Thursday, January 3, 2013

Refreshment: Changing the Way We Shop

During a time of year that many are making resolutions to eat differently, I'm finding a need to shop differently, too, hoping to combat a growing problem. It's an issue we've all encountered, I believe--

 I've been going stale in the kitchen.

 Low income, outside pressures and the will-o-the-wisp palate of my hubby-man have combined lately, giving me a less-than-enthusiastic outlook on our daily diet. THIS is hard to face, coming from a person that loves cooking and eating more than almost any other activities. And when I'm not actively cooking or eating, I'm reading about them. Yet when it comes time to make dinner, I've felt stalled, bored, dull. Wishing someone would just come and feed me for a week; but feed me with nutritious, fresh food such as I dream of making in my best moments.

 The dream is there; but when you're in the grocery store you've been going to for years, the same products sit on the same shelves (and I bitch crazily if they move those shelves around too often!!!) and you find yourself responding to your same budget by buying the same old things.

 Tough to break cost-related food habits, isn't it? Well, I tried by adding a few new items, intending to make stuffed grape leaves, soy spread, whatever... and so I have an unused jar of vine leaves taking up cupboard space, and a year-old packet of organic soybeans that will now take ages to cook.

Not helpful! While the urge to change up the cuisines I borrow from was a good one, I'm sure, I may have gone too far into hopefulness-- it's been years since I made grape leaves, or cooked soybeans from dry. Too much extra thought required to use them, and so they sit, a waste of money that could, back when I bought them, have been spent on more immediate needs.

 Ruminating on the situation while rereading old cookbooks for inspiration, I realized that a new store, a new set of them really, could help. It was a strategy of mine back when I lived in Indianapolis, to switch up the places where I did the bulk of my shopping. It means traveling farther, and getting used to new traffic patterns, but it has the benefit of forcing me to think outside the usual parameters of what we eat. The possible downsides include temporarily increased costs, since it's easy to go a little nuts over new items; and more outrageously overconfident buying.

 That's why, when I tread the aisles of my new stores this week, I'll have just a few newish recipes in mind-- and a list of necessities in hand. I guarantee I'll still be buying oatmeal, for its many virtues, and some kind of green vegetable. Sooner or later, I know I'll be excited to go back to some of my old haunts, hopefully with a cartful of awesome new vegetables and other goodies.

 Where do you shop? What's always in your cart? I'd love to know.

  Peace, and Happy New Year--


  1. this is a good idea, I love cooking but am very conservative in the kitchen. I hate though buying ingredients specially for a new recipe and then having them sit on the shelves for months until they end up out of date...

  2. That's what happens to me, too, nine tenths of the time that I buy just for one recipe. So I've become adept at adapting to the needs of the moment, but still find myself "dull" lately. I'm not very conservative as a cook, but my budget is!