Letter from the Editor

A September Letter from the Editor: Introducing Kitchn Essentials

updated Sep 8, 2020
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Credit: Bijou Karman

If in January someone had told me that grocery shopping, a basic commodity of our modern lives, would become in March a prominent point of national stress, I would have been puzzled (and so would you I bet). When it comes to grocery shopping, this year has been downright weird. From six-foot stickers in checkout lanes, to Walmart employees sternly enforcing face masks, to “dark grocery stores” and a sharp boom in the adoption of grocery delivery, the grocery scene has undergone roiling changes in 2020.

There are so many interconnected questions and issues that I admittedly had never considered, pre-pandemic: How, exactly, does toilet paper make it to the grocery shelves? Where does yeast come from? What does it mean to be considered an “essential” worker, and if they’re so essential why aren’t they paid more?

The initial days of pandemic panic and hoarding have subsided but other, more systemic grocery issues continue in the crisis we find ourselves in: Hunger and food insecurity are on the rise. Did you read this New York Times piece following families dealing with food insecurity? It’s very powerful (although I do agree with this criticism of the photography‘s treatment of the families’ dignity). From problems with access and need (this food bank piece is still relevant) to smaller annoyances about supply and delivery availability (remember when people were actually deploying bots to find an open Amazon slot? 2020 is wild, man) to fears about how to grocery shop safely in a pandemic (here are the essentials), grocery shopping has consumed a great deal of our collective energy this year.

Grocery shopping has also changed in other ways: While it was once a source of pleasure for parents in particular as an outing with toddlers (and as this tweet points out, there are “a whole lot of moms who, pre-pandemic, used grocery shopping as their primary source of ‘alone time’ during the week,”) that’s not really happening now, is it?

But whether you’re getting that treasured grocery trip every week, or having groceries delivered (and tipping lavishly) groceries can still be a source of pleasure, in the tiniest of ways. Personally I love that grocery delivery and pickup has become more widely supported, as I am in a season of life where it is a convenience I love (and am happy to pay for). And then there are the groceries themselves: In the absence of eating out, I’ve been splurging on small extras every week, like the cotton candy grapes my kids gobble up, or iced coffee from La Colombe to replace the lattes I used to buy while out and about. And people, let’s rejoice: We are now officially in Reese’s Halloween Pumpkin season (truly it is the greatest of all the Reese’s family).

What we buy, what we eat, how we grocery shop — these are deep parts of our weekly routines. It can feel like a little treat when we find something new, or click “Add to Cart” on something we wouldn’t have picked up in store. In that spirit, today, I want to introduce you to our own new list of Kitchn Essentials: Grocery Edition — our list of the right groceries for right now. These are the groceries we add to our carts week after week, and that we use to fuel ourselves and feed our families. Everyone’s cart looks different of course, but I hope you find something new and delightful to try out in this list of things we love. (And thank you to Shipt for supporting this project; I have been shopping with Shipt quite a lot lately and love them.)

And before I sign off: There are more goodies coming your way at Kitchn this month. This week is Pizza Week, so dive into our beginner’s guide, and be on the lookout tomorrow for the most luscious focaccia pizza you’ve ever seen. Next week we’ll be bringing you a package of stories, essays, and thoughtful ideas on what school lunch looks like right now for parents dealing with the struggle of this school year. We’re focusing on vegetarian slow cooker recipes every week, and we have some really lovely recipes coming up for Rosh Hashanah.

Credit: Rachel Barehl

As always, thank you for reading. We’re so grateful.

Happy grocery shopping!


Our letter from the editor series appears the first Monday of every monthYou can follow Faith on Instagram here.

P.S.: If you missed this piece about how to support workers on Labor Day, it’s not too late to read!