Normality - a Coles shop


This is our second day back in Melbourne and today we did a biggish shop. Yesterday we shopped but only for what we immediately needed - bread and orange juice basically. Today though, having had more chance to check the state of the fridge, we did a larger shop. And is there anything more everyday than shopping in a supermarket? This is what we bought and it cost us just over $100 - $106.72 to be precise.


A bonus of a supermarket shop is that I get the opportunity to walk back and get some exercise. Another bonus of today is that I have not put on the weight that I thought I had - indeed I have lost a tiny bit. I must have sweated it all away. Just being outside would have done that because I didn't get a lot of exercise. So it's good to get some again. And I have to say I felt the uphill bits more than I usually do - and I always feel them.


Anyway as I walked the thought came to me, that life was now everyday again. Nothing new, and that a supermarket shop is one of the most ordinary thing that any of us can do. So I thought I would run through our purchases and meditate a bit on why we bought those things.


As an aside I also remembered my younger son moaning more or less about how much food cost. Remember though when we were in Port Douglas we were shopping for eleven people and so of course the bills would have been high. It was just a moan of course, because we are - all of us - in the happy position of being able to afford more or less whatever we wanted to buy - like the artisan bread that my older son insisted on buying. And yes it was good - but expensive and not from Coles.

Another quick aside - this particular bakery/cafe - Grant Street Kitchen is the brainchild of a Victorian couple who set up shop in Port Douglas back in 2017. The bread was indeed delicious and these two offerings on the website look glorious too. Now that's a croissant - and it will cost you a mere $5.00! Which I think is less than the not very wonderful looking croissants from our local artisan baker here in Eltham. I think the stack on the right might be their Fruit Danish at $6.00 - or rather a stack of them. Each layer is one Danish.

But I ramble. Back to Coles. What did I/we buy - for it's always a joint thing, this shopping. Perhaps at this point I should also say that it's possibly somewhat sad, that one of the highlights of our day - no our lives really - is shopping in a supermarket. But I think we both enjoy it, being food shopaholics both. It's one of the few things we have in common, although we don't buy the same things. And sometimes there are arguments about price. For we are thrifty shoppers in many ways, not in others as you shall see. It's our poor upbringings and postwar shortages. I also enjoy supermarkets because they are microcosms of the entire world and its problems. Although today I was not so much focussed on them other than to make sure that all my fresh food purchases were Australian.


I had been pretty good about emptying the fridge of fresh food before we went away, and so I needed to restock. David had bought the essential lettuce and a few tomatoes the day before. Tomatoes are still horrendously expensive but as you can just see I did buy a carton of small grape tomatoes at $3.00.


They were the ones on a special. And here we go. I shop for specials even though I don't need to. Do people who complain about the cost of everything - and fresh fruit and vegetables are certainly expensive at the moment - do they only shop specials or do they just buy what they feel like? Almost everything I bought was on a special - the pak choy, the beans and the potatoes. The bag of lemons was of the imperfect variety and therefore much cheaper. I also buy those because it eases my social conscience. I am buying food that would otherwise go to waste, and also helping the farmers to sell more of their produce. Well that's what I tell myself anyway. I am sure some cynical greenie will come up with reasons why I shouldn't but that's what I tell myself anyway.


I did however indulge in shallots - well they are like garlic - expensive but necessary and I don't use them a lot. The fresh herbs at $3.00 each are also a luxury but my herb garden is bereft of greenery at the moment. The mint is coming through, but the thyme, oregano and parsley are absent. I will visit Bunnings soon and buy some parsley plants, and I am hoping that soon my oregano, thyme and sage will spring back to life. Carrots, onions and garlic were not needed. They don't go off in ten days. But I always have some.


Neither did the eggs go off surprisingly, although they will be the basis of tonight's dinner - a quiche of some kind. Even the cream has not quite gone, although it smells just a tiny bit sour. I might use it or I might not. I bought some more anyway - home brand. Still being stingy. And crumpets for breakfast. For me. Another aside - I made some yoghurt with the almost litre of milk I had in the fridge before we left. It worked - well there is a fair bit of liquid on top, but that's useable too - marinade for chicken, liquid in scones, stews, soups ...


The bargain of the day though was strawberries - 3 punnets for $5.00 and I bought one yesterday too for about the same price in Aldi. Strawberry jam coming up. It's so simple to make in the microwave. Although first of all I shall look to see if I can use them in something savoury. They were definitely not necessary, and not at all on my mind but there they were just begging to be bought. Oh and we bought oranges - a few as they are not that cheap but we must always have oranges to hand. And Murcott mandarins because they were cheap and we like them. Apples - also imperfect ones - had been bought the day before. And a big bunch of bananas. David chose the big bunch claiming they were small, green and would last. I doubt it, but am doing my best to eat them.

For the store cupboard - David's Laucke bread mix - or one of them - that he uses when he is making his very own artisan bread. You see we have no need of expensive artisan bread. David makes his own. And it looks much like the Port Douglas loaf I have to say. Perhaps a little denser in texture - but that is good.


I have almost used up my mustards, so needed to buy some so that I do not run out. Only the best will do here - Maille and it wasn't on a special either. Silly isn't it? The powdered mustard is a daily necessity for the salad dressing and the others are luxury items for all sorts of things. Panko breadcrumbs - also bought because the current supply is almost gone - planning for spontaneity is what the pantry is for. But the panko breadcrumbs are home brand, and I resisted them for many years, thinking that my own home-made breadcrumbs are perfectly fine. And indeed they are. But the panko breadcrumbs are, I have to confess, crunchier for things like fish cakes. Home brand vegetable oil. Well that has actually run out and it is a standard thing for the pantry.


And finally treats. These are virtually all for David. He is a bit of a chocoholic, and even succumbed to chocolate croissants (under the Twirls) today. The Twirls were justified he said because they were on a special. And yes, I confess, I do have the very occasional Twirl. The ordinary (but home brand) croissants are a breakfast treat every two or three days. These are all definitely things that the poor of this world are not buying, or definitely should not be buying. Neither should we if we want to be healthy. Maybe I should add the soda water in here as a luxury as well - albeit an inexpensive one. There really is no need for it, but a cold glass of sparkling water on a hot day is delicious.


Today we bought no cheese, no butter, no pasta, rice or beans. No meat or fish. Indeed there were heaps of things we did not buy - but that's because we have them already. In some ways it was a small shop - three not quite loaded bags I guess. And yet it cost over a hundred dollars. So I really do not know how the poor manage.


I tried to read around the subject of what we all buy on a regular basis but did not find much other than stories of exploitation by the big two. One interesting thing I did note is that they are possibly struggling more than the markets at the moment because they have agricultural contracts, transport and warehousing problems, store employee problems and so on. The Queen Victoria market however, and others like it, buy wholesale on market day, drive themselves there and have relatively low rental costs. Hence their offerings are cheaper. I must go there again soon. Just to compare.

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