For my friends in the U.S., are you going to the grocery store today or tomorrow? Please consider taking photos of your grocery receipt and post it in the comments. Blackout anything that would be too intrusive 🙂

And if there are any of you who would like to do a bit of long-distance price comparison, should you walk by the following items, will you note the cost of each and a grand total of:

Fresh Butter
Bottled Fizzy Water
Red Bell Pepper
3 cans of tuna
1 onion
Package of mushrooms
Gluten-Free Bread
Shredded cheese

Then return here and comment with the total and what sales tax would be.

This morning I spent 14,41 euros ($16.18) for the items above, which is inclusive of sales tax. In Europe, when you see the price on the product, it includes the tax, so there is no unexpected add-on at the register.

I bought precisely what I thought we would need for the next couple of days.

WHAT’S IN A GROCERY STORE

At our store, I browse what is in season in the fruit and veggie section and see what fresh poultry has just been hacked into pieces by the on-site butcher. I can grab some butter and cheese delivered from the dairy that morning. The dairy is located in the middle of town, and the area cows are scattered throughout nearby meadows and hillsides.

I look side-eyed at the fresh fish on ice — they always look back at me. I don’t know how to cook fresh fish and being that my 18-year-old daughter Seu and I now live in a cute apartment, I don’t want to spend a couple of days living with cooked fish aroma. The hacked-up chicken is just dandy.

note: my daughter has the same name as the grocery store and the town. “Nice work, mom.”

Our grocery store is called Seu N’ Go. It is the kind of store that millions of Americans would love to have within a few blocks of where they live. There are several of these here in our town of La Seu d’Urgell and the owner and his family live here.

Folks here in “La Seu” can send their kids on a shopping errand by foot or bike so as to get them out from underfoot and to breathe some outside air. They return with a package of gluten-free noodles, milk that came from the cow yesterday, a loaf of what definitely is whole grain bread baked that morning and sliced on request, as well as the evidence around their mouth of an already eaten Kinder Egg.

Our grocery store is gorgeous – very designer and has a cafe with tasty meals and coffee, wine, and beer. I’ll admit, their sushi is a bit pricey.

For comparison in style, Seu N’ Go is similar in feel to Whole Foods without the insane price mark-up, and it doesn’t scream Organic . . . Because most, if not all, that they sell IS organic. This is Europe, where food isn’t lab-created, grown, delivered, and price fixed by conglomerates and “professional lobbyists.” Food sold in the grocery stores in Europe actually comes from, wait for it . . . Gardeners who are neighbors, cows who walk around in fields and stare at passing bike riders, chickens who have coops with open doors so they can step out into the sunshine and terrorize the family dog.

People who shop in our market are there to buy or meet up with friends in the cafe, or both. They aren’t there to be seen shopping. That’s something I did when I would go to Whole Foods in the states. I made sure that I dressed like someone you would expect to see at Whole Foods. I was an idiot.

Consumer tip: if you are in the states, please keep an eye out for Aldi grocery stores. They are from Germany and have entered the U.S. market. More on that some other time, maybe.

When I lived in the United States, Blue Ridge, Georgia is where I would cross the state line from Tennessee to grocery shop at the Ingles. This was a 2-3 times a week, 20-mile round-trip excursion. Each Ingles experience cost us at least an hour and a half in time, and our purchases were never below 70 bucks. In my doing the math, so you don’t have to, that’s a minimum of $140 to $210 in grocery costs per week. Or those times we treated ourselves to the 60-mile drive to Chattanooga to spend more money on prestige-purchases at Whole Foods (fka Green Life Grocery).

THE LECTURERS

So, all the rage right now on YouTube is the “Follow Me, and I’ll Tell You How to Budget Your Meals” gurus. These are life coaches with their vlogs and blogs with “genius-not” instructions to write down everything you consume for a week along with the price you paid. Then, they waste your time telling you the obvious on how to trim your meal consumption costs.

These so-called coaches lecture you to plan your meals for the week and urge you to Google new and exciting recipes and go shop for only those ingredients.

Which is total bullshit.

Follow their advice, and you’ll be stocking your shelves with expensive spices and ingredients needed only once and only for those recipes which you’ll never fix again. You’ll buy way too much stuff in your once-a-week adventures. And if you only buy those items, what happens when you need more juice for the kids? Or cat litter? Or God forbid, toilet paper? If those aren’t on your recipe list, you’ll be back in the car hungry and headed into the den of hell. Goodbye Google recipe and hello Kinder Eggs.

GROCERY STORE HOPE & HELL

And for my friends in the U.S. who are in the habit of shopping at the Ingles, Kroger, Giant, Trader Joe’s, Harris Teeter, Walmart, Food Lion . . . Please keep an eye out for those Aldi Grocery Stores, will you? They are based on the Euro-model and are less expensive.

For those in food deserts (not desserts), please don’t shop at Dollar Stores. The food there is loaded with chemicals, hormones, and left-over pesticides. The non-food necessities come from places that don’t monitor toxic additives. You really don’t want to wipe your privates with that.

Though it is darn near impossible in rural areas, please reduce your grocery shopping trips at Walmart until they reverse their pricing structure and make organic, free-range, fair-trade items LESS expensive than the processed food. They could make the exact same profit if they flip-flopped the prices. And, please Walmart decision-makers, put the wholesome stuff upfront and the processed crap back near the dog food and goldfish.

Walmart really can change the health of Americans. I will write about that at some point.

It’s time to cook lunch. Thanks for reading, and I look forward to seeing your grocery receipts and any other thoughts on the subject.

Love,
Lisa (and Seu)