did some research and found these were first marketed for toddlers to allow them to feed themselves.
I considered that a moment. How easy would it be for a toddler to squeeze too hard and end up wearing more of the food than eating it. These, squeeze pouches often come with a spoon that are inserted in the opening of the pouch you then squeeze the pouch to fill the spoon to eat from. Thing is this child wasn’t using a spoon she was eating directly from the opening. I’m told none of the kids do it’s too much hassle, they just toss the spoon in the trash (along with the pouch when empty). I’m told you can buy organic pouches, as well. Yay.
In the end I left with the bag of peas, a bunch of imported bananas and six individual boxes of raisins that were on the discounted rack to put in the snack drawer for the little ones. What meal could I make from these? Absolutely nothing. I unpacked my purchases as I tried to figure out what I was going to have for dinner tonight.
Is it any wonder I dread grocery shopping?
How do you approach grocery days?