Lately I’ve been having strong feelings about grocery stores. I went grocery shopping last night at about 9 pm and was feeling much more relaxed than I do when shopping during the day. Its quieter and the baby’s asleep at home with Michael so I’m not trying to hurry or anything. It gave me some time to reflect on the modern grocery store. When I shop at Ralph’s (a California supermarket) I spend most of my time on the far left of the store and then the far right. I don’t spend much time in the middle. Why? Because there are isles and isles of pre made stuff. There’s an entire isle of frozen dinners. An isle of JUST ice cream. An isle of processed juice and beverages like gatorade and vitamin water. An isle of cereal. An isle devoted to salad dressing various oils. I get why its like that. Companies that manufacture these products pay for isle space and therefore we have an overabundance of kinda weird foods. But that’s not what really bothers me. I guess what bothers me is if there was a slight higher degree of knowledge of cooking so many of these pre processed foods would be obsolete. I mean, its SO easy to make salad dressing and most of the ingredients are probably already in your pantry (or should be). Also, pasta sauce. Ridiculously easy. Maybe we aren’t going to spend hours making bread I grant you that, but rice? Why does rice-a-roni even exist? Its rice with a spice packet that you probably already have in your cupboard. I’m not against processed foods, I guess it just makes me sad that we obviously rely on them WAY more than we need to.
Trader Joe’s is a more enjoyable shopping experience for me but their meat department (and sometimes produce) is not always reliable. Whole Foods (aka “Whole Paycheck”) is way to expensive and also doesn’t have all the things that normal people need when going to the grocery store. Fresh n’ Easy is good but the experience is blah. Interestingly enough I like Trader Joe’s check out the best. It makes the most sense. There is no unloading of groceries onto a conveyor belt, they are scanned straight out of the basket by the checkout person. But if I go to Traders Joe’s I inevitably have to make a trip someplace like Ralphs to get things like baking soda or normal sugar that Trader Joe’s doesn’t have. And if I want REALLY good meat I go to Whole Foods just for that one item. Or on the rare occasion I’ve gone all the way out to the harbor to the fish market to get fresh seafood. Ralph’s is the most expensive but the most convenient. The other day I decided I was going to only go to Ralphs and buy everything there instead of running all over town. My bill was $350….Yikes! And of course, the farmers market is the best place for seasonal produce but never has everything you need. I walk downtown on Saturday’s to hit the farmers market and its always amazing what I get. Last time I got some grapes that were so unbelievably fresh, crunchy and delicious I couldn’t believe I’ve been settling for grocery store grapes all these years.
So there you have it. The perfect shopping experience/store hasn’t been invented yet. Until it is I’ll continue traveling all over town trying to figure out to save money, be locally minded and not lose my mind.