Grocery Diaries

“I Used to Go to the Grocery Store Every Day.” Here’s How This New Yorker Is Making One Trip Last Two Weeks.

published May 8, 2020
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Credit: Haley Neiman
  • Name: Haley
  • Location: NYC
  • Number of people in household: 1 (I typically have two other roommates, but they are both self-isolating elsewhere.)
  • Age: 26
  • Occupation: Construction Tech
  • Where did you shop? Trader Joe’s
  • How much did you spend? $83
  • Dietary restrictions? I try to avoid dairy and rarely cook meat.

We’re changing up our Grocery Diaries column to reflect what grocery shopping looks like during the coronavirus outbreak. Want to share your story? See how here.

How did you choose where to buy groceries?

I live in Union Square and have four grocery stores in a half-mile radius from my apartment to choose from. Trader Joe’s is generally the cheapest and has unmatched frozen dumplings. Grocery store hours have been unpredictable lately, so I sometimes end up at Whole Foods or Westside Market depending on what’s open. 

What time did you shop and what was it like?

I originally walked over to TJ’s at 2:30 p.m. thinking I could beat the after-work rush. Unfortunately, it appears there’s no such thing as “after work” anymore and I had to hop on a fairly long line weaving in six-foot intervals down 14th street. As I debated whether the wait was worth it, a store employee informed me I wouldn’t be let in without a mask. I went back at 6:00 p.m., mask ready, to find a much shorter line. Inside, the store was very well-stocked with plenty of room for each shopper to poke around. Considering the crowding at this Trader Joe’s location generally gives me anxiety, this was a surprisingly pleasant experience. (FYI, they turned away my reusable bags.)

Credit: Haley Neiman

How did you meal plan?

I didn’t! Careful meal planning has never been successful for me. I get around this by eating variations of the same meals every day — repetition doesn’t bother me.  

What did you buy?

Produce: 1 bag fresh green beans, 1 bag fresh asparagus, 4 apples, 3 pounds sweet potatoes, 4 avocados, 1 bag kale, 1 bag baby spinach, and sliced mango.

Pantry staples: 1 pack lemon Spindrift, 1 carton vegetable broth, 1 crunchy peanut butter jar, 1 can coconut milk, and dark chocolate peanut butter cups (yes, these are a pantry staple).

Frozen: Frozen edamame, 2 packs frozen vegetable dumplings.

Meat and dairy alternatives: Oat milk, 2 cartons egg whites, 1 salmon fillet, smoked salmon. 

Credit: Haley Neiman

What couldn’t you find?

I found everything I needed!

What do you plan on making?

Every morning I have an egg white and spinach omelet with toast, with cold brew and oat milk.

Lunches and dinners
I plan to make a big batch of golden coconut lentil soup; a quinoa, salmon, and vegetable situation; and kale or spinach salads dressed with olive oil, salmon, tofu; or frozen dumplings. If I have it, I’ll add some avocado. I usually microwave a sweet potato and have that on the side of my salad with Earth Balance and lots of Himalayan pink salt.

Credit: Haley Neiman

How is this different from how you normally shop? 

Normally I buy one or two things from the grocery store every day as needed, and don’t cook all my meals from home, so the monotony of my meals usually doesn’t get to me as much. Quarantine has forced me to be a bit more creative and make use of what’s in the pantry. 

At Kitchn we believe setting a food budget for you and your family is an essential part in getting your financial life in order. Don’t know where to start? We have a guide for that. Want to share your Grocery Diary with Kitchn? See how here.