Investment Thinking at the Grocery Store

Coming home to an empty frig after a long vacation reminded me of the importance of a good pantry. I put a fair amount of time into stocking my “larder” each autumn, a use of time that might seem crazy.

Normal people likely wonder why I buy bags of potatoes, winter squash and onions at the Farmers Market; lots of frozen vegetables on sale, boxes of frozen fruits and fish from a supplier in the Northwest and part of a whole beef with my neighbor. It takes time to order, pick out, pay for, haul home, clean shelves and then put away and organize everything. With three grocery stores within a couple miles, why not just run to the store and get something for dinner?

That’s where my post-vacation story comes in. There are times (e.g., after arriving home from vacation) when we don’t want to go to the store. In fact, I wonder if there is ever a time when we want to go trudge the concrete aisles of a mega-market, breathing stale air, getting sensory overload from so many products, being buffeted by insane amounts of marketing and packaging, fighting crowds of frantic shoppers and then having to deal with check out and crazed parking lots.

Remember these parts of grocery shopping and “running to the store to get something for dinner” loses a good part of its appeal. Think how much more pleasant it would be to shop just once a week or every other week and stock up when you go.

This kind of thinking is called “investment thinking.” People with an investment mindset don’t fret themselves into a frenzy about spending 15 seconds to throw a couple extra cans of tomatoes in the shopping cart. They will even spend 30 extra minutes bagging up several kinds of bulk frozen fruits without going into a panic. They might also clear space for a basement pantry where they could keep things like a 25-pound bag of rice.

How can they do that? Don’t they know they’re wasting precious time?

Actually, what they know (and a lot of us don’t), is that time spent stocking the pantry is not a waste of time at all. It is an investment of time that ends up saving boatloads of unnecessary shopping time.

Think about it: That “quick” trip to the store requires a minimum of 15 to 30 minutes. Whether you buy one thing or a hundred, you must still drive to the store, find a parking spot and walk in, trudge down most if not every aisle, wait at the check out line, check out and pay, then cart everything to the car and drive home. Time consuming? Yes! Aggravating? You bet! And the bigger the grocery store, the greater the aggravation!

Smart shoppers know that minimizing trips to the store means minimizing both time and aggravation. There’s a reason they don’t get wigged out taking all of three minutes to pick out several cuts of meat that will go to the freezer. They know that three extra minutes at the meat counter, one extra minute in the pasta aisle and 30 more seconds in the frozen foods aisle eliminates two, three or four “quick” trips to the store at 15 to 30 minutes a pop.

Now that’s a good investment!

So the next time you’re at the store, don’t listen to the voices in your head saying, “Hurry up and get out of here. This is a big waste of time.” Instead, experiment: Slow down, have a little patience and see if there aren’t a few things you could buy for the pantry. Then notice how nice it is when e.g., you get home late after work and there are the fixings for a good meal, right in your kitchen. No “quick” stop at the grocery store necessary!

But how do you know what to buy to stock the pantry? Two ways: Check out my book, Take Control of Your Kitchen, which explains what to buy and how to store and organize it for easy access, or email to set up some individual kitchen coaching where we focus on setting up a helpful and healthful pantry. Also, check out tomorrow’s blog: Some Pantry Meal Examples, and then read all the articles in this series:

Invaluable Kitchen Resource Gets No Respect

Remedy for the Post-Vacation Refrigerator Blues

Time Spent Stocking the Pantry Isn’t Wasted, It’s Invested!

How Many Great Meals Are Hiding In Your Pantry?

. . . or Do a Better Job Working the One You Have

Good News:  The Fun of a Pantry Journey Lasts More than an Afternoon

Pantries Save Time, Reduce Stress, Save Money, Produce Intriguing Meals and Maybe Even Lead to Enlightenment

How to Breathe Fresh Air Into Yours

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  1. […] Savings The post on “Investment Thinking at the Grocery Store” explained how the pantry saves shopping time.  It has to do with overhead, i.e., a trip to the […]

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