In all honesty, I find grocery shopping to be entirely frustrating. There are so many items in their bold and colorful packaging clamoring for my attention. It seems that the ones I really want, the real food, is in the drabbest packages, and often down low in hard to see spaces. Why are the cheese sticks hanging right from eye to waist level in the refrigerated display case, where you can reach out and get several, but the 1.5 pound blocks of cheese in the same flavors are tucked down around knee to mid-shin height, half hidden under the lip of the case? Frustrating. Boxes of cereal? They encompass head to knees of an entire aisle longer than my house, yet finding the rolled oats (not the add-water-and-eat oatmeal packets--just old fashioned oats that I make granola with) are somewhere in that confusing riot of color, cardboard, and cartoon characters, usually at floor level.
We don't eat much ready made stuff. Less and less, actually, the more and more of it being reformulated to contain things like high fructose corn syrup or highly processed soybean oils, neither of which like me too much. I'd rather go to the extra effort of combining ingredients and applying heat in my own kitchen to make the same thing rather than buy it ready to eat and end up with a migraine or a very punky stomach after consumption.
To give you an idea of what I do buy (which my girls mainly refer to as "ingredients" rather than food--they open the pantry looking for a crunchy snack and say "Mom, there isn't any food in here; just ingredients"), here is a summary of my receipts for my most recent grocery shopping excursion. The "Big One" to last until the middle of March, when the next large shopping trip is scheduled. I will pick up a few odds and ends between now and then, such as milk, and toilet paper (my preferred brand was not on sale today), but for most items this is pretty much it until the Ides of March arrives.
water softener salt
Fels Naptha soap (for making laundry soap)
ziploc baggies--sandwich size and quart size
pkg of 250 napkins
"little cups", aka paper bathroom cups for rinsing after brushing teeth
kitchen trash bags
4 pounds carrots (might need to buy more)
1 head celery (might need to buy more)
4 large sweet potatoes
2 pounds bananas (most likely will buy more in 2 weeks)
6 cans tuna (the 'spensie kind that only has fish and water in it, no broth or soy oil)
15 pounds unbleached flour
1.5 pounds lettuce, red leaf and green leaf (will buy more)
3 gallons milk (will buy more)
1 dozen bagels (I really need to perfect making these, it's cheaper)
2 boxes graham crackers (ditto)
2 boxes oat & honey crunchy granola bars (ditto)
10 pounds sugar (which I will probably use only 5 or 6 pounds of in a month, but the 10-pounder is cheaper than two 5 pound bags)
4 pounds brown sugar (again, won't need that much, but the 4 pound bag was on sale. So, next month's brown sugar is taken care of too)
tequila (what can I say, DH has been hankering for some margaritas lately)
12 pack IPA (we really need to get back to home brewing; it's been a year and a half!!)
4 cans cream of mushroom soup
6 cans sliced mushrooms
2 boxes saltine crackers
1 bag oyster crackers
1 bag bacon bits
1/2 gallon orange juice
4 pounds semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 pound mini chocolate chips (for on granola cereal and in muffins)
1 pound sliced American cheese
2 pounds extra sharp cheddar cheese
1 pound colby jack cheese
4 8-oz pkgs cream cheese
2 pounds sour cream
2 pounds roasted peanuts
2 pounds pistachios
5 pounds tangerines
2 pounds seedless grapes
2 cans refried beans (naughty me, I should make these)
3 pounds rolled oats
2 pounds whole bean coffee
2 pound frozen corn kernels
1 box powdered milk (for hot chocolate mix and hamburger helper-style dinner mixes)
1 quart canola/sunflower blend oil
2 pounds basmati rice
3 pounds brown rice
1 pound flaked coconut
1 bag mini marshmallows (can't make hot chocolate without marshmallows!)
1 pound dried navy beans
1 pound dried northern beans
1 pound dried mayocoba beans
1 pound dried black beans
2 pound dried red beans
4 pounds butter (will need more, but wasn't on sale and I'm out)
1 pound iodized salt
And that's it. What don't you see?
- Breakfast cereal. Frozen waffles. Pop tarts. Cookies. Bread. Muffins or coffee cakes.--All those I make myself (well, not pop tarts, but I do have a recipe for them!)
- Cheese cubes or sticks or shreds.
- Any canned veggies--because all the canned ones we eat are homegrown and home canned and sitting in my cellar, as are most of the frozen ones too. Just wasn't a good year for corn last year and I didn't get any put up.
- Meat--The vast majority of mine is home grown or hunted, I buy very little meat. (I confess, I was cruising the meat department for some beef, but even on sale it was way more than I am willing to pay. Geez, for that price I'll save my pennies and buy it on the hoof next fall. It will be better quality, too).
What is ready to eat?
- three kinds of nuts,
- cheese if you cut it yourself,
- granola bars (for DH's lunchbox),
- graham crackers,
- the bagels,
The cellar at this little place here also holds apples still from last fall's harvest (Sept/Oct to Feb in cold storage, and my home grown apples are still in fine shape, looking just as pretty as the ones at the grocery store, only they are 100% organic and traveled zero miles to get to my house.), as well as canned pears and peaches, and both applesauce and pear sauce. Potatoes are still holding out down there; in fact I think I grew too many or maybe we haven't been eating potatoes often enough this winter. I still have 1.5 bushels left. Some will be this year's seed potatoes, but still. . . I need to put potatoes on the menu just about daily from now til April; they won't store much longer than that.
Speaking of the cellar, I think that is my favorite place to go shopping. It has exactly what I need, with all the right ingredients and none of the bad things I don't want to eat. It is my personal, customized grocery store.