Groceries and Intentionality

For as long as I can remember, I have truly hated grocery shopping. I mean to say – I really quite loathe it as an activity.

I know many people who love it and who bask in the thrill of gliding through the aisles of their local supermarket, bargain hunting and sniffing fruit. I simply find it to be an overwhelming process – navigating bustling corners with fellow hectic shoppers, hauling oversized trolleys with dodgy wheels, negotiating the ticket system at the deli, expertly squishing fruit to decipher ripeness, and decoding the vague hanging signs that lead to nothing that resembles what you are actually looking for. Need I say more?

I have never been a great cook. I am a master planner, yes, but I have never had a strong interest in the activity of cooking and I think this is where the dislike of grocery shopping originates. However, out of necessity, I have slowly begun to build my repertoire of recipes and skills in meal preparation – largely stemming from a desire to save some money and provide healthy, well-balanced meals for myself and my husband.

To limit the torment, I approach grocery shopping with the planning and execution of a champion – I have a categorised list and I don’t dally around. When I get into a grocery store, my mind is on one thing – getting out as quickly as humanly possible. Head down, power through the aisles, no stopping to peruse specials (oh heck no!), card or cash at the ready, bag and then DONE.

You can imagine my foreboding, then, when one day my husband suggested that we start doing the grocery shopping together. You know, for enjoyment? For f u n. After years of homemaking, if there is one thing I have learned about myself, it is this – if I don’t enjoy grocery shopping alone, I will really and truly dislike it with someone else. And my husband (bless) is a slow-walking, aisle-browsing, fruit-sniffing person. I just can’t cope.

However, and despite this, I agree (it is good to try new things) – and after a joint meal planning and list-making session, we today found ourselves at our local grocers, ready for a grocery-shopping session of unbridled bliss.

On entering the store, and guided by my husband’s pace, we are immediately walking slowly – not slow enough to hold up traffic, but not in the rushed or somewhat frantic manner of my own usual style. I allow a moment to take in the sights of the tea and coffee stands in front of me, noticing different flavours and varieties that I had never seen before.

We slowly move into the store and begin a conversation about what we need to purchase for the week – our focus is on fresh produce, and we approach the brightly coloured marketplace of the fruit and vegetable stalls together. We talk about the flavours we would like to try this week, the recipes, what flavours would work well together, and I start to explore the big baskets of produce, looking for the ripest, freshest jewels I can uncover – calmly, methodically.

We progress this way through the deli, talking about our upcoming cuisine, and I start to realise that actually, there is immense benefit to what we are doing – in being intentional about our shopping for the food that will provide nourishment for the week ahead. I begin to feel calm through this process and – wait – I am actually enjoying this activity.

Suddenly, there is something quite poetic about being present for this ritual of our week – such an important ritual, one that has occurred so many times over in so many different ways over eons of time – the hunt for, and bringing home of, nourishment.

I realised that I there is beauty and enjoyment to be found in this most basic of daily or weekly domestic activities, if we can only be intentional and bring presence to the moment.

I realised that this is one of the most fundamental activities of our home – I no longer desperately wanted to ‘get it over with’ but rather take the time to savour the opportunity to be present and enjoy.

Of course, there will be days when we are tired, rushed and need to get in and out of that supermarket as quickly as we can.

However, this experience has changed the way I think of grocery shopping in the sense that I will now make time for this activity, rather than squeezing it in as an inconvenience in my schedule. I will enjoy slowing down and exploring the variety of hidden treasures that can add nourishment, variety and flavour to my meals. There is a gift in simplicity and intentionality in even the most basic of daily tasks – if we only take the time to stop and find that gift.

What opportunities for added intentionality can you make room for in your life?

Until next time – simplify, focus, pursue and count your blessings.

Sarah x

Photo Credit: Moi

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