Have you evaluated your grocery shopping routine lately? I recently relocated to a new city which forced me to evaluate mine.
While living in Atlanta, I used to shop for food at the grocery store and farmers market once weekly. Transportation and storage was carefree. I had a car and plenty of space in the refrigerator and pantry for food.
Sure the old routine had benefits, but it also had some downfalls:
- Fresh produce has a short shelf life and because I only purchased it once per week, I would either run out of it by the end of the week or it would spoil before I could enjoy it.
- I often bought items that I didn’t have a plan to use or I would use a small portion for a particular recipe and not use the food again. Sometimes these foods were left forgotten in the back of the pantry or freezer – sauces, cereals, grains, frozen vegetables and frozen berries.
- The trip to both farmers market and grocery store took almost 2 hours which is a large chunk of my weekend time.
I’ve had to totally rethink things since moving to New York City for culinary school. I don’t have a car, so I must carry everything I buy. That means I can only fill a few bags, which I have to carry several blocks, sometimes on the subway, AND up 3 flights of stairs. The storage space is very limited which also greatly reduces the quantity that I can buy. This means that I end up going on very short trips to the grocery store and farmers market about 3-4 times/week.
This shift in mind-set is not necessarily a negative thing. The benefits of the new routine include:
- Purchasing small quantities – this means all around fresher ingredients. I found that very small quantities are easy to access at stores that have self-service bulk food bins! This section is great for items like rice, nuts, cereal, dry beans, and dried fruit. This allows me to fill a bag with a small amount of product that weighs less then pre-packed foods and is easier to transport and store.
- AND foods from the self-service bulk food bins tend to be less expensive! They are cheaper to package and market which saves the grocery and manufacturer money. This savings translates to the consumer.
- I’m eating more variety and quantity of fresh produce all week long – which is healthier and much more satisfying!
- I’m wasting much less food.
- I look forward to the short trips to the store – it only takes about 30 minutes to grab what I need for a few days and go.
I’m happy to have had this new found perspective on my food routine. We shouldn’t have to be forced to evaluate our grocery routine. I challenge you to evaluate yours now. Are you purchasing foods that you don’t really need? Does food often spoil before you can eat it? What behaviors can you shift to save money and reduce waste? Let us know!