How NOT to Grocery Shop
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Kate Gagnon
Sep 16, 2014
(Image credit: Dana Velden)

We all know the feeling. You enter the grocery store at 6pm on a weekday, and it's all a blur. What were you supposed to get? Red bell peppers? Almond milk? Ooh, brownie bites! Pretty soon, you're exiting with a bag full of nothing you need and everything you don't.

The question is: Why do I always try to shop at this time anyway?

Recently I realized I may not be all that great at grocery shopping. I'm a good comparison shopper, capable of weighing the value of certain goods over others, but put me in a crowded market and I'm toast. Even with a list I'll invariably forget something and have to swim my way upstream to find it back in aisle 1.

Last week, I decided to pop into Trader Joe's around 6pm for a few items, as we hadn't grocery shopped in over a week. As I wandered the aisles, I had zero idea what to get. "What could I possibly cook in the next few days for breakfast, lunch, and dinner," I thought. While I recently wrote about being inspired by fresh produce in the grocery store, this was definitely not one of those times.

After 10 minutes of milling about the produce area and dodging busy New Yorkers on a mission for pre-washed kale salads, I looked down into my basket hoping to find something that constituted a meal. Asparagus, salsa, and an orchid. By the time I finally cobbled together a few things, the line was wrapped around the store, ending at the entrance like some sort of joke.

I resisted the urge to abandon my basket and bolt for the door, and instead spent the next 20 minutes in line contemplating the art of grocery shopping. What is my strategy? Do I have one at all? Some weeks I trek to Trader Joe's, more often I grab everything here and there in a zillion different trips, and occasionally I plan ahead for online grocery delivery.

What are your tips for effective grocery shopping? I could use them!

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