My kids are spoiled with choices. Our cupboards at home overflow with Costco sized snack options, a generously packed fridge, and a selection of fruits to munch on. If we run out of something, I simply hop in my mini-van and run to the store. Shopping at the local Hyvee, with kid’s car carts and free cookies/bananas is a weekly ritual for Kai and I and we often browse the shelves, picking up more than I intended.
Living in France for a month on a limited budget with no car has been a food wake up call for me and my family of 5. If you have to walk a quarter to a half of a mile, the way home primarily up hill, potentially with a child or three in tow, your food priorities change. Pre-made beverages are heavy and take up bag space, becoming a low priority. If you can make something from scratch using ingredients from home, rather than carry prepackaged items that go quickly, this is highly appealing. Finishing what you ask for and open becomes the way and waste is off limits.
Many Europeans, both men and women, use these clever rolling shopping bags and I plan to buy one while living in London, but Rolling Shopping Cart it’s not a practical purchase for our short stay in France, since it will only add to our luggage. Right now, we carry reusable totes and a backpack. It’s common to pick up fresh, discounted bread at the end of the work day as you head home. Frequent, small trips become a way of life if you have to transport groceries by walking, biking, or taking the subway. “Fast food” isn’t really an option is smaller areas like this one and stores close as early as 6:30 pm
Our current accommodations do not have an oven, but I will have one throughout the summer. The initial purchase of heavy baking goods will need some creativity, but returning to homemade will certainly help. I’m also hoping for nearby farmer’s markets or fruit and veggie stands because who doesn’t love taking a walk to buy fresh produce for a meal or snack?
My Eat What You Can Carry Summer Challenge will continue for the next couple of months and I’m hoping to continue it to some degree when we return to the States, although a new baby and Iowa winters will certainly present roadblocks. This will take some meal planning, strategy, and patience and I’d love to have you join me! You can incorporate this challenge in a way that suits your circumstances, budget, and options, but I would love for everyone to try and incorporate one or more of the following elements:
2. Walk to your grocery store or take public transport, if possible. If this is not reasonable, only purchase what you could realistically carry without your car.
3. Pick up a basket, rather than a cart, at the market.
4. Utilize local farmers markets and food stands.
5. Carry sturdy, reusable bags.
6. Adjust your eating and cooking habits to what you can carry.
7. Limit fast food purchases to a maximum of 1x per week.
This is really meant to be a conversation starter, not a one size fits all challenge. You might not live close enough to a store to walk or need to bring along children. You might purchase in bulk and supplement with a garden. Perhaps you will grab a cart, but think of this list when you consider impulse buys or find your two item list expanding. I think of it this way: Maybe some days it will help me just to think, “Would you walk to the store for that donut, Mindy?” or “Do I really need another grocery store run? Could I substitute? Could it wait? Could I make it from scratch?”
I will be sharing my summer experiences here throughout the summer and I would love to have you return with experiences, recipes, suggestions, highs, and lows.
What did you like about the challenge?
What was frustrating (cravings and snacks are a huge one for me)?
Is this realistic?
How can it be incorporated into your lifestyle?
Did you notice any positive changes in regard to food choices, waste, or health?
Were you more likely to garden, make food from scratch, get creative with recipes, or eat leftovers?
Did just the idea of changing a habit inspire you at all, even if you aren’t going to buy a rolling basket and walk to the store several times a week?
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