When I go grocery shopping I often pick up ingredients I’ve never seen before. That’s how I ended up with the bunch of East Asian Brown Beech Mushrooms (also known also as Buna-shimeji, Hypsizigus tessellatus, or Brown Clamshell). Sure, it can be a risky habit but it keeps shopping fun – which is something I need these days. The older I get the more I find shopping to be a chore. Even grocery shopping. I used to love the grocery store. I’d make a list, cut the coupons, look for all the extra-special “double-deals” and make an afternoon of roaming the aisles.
However these days just the thought of gathering up all those re-usable bags makes my stomach churn in knots. Forget making a list – that’s gotten way too depressing.
But I gotta eat, right? That means I’ve gotta shop for food. So I’ve developed a few tricks to help make the job less of a drudge. The first is the Farmers Market. I still enjoy walking down the hill to the Hollywood Farmers Market when I can. Fresh food. Seasonal energy. Celebrity sightings. The Farmers Market is a once a week foodie excursion that never bores me.
Still, I live a fast-paced, big city life. There are a lot of staples we in the big city need that aren’t available from a local farmer. A lot. You know things like ChapStick, LED light-bulbs, and Kit Kat bars. You can’t live a fast-paced, big city life without Kit Kat bars, and they don’t grow on trees so farmers can’t grow them and they’re not really kats, so hunters can’t shoot them.
All this means that I need to stop by the grocery store once in a while. So, rather than resist I now do just the opposite. I go to the store EVERY DAY. It just takes a few minutes to grab the few things I need for my dinner (or score something like these East Asian Brown Beech Mushrooms for my blog). I know that seems odd. How can going to the store MORE help me deal with my shopping phobia?
Well, partly because I fool myself just a bit. By not planning to go to the market, and by not making much more than a mental list, I can be 80% finished with the job before I remember how much I hate it. Besides it’s more of an “in the moment” exercise. Meaning my inner psyche can connect with the zen side of grocery shopping much more directly. And, it doesn’t take 4 hours.
Although I wonder sometimes if I pay more for the things I buy. I don’t cut daily coupons or spend a lot of time looking for deals. I tend to go to specialty markets too, which are pricier. But the other side of the coin is this: when I go more often, I buy less. Which (I think) makes me spend less money because I waste less food. As evidence there seem to be fewer and fewer shocking alien sightings in the veg drawer these days because it’s never so full that the carrots have time to morph into black-bearded intruders.
My last little trick is this: I try to buy things that are unfamiliar. It keeps shopping fun. Instead of ALWAYS reaching for brands I know, or vegetables we love I force myself to try new things. In fact, today’s Brown Beech Mushrooms came about because I came across a pile of these unusually perky little fellows in my local Asian Market. I love the way they stand up in a big crowd and giggle “notice me” as you roll your cart past them in the produce aisle.
So, what do you do when you’re faced with a countertop of unfamiliar Asian mushrooms? You make a stir-fry of course. GREG