Craving a long-term relationship? Date your local grocery store. They’re a cheaper date than you’d think.
For me, it’s been a couple months of up’s and down’s with the mecca for twenty-somethings that is Trader Joe’s. They had me at feta cream cheese dip, and I’ve never looked back since.
Hopeless romantic jokes aside, by “date,” I mean invest time and energy into your weekly grocery trips. Go in with a list, but be ready to change it up. Talk to the person serving wine and cheese samples about more than wine and cheese samples.
For me, I have a standing date with TJ’s on Saturdays after I hit the gym. Feeling fit and probably more fly than I should, I stop in the store and do my weekly roundup of groceries. Maybe it’s the endorphins, but I’ve found these self-love Saturdays have created some great money-saving and health-boosting results.
Not convinced? Here’s four reasons why I think you need to get into this relationship.
1. Free cooking advice: I often go to TJ’s with one grocery list in mind, and leave with a bunch of new items (fear not, dear savers, I substitute list-items with new ones). There’s a few employees that go out of their way to give me awesome service, just because I don’t shop with a resting bitch face or with my headphones on. For example, one time I was having an internal dialogue about whether to trust black bean-based pasta, and I simply asked a nearby worker what they thought. The worker laughed, slyly passed me the red lentil pasta and said this was the “less scary option.” Customer service at it’s finest. I love a relationship that has good honesty, especially when it brings variation into my diet.
2. Fewer sad desk lunches: As cheesy as it sounds, taking my time walking through the aisles really gets rid of my trust issues with trying new brands — ergo, I’ve tried a bunch of new things this summer that I’d never dared to before. That’s right, I’m looking at the reader that only trusts that one specific hummus, and never tries the avocado-pineapple-jalapeno-fairy-dust-powder-dip option. Once you’re more acquainted with a place, you can be more open to the different options they have. After a trip, my meal prep is significantly enhanced and more inspired. Needless to say, my work lunches are nothing short of fairy dust.
3. You learn a thing or two about commitment: Once you find yourself really comfortable with your local grocery store, it’s easy to gasp at the prices of a $15 salad at a counter-service restaurant versus getting triple those ingredients for the same price. I still treat myself to Sweet Green sometimes, but not as often as I used to (3x a week) because it’s now easier to understand how worth-it deconstructed food is. And as great as it sounds to get a bougie meal for brunch, you may be surprised that it tastes and feels even better to go to your grocery store, pick up the essentials for a flatbread, and make it yourself. The best was when my roommate and I gave up brunch on Newbury St. for some homemade bruschetta and mocktails. We napped right after, and saved on Uber, meal, and tip costs.
4. It’s a cheap date, literally: TJ’s doesn’t have a loyalty cart or coupon, which I found unnerving at first. According to their website, however, there’s a good reason: “At Trader Joe’s, we would never test your loyalty by printing out a three-foot-long scroll of coupons for money off things the next time you shop in our stores.” They add that they reward customer loyalty by offering low-priced food every day. For me, this translates to the $2.99 bottle of wine, the $2.29 multigrain crackers, and an assortment of cheeses for a couple more bucks. Thus, you’ve literally created a date (or a self-love night in) and well, that’s romantic, isn’t it?
Bonus: You can actually get into a relationship. This is yet to happen, but to the cute guy that I happen to see every Saturday lingering near the cheese section: I see you. And I will marry you, if not for your taste in cheese but for your commitment to TJ’s.
(Also, grocery stores can’t ghost you. They’re kind of stuck where they are. So if you have a particularly rough week, you know at the end of the day, they’ll always be there for you.)
If you want to get a sense of why the hell I’m talking about dating my grocery store, and you don’t particularly care about my dating history, here’s my food Instagram where I document how damn yummy it is to do it yourself: @eatprayquinoa.
Image via Unsplash