Few things on this Earth are as frightening as… a supermarket. Or at least as bamboozling. They’re just confusing. Like, more mystifying that trying to get out of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan’s infamous Osh Bazaar without a map and with your sanity intact.
It’s 7pm. You’ve just gotten off from a looooooonnnnngggggg day at the office or school. You’re H-U-N-G-R-Y, with an emphasis on the H, the U, N, G, R and Y. You could eat an actual elephant. You’re considering just going to the zoo to borrow one instead of hitting the nearest Countdown or New World. You want to eat all the things. Repeat: all the things. Maybe your car. Or at least your phone.
Anyway, you stumble inside. You know you’re here to buy one thing: food. But where to begin? Where, WHERE to begin?
Oooh wait, what’s this? Cookies with M&Ms in them! Buy them!
But wait! There’s little donuts with sprinkles! Could be a quick pick-me-up later.
And oh! Popcorn is on sale! And so is ice cream! We should replace money with ice cream. Is that too much to ask? Anyway, Netflix tonight is going to be LIT.
Ok, so that’s a lot of sugar. But you need (need!) chocolate too. There’s too many damn choices. Buy three. You’ll eat the others later.
Stop! You need coffee. Girl’s gotta have her coffee. And creamer. And cocoa. Cocoa + coffee = Heaven. Especially when combined with strawberry syrup and a sneaky marshmallow. One won’t be too many. Yum.
Huh. That’s a lot of not-so-healthy things. Put one of those candy bars back, and go grab a bunch of bananas. Maybe an orange. Vitamin C is important. Oh, and some vitamin tablets. That’ll fix any dietary deficiencies. While you’re at it, maybe some tea. And yoghurt. Healthy stuff.
Lastly: brownie-making materials. Flour. Sugar. Brownie mix. Rainbow sprinkles. Fuck the patriarchy.
You can barely hold your shopping basket up, even with two hands. Awkwardly dragging it towards the check-out, you let out a gasp of horror as your stomach drops when you see how much it all costs.
You just blew more than $100 on a junk food spree.
You then go home and cry. Not only have you wasted loads of your hard-earned money on crap, you’re never actually going to eat it because you’d feel too damn guilty eating nothing but Tim-Tams and rocky road ice cream.
Let’s just be straight-up: no-one wants to subject themselves to that, ever. Yes, riots not diets. Always. But how can we even feed ourselves when there are so many bloody choices? Who the fuck needs three different brands of spaghetti?!
Silly as all this may sound, it’s a serious issue. Think about it: when you were in school, were you EVER taught how to feed yourself? I know I wasn’t, at least not by anyone except my parents. And I’ll totally admit I have frequently… ignored their advice about healthy eating.
While diets can go and jump in the sea, eating well is important because simple economics and quality of life. Take a moment and reflect on this: how much food do you buy that you don’t eat and eventually throw out? Odds are it’s more than you’d like to admit.
But in absence of any mandatory “Adulting 101” classes, there are some tips and tricks to surviving a trip to the supermarket with your sanity intact – and your body (and brain – because poor nutrition can seriously harm brain function) nourished.
1. Make a list beforehand. Be as specific as possible. Don’t just write “vegetables.” What kind of vegetables do you want/need? How many? Two ears of corn? A single head of broccoli?
2. STICK TO YOUR LIST. This needs to be in all caps because it can’t be emphasised enough. We all know supermarkets love to put the unhealthy junk food at the front of the store with fancy signs and advertisements that makes it look really bloody appealing. If you have a list and bonbons are not on it, you’ll have an easier time resisting that temptation.
3. Consider going shopping with a friend or family member. Strength in numbers. And they can help you make better choices.
4. Consider a meal-planning app or eating plan. Having what you’re going to eat for every meal during the week already planned may not be for everyone, but for some people it can take a lot of the stress out of grocery shopping.
5. Have a budget. If you don’t have a specific list, at least have a specific budget. Keeping it on the low side will help to encourage you to make better – or at least more cost-efficient – choices.
6. Set a time limit. Similar to a specific list and budget, this will help prevent you from wandering the aisles aimlessly like a visitor in Timbuktu.
7. Don’t forget to treat yourself. Just because you might have a specific list and budget doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat yourself occasionally. Love peanut butter? Then buy a jar. You deserve it.
So there you have it. Some strategies for a fear-free stop by the supermarket. Since the whole idea is about how to feed yourself and not die, it’s some real life-saving journalism here.
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