One of the aspects of my particular brand of anxiety is the conviction that I don't know how to do certain things unless given explicit instructions. One of the Great Mystery Skills I'm positive I don't have is cooking. And mixed up with this lack of cooking confidence is the terror of grocery shopping.
Not that I break into a cold sweat whenever I walk into my local Cub Foods... what happens instead is a sort of mental block as I wander through the aisles. I stare at all the food, all the varieties and brands and options, and I have absolutely no idea what to buy.
A typical shopping trip takes around twenty minutes. I don't even bother trying to make sense of what I'm looking at; I just zero in on the familiar stuff and load up my cart. I wander straight past the produce and meat aisles without a second glance and stock up on frozen dinners and Doritos, Pizza Rolls and lunch meat.
Then there are times when I'm motivated to eat healthier, to consume fresh vegetables and meals I can't microwave; when I decide I'm going to try buying Real Food. This is when the trips are much longer, becoming a two-hour odyssey. Instead of angling straight for the freezer section, I push my cart resolutely up and down every aisle. I stare at all the items I normally pass by and I wonder how I can take these things and make them into the kind of meals that average people make every day.
At the end of the two hours, my cart is always filled with frozen dinners, and lunch meat, and Pizza Rolls, and maybe a bag of baby carrots. I'm exhausted and dejected and can only hope I've managed to put together enough meals to last me to my next paycheck.
So! I've decided to try something new. Something so radical and innovative that it may just shock me into shopping like a proper grown up: I'm going to try meal planning.
I made my first weekly meal plan today. It took me three hours. I'll be putting together a shopping list once I've gone through the cupboards in search of any supplies I already have. I think the way for me to keep from being completely overwhelmed when I enter the grocery store is to have a plan, and a list. If I can do it that way for a while, maybe I can start looking at those rows and rows of food and start getting ideas instead of just... well, staring at them.
Baby steps. Or, you know, baby carrots.
There is one more hurdle I'll have to overcome to make this work, which is actually using the food I get by cooking. I made a point to find recipes that are simple enough for a seven-year-old to manage on their own... so I'm hopeful. And if I don't do it exactly right, it'll be ok. It'll have to be.
Let the grocery shopping commence!
I plan to post an update on this in the near future. If I don't, please do get on me to do so.