"All sorts of entertaining" - Elizabeth Seckman

"Michael and his pals make me wish I lived in Adelaide" - Cherdo

"If I had a daughter, I'd send her to Australia to meet him (and marry him)" - Robyn Alana Engel

"An Australian version of me. Only younger. And Talented. And better looking. Okay, nothing like me." - Al Penwasser

"Whom must I fuck or pay to get a quotation at the top of your blog post?" - Janie Junebug

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

New Experience Challenge Week 16: Groceries

Jimmy Fungus over at JimmyFungus.com believes that my life is a non-stop party compared to his. I decided to consolidate that idea by writing about this week's new experience - I went grocery shopping.

I still live with my parents, which means I've never really had to do grocery shopping. Yes, I've bought food for myself and I've contributed to groceries for holidays, but as far as the weekly shopping goes... never. My sister Christina came up with the idea of trying the shopping one week herself because she was fed up with the quality of food Dad was getting. She wanted to make it a challenge to see if she could get better quality food while sticking to the same budget as he uses. Dad liked the idea. e said 'And next week we can get Michael to do it,' to which Christina and I both said '...what?'

The budget was set at $130. Christina was sent out with a long list of items and came back having blown the budget by $7. Dad was pretty impressed. With the amount of stuff he put on the list, he was expecting her to go way over. So then it was my turn. I was handed my list on Tuesday morning. There was far less items on my list than there'd been on hers. This was going to be easy.

When I went out to do it, I had three objectives in mind: Price of course - it had to fall under the budget; Health benefits - a lot of produce is pumped full of so many chemicals and pesticides that the farmers don't go near it while it's growing; And local stuff - gotta support Australian jobs, right? I also wanted to stock our pantry with stuff that we could snack on. I thought it would be better than sticking to just the standard three meals per day.

Christina had gone to the Central Markets to get her produce. Good idea, but I had a better one - the fruit & veg shop in Prospect. The food was more expensive and the range wasn't as good, but I didn't have to pay for parking, so Prospect it was.

Here's a little piece of information about myself. Often, if I'm not completely 100% sure I know what I'm doing, I'll be convinced that everyone is looking at me thinking I'm doing it wrong. 'What's this guy doing? Doesn't he know you're not allowed to buy those grapes? Why's he holding the basket that way?' I felt needlessly awkward as I searched for the fruits and vegetables I needed. What on Earth is the difference between regular bananas and eco bananas? And how much better than them are organic bananas? If a carrot's the size of my arm, does that mean it's more chemicals than food? If one vegetable's cheaper than another, does that means it's in season or just unpopular?

I'd only been given one fruit and one vegetable to buy, the rest I could pick myself. I went with the eco bananas and picked the two best heads of broccoli I could, and I filled up a bag of seedless grapes for myself. I got milk, a bag of nuts, celery and carrots, then dusted my hands, payed for it and walked out the door. My confidence had arrived.

Next stop was Coles just up the road. You get tripped up on the weirdest things when you haven't done them before... I had to get one of those trolleys where you put the dollar coin into the slot to unhook it from the chain. I put my coin in the slot and pulled, and it wouldn't unlock. I kept pulling, I checked all over the device and I couldn't figure out what was wrong. Then the guy behind me said 'Push it in a bit harder mate.' I blushed and pushed the coin in until I heard a click. Then I took the trolley and kind of strutted away with fake bravado as if to say "Yeah, whatever man, I knew that." I walked ten meters, turned around, went back and picked up my Dad's credit card which I'd dropped on the floor in front of the smirking man.

Ok, back to being confident. I walked up and down the isles collecting healthy snack foods and ready-made meals. My trolley was halfway full by the time I thought 'Maybe I should check the list.' And so I finally started to cross off some of the items I was actually there for. I counted up the amount of money spent in my head as I went, rounding up to the nearest dollar to give me some margin for error.

But then I had to go to the deli to get ham. I was already coming dangerously close to my budget and ham is expensive. Dad said he wanted 200g, which is what I asked for. The lady behind the deli counter weighed it and said '264g, is that ok?' I felt like the biggest douche when I said 'Um, could you take a slice out?' She looked at me and said
'There's only five pieces in there.'
She took one out and put it aside.
'216?' She said, annoyed.
'Yeah that's good enough,' I said feeling like even more of a tool.

But anyway, I was finished. By my count I was very, very close to the limit. I thought I wanted to make a point when I presented my achievements to the family, so with my last remaining money I got a women's magazine for Mum and went to the checkout. You know what it all came to? When I added the receipt from the fruit and veg shop to the price listed at the checkouts, it came to $129.81. Did I nail it or what? My cockiness was hampered a bit by the fact that I'd forgotten to bring canvas bags and had to use the store's, but I was happy with myself nonetheless.

Back home, I gave the presentation to the family. I went through the produce first and had to explain my decision on the eco bananas. Dad didn't think that had been a good idea, so I peeled one and got out another banana that was already in the fridge and gave everyone a blind taste test. There was one yellow one and one white one and everyone said the yellow one tasted better. Ha! That was the eco one! Dad had to concede.

I got to the end of my presentation and finished it with '...And I had just enough money left over to buy you a magazine, Mum.'
'Oh, he can do this more often,' she said, just as I predicted.
'And in total, this all came to $129.81,' I said proudly.
'Well done Michael, I'm impressed, said Dad. 'Although you didn't have to buy more bags, we've got plenty.'
'Buy them?'
'Yeah, they cost 10c each.'
'Yeah, how many did you buy?'
'So what does that bring your total to?'
$130 and one cent. Darn.


  1. Haha! Oops! So close. That was a lot of fun to read. Hello! I'm here because of Robyn's invitation. I enjoyed this post. :)

  2. Mrs. Penwasser never trusts me to go grocery shopping. I'm qualified to push the cart, but that's about it.

    1. Hey, that's a very important job! (so my mummy keeps telling me)

  3. Grocery shopping? Bleah. Very low on my list of preferred chores. And I often go over budget.
    Well done.

  4. Lol I know the awkward feeling. Whenever I am at the fish counter I'm all like...can u take out a shrimp please?? Hahaha love this!!! Soon you will be making your grocery list on excel like me. :)

    1. And then I'll be writing hints and tips for other shoppers on my blog ;)


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