Think of your last trip to the grocery store.
Likely you managed to find your way through the labyrinth of ever-migrating foodstuffs, housewares, and promotional sales, only to find yourself stuck in a lengthy line at the checkout with a few vocally disgruntled kids and frazzled parents.
What if you could go for weeks between visits to the grocery store?
A well-stocked pantry, freezer, and fridge makes it possible!
When I had a concussion three years ago, the noise and bright lights at the store really added to my neurological distress. My self-preservation instinct and I came up with a few methods for cutting way back on my number of trips to the store. Here they are:
Bulk buying: I belong to a buyers’ group that buys dry goods, cooking oils, maple syrup, and cleaning products from an organic supplier in the province next door to mine (www.speervilleflourmill.ca). Orders can be placed online, and the goods are delivered right to my door. If your friends come in with you on an order costing $600 or more, you get a small discount and shipping is free. Google “food buyers’ group” in your area for more information.
The CSA movement: Community Supported Agriculture (CSA or “box” programs) are a way to get your fresh, local greens without darkening the doors of a grocery chain. You subscribe to a program for the length of the growing season, and share in the harvest as it rolls in—a system that benefits farmers by knowing in advance how many customers to grow for. Adopting much the same model, Community Supported Fisheries (CSFs) are also a way to support your local fishery (often using sustainable fishing practices like hook and line catching rather than trawling), and there are meat-based CSAs out there, too, for the carnies. I’ve heard of CSAs that do home delivery, though most have a central pick-up location—often in the parking lot outside the busy mall you won’t have to enter!
Farmers’ Markets: When was the last time you invited a friend to join you for coffee at a mall food court? At a farmers’ market, you can enjoy a locally-baked treat and hot drink with that friend after picking up your weekly bread, cheese, meat, and veg, all while supporting small businesses and the local economy—an altogether inviting prospect.
Online Grocery Shopping: During the endless winter of 2015, when we were snowed in for a solid month, my mom got fond of online grocery shopping—she even found a store that would deliver (for a fee, of course), which saved hours of shovelling and ice-picking the car out of the driveway. An option appealing to busy parents, and harried students as well as seniors, the Toronto Star reports that online grocery shopping is growing in popularity. (https://www.thestar.com/business/2016/06/18/canadians-warm-to-online-grocery-shopping.html). I wish I’d known about it when I was recovering from my concussion!
Home canned: It might surprise you to realize how many daily food items can be canned at home, with less effort than you might think. Foods like applesauce, stewed tomatoes, pickles, mustards, jams and jellies are staples at my house, but I don’t buy them; I make them, and you can, too! New research shows that old skills like jam-making and knitting are actually good for our mental health, so you can benefit from the process as much as the sweet result. And the possibilities for a simple item like home-canned applesauce are endless: from a quick dessert, to a muffin or cake ingredient, from pancake or porridge toppings, to roast pork accompaniment, to quick host gift. Nothing tastes like homemade!
As Christmas approaches, with its congested shopping centres and long lines, I wish you some time for quiet reflection and the satisfaction of a full larder.