Grocery Shopping Makes Me Uniquely Happy

A Love Letter to the Agency We Have Left

This is Where the Magic Happens. Photo Sarah Boumedda

Picture this:

It’s winter, and you’re 11 years old. The sun is setting—that’s how you know you’re to come home for dinner. You’ve been playing outside since you and your classmates poured out of school in the early afternoon.

Entering the doorway, your icy cheeks burn from the sudden temperature change. You can smell meaty juices simmering, and hear the knife chopping a last-minute salad. You know you are home, and taken care of. Having my family cook for me is what I miss the most about being a child.

Preparing food for yourself signals that you are now entirely your own responsibility. It’s all on you now. I miss the feeling of coming home to a full fridge, getting excited about the best bits. I vividly remember avocadoes, fresh pizza, and prepared salads my mom would buy. And, as an only child, they were all mine. Now, it’s still all mine, but it lacks the pleasure of surprise, because I bought it for myself.

When I leased my first apartment, I decided I would start my independent life on the right foot. I would have to do something drastic—revolutionary. I would get it together and start dragging myself to the grocery store weekly. I wouldn’t open and close the fridge door endlessly, every time wishing that I wouldn’t keep on seeing nothing but mustard and baking soda.

I was resolute to find pleasure in what I found out through an informal poll: That no one likes grocery shopping.

I know it can be tedious, and not the most exciting outing. Sure, food is expensive. The aisles are narrow and uncomfortable. Reminding yourself you should use less plastic is anxiety inducing. You know you should buy more greens. Canned beans are always on sale, but they are a pain to carry home because, oh yeah, we live in Montreal and we’re students, and few of us have cars, and it turns out cans are really heavy!

We have so little power in this world, so while we wait to get our grades back, let’s revel in this small token moment of decision making that is all ours. One or two per cent milk? The choice is all yours, buddy. You are the master of your life. Never forget that. I love grocery shopping because it is grounding.

Maybe I’m boring, but the thrill of finding ripe avocados is incomparable. When the universe comes together to let me eat avocado toast on demand, how can my day be bad? Grocery shopping is a game, and I’m winning.

But hey, I hear you. Grocery shopping has downsides, yet how do they compare to the feeling of getting your life together? After making and crossing lists, and delicately unpacking your food, it feels like a big sigh of content. You did something right.

A stocked fridge and pantry feels like a victory, but also like a promise. I’ll be eating breakfast. I’ll be making my lunches. I’ll save money. I’ll eat somewhat healthier (and so on). It’ll be a great week.

No one else is doing it for me anymore. I’m a grocery shopper, and I’m slowly learning to take care of myself.