When I first looked into changing my grocery shopping habits my plan was to say goodbye to grocery shopping at a supermarket, I was going to stick it to the man, walk away from the supermarket completely and do things differently…yeah! Man?
However, I had already made a similar stand several years ago when I said goodbye to the supermarket giants in particular and started shopping at my local IGA instead. (See this great clip from Hungry Beast which sums up a lot of my beefs with having a supermarket duopoly as we do in Australia.)
As I thought through my present day stand (I don’t mind a good stand every now and then) I realised I still had it pretty good with my local IGA. It was a small, community-minded supermarket who shamelessly pushed South Australian produced goods and still employed teenagers who would carry my groceries to the car. (I tell you, it’s a wonderful feeling not having to sweat your way through the car park with heavy bags, swearing when your toilet paper bounces to the ground while screaming at your three-year-old to, ‘Stay close to Mummy! Stay close to Mummy!!’)
So I didn’t need to make a stand but I did want to make some changes.
- Packaging: I wanted to find more options for buying in bulk so my recycling bin wasn’t overflowing with cardboard boxes every week.
- Simple choices: I wanted to shop somewhere where there was just one choice for rice bubbles for example or one choice of peanut butter and know that the research had already been done and what was on offer was as sustainable, ethical, natural choice as could be.
- Less shopping: I really didn’t enjoy doing a ‘weekly shop’, spending a couple of hours making a shopping list, doing the shopping then unpacking it only to do it all again the following week. I hoped if I could buy more in bulk and make more at home I would have less need to be at the shops.
- I did a little bit of research at my local health food shop, butcher and fruit and veg shop to see what was on offer.
- I went through my pantry, fridge and freezer and made a list of items I bought on a regular basis and noted where I could buy them as per my research.
- I picked a date to start shopping by my list. 1st March 2014 it was.
Progress and Pitfalls
- It did take me some time to stop myself ‘just ducking to the shops’. For a while there I felt as though I had exchanged my once a week shop for lots of little shopping trips but once I committed to my start date and became more disciplined my new way of shopping became the norm.
- I did need a bit more organisation in how I was going to transport my bulk goods. It was all very well to buy some flour in bulk from the Health Food Shop but it defeated the purpose if I had to buy a container from them each time to transport it home. It’s along the same vein as remembering you need to bring your green bags… once you’re already at the checkout.
- I still go to my local IGA but have found this is mainly for my dairy and bread. Because I know we use a lot, I tend to buy up big so it will last me a fortnight rather than a week.
- I bought toilet paper from Who Gives A Crap for the first time and am totally hooked. Not only is the toilet paper quality (always important) but you can use it knowing that 50% of profits made by this company go to building toilets and improving sanitation in the developing world.
If you are thinking about making changes to your grocery shopping habits, some great sources to get you thinking are:
- Aussie Farmers Direct: Cut out the middle man (or supermarket) and get your groceries delivered to your door direct from the farmer.
- Local Harvest: A directory for finding local food close to you.
- Shop Ethical: Know who and what you are supporting every time you shop. Make your dollar count.
What changes could you make to your grocery shopping habits? Or do you have any suggestions for shopping smarter?