Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Grocery Game: Seeing Beyond Your Status Quo

I've been told I'm weird.  On many occasions in fact, but the most popular cause of my weird perception is my love of grocery shopping.  I love to go to the grocery store.  Ever since I was first out on my own, I have always found buying groceries to be a liberating task.  It is something so individualistic, so personal and is often the most reflective activity we do.

I do my shopping  at Meijer.  This is not a sponsored post-so I'm telling you this because I'm honest.  I find them to have one of the best selections in town, the nicest produce and I love their 'mperks' specials and coupons.  

One of my favorite things about going to Meijer is that I haven't tried everything they offer.  I can easily find new fare to experiment with or test on my family (Levi). Writing gives me an excuse to keep coming up with new recipes to try out-Meijer gives me a reliable place to find them.  Ghee is readily available, along with pickled pigs feet* and a fairly incredible selection of dry beans.  I walk down the isles with my mind in a constant state of wonder about what I can create throughout my week.  

My second favorite thing about grocery shopping is that a 'splurge' is typically less than $5.  You remember my saying I'm rather cheap, right?  I don't often go clothes shopping and since I work in food-dressing up doesn't happen often. So my splurges include items we don't eat very often like, whole artichokes, fresh cherries or plums.

Finally, there are so many individual items in a grocery store, as we are animals of routine-it's easy to overlooks items that may make our lives easier.  

Example 1: this week I found a bag of frozen diced green peppers for $2.  I buy frozen veggies often and had never noticed the green peppers before.  In my garden, I pick as many peppers as I can, dice and freeze them (this process keeps me in peppers for the next year), but this past summer I had a horrible pepper crop and wasn't able to freeze any.  While in the fresh produce department a pepper costs .77-$1.29/ea. and only amounts to about a 1/2 a cup-the $2 bag of frozen amounts to almost 2 cups of diced peppers.  Saving me a few dollars (more because how many times do you buy a pepper and not use it?) and adding a lot of flavor to my quiches and soups.

Example 2: Levi is the healthier eater of the two of us.  I have a horrible sweet tooth and often opt for a glass of wine at night.  Levi eats salads almost everyday.  He used to hound me about getting spinach from the store, but I always thought it was too expensive and made spinach a 'special occasion' item.  Then we discovered the bunches of spinach and the greens variety at the market.  A bunch of spinach was only $1.49-half the price of a bag and approximately the same amount! Spinach is no longer a 'special' item.

If you hate grocery shopping, here are a few tips that may help:

1. Change your menu: don't revamp everything all at once, but find a menu item each week that does excite you- it's more fun to buy something your excited  about!

2. Take your time: rushing through any task makes it more stressful than it needs to be.  Try going to the market when you don't have to pick the kids up in 20 minutes.  Let yourself be hypnotized by the flow of the isles and let your mind wander.  But do take your list, backtracking is annoying.

3. Have a list: a list saves you time and money.  It also is a great tool to engage the kids with, if you have no choice but to bring them.  Use it to play 'I Spy' and put them to work for you!

4. Splurge on something: your spouse may get upset over the $50 pair of shoes, but the fresh veal you bought on sale and made into osso buco? Never.  Plus, how fun will it be the next day to tell your co-workers you made osso buco for dinner? Especially when they tell you they had hamburgers!

Let the food you make for your family be enriching at all levels. 

*I've never consumed pickled pigs feet, but I very much enjoy the idea of shopping in places where they are available. 

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