grocery store guilt

As is often the case, I find myself headed to the grocery to pick up milk, bread, and one or two other items for a meal later in the week. And I often leave with far more than I wanted or needed. My guilt and pain over grocery shopping starts about 2/3’s of the way along, just after the breakfast foods and cracker aisle, but before I have even gotten to the breads, fruits, and veggies. Mild panic sets in: how much will this all cost? do I really need it all? do I have time to even go back and put things away I could part with?

Inevitably I continue, berating myself and all the choices, but still buying most everything I have. Okay, everything I have. And I continue these guilty thoughts while I check out, while I walk to the car, while I unload, while I drive home (eating some unneeded snack I just bought), while I unload the car, and while I unload the groceries.

But my guilt goes beyond having excess food and blowing anything pretending to be a budget we have. That is just one level of guilt I suffer. Feeling like a rat, storing my food in the cabinet, boxes shoved here and one more cereal box wedged in, I feel guilt that I can buy this food. I know I may cause mild financial crisis for the monthly budget, but I can buy it and buy lots of variety. I am often struck by just how lucky we are that we can buy fresh fruits, breads, peanut butter, yogurt, cheeses, eggs, chips, juice, meats, and on and on. Even when I feel like we need to eat ramen for a night or two a month to soothe my over-spending guilt. Even then, I am extremely lucky to be able to buy it and know that I can feed my family more than that on regular basis.

I also feel guilt that I do not cook enough of what I buy, often abandoning plans for the quick and easy choices, instead of some well laid plans to cook many healthy meals. (Often some of the easy meals take just as long as a simple low-prep healthier choice, like the calzones I am loving right now.)

Simple Swiss Chard Calzone

I can make lots of foods and enjoy doing so, but taking the time to do so can be hard and stressful with children around. On top of that guilt is also the guilt of buying any convenience items because it is often the items lacking nutrition. Choosing them makes me feel guilty of not feeding my children the best.

I also feel the guilt of not supporting more local food options. While tonight was not the case, I often end up going to the grocery store on Thursday or Friday, totally forgetting Saturday’s great local Farmer’s Market. Then, I miss the great chance to stock up on local peaches and corn because I bought strawberries and carrots trucked in. Even if it is just from across the border, I miss the opportunity to support local farms and keep the environmental costs down.

I am not sure I have a quick solution to my shopping habits and troubles. I recognize some guilt I just have to let go of for the sake of sanity sometimes. But for tonight, lacking any real game-plan, I soothed my guilt with a big bowl of ice cream, a sandwich and some chocolate chips. Nothing like that quick food to soothe my guilt away.

Yeah, right.



  1. Michelle said,

    July 19, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    Good post, Di. What if you could make a weekly planner of what foods you will need for all the week’s meals, and then plan ahead of whether those ingredients will come from the grocery, the farmer’s market or where have you. Then, too you could work ahead if you had more time (haha right!) one night than another and have meals ready to pop in the oven when the time is right. Just a thought. This coming from your sister who rarely cooks, so there you have it. But it might be worth a shot. I know how you love lists and planning! :o)

    • montessorimama said,

      July 21, 2010 at 8:35 pm

      Thanks for the idea. I tend to meal plan, but not always in advance of which stores/places I am going… just general meal planning. After reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I should, *should* try to local meal plan, but wow, it is hard sometimes. It is a little thrill though when we sit down to a meal, name where we got things, and realize we directly know the source for every item – meat from Uncle Mick, veggies from the garden, homemade bread, and fruit from farmer’s market. 🙂

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