Today I needed cat food. I would be at the supermarket for that, so I also got fresh fruit. Walking through the store felt similar to what it felt like when I first got into recovery for alcoholism. It wasn’t that I was going to buy things, it’s that I felt really drawn to “I’ll just get one thing.” All of those “one thing” items were things I didn’t need. I didn’t buy those unneeded items, but it took concentration and mindfulness to focus on my task: buying fresh fruit and cat food.
One of the greatest benefits of these no groceries challenges I set out for myself is I start using what I already have in more efficient ways. We eat leftovers rather than forgetting them until they’ve gone bad. I’ve dug into the deep freezer and found plenty of yummy things, like apple cider I froze when it was fresh in the fall and many bags of par-boiled chard and kale from the summer’s garden. I’d forgotten what I’d put in that freezer. Little containers of Girl Scout Cookies, even! Yum.
So, once again, I’m finding that having a choice matters. I’m choosing to not go to the grocery store to “shop.” I’m choosing to not even step foot in the market unless there is an item we actually need. It’s educational and illuminating. It’s not terrifying, it’s liberating.
I’m reminded again and again of what a luxury it is to be making this choice. I’m still haunted by the overwhelming fear I felt in those days when I didn’t know how I would get groceries. I think of all of the people who are so deep in real poverty that the quicksand keeps pulling them back in no matter how hard they try to get out. I am so lucky that it was temporary, that I had resources—including SNAP/food stamps—to get through that time.
I’m eager to see how long I go without buying things we don’t need, those things that will be nice to have (I’ve got no bubbly water, but I’ll survive). The no groceries challenge is saving us money, making me grateful, and is certainly good for the environment. Plus, I found those Girl Scout cookies!