Friday, November 6, 2015

Lunch Adventures: In Which Our Hero Falls Prey to the Siren Song of the Fancy Grocery Store


I started my lunch-in quest with an embarrassing rookie mistake. The day after writing a post condemning my expensive eating-lunch-out habit and promising to eat homemade lunches with grocery store ingredients from now on, I dropped $55 on eight (8) items at the most expensive grocery store of all time! For the price of a week of lunches out, I didn't even get fully enough for one lunch.


To be fair, it wasn't all lunch stuff--I saw some items we need at home and, trying to be helpful, I added them to my basket. And I got some staples that will last for quite a few meals, but at three or four times the price I would have paid at my normal store. Here's the breakdown:


  • Small baguette … $2.50
  • Large bag of potato chips … $3.99
  • 8 ounce block of cheese … $7.99
  • 16 ounce jar of peanut butter … $8.99
  • 12 ounce jar of honey … $8.99
  • Spaghetti sauce (for home) … $9.99
  • Tea (for home) … $6.99
  • Cookies (now I was just being extravagant… and hungry) .. $5.49


We start out semi-reasonable, and it just goes off the rails. I didn't get crazy items like caviar and unicorn's milk, I just got the most expensive possible version of a bunch of regular items. I knew that it was a fancy store, but I didn't realize how fancy the ordinary items would be. The store wisely didn't post prices (or else it made them very, very unobtrusive), or I might have noticed how pricey these items were compared to the ones I usually buy.


Now, I have certainly been known to spend more than nine bucks on tinier jars of honey, eyes wide open, but I really like honey. And I don't do it all the time. I don't think it's wrong for anyone or even wrong for me to spend an unusually high amount on a gourmet version of a food that will truly be savored and appreciated. But I am quite sure that I will not appreciate that ten dollar jar of spaghetti sauce four times as much as the usual $2.50 jar. I predict that I will like it exactly the same amount.


The silly thing is that I made the exact same mistake my first week of work. I went to a fancy grocery store, spent way more than I would have eating out, and didn't get enough food, or food that went well enough together, to make even one satisfying lunch. My conclusion from that experience was a gleeful, "Welp, as long as it's cheaper anyway, I might as well keep eating out!!!"


This time, I choose not to compare eating out to the straw man of shopping at the world's most expensive grocery store. Instead, I'll try to take the following lessons:


  • Find other sources of groceries. It looks like my plan of grocery shopping for lunch food during my lunch break, keeping ingredients at work, and never having to pack a lunch may be flawed. I might have to grocery shop at my normal store near home and pack individual lunches, and/or bring in groceries every couple of days. That, or weather and time permitting, I can try and go further afield on my lunch break and actually get to a non-fancy-schmancy grocery.
  • Look at prices. Come on, kid, this is Shopping 101.
  • Avoid the fancy-schmancy store except maybe for occasional treats that I really enjoy and that I can't get anywhere else.

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