Posted 18 February 2009 - 10:28 PM
Thank you, dear Klatsch team, for that kind introduction.
Like many, or perhaps most, people in Western industrialized nations I shop for groceries once a week. Sure, I supplement with trips to smaller stores, greenmarkets and the like on an as-needed basis, but I do my main shop at a supermarket. In my case, that supermarket is Fairway on Broadway between 74th and 75th Streets in Manhattan. My family has been shopping there since I was a little kid, and ever since I moved back to New York City after graduating from college in Vermont in 1991 I have been going to Fairway most every Sunday morning to shop with my mother. Sometimes things come up. I may be out of town, or back when I had a real job I often got too busy to shop. But for the past 18 years I have gone most Sunday mornings to Fairway with my mother, and for the past 10 years we have rarely missed a Sunday.
The drill is that I get myself over to Fairway either by bus, on foot or by taxi. (I live on the Upper East Side; Fairway is across town on the Upper West Side; my mother lives just a few blocks from Fairway.) I meet my mother there, we shop (independently, for the most part), then we load all our stuff into a taxi. I drop my mother at her place, and then I take my stuff home in the taxi. The taxi costs about $12, but we easily save more than that by shopping at Fairway instead of the supermarkets near where I live -- and we get much better stuff, because Fairway happens to be one of the best supermarkets in the world.
In the past three years, my son PJ has become part of this equation. Shopping at Fairway every Sunday morning with grandma is a highlight of his week. But I digress.
A few months ago a Sunday came around and we had plans that made shopping impossible. I figured, okay, I'll just go on Monday without the team. But when I went to make dinner on Sunday night, I noticed that my freezer and cabinets were overflowing with edible foodstuffs. Why was I saving all this stuff, when I could be eating it? I resolved just to skip my grocery shopping for that week and eat what was around.
We ate quite well that week, though the last couple of dinners reminded me of the 14-day Atlantic-crossing repositioning cruise on the Windstar, where you start off with an abundance of fresh produce but as you progress toward Portugal things like lettuce start disappearing from your meals until you're basically on the Atkins diet for the last few days. (Well, the version of the Atkins diet where you also can eat lots of freshly baked breads.)
But it got me thinking . . .
Surely I'm not alone in having a freezer and pantry full of food, much of which will get thrown out as it expires over the course of the coming months and years. Indeed, I live in a small apartment. People with houses, basement freezers and walk-in pantries surely have far more of this stuff lying around than I do. Surely I'm not alone in having overbought at the supermarket last week. Surely I'm not alone when I get home from the supermarket and can barely fit the new food in the refrigerator because there's so much of the old stuff. Surely I'm not alone in being able to skip a week of shopping and still eat well.
So let's do it again, together. Let's all skip a week of shopping. Let's declare national eat the stuff in our freezers and pantries week.
Think about it from an economic standpoint. Times are tough right now. If you spend $100 a week on groceries, this experiment will put $100 back in your pocket quicker than you can say stimulus. If you're home 50 weeks of the year and you perform this experiment once per quarter, you'll reduce your grocery bill by 8%.
So this Sunday, I'm not going shopping. And whether you shop on the weekend or on another day, I'm asking you not to shop either. Instead, let's eat all the stuff we already have around. And let's talk about it, compare photos, help one another figure out what to do with that jar of giardiniera or that packet of pilaf.
I'll be starting my week-without-shopping diary on Sunday. If your normal shopping day comes sooner, feel free to start ahead of me. The parameters for participation will be posted tomorrow.