Comparing Grocery Stores

Grocery Store AisleThere are two big grocery stores within a mile of my house, essentially across the street and down a few blocks from each other. Both are on my way home from work so it’s easy to stop and pick up a few things. But which to choose?

Store A, on the inbound side of the road, is next to Petco so on days when I need to pick up some of those cans of smelly cat food that Tessie loves, I go there and let one parking spot do double duty. Store A also has my favorite white grape fizzy water and a better supply of Fiber One bars and I like their ready-to-go rotisserie chicken better than the place across the street. Produce and meat are about the same. None of my boxed Corn Chipotle soup in this one, which is a bummer, and they turned their “Natural Dairy” case into something for other liquids but left the sign up which always confuses me. They do, however, have more variety of larabars.

Store B, on the outbound side of the road, is my choice when I need Fage yogurt. They are also the only chain in the region to carry Kim’s Light Bagels which are yummy and low cal/carb/fat/points. The natural food section seems smaller but has more stuff that I like, including my soup. They also have a special aisle where all the specials for the week are, which makes it easier to find them.

Prices in both stores are comparable, with sales on different things at different times. Both let you scan and bag your own groceries, though pretty much I end up bagging them whether a cashier checks me out or not. But Store B has a really cool service that I find I use most of the time now — a little hand-held scanner that you use as you shop, getting a running total as you go. Scan, bag, move on. By the time you’re finished, it’s a simple scan at the register to close the order and you’re on your way. It’s funny to be in an aisle and listen to the little “ca-ching” sound from carts and people around you.

So I find that I’m going to Store B more often than Store A, unless I want fizzy water – or catfood. It’s nice to have choices.

How Did That Scone Get Into My Kitchen?

Snowy View From my WindowThere are blueberry scones in the kitchen. I don’t know how they got there, although obviously I picked them up myself and put them in the shopping cart and then unloaded them in the kitchen.

It was that, “there’s a storm coming and we need to buy weird things because we don’t know when we will dig ourselves out to shop again and hey, we might need it,” kinda thing. The rest of my cart was pretty normal and explainable: yogurt, apples, potato rolls, butternut squash soup, ground turkey, Diet Coke with lime, Edy’s Loaded light ice cream … and those scones.

New England redefined winter storms for the modern age with the Blizzard of ’78 when people were stranded in their homes for a week, roads closed down, offices shuttered, and those bread and milk supplies ran out early. Now we make sure that doesn’t happen again by stopping at the grocery store on the way home from work the day before the Bad Stuff comes.

We see each other pushing carts around the store, grabbing things from shelves that combine holiday treats with Super Bowl snacks and comfort food basics. It’s as though we will never have a chance to get to the store again so we want to load up now. In reality, of course, the roads will be clear in a day and cars dug out enough to make another trip to food heaven before make a dent in the stuff we got “just in case.”

Today it’s snowing and I skipped work, as did most of my colleagues, to sit home and watch daytime TV and the snow fall gently and steadily. Staying off the roads, even in a moderate snow, allows the road crews time to clean up well, which makes it easier for us to get out and about later.

And what’s the hardship in staying home with my kitty? I’m working my way through the second season of West Wing on DVD – and nibbling on a blueberry scone. Hope your day is relaxed and comfortable.

Saturday Roundup

Patient in a Hospital Bed with IVMy mom is still in the hospital tonight. There’s something in her blood work that needs investigating; I’m not quite sure what because her doctor had to run to surgery and was going to explain when he got out, which hasn’t happened yet. She’s feeling better but is still very weak and had a fall today in her room when she bent down to pick something up out of her bag. So I’m glad she’s staying over where they can take care of her and figure out what’s going on.

Sleeping in this morning was its usual lovely treat. I’m not a morning person and being able to snuggle under the covers until 7am makes me feel decadent. Tessie, of course, thinks I should be up and feeding her earlier than that but she’s patient enough to wait curled up on the bottom of the bed until I make “waking up” noises. She definitely gets points for that.

My only outing today was a combo run. First I went to the dumpster/recycling bin with a boatload of cardboard (think shipping boxes for Christmas presents), old phone books, and bottles/cans, and then was off to join the crowd at the grocery store. There were lots of Star and Tree Lightsholiday shoppers but Saturday is a normal grocery day for many people anyway – and tomorrow we’re expecting rain the whole day and who wants to lug groceries in the rain?

I admit that I bought weirdo stuff. Healthy things like vegetables and Fage yogurt and milk and ground turkey. And necessities like Diet Pepsi and potato rolls. And questionable things like slow-churned ice cream and chocolate chip cookie dough in a tub. I did not, however, stock up on the apple pie or eggnog or mixed nuts that looked interesting, so that counts. Doesn’t it?

I listed some stuff on Freecycle this afternoon – a vacuum cleaner and two wireless routers (why I had two extra ones in the closet is a mystery) – and by tomorrow at noon they’ll all be gone. I totally love these local groups that are designed to give stuff away easily and with no strings. If you don’t know about it, check the link to see if there’s a group in your area. Perfect if you find some gems while decluttering that need a good home.

Only two more shopping days until Christmas – are you ready? All of my presents were mailed out some time ago, including sending on one that was sent to me by mistake. I figured that it was good karma to send it on to its intended destination, especially since the recipient is a nun.

Subject to the Lures of Impulse Grocery Shopping

Grocery Store AisleThere are two grocery stores between my office and my apartment and I go by both of them on the way home from work every day. I’ve gotten in the habit of stopping to pick up a few things several times a week instead of relying on a heavy weekend shopping event.

This is proving to be a bad idea. Oh, it starts out with such a lovely virtuous premise: “I’ll just stop and pick up some more yogurt and sweet potatoes or broccoli for supper” or “I just need FiberOne bars and toothpaste” or whatever. But I am showing myself incapable of not picking up other stuff, too. Stuff like reduced fat gingersnaps, Edy’s slow churned yogurt blend ice cream, single-serving Entenmann’s cinnamon rolls or the ubiquitous 100-calorie pack snacks.

I am incapable of buying these and eating them in a reasonable manner. Why I’m even buying them at all is a mystery to me and it’s why they are not on my regular weekly shopping list. They slip in on these mid-week stops, though, magically finding their way into my cart and coming as a surprise when I get to the register.

Tonight’s splurge – a bag of reduced fat gingersnaps – proved to be my undoing. I was into them in the car and instead of dinner, finally deciding to stop and squirt Worcestershire sauce on the remainder to diminish the tasty lure. I’m full now but I’m annoyed at how little control I have over something as little as a gingersnap.

Taken by themselves, these “mid-week treats” are not bad foods, being lower point/fat/calorie versions of the originals. No one is holding a whip over me if I eat one. But it’s become obvious to me that buying them during mid-week drop-in shopping is a guarantee that I will not eat them wisely or in proportion. On a weekend planned shopping event, I’m more in control and less susceptible to snacky impulse shopping.

I’m not happy with having eaten 1/2 a bag of gingersnaps, no matter how tasty or reduced-fat they were. A friend of mine in my first WW meeting used to say, “The last bite tastes the same as the first” and she was right about these. No matter how many I ate, they never tasted BETTER. So I finally stopped. Let’s hope that next time I can stop earlier. It will help if I don’t buy them in the first place.

I think starting tomorrow I’ll plan to turn right instead of left on that road and go to the gym for a water aerobics class instead of doing some drop-in grocery shopping. It’s a much better idea.

Day of doing nothing

Sleepy womanI did practically nothing today and it was wonderful. Saturday is the only day I can sleep in and often not get on my usual hamster wheel of activity. Sunday is out because I go to a WW meeting first thing in the morning, which means having to be presentable and getting myself there instead of snuggling into the flannel sheets and just dozing.

Today I slept until I woke up at about 8am, giving me about 9 hours of sleep. Since on an average night I only get 6 1/2 hours and on days like today I get way more, clearly I should be listening to my body and going to bed earlier during the rest of the week. I managed to hop right into the shower, something I always do on work days but sometimes like to dawdle about on weekends – that’s where I wake up.

Breakfast was Kashi Vive cereal with FF milk and a banana. I piddled around in the morning watching several “Clean Sweep” episodes and rereading an old favorite book that I found while I was decluttering a bit. Isn’t it amazing how some books you can read over and over even though you know all the characters and plot turns? I just lounged in the recliner with a bottle of water and the book with sunshine spilling in the windows – and nothing I had to do.

Lunch was a Lean Cuisine meal because I couldn’t handle the idea of another salad. And it was enough. And I finally got my act together to get dressed (yes, I was a lazy bum this morning) and off to the grocery store with my scribbled list.

I really sort of like the grocery store, especially when I have a list so I’m not just guessing what I want and then getting home to discover I’m missing a key ingredient for a new recipe. I’m trying two of them this week and needed to get my stuff. Since I have been very undisciplined about the gym, I walked up and down all the aisles twice to get some exercise – and partly because I had senior moments about where the things were that I was looking for.

Fiber One barsOne part of this trip was a quest to find the new Fiber One Chewy Bars that everyone is raving about. People in my WW meeting have talked about them and Hungry Girl just sent out a rave review this week. She even said the Oats & Chocolate one was better than Snickers! That was hard to believe since, seriously, nothing is better. But you know what? When I had one, I understood. It was chewy and rich tasting and very satisfying and I heartily recommend them. And they are only 2 points each!

I also got lots of veggies, yogurt, tomatoes, potato rolls (yum), some frozen pizzas, fizzy water, and a bunch of different things that should carry me through the next week.  I’m also cleaning out my freezer so I have plenty of protein on hand to work with.  But tomorrow’s dinner is a new (for me) recipe for making rotisserie chicken in the crockpot.  With potatoes.  I’ll try it out and if it works well, I’ll post the recipe tomorrow.

But the rest of the day was also quiet and non-productive but nonetheless restorative.  Sometimes we have to just let the mind and body lay fallow for a day or two to be quiet and heal.  I just know that tomorrow I will have more energy for not having done much today.  There are some major things on the list to do, some of them postponed from today, but I’m not worried.  They’ll get done.

It was a good day.