All summer I'd been wondering, with a sort of morbid curiosity, how my food purchasing and consumption would change when Daughter Number Two left home. I figured it would be almost as expensive and time consuming to make meals for two as it had been for three. I even wondered if it would be worth the effort—are readi-meals and soup packets in our future?
It's been ten days now, and as I've discovered, my food procurement has changed drastically, but for the better.
There's a locally owned grocery store in town, about a fifteen minute walk away. I used to go rarely; they don't carry a lot of the vegan and vegetarian products I use—no tofu, for example, so it was more convenient to drive to the Super Tesco, where I could visit the health food store that's inside the complex at the same time I stocked up on olive oil and cereal.
Now that's changed. I haven't been to a supermarket since DNT left home. Instead, I've walked several times to the local grocery store, or to the even smaller shop nearby for bread and a newspaper. (This one is on my daily walking route; I can tie the dog outside while I pick up a few things.)
But since I can only buy what I can carry home in my canvas shopping bag, I don't make as many impulse purchases. I buy produce I've got a plan for; no buying aubergines on spec. This means I end up tossing fewer veggies in the rubbish bin when I discover there just aren't enough meals in a week to cook everything I've bought. Plus, since there are many retired people in this town, this grocer carries small portions of broccoli, for instance. Just the right amount for my reduced-size family.
This gives a new spin on buying local. I spend zero emissions walking to the store (or, once a month, to the farmers market that comes to town) and more produce ends up being used. I may end up getting one of those shopping bags-on-wheels people around here use, which means I could get one of those little watermelons they sell, or a large jar of olive oil.
Ironically, my town has been embroiled in controversy for years regarding Tesco's plans to build a new store here. Against public opinion, approval for a 20,000 square foot store was granted, but then the tunnel over the train tracks collapsed a couple of years ago. Recently Tesco received approval for a new plan, for a larger store using a different tunnel method. (The same company that built the Chunnel is building this one.) The locals hate the thought of Tesco coming here, but I'm actually in favor of it—it will allow me to buy much more of my purchases locally, including the vegetarian products Fisher's doesn't stock, and Tesco sells much more organic and local produce.
But that's a long way off. Meanwhile, I'm enjoying procuring less food, with less emissions (from my car, silly!) than ever before.