In yesterday's post, Introducing a special grocery shopping trip, I said that I was rewarding myself with a grocery shopping expedition!
Last night I spent a pleasant hour browsing Stephanie Alexander's the cook's companion. Then I recruited eldest daughter to play as well. But what are the rules of the game?
Normally when I grocery shop, I first just scan the pantry to see what's needed and then buy the minimum required to fit within cash. The grocery game involves making a real ceremony of the whole thing.
The key rule is to buy at least some things that are new or haven't been purchased for some time. This often means shopping at more than one place, not just the standard supermarket. Since the game generally precludes buying store brands, the reduced range now available in supermarkets nearly always means some shopping elsewhere.
A second rule is research, to decide how to use new things. In my case, I was looking at the different types of mushrooms. Youngest doesn't like mushrooms, so I normally don't bother with them even though I like mushrooms. However, with our very busy individual life styles Clare is often not home for evening meals. In fact, quite often now I am cooking just for myself, a considerable adjustment for someone whose role as chief cook and bottle washer was central to life.
Involving eldest in the game extends it, for she is developing into a very good cook who cooks quite different things to me. So adding her in not only makes the game more fun, but also gives me another reward. Her cooking!
The final rule is to buy things, especially produce, based on quality not price. Shopping to a limited budget necessarily rules things out. The focus is always on best value at the time.
The grocery game relaxes that rule. Budget is still important, but the cash rule is relaxed to some degree for the purposes of the game .
Pretty obviously, you can't play the grocery game all the time. Cash won't allow it. But it is fun to do from time to time, and always has some last effect on purchases.