Having returned to America and re-entered Carrollton society caused some of the habits I used to have to change. Grocery shopping is one of those experiences.
Prior to living in Ireland, I shopped at Kroger and threw all kinds of food items into the buggy. Three cereal boxes, frozen chicken, spices and sauces, fruits and vegetables, packages of cheese both shredded and blocked, and junk food galore were tossed into the buggy. The buggy overflowed with food items that, let’s be honest, would go in the pantry or fridge and never get eaten. Further from that, most of the food items I purchased were so unhealthy for me. Did I care? No. I was living by myself in my own apartment paying for the groceries out of my pocket. Let freedom ring and buy all of the groceries possible! So I did.
That changed when I moved to Ireland.
46 North Great George’s Street (my address) was right in the heart of Dublin. I walked to work. I walked to McDonald’s, and I walked to the grocery store. Tesco was a short seven-minute walk from the apartment, and it served all of my grocery needs. Most of the brands were different but a few survived the crossing of the Atlantic. Campbell’s Soup, Cheerios, and Ritz Crackers were just a few of the American food items I had access to in Tesco.
But, if you walk to the grocery store to shop, you have to walk back with your bags. I quickly learned that there was nothing worse than the seven-minute walk back to the house with bags and bags of groceries weighing me down. It was like the people of Dublin made it their mission to get in my way, bump me, or huff loudly as I tried to make it home. Could they not see that I was just trying to get to the apartment without the bags breaking? In attempt to minimize their side-glances or snarky remarks, I began shopping with my own large bags.
I had two canvas bags with me in Ireland that I would carry to Tesco. If a grocery item did not fit in the two bags, I didn’t buy it. This practice taught me to buy only what I needed rather than what I wanted.
I was able to save so much money because I wasn’t spending carelessly on groceries that I wouldn’t eat. I learned that I could spend €50 on food items and have more than enough food to live on for about two weeks. I also became quite the grocery packer. You would be surprised at how many food items I packed into those bags. After some trial and error, I had it down to an art. Frozen pizza on one side while filling up the other with smaller items. I only bought one box of Corn Flakes or one box Cheerios but never the two at the same time for bag space purposes. Square items went on the bottom as a good base unless heavier items were purchased at which point they took precedence at the bottom of the bag. Like I said, it was an art.
Since being back home, the old habits of grabbing everything possible at Kroger has crept back in. It’s so easy to go to the store and load the buggy to the brim. I’ll catch myself in the store and impulsively want to buy hoards of junk food or food that I know I’ll never eat. My Irish brain will kick in and I’ll put the nutter butters back on the shelf. Grocery shopping is just another life experience forever changed for having lived in Ireland.