Grocery shopping. Some people love it, some people hate it. Catch me on a good day and it's tolerable, at best. Lucky for me, the Smart Guy in Pants is a great shopper. I'm wielding my phone with the calculator on because I keep forgetting how much I'm up to, losing coupons in the pocket and always forgetting something that just has to be at the back of the store.
Where we live, there are not many options for zero waste. The ones that are just happen to be very expensive. The Smart Guy will buy them but when I see those prices, my brain screams no! It hurts to watch our hard earned money dissolve into... well you know what happens after you eat.
I love to grocery shop shop where I can get the most from coupons. I have had great luck getting items free or near free. You can't beat it. Here's how I shop as little Waste as possible at a big chain store.
First, always bring your own containers. Not for bulk bins, because most of these stores don't have them. Rather, for fruits and veggies. Most things in the produce isle that are packaged are convenient servings; pre-cut salads, pre-cut fruits, veggie trays, etc. Avoid it all. I never once saw a plastic veggie tray and though "Wow, she really upped her game there! Such class!". No. 5-10 minutes and you can cut them up and put them in a beautiful serving platter or in a stainless steel box. So bring your own bags! Stainless steel or glass containers for meats too, if you choose to eat meat. Deli's most of the time can subtract the weight of your container. If they can not or will not, try bringing in wet bags. They aren't 100% zero waste but they are water resistant and weigh less. I have used this to get Shorts some lunch meat. Then I just toss the bag in my stainless steel box and go.
In my experience, most cashiers are polite when you bring your own bags. I have one lady who takes things out so I don't get charged for the bag weight (not that it's much and I don't mind if it was but she is such a sweetie!). If you are polite and come in during non-rush hours, your service will be better. Just remember, these are people too. They have bad days and get rushed. Don't be the person who makes their day difficult.
Second, buy containers you like and can reuse. This can be plastic if you feel comfortable using it again and have researched the number on the bottom of the plastic. Usually in a triangle. This number can tell you a ton about what plastics were used, health risks and more. Recycling is great but wasting nothing at all is better. Always remember that.
I love buying bulk things in jars or burlap bags. That is just the best. I use the big jars for everything from pantry storage to kombucha. I use the burlap bags for new zero waste shopping bags or storage. They have paper bags as well and cardboard boxes! I have used paper bags for making seed paper, making homemade note paper for cards and various things we would normally just use paper for. Boxes can be used for projects, revamped into awesome storage and more as well.
I love the pretty jars that would make my pantry look straight from a magazine but do they come with free pickles? No? Hard pass for me then.
In the end of the day, you can shop zero waste anywhere. It just comes down to how much you want it. You do not need to go to a fancy store and pay $15 for the same rice you can get for $5. Do it if you want to but for those of us that like the thrift, this a great option to get started. It's true though that bulk bins have a better selection! If you ever get too many jars, there are many places you can donate them! I remember begging my friends for any old jars they had, you could save someone's day!
Now, not all big chain stores will have the same items, maybe not even the ones I have pictures of. Try out a ton of places! Ethnic markets are usually stock full of paper, fabric and cardboard containers! Farmers markets are wonderful as well if you get there before they close (which I am the worst at doing, apparently).
Just some helpful tips,
The Smart Girl in Pants
The Smart Girl in Pants