In college, any time I was hungry (or drunk) I had a litany of edible options available to me. Between the dining halls, my sorority house’s kitchen staff, and pizza delivery, there was really no reason to figure out how to prepare food on my own. Sure, I always kept the snack food staples on hand, like yogurt and Cheez Its, but in reality, I would have had no clue how to survive if I was left to my own means when it came to food preparation.
After living on my own, I realized that even though ordering takeout every night is convenient and glorious (Seamless, I love you), it is incredibly expensive and unnecessary. Sure, I’d always have leftovers, but there was no reason for me to be spending that much money per week on food I could probably make on my own if I put my back into it (cue Ice Cube reference). Anyway, after attempting to become a real GROWN UP and do grown up activities such as only drinking wine on weeknights and cooking, I realized grocery shopping is one of the most difficult life experiences college never prepared me for. Here are a few questions I have on grocery shopping for those who seem to be good at it (MOM):
1. How Often Should I be Doing it?
I’m not sure how this works. Should I be doing a weekly stock up? Bi-weekly? Daily? I live near a ton of bodegas. Should I just be getting the ingredients I need for the moment and stocking up as needed? Won’t I spend more money if I just keep making these solo trips to the store, because I walk in for pasta and leave with $56.00 worth of shit I’m not even going to use? I generally decide I need to go buy food items when my fridge is barren save a bottle of ketchup and one lone can of Diet Coke. Is this a good guage?
2. What, exactly, should I be buying?
Yeah, an endless knowledge of the Poe cannon was a great skill set to leave college with, but you know what could have been a LITTLE bit more useful? I don’t know, maybe a basic skeleton list of items to keep in my cupboards at all times. Which spices am I supposed to have? On a scale of Jesus’s mom to Madonna, how Virgin should my olive oil be? How does it make any sense that my mom can somehow never appear to have any food readily available but still make homemade meals EVERY NIGHT and I feel accomplished when I come back with three Lean Cuisines and a bag of cherries? WHY? Wait, IS MY MOTHER A WIZARD?!
3. Should I be preparing for this? Are there words to avoid?
Should I actually be making a list of items to buy, or is this like one of those traumatic heart attack scenes in a movie where SOMEONE JUST HAPPENS TO BE A DOCTOR and can intubate by going in blind? Am I supposed to be utilizing coupons and sale items? Is it bad that I will buy anything that looks trendy or comes in cool packaging, regardless of its practical application? Does anyone actually like kale?
4. Why does it always wind up being so expensive?
How is it that I can spend over $100.00 and still realize I bought nothing of use? I feel as if I definitely made a solid grocery investment when I’m swiping my debit card at the register. I’m positive I bought everything I’ll need to sustain me for a few weeks when I’m hauling all of my bags to the subway, and yet, somehow, once all of my items are put away, I’m still confused as to how I’m supposed to assemble an actual meal with any of them.
5. When am I going to figure all of this out?
And is this any indicator of how much I’m failing at being an adult?
Don’t answer that last one.
But seriously, since when did feeding yourself become such a debacle?