April 28th, 2020
I was chatting with a friend who lives out of state recently and one of the (many) things that we discussed was the current perils of grocery shopping. The difficulty of finding this or that. Where she lives, pasta seems to be almost impossible to come by. Here, for whatever reason, it's rice. My oldest son tells me that yeast is the unicorn of shopping excursions in his state and then he shared a recipe with me on how to make my own yeast (which I am absolutely going to try by the way).
These are not easy times for the cooks in the family. When Tim and I were shopping over the weekend, we referred to our outing as a scavenger hunt. Which really is what it feels like. I actually found a box of rice and felt as if I had won the lottery. It was the last box on the shelf too and I felt kind of guilty taking it even though we have had no rice in our house for weeks (but I bought it anyway).
So we are forced to be more creative and open-minded in our cookery. And I'm actually fine with that. I like getting creative in the kitchen. It's too easy to get into a cooking/baking rut and just re-run essentially the same meals over and over. It's boring to cook that way and it's equally boring to eat that way. I am actually not minding the stretching my brain and skills in the kitchen.
But I am noticing that my approach to grocery shopping is absolutely completely different than it used to be. I used to approach shopping in one of two ways.
The first way meant that I stuck religiously to my shopping list, deviating not one iota. That ish is a very quick shopping trip. When I shop to the list, I fly through the store like a superhero. I am in and out so fast I am practically a blur.
The other way would be to meander a bit. I would start in the meats department and look to see what was on sale or what was different and once, inspired by that item, I would then go to the produce section to buy whatever I needed to make the dish. Which often then took me to the spice/herb aisles and then possibly the pasta or rice section. And then I would be thinking what I could do with the leftover. So once decided, I would need to select whatever was needed to create the leftover dish. Then then of course, what dessert would go with these dishes? What do I need to make those desserts? You see? I'd be all over the store out of order and backtracking and well it takes forever.
I do not shop in either of those ways anymore.
Now my shopping perspective is completely different. The question is no longer... "what do I want to cook"? The starter question now is..."what do they have?" And as I shop the next question sometimes becomes....."Ok I have almost everything I need to make so and so. But they don't have X. What can I substitute for X?"
So yes I wear a mask when I grocery shop and I have a strict rule. I don't touch anything that I don't take. I look with my eyes and not my hands. Just seems prudent. And while I don't want to linger in the store, neither do I want to miss a good opportunity. So I do walk through the entire store, carefully scanning all of the shelves, slow and steady. And yes I do follow the arrows in the aisles.
Often shopping now requires going to more than one store. Sometimes more than two stores to find enough of what is needed. Over this past weekend it was three: Costco, Publix and Walmart. I don't know why we didn't get to Detweillers (the farm market) as well, but we didn't.
But you know what? Nobody in this house is starving. And if this is how shopping has to happen so that cooking and baking can follow, then that is what we will do. I'm sure it's much the same where you live. So don't feel like the Lone Ranger. It's happening to us all.
I think the key is to roll with it. If this is what it takes, then that is what we will do. Nothing will be achieved by getting angry but a lot of good will come if instead you get creative.
The meals in this house lately have been Very creative. Sometimes more Picasso than Winslow but hey, it's still art.
I wish you all successful scavenger hunts!
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Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.