Mother's column – keeping my grocery bill low
Grocery shopping is one of my favourite chores. At least it's never dull, as it requires quite a bit of thinking and planning. Are there things in the fridge that reach their expiry date? Does "team dark" still have enough chocolate sprinkles for the next three days? Is there perhaps a two-year supply of tea already in the cupboard, so I'd better ignore this week's buy one, get one free offer after all? Questions like that.
While I keep half an eye on Sifra - she uses the shopping cart as a climbing frame these days - I think about what will be on the menu for the next few days. I like to be guided by the special offers and search for discount stickers all over the shelves. But to appease my conscience, organic, better life-starred or home-grown products also occasionally are added to my cart.
I prefer to cook a little healthy (e-numbers, salt and sugar in moderation, fibre and vitamins in abundance). But if I want to be serious about eating enough vegetables, these days, I find myself easily picking off a kilo of beans or chopping mountains of peppers. In this respect, cauliflower is my best friend. Unabashedly, I grab the biggest one from the shelf because otherwise, I need two. That's a bit too much for me.
Time to go to the checkout. For a bargain hunter like me, that is not the most enjoyable part of shopping these days. "The herb cream cheese used to be 55 cents, but now you pay 1 euro 19 for it," I grumble to Sifra on the way home. She has no idea what I am talking about and responds by happily babbling back.
Suddenly I am reminded of that mother from Madagascar who told her story to the Dutch broadcaster a while ago. For two years, she has only been able to feed her children soup made of cactus leaves; nothing else grows on the land because of climate change.
And then there is the father from Afghanistan, who embarrassedly tells the reporter that he sold his son's kidney to support his family. How can I end this column with a good conscience? With the intention to go for fair trade chocolate sprinkles from now on?
The contrast is too poignant, a solution too far away. Sometimes it's best to shut your mouth. Or whisper softly: Kyrie eleison.
Neline is married and the mother of five: Martha (9), Abel (7), Jolijn (5), Reinout (3) and Sifra (1).
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