Long ago, I read a fascinating book called Milk, Eggs, Vodka.
I’m always reading fascinating books, but THIS one was in a class by itself. This one reached the entertainment level of snooping through a friend’s medicine cabinet. It was a compilation of grocery lists that people had found.
I admit, I frequently scope out the groceries of the people in line behind me and in front of me to pass time at the checkout stand. Huh, that lady with the case of Purina cans probably has multiple cats. That guy with the hot pockets and beer is probably a bachelor. I think the elderly woman with the fancy cheese and fruit platter is throwing a party.
Recently, I heard an interview with a grocer. This man said he could pretty much predict the state of the economy by watching the sales of certain items. For example, when times were hard, people bought heads of lettuce for salads. When the economy improved, people went back to the convenience of bagged lettuce, which is more expensive. (But a whole lot nicer in a household where one of you loves Iceberg and the other only eats Romaine.)
And of course, more people tend to shop at discount retailers during a recession. When my husband was laid off two years ago, the first thing I did was to compare prices at the Grocery Outlets and Dollar Stores to Safeway and Albertson’s.
Another change my family has made is deciding which luxuries really brighten our lives, and which we can’t do without. I absolutely enjoy my morning cup of French-pressed coffee with organic 2 percent milk and sugar-free syrup, but I can live without soda pop. My husband gave up candy bars but couldn’t do without his Mountain Dew. (He actually belongs to the “Dew Nation” online! I just want them to bring back Mountain Dew Pitch Black II. Why does grape soda seem to be disappearing?)
What does your grocery list say about you? Have you noticed any recent grocery trends that speak to economic recovery?