This is a very interesting concept I started exploring a while ago, but only now I found time to sit back, analyze the details and think about it more. Since mindful shopping includes so many different ideas and depends on what we are shopping for, how we shop (online or in store), etc., I have decided to cover just one aspect: groceries.
Here are the 4 most important things from my personal “mindful shopping list”. I am sure there are many more, but these are topics I personally struggled with until finally I developed positive and useful habits. Here they are:
1. Make a list before going for groceries and stick to it
This one is super obvious, but somehow I used to neglect making a list for my weekly groceries all the time. If you are the one cooking, you sort of always have an idea of what you need in your head, right? The trick was that if I’d forget to buy an ingredient or two, I’d need to improvise at home, often making a completely different recipe. All of this would be fine, except that some foods would inevitably remain unused and forgotten. Moreover, without a detailed list, I could go wild buying extra ingredients here and there, either “just for later” or because something was a good deal that week. Although this situation may be fine for non-perishable foods, it absolutely doesn’t work for produce, which I try to buy more of. Additionally, as I started practicing mindful shopping, I realized that this problem of impulsive grocery shopping exacerbates if I do it on an empty stomach! Therefore...
2. Don’t go grocery shopping while hungry
Funny thing, this point is very straightforward, but it took awhile to catch myself on this and recognize what was happening. When shopping while hungry, my eyes (and sometimes my nose) were taking a strong a leadership role over my brain, and I always walked out with twice an amount of “delicious looking” but absolutely unnecessary groceries, and there was no way I could eat the extra in a week without organizing some community feast.
3. Be mindful on where your food comes from
This is a very special and important point on my list, but unlike others it also happens to be quite complicated. With our world becoming increasingly global and with more complex technologies available for food processing, I find it harder and harder to be mindful of my foods’ origins. In fact, I am convinced that it is moreso an ongoing learning process rather than finite knowledge. That’s why I think each of us can start wherever we are with the knowledge we already have and then slowly figure out more and more details on the go. Let’s get curious! Let’s learn all over again things that were once common knowledge – what are our local foods and the small farms they come from, what foods are seasonal, what were our grandparents or great-grand parents favourite dishes. Let’s have fun and reconnect with our food!
4. Bring your own grocery bag and use less packaging
I love this point! For some of you it may be simple and obvious and you may already do that anyways. But I know this is not the case for everyone, so I thought it’s a great idea to mention it here. As a person who grew up with plastic bags as the only acceptable and “modern” way for grocery shopping, it was quite challenging for me to accept the concept of a reusable bag. I do it now all the time and I love it so much! If you still struggling, here are two tips: first, get a few of the cutest prettiest reusable bags (there are soooo many different options available now) that you will can’t wait to show off. And then second, get into the habit of remembering to bring them with you! The last part was the most difficult for me, so I started keeping them on the shelf right by the outside door. Works every time! Another idea to reduce the environmental impact is to buy foods in bulk or choose foods with more environmentally friendly packaging such as biodegradable containers or paper.
All in all, I think mindful grocery shopping is an amazing idea (or better to say, a collection of ideas) definitely worth considering! Amongst many other things it helps us to reconnect with our environment, save money, reduce waste, contribute to sustainability and make better nutrition choices!