Friday, August 25, 2017

Grocery Psychology

The neighbor's gigantic rose bush -- the one that overhangs our patio and that we've dubbed "the monster" -- is already putting out new shoots since its radical trim job a few weeks ago. It will never be defeated!

So, I'm curious about something. When it comes to grocery shopping, do you believe in shopping ahead of time, and stocking up? Or do you shop little by little, each day or every other day?

I ask because Dave and I are diametrically opposed on this point. I tend to be a frequent shopper, especially for fresh items like produce. Dave, however, is a stocking-up kind of guy, and he does nearly all of our shopping. Consequently, our pantry and our fridge are sometimes so full that I can't tell what the heck we have in there, and I have to wage a concerted effort to convince him to eat what we already have before we buy more.

This week, I've been insistent that we eat down our leftovers. When Mike and Sally came over last Sunday, we'd planned to have two other guests as well, but they cancelled at the last minute -- so we were left with an abundance of sandwich fixings and salad and some other stuff. That's been dinner each night this week, and we're still not through it all.

Dave also likes Ocado, which allows online grocery shopping for delivery. He gets on there and orders immense quantities of non-perishable items. Everything in our pantry drawer is buried under a dozen packages of biscuits, and there are 10 jars of mixed nuts stacked on the counter. In the bathroom we've got about 20 bags of razors and two dozen sticks of deodorant.

I shouldn't complain, because God knows it's better to have too much than too little. I should also be happy that Dave does the shopping, because buying groceries is truly one of my least favorite tasks. But I'd also like to be able to move around in the house.

Of course, frequent shopping is easier in an urban area. I understand how someone who lives in a rural location would have to buy more at one go. But we pass at least three grocery stores and a produce market every day just walking home from the tube!

Anyway, it's an ongoing discussion.

I'd like to think there's a deeper psychological tendency buried in this issue. It seems like stocking-up types would be cautious preparers, and daily shoppers the devil-may-care, spontaneous ones. But I am typically far more cautious than Dave is, I think. So much for that theory!


Yorkshire Pudding said...

I am an in-between shopper. I shop twice a week at "Lidl", thinking about the meals ahead and our bread and milk requirements. I hate waste. However, if all supermarkets went on strike we would have enough tinned and packaged food in our pantry to last a week or so.

jenny_o said...

Many, many people share Dave's tendencies, and in the cases I've seen (including myself), it's about saving money by buying on sale or in bulk, but that only makes sense if you have a lot of people in your household or like to eat tuna fish every day of every week. There's no advantage if/when you have to throw stuff out because it's no longer fresh or (in the case of lotions, shampoos, etc.) it has become separated or smells weird.

I'm a reformed shopper of the type above. Now I buy a few days' worth of groceries at a time, and we waste less and eat better. As you said, we can see what's in the fridge and cupboards so things get used up properly. I let the shops store stuff for me instead of storing it in our house. Certain things that I must have I will keep one extra on hand but that's it. It's hard to change the stock-up mentality unless you understand it's affecting your life or your partner's life, but it's very freeing once you've learned it. And you can actually save money by buying just as you need things. It's anti-intuitive, but it's true.

Marty said...

I think I'm finally shaking off the shopping habit created by raising a family. About time since my kids are in their forties.
In the early years we only had one car, so a trip to the grocery store was designed to last the week. Then I was working full time, and didn't have the time for shopping. Add to that the squirrel mentality of feeling especially secure when I had a few quarts is soup in the giant freezer in the basement along with all those specials on meat.
Now we're off to Florida in the winter and have left that giant freezer behind at the house we're selling. Things change, and for the better.

Vivian said...

i only purchase what i need when i need it....i hate clutter! leftovers are transformed into other meals...soups, salads plus i have kids, grandkids who love to have my leftovers...
aren't you afraid the items will expire and be tossed or go bad?
to each his own i guess.
have a great weekend!!!

crafty cat corner said...

As we are both retired we tend to shop every other day. We go to waitrose just 5 mins away and have our almost free coffee while we are there. I like to buy the fruit and veg fresh.

Ms. Moon said...

I am a both-kinds-of-shopper. Although lately, I sometimes find myself going for quite awhile between trips. And Glen will go by Publix on his way home if we need milk or something like that. I like to go to Costco with Lily where we can split up some of the things we buy because I surely can't use three giant cucumbers before they go bad but I like that kind of cucumber and it's so much cheaper there than at Publix. So I take one and she takes two. Like that. But I always cook too much and unlike Marty, I haven't exactly adjusted to not having kids at home but hey! Jessie's only twenty-eight! Hell, I cooked too much when I had four kids in the house! Add all of this to when the garden is super producing and the hens are laying well and I can't keep up with it all. One of the best things I've ever done is to have a little dorm-sized refrigerator in the kitchen that I can keep my beans and grains in. That helps a lot because I can buy in bulk and the weevils don't get in. Of course, I never really know what's in there...

Linda Sue said...

Mr. Man is a stock up kind of guy- like end of the world stock up, the garage is full, the cupboards are full, the freezer is full. He does not cook so what he has is mostly CANNED stuff that no body will ever eat- unless- of course, there is an end of the world event. The grocery is within walking distance, I shop fresh. Everything is better fresh. As a consequence , the stuff that Mr. Man hoards is also from Cost Co- in cases and huge packages and cans. We used to live far from town thirty years ago , never got over the insecurity of not having food near by I guess. My eyes rolling do not have an effect.

robin andrea said...

We don't have much in our pantry, and our big freezer is pretty much empty except for ice, which we only use for our cooler when we're on the road. We like to walk to the market when we need stuff and buy enough to last a few days. The problem with our routine is if there is a big earthquake. If the few roads that actually reach us here on the north coast are wiped out, we're in BIG trouble. We know we're supposed to have an earthquake kit and food supply, but we're old and don't pay attention to that kind of advice. LOL.

37paddington said...

I am definitely a shop as you go kind of gal, which, as you say is only possible because i live in a big city and can order online and have things delivered within a couple of hours on the same day. This relieves me of the need to think ahead. My husband is much the same way, as he passes the supermarket daily on his way home from work, and more often than not stops in. "What do you want for dinner?" he'll ask, calling from the supermarket aisles. But this might allow too much opportunity for impulse buying of sugary things, especially after a hard day at work. Since he has been ill and unable to go out the house (he's just starting to walk short distances outside), I've been doing my online ordering, and our pantry is healthier than ever. So go, me. LOL

Sharon said...

I'm more of a daily shopper even though I really don't shop every single day. I usually buy just what I need for a meal I'm preparing but being single, whatever I make often lasts a day or two. However, somehow I still have a pantry with lots in it. I'm always happy when I hear of a food drive going on so I can thin it out once again.

The Bug said...

Mike & I neither one like to grocery shop. He's been doing ALL of it since my hip went out, and he does like to stock up. But he doesn't go overboard - we might have two boxes of grits or oatmeal instead of just one. He's been making the BEST salads for me all summer, so he makes sure he has all the correct ingredients for that (spinach, apples, strawberries, blueberries).

I did have about 6 sticks of deodorant at one time - I could NOT find my preferred one (Arrid XX gel) so Mike ordered a bunch for me on Amazon.

Oh, and if we could get groceries delivered around here I would think I'd died & gone to heaven. Ha!

Red said...

You're really torqued by this issue. My wife is a bulk shopper. I hate it as stuff is here past it's due date. She doesn't shop for a week's menu and as a result it's a challenge to make meals. so I'm with you . shop often but have a menu..

ellen abbott said...

so does Dave plan to never have to buy another razor for the rest of his life? I can see stocking up on certain essentials if you are a fancy cook like Dave but 10 jars of nuts seems a lot unless they are little jars and likely to get eaten soon.

I've been both. or I guess I should say I am the 'shop for at least a week or two's worth'. for 30 of our 40 years together, I did the shopping and cooking as Marty says during the child raising years and for me the early years of grandchildren). Then he started doing the cooking and we started doing the shopping together. Then he would just go by himself. That's about when we transitioned to shopping every other day or every few days, except for sometimes when he goes to the meat market, then he gets a lot of stuff. We keep a running list now (never used to). when we run out of something or get low, it goes on the list and that's what we shop for. the only thing we buy in quantity is toilet paper, getting the 12 pack. I'm OK with shopping daily or so mainly because I'm not doing it and also because he's not good about excavating the vegetable drawer in the fridge. just today I threw out a small butternut squash, a bag of banana peppers, and a small handful of green beans, oh, and two small tomatoes, and also like Linda Sue, we eat fresh. We eat our leftovers, either for dinner or lunch, or at the very least they go into the container in the freezer for soup. These are habits that come from living hand to mouth as working artists. we did not let any food go to waste, or at least, very little. still, we have plenty of clutter, just not in the kitchen or cabinets.

Catalyst said...

Even though Dave doesn't blog here, I refuse to get in the middle of this. Good luck.

Steve Reed said...

YP: Twice a week seems reasonable. I think the key is space. If you have the space to stock up on canned and packaged food, then why not? We, however, have only one pantry drawer with two shelves, so it gets crowded fast. I hate waste too, and I must say we do pretty well at eating everything.

Jenny: I think if you have a family it's different. As you said, buying in bulk for just one or two people quickly leads to disarray!

Marty: Yeah, I imagine it takes some time to adapt after being "trained" to shop for a family.

Vivian: That is exactly what I worry about, though Dave doesn't! And honestly we throw away very little. We're pretty good at getting it all eaten (sometimes at my insistence!).

Briony: We love Waitrose! Although I still haven't figured out why they wrap their limes in plastic. Drives me crazy.

Ms Moon: I can only imagine how complex this gets when you've got a garden and laying hens too! At least you can your produce, though, so you can eat it out of season.

Linda Sue: The thing is, even canned stuff can eventually go bad. Right? I wouldn't want THAT much of it sitting around.

Robin: Well, that's a good point. If you live in an area where natural disasters are possible, I guess keeping some supplies on hand makes sense. I used to do that when I lived in Florida -- have a hurricane supply.

37P: New York is great for picking up dinner on the way home. Yay for a healthy pantry!

Sharon: Yeah, many of Dave's dinners actually last a couple of nights.

Bug: Two boxes of grits or oatmeal is not a big deal. After Dave orders from Ocado I sometimes find SIX boxes of cereal in the kitchen! Although, to be fair, I eat a lot of cereal. :)

Red: I think stores in the states (and maybe Canada too?) are especially bad about encouraging people to buy too much through BOGOs and other special offers. We don't get much of that here, at least not that I've seen. I agree with you -- when shopping, a planned menu is essential!

Ellen: Ha! We definitely have something close to a lifetime's supply of razors! I hate having to throw out uneaten produce. As I say, somehow we usually do manage to get it all eaten, but it stresses me out.

Catalyst: Ha! Believe me, Dave will be offended by none of this. He knows how I feel. :)

Sabine said...

I live in a similar dictatorship. Slightly different, though, we fight for the emptiest fridge/larder.
My parents experienced hunger and food shortages in their teenage years (WWII) and no food ever was thrown out - never ever - during my childhood. Every last piece of whatever was used up with ingenious recipes and endless preservation methods.
And just when I thought I had escaped, I met the man in my life who not only is a scientist and a very productive vegetable gardener, but also the son of passionate consumers of very past the due date food with the occasional horrific digestive pandemics affecting all family members.
If we are not freezing, bottling, preserving and eating regional and seasonal produce (the two holy words in this household), we are busily competing in using up food that otherwise may clog up the fridge (heavens forbid) or just sit there (that would be the End of the World).

The man of this household does the shopping, systematically and regularly, with lists that are his own design. The ritual takes place on a Saturday morning, a fixed round of supermarket, whole food shop, various bakeries, delicatessen, farmer's market and one espresso. I have no input. I tried. I gave up. I buy second hand books at church sales at the time.