I like to go shopping without my husband, because he’s too focused. He actually wants to leave the store with the things he went in to get, with money left over. I prefer to leave the store with things I’m desperately excited to eat. Something we do multiple times a day should be enjoyable, after all.
Here is the best way to shop (assuming you are going to a large grocery store. If you are doing the whole veggie shop – bakery – deli – butcher – etc. thing, all the better):
1. Go when you are hungry. This means you will buy too much, which means you won’t have to run out to the store again for some time. You will also probably have food threatening to spoil, which will inspire you to cook, invite over friends to help eat the food, or learn preserving techniques. In the worst case, you’ll have fodder for the compost.
2. Start in the produce section. First focus on things that are locally and/or organically grown. These things taste the best, so grab as much as you want. Try to buy something you haven’t eaten before, and may hate. Avoid things totally out of season. Hothouse tomatoes taste like crap.
Even better: grow stuff in your garden. Preferably things you like to eat; probably not radishes (though they are really hard to kill, so you can feel really accomplished and then pawn them off on friends!)
3. Move to the bakery. Lift and gently squeeze each loaf (maybe using one of those bits of paper for sanitary purposes), and find one that is heavy for its size and feels soft on the inside but crunchy on the outside. If you succeed in finding a good artisanal-style loaf, buy several. You can always freeze them. Then please mail me one. The bakery bread here makes me cry.
4. Go to the cheese section. Don’t look at the prices; just buy whatever looks good. If it ends up costing you your entire paycheck, just eat pasta for a few days to make up for it. Similarly, you can mail me some cheese. Also a burrito…but that’s off topic.
Maybe skip this aisle.
5. Buy chocolate, cookies, and/or ice cream. These are essential. Actually, maybe do this before all the rest, so you don’t possibly forget.
6. Investigate the non-cheese protein options. Seitan and firm, flavored tofu are winners. Think about getting all pioneering and buy some dry beans. If you eat meat, I suppose you can buy some, but make sure it’s happy meat (pasture-raised and all that). Check your fish card and buy some sustainable fish, if you can find any. If not, tell the seafood people off, or just give them dirty looks.
7. If you feel tired, pay and leave the store now. You’ve got really all you need. But if you like, continue wandering aimlessly around looking at everything on offer and grabbing things that appeal, like pasta shaped like little flowers. Specifically hunt for jars of interesting pickled vegetables or exciting-sounding jams and spreads which you can stick in the cupboard for a rainy day. Avoid things in cans, and things to which you add water and instantly have a whole meal.
Success! You have just spent an inordinate amount of time, and possibly money, but you have purchased the very best things to put in your body. It’s totally worth it, and you can feel all self-righteous!