Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Deconstructing Grocery Shopping

I love grocery shopping.  

What most people consider a boring errand, I actually look forward to and perceive as a fun breather.  I know of a lot of people who would probably prefer a trip to the dentist than do their grocery shopping, but not me.  Especially when AJ is available to just stay with Noah at home, a trip to the grocery really becomes even more fun and relaxing.  

I still remember the very first time I stepped in a grocery store here in the U.S. back in 2001 when I stayed for a three-week vacation.  I went with the thought that one of the best ways to gain an even deeper insight about this society is to look at the food the people commonly consume.  Suffice it to say that I was enthralled.  It was an experience seeing all the frozen dinners which were, at least at the time, unheard of in the Philippines where everyone cooks or makes their own meals one way or the other, and frozen dinners were only something I saw on t.v. or American films.  

It was fun how everything looked bigger, aisles were wider and food was so abundant.  I would have to say though, that the clincher for me was when I reached the cereal aisle.  It was then that I realized that this was a society of choices.  You know how everyone says that America is the land of the free and that anything is possible out here?...Well, you only need to go to your cereal aisle to confirm this!

It was too overwhelming looking at all the varieties of cereal one can choose from.  Actually, it still is!  To this date, sending me to the cereal aisle with no particular preference in mind will drive me to the throes of panic caused by utter indecision.  Cheerios or Honey Cheerios?  Frosted flakes or Cinnamon Toast Crunch?  Sweet or healthy?  Quaker brand or Kashi?  Something new I've never had before or something familiar and reliable?  Maybe I want something with chocolate or maybe peanut butter?  Which size?  How many carbs per serving?  This is why when I'm on a tight schedule, you should never ever let me linger here.  I take it all too seriously and behave as if there was no tomorrow and that choosing the 'wrong' type of cereal will dent me for the rest of my life.

Even with this 'tension-inducing' aisle though, I still love the grocery.  After giving it thought, I think I can pretty much explain this with two main reasons:  (1) I love food and where else can one get so much exposure to food and all its infinite combinations and unique possibilities but at the grocery stores?; (2) Though the choices seem infinite in this place, everything can still be very predictable and organized, and we all know how I love order.  I mean, think about it.  This is one place where there are countless choices to be made. BUT...as long as you have a list and know exactly what your purpose is for shopping, you can easily find your way around (with all the aisles being labelled and for the most part, logically organized) and everything is within your control.  
I love how a trip to the grocery is something I can completely plan for.  I love the predictability of it;  how everything is where I expect to find them, that they are exactly where they were the last time I saw them; how easily I can navigate inside the store and even organize my list according to how the goods in the store are mapped out.  

In the final analysis, it's really all about that.  More than anything, I am comforted by the predictability and organization of the grocery universe.  I go in with a plan (my list) and execute that plan with little or no human interaction necessary which makes the predictability and intentionality possible and even more pronounced.  With no one and nothing else to deal with but my cart, the merchandise, and my personal discipline and focus, the variables are reduced and it all becomes simple.

Now if only I can live in the grocery store!        

*Image courtesy of http://www.fotosearch.com*


  1. this is a fun entry =) grocery shopping is therapy for me too. on my first trip to the US, my first supermarket visit felt to me like a child's first visit to Disneyland, lol! wow, lahat "imported!" i remember wanting to buy and taste everything, from pepperoni sticks to blue potato chips to frozen cream puffs. what i personally found most amazing was the produce section. 've never seen fruits and veggies that huge, perfectly shaped and without any blemishes!

  2. Yep, Joanie! I agree. Most of them are perfectly genetically modified, haha! But isn't it also quite depressing seeing all that abundance while knowing that in other parts of the world, millions are starving?? It never made sense to me.

  3. Joy, do you think its a girl thing? Is it a Theresian thing? or does it all boil down to personality? I love predictability, order, and control, too. I also love how I can say with authority that if I need to buy X (items), i will be done in Y (time). :-)

  4. I remember my first visit to an American grocery and being totally overwhelmed by the bread section.

  5. I never ever head for the supermarket without my grocery list. And my 'to buy' items are listed down in order of their appearance from the first aisle. LOL. I'm OC like that.

  6. I love grocery shopping but only if I have to do it alone. The presence of someone else makes it a little difficult for me. And I am very quick at grocery shopping and very organized. I have a list and a pen to strike off what goes in the trolley!

    Lol! We have an addiction! :)

  7. I've always enjoyed grocery shopping - at least if I'm not rushed. I never minded going up and down every aisle whether I needed to or not. I really enjoyed it when my older daughter was an infant. I would strap her on my chest and take care of business while mommy stayed home doing other chores.

  8. I agree, I like grocery shopping in the states. But, I hate grocery shopping here. Most of all I hate the lines and the pushing in the lines.

  9. I like this post. But it is making me feel bad: I get my grocery delivered at my doorstep...I am too tempted in he supermarket and I am always short of time anyway.


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