I cannot go to the grocery store without having an internal battle in nearly every section. I walk in with my list, approach the items I need, and the mental struggle ensues.
Let’s go into the aisle where the tomato sauce is. I stand, staring at the rows and rows of jars reflecting the bright lights overhead. The kids are screaming and whining to go down the cookie aisle, and I try to block out their pleas so I can choose a brand.
OK, that one is on sale. Let’s take a quick look at the nutrition label.
Well, the sodium is out of control. Wait, and added sugar? Um, no. We don’t need any more sugar in our house. Case in point, my kids are exhibiting signs of sugar withdrawal as they writhe in the cart, reaching their little hands as though they can grab cookies that are four aisles to the left.
I search for the jar labeled “organic,” but the price makes my brain hurt. It’s twice as expensive. I already have the organic lettuce, apples, strawberries and chicken in my cart. Our grocery bill every month is out of control. Based on what our financial planner told me this week, we need to be quadrupling our savings if our kids want to go to college or if we ever want to retire. I mean, I have to make sacrifices somewhere. I can’t squander our earnings on organic spaghetti sauce.
Wait, why am I even BUYING tomato sauce? My Italian ancestors are probably looking down on me and shaking their heads full of luscious dark hair.
A quick search on my phone for a recipe calls for a can of tomato paste.
No. I remember reading an article about canned vegetables and something about the aluminum or tin or sodium or some other kind of hazard that the nutritionist warned against. No canned tomatoes.
Back to the produce aisle I go. I will make the tomato sauce from scratch. Why not? I love cooking, don’t I? Wait, do I? Whatever. I am committed to our health, so I am going to do this.
It takes me twice as long to get to the tomatoes because the huge, race-car-looking grocery carts that fit two kids can’t corner worth a damn. We also have to stop at the free cookies, because I really overthink tomato sauce but apparently feeding my kids cookies laced with additives is no big deal, right?
OK, at the tomatoes. All kinds of delicious, plump red tomatoes just waiting to be squished into homemade sauce.
But, wait, do I get the organic tomatoes or the regular ones? And are the ones on the vine better than the ones in shrink wrap? Do I spend a fortune, or do I feed my kids pesticides?
And when am I going to actually make the sauce? When we get home, I have to get the baby down for a nap and then do some work as the 4-year-old hopefully entertains himself. I also have to do three loads of laundry because we do not have any clean clothes. Or clean linens. Or clean anything. And shoot, I forgot we have a late afternoon play date.
Now, I’m envisioning the kids wanting to help squish the tomatoes.
I am not making something I can just buy. It’s OK to opt for convenience once in a while, right?
I awkwardly maneuver the gigantic cart with sugar-high children back to the tomato sauce aisle. I pick up the store’s generic brand, decide I can live with the sodium because the ingredients are simple, try to ignore the guilt I feel about my decision and move on to the next item on my list.
Sigh. I prepare for a whole grain vs. gluten free vs. organic vs. affordable debate, and I push two totally-over-it children to the next aisle.