2011-10-22

Groceries don't normally involve a trip to Lawrence

Generally it is our goal to visit as few places as necessary when we make our weekly grocery trip. Our current plan of action for a Saturday involves three places:

  1. The Overland Park farmers' market in downtown OP, but only while it's open--only one more week.
  2. Whole Foods either at 91st or 119th and Metcalf.
  3. Target at 119th and Metcalf, but only if necessary.
Today was a little different. Jess's sister Lacey was going to make a trip to Lawrence for a Handmade Market thing involving some nearby Etsy artists. We decided to join her and see what the farmers' market is like in Lawrence. The Etsy thing happened to be in a restaurant in the same parking lot as Lawrence's Saturday farmers' market.

We got there just a couple minutes before noon, only to remember that their market closes at noon near the end of the season. We managed to run up and down a couple of the aisles and spend $21 before they shut down on us. We got a couple sweet potatoes for baking chips, Jess wanted some grape jelly, and we've been needing some honey for pizza dough. The great thing about the honey is that it came in a Mason jar. When it's empty we plan on just taking it to Whole Foods to refill with honey from their bulk aisle.

After the Handmade Market, we went over to The Merc, which appears to be the equivalent of Whole Foods in Lawrence. The general idea was to eat lunch in their cafeteria area and then for Jess and me to wander around and see how cool the place is. The sandwiches we had were great, and the only trash we ended up with was four sandwich toothpicks and a couple napkins. Otherwise, we got a giant glass bottle of tea and we figure we'll take that to Whole Foods and use it as our olive oil storage bottle.

The plan may have been to just look around but it turns out they too have bulk Zum soap and since we were going to start trying to use that instead of body wash, we decided to get a little bit to avoid making two Whole Foods trips when we got back home; remember, only the one at 91st has bulk Zum soap. We also found that the Merc has a better bulk section when it comes to things like herbs and spices and loose leaf tea. And they have baking soda in bulk! We couldn't get any and we've got enough to last us a little longer anyway, but that's pretty cool to find.

The biggest find at the Merc was the whole wheat elbow pasta. That's right, they've got macaroni in bulk. We had to get a pound and a half. Now we just need to figure out how to make mac and cheese without powdered cheese. Just melting cheddar in it didn't quite do the trick last time.

So it looks like the Merc has a couple things we may have to use them for in the future. Luckily they're things we won't be needing weekly, so we may be able to time our trips to coincide with Topeka trips. Maybe we can grab some baking soda on our way out next Saturday.

After Lawrence we came back home to our normal grocery business, skipping the farmers' market both because we'd done that already but also because it was 17:00 already and ours was closed too.

I won't bore you with the details of what we purchased. I was more interested, this trip, in paying attention to not only the trash we'll end up with but the trash generated at the store.

First, what will we throw away? Lids from milk bottles and plastic packages from Charmin wet wipes. And the lid from the salsa and spaghetti sauce. I also couldn't resist a coffee sample at Whole Foods, and a cheese sample so there was a little un-waxed paper cup and a toothpick.

It's the things that were thrown away because of us that bothered me most today.
  • A printed label for the loaves of bread we got. We ignored the sign that said we should print one per loaf and just told the cashier there were two and all was well. But why do we have to print it at all? Know how you print them? You type in the PLU on the scale and it prints it for you. Why print a sticker with a barcode when that sticker was generated by way of the PLU that could be used at the register? We should ask them about that.
  • Oh, I almost forgot we got a loaf of sandwich bread on Friday. The lady that sliced the bread for me either didn't hear or ignored me the three times I told her I didn't need a plastic bag, so she put it in one anyway. I removed it and left the bag out on some other bagged breads. Still trash that's my fault, I suppose, but the customer service issue is their problem.
  • Piece of tissue paper at the deli counter. The guy couldn't figure out how to tare the scale with my jar on it, so he did his normal tissue paper thing. He didn't have a problem with putting our ham in the jar though, but he did have to throw away our tissue. And of course, another sticker.
  • That obnoxious bottle deposit return slip. I imagine Whole Foods probably recycles those but I still don't get why they use them in the first place.
Not a terribly wasteful trip in the end, if you would kindly ignore the couple gallons of gas spent getting to Lawrence and back. We'll call that family relationship building. You know, since we hung out with Jess's sister, mom, and our niece Aurora. And we even picked out a good looking vegetable soup mix in the bulk aisle at Whole Foods.