Sunday, August 3, 2014

SUNDAY EDITION: Trouble with the Grocery Store

It's that time of month again.

Grocery time.

Usually, I hate grocery time. I know it has to be done, but I drag my feet the day before, carelessly writing down things on scraps of paper, and forgetting where I placed them. Groceries (and shopping in general) is a huge anxiety pressure point, and it's something I've only just been able to do without a friend or loved one with me.

In the past, when shopping alone, it was a nightmare that lasted for hours. I was anxious on what needed to be in my buggy, despite having a list. (Would it be the right type? What about preservatives? What about GMOs?) I panicked when I saw a buggy full of groceries. I panicked when I got to the checkout line. AND GOD FORBID MY KID STARTS CRYING because they're hungry, or bored, or tired. That would be my breaking point. Many times, I've left whole buggies mid-aisle, bawling as I left the store.

I feel like a failure when I throw junk food in with the 'good' food. The things I've seen on Facebook and Huffpost about how poverty = junk food have just blown my mind, and left me with a burden of guilt that I'll never be able to unyoke. Because I live in poverty.
I've said before that I receive WIC to help out with things like eggs, milk, and baby food (since Isabel turned 6 months old, those vouchers were supplied). But, having the history of sh*t hitting the fan, I also took the plunge, and got Food Stamps. I don't flaunt the little bit that I do get. But it's enough that I, when I first got my card, thought I could handle $120 a month for food.
But then I was ridiculed for having a 12 pack of soda in my cart, or a box of popsicles for Delilah. Even a box of hot pockets was blasphemy! People would sneer or roll their eyes as I put the same food on the conveyor belt as everyone else: frozen dinners, pizzas, bags of chicken nuggets, pop tarts, chips, soda...
It wore me down, and then completely burned me out.
I was desperate to find anything that would get people off my case. And, as the scare tactic reports of GMO foods and childhood obesity spammed my Facebook feed, my anxiety in the grocery store turned into full blown paranoia. I lived this way for months, tiptoeing between dread and utter humiliation every time I pulled out that green card. Why couldn't I go full organic like some moms? This wasn't about price, this was about making that allotment stretch; and most coupons were for items that came prepackaged.

So, Friday Night, I saw the link to an article that took the wind out of my self-deprecating sails. Clean eating is a myth? What? Well, it can be, if taken to extremes. So is any other diet that claims this one or that one is the best for you. It dawned on me that I was trying too hard. Way, way too hard. I had to ask myself these questions:

*Did we have fruits & veggies with every meal? 
-Yes! Yes, we did. Sometimes, it was a glass of orange or cranberry juice with our eggs and toast, but I make sure we have a helping of everything.
*Are you overfilling the plates? Giving out seconds of meat instead of veggies?
-No. Unless we're eating Spaghetti, which has the homemade meat sauce already mixed in. Our plates and bowls aren't made for big portions.
*Are we eating snacks mindlessly? Grazing all day?
-Not to my knowledge. We have snacks, yes, but they're like..handful of pretzles and a spoonful of peanut butter. (Or, as my husband calls it, poor people food. He's the reason I had Doritos and Dr. Pepper in my buggy to begin with)

Hey, guess what? My family eats a healthy diet.


I want to show you a few pictures I have of my August grocery trip. This was done yesterday, and the only thing I had to put back was half of the Dr. Pepper I grabbed. Because my husband refuses to bend on certain things. (Allotment for the month has increased to $200 due to baby's age)

 The above is my first stop: Aldi's. I spend most of my allotment here, because I get the best deals on my food. What do you see?
Canned goods: Veggies, Fruit, Beans. Tortillas. Bottled Water. Things any normal family would get,  right? 
My entire haul: the WalMart bags are barely filled. Just one bag of Doritos for Mister spoiled brat. (Not shown are the cases of Dr. Pepper or sets of baby food)

 My first CNA job here in Wisconsin gave me my first look into reasonable stockpiling. My old boss was a blessing, and in shopping for the house's needs, she taught me how to make a proper grocery list. 

Here is the replenished stockpile, which I usually have to do every 3 or 4 months.

 Here, I separated the $10 worth of hamburger meat into 6 sections, and put them in ziploc sandwich bags.  That's a huge savings,  and space saver for my tiny freezer.

Aforementioned FRESHLY GROUND BEEF 80/20 mix. I can't stand to go lower because of the smell of all the grease as it's cooking.  Can't do it. 

A little something extra that I picked up from Wal-Mart, because I do want to make my own breads and canned goods.

I want to put this out there: 

I may suck at coupons, at menu planning, and even at converting to a strict diet. But you know what I don't stuck at? Feeding my family a wholesome dinner, with all the food groups,  and usually leftovers. We don't have to buy boxed dinners for convenience because a handmade dinner is the same price! Raise a glass of wine and say Amen!

You can let go of the stress, Mamas, because it doesn't have to be perfect. And you know what?