Oh, grocery shopping. Sigh. I never really liked going to the store. Large grocery stores are just too much for me. Ugh…Too bright (what is with the fluorescent lights of a middle school cafeteria? And the buzzing, do you hear the buzzing?). They are too big (so extremely impersonal), with too many choices (most of which are crap non-foods). Row after row of products, aisles and aisles needing huge directory signs, aimless wandering, backtracking, confusion and wasted time. People barely making eye contact as they steer their gigantic carts around a wild look in their eyes as they scan and scan. Robots looking for deals on ‘whatever’. Coupons clutched in their hands, hoping they remembered the right ones. Buying what they don’t need because it’s there and seemingly on sale. This false idea of a deal is very hard to resist for many.
Americans budget less on food than most countries. For some reason we’ve been trained to think that food should be cheap. Most Americans are currently budgeting about 7% for food and this is down 33% from 1949! When you really think about it good for you real food should cost more. Quality should be more important that quantity, but in an age of bigger is better and more for less this is hard to remember!
Another problem for me with big stores is that I’m a compulsive label reader. Big time. I want to know what’s in my food, where it came from and what exactly is in it. In a store with 1,479 (ok, maybe I’m exaggerating) options for one product, that takes time. Call it crazy, but I want to know what is the BEST for myself and my family. so I want to read every label. If I can’t pronounce it (or I can but it’s something with a name like ‘red dye 40′) I don’t buy it.
So, yes, grocery shopping had me down. All of it just felt yucky. I wanted an option I could feel good about. I love our local Farmer’s Market, but it is seasonally open from late May thru early September not year round. We have local CSAs for produce, but for meats, cheeses and breads this is hard to come by without going to the store. I should add one more part to this equation. I also do not want to spend my time driving from one specialty store to the next trying to find my weekly food purchases. With two young children the one stop shop works a whole lot better for me AND them.
Which brings me to my first love affair with a store. Well, my hometown store, Haggen was my first store crush ( I still love the smell going into any Haggen and there are a few things like their spinach dip and the hand dipped yogurt covered pretzels that I crave ever so often), but this. This is LOVE! I ❤ Trader Joe’s!!
Trader Joe’s is where I (not so guiltily) sneak off to each week. When we were introduced it was pretty much love at first sight. It is everything I love in a store. First off, it’s small. Like 5 aisles small. One frozen food aisle. Perfect! Keepin’ it simple with a very down home feel. It’s family friendly with pint size carts for the littlest shoppers. Which the kids are encouraged to unload at the check out. Freddy the Frog also lives at the store and if your child finds him, they get a sucker and stickers. A store with a built-in activity and a bribe! Be still my heart. My kids behave, help and actually like going to the store. There are only a few choices of each product. All healthy options, making my choices so much easier. As for my label reading, Trader Joe’s stock only products of the finest quality ingredients. This means: NO synthetic colors, NO artificial flavors or preservatives, NO genetically modified ingredients, NO MSG, NO added Trans Fats. Awesome right!! They also have lists on their website that you can print off for products they carry that are Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian, Kosher, Fat Free and low Sodium if you have specifically tailored dietary restrictions. Again, can I say AWE-SOME!!!
I have finally found a grocery to call my own. My food buying issues are almost nil. I am buying better quality, just less of it, which actually makes for a savings. The bonus is I actually enjoy our weekly grocery trip. Both my heart and body feeling happier and healthier. I might just have buy one of the many 99cent artisan cards they sell there and send it to Trader Joe’s to show my love. ❤