Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Stop the Supermarket Merry-Go-Round!

OK - so I had to go to the grocery store today. Can I tell you how much I hate shopping for groceries? Can I tell you how much time I spend shopping for groceries? Counting making my list, clipping coupons, driving to and walking around a huge store, I estimate that every grocery shopping trip I make takes at least 4 hours of my time.

Now, if I do that every week, we're talking about 16 hours a month - two whole working days!

I'm thinking that I'd like to cut that time at least in half.

And the money I spend? People who study these things say that the merchandizers have us as soon as we walk in the door, with their "product placement" and "impulse" items. I'm just as helpless as the next person when faced with all the stuff they've convinced me that I "need" so, clearly, the less time I actually spend in grocery stores, the less unnecessary stuff I'll buy.

There was a time in my life when I lived in another country, a country less affluent than the United States, where buying food meant getting staples and in-season produce in the only food store in town, and then stopping at the butcher shop on the way home to choose meat from a very limited selection. My husband and I had good jobs there, being school teachers, but we weren't highly paid. However, we felt like we were very well off because it was so easy to live within our means. We simply weren't faced with the huge variety of consumer goods and heavy advertising aimed at convincing us that we must have stuff!

The whole process of "grocery shopping" was simple, stress free, inexpensive and quick. And I'm determined to return to that state. I've decided to:
  1. Make as few trips to the store as possible;
  2. Eliminate waste/spoilage as much as possible;
  3. Eliminate unnecessary packaging as much as possible;
  4. Improve my cooking skills and prepare more foods "from scratch" and
  5. As a result of the above steps, cut the cost of our household food by 20%
Wow! I feel like I just came up with the "Five Steps to Shopping Sobriety." Yeah, I know, I'm not the first to discuss these ideas, but maybe I can be the one who will fill in the details which will lead to a more practical way of living.

I intend to start by always having my cloth shopping bags in my car, so I will no longer be putting plastic bags into land fills. And I challenge you to do the same, OK?


jude said...

Great post! I look forward to you writing about how this is working or not working. We have cloth bags (3) that I made and sometimes remember to take them into the store. Sadly, our trips are spaced out so when we do go we need way more than 3 bags. I guess you have inspired me to make a couple of more bags!
Jude *

Carol Shoemaker said...

So take an afternoon and make a few, avoiding the temptation to embellish - they're just shopping bags, after all. And then put them in the car as soon as you unload them. Or stash them by the front door. Great to hear from you - I'm still a little unsure as to whether this is getting out there. Do you like the changes I made re appearance?