A post by Engine 2 Team member, Natala…
There I was. Ready to go, I had my good sneakers on, my reusable bags in hand and a list. A giant big grocery list, separated into columns, organized by colors, I was ready for my first plant-strong shopping trip.
I pulled into the Whole Foods parking lot, which by the way is like pulling into a bumper cars game. I successfully drive around the parking lot 23 times trying to find a spot. At this point I’m like 200 pounds heavier than I am now, walking a long distance was not something I enjoyed doing. So I circled and finally found my spot.
Next, I get my cart, and I head into the store. BUT WAIT. There is stuff outside the store, do I need this stuff? Is this on the list? I’ll grab a few things – I think. I grab some citrus, and a basil plant, surely a basil plant is healthy, right?! Next, I walk into the store, and BAM! Right in front of me a cheese display. What is a cheese display doing there? Get out of my way, cheese! I successfully avoid the cheese. I walk to produce. What the heck is kale? Collards? Turnip greens? I thought it was just lettuce and spinach? There are 40 kinds of potatoes and 20 kinds of apples! I start throwing things into my cart, forgetting the list, and just thinking, just get it all, figure it out later.
I now have completely abandoned my list. It is at the bottom of my cart, and it is screaming for me to rescue it. I start heading down aisles having no clue what I should buy. Pasta, whole grain pasta! Wait, is brown rice pasta good? Was it whole wheat that I should get? All of this tomato sauce has cheese! Where is my list?!
I ask where the tofu is. Apparently there is silken, soft, medium and firm. I put ALL of them in my cart, because I have no idea what is best. Now I’m in the bulk section. WHAT ON EARTH AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?! I just start filling bags with things in the bulk section, because naturally, anything in bulk is healthy, that is how the hippies shop.
And then I see it, a beacon of light, it’s the ‘vegan’ section. Forgetting all of my label reading rules, I begin to throw anything ‘vegan’ into my cart. There is ‘vegan’ every thing! Cookies, ice-cream, mayo, cupcakes, donuts! Why did Rip hide this from me?!
I remember that there are some vegan foods that are junk food, and try to dig them out of my cart.
I have now spent 90 minutes in the store and my cart looks like I was on “Super Market Sweep”. I have no clue what is actually in my cart. And I don’t even know what the heck I’m supposed to make for dinner.
I circle the store about 20 more times, I’ve broken down and had samples of chips AND chocolate. Those Whole Foods demo people are SO nice, I don’t want to disappoint them and turn them down.
It is now the 2nd hour. I am exhausted, I go and find a seat in the cafe area with my full cart, I stare at my cart, I have no idea what is in my cart. Do leafy greens go bad after 2 hours in my grocery cart? I start to feel overwhelmed, and I start to feel the tears coming. What is wrong with me, I think. I have to get out of there, before I have a complete meltdown in the cafe.
I get up and leave my full cart (sorry Whole Foods) and walk back to my car, cry for a minute as people wait for me to leave my parking spot. I give up, go home and eat oatmeal and black beans for the next several days (not together), because I can not think about going back out to grocery shop.
So how did things change? How did I go from a total grocery store shopping MESS to a complete rock star when it comes to grocery shopping? And what if you have other challenges like food allergies, budget considerations, cooking for a large family, or cooking for one? The next couple of weeks we are going to focus on grocery store survival under any circumstance.
So let’s hear your grocery store melt-downs and your “but I can’t go plant-strong… because (fill in the blanks). Together we are going to become grocery store superstars.