Sunday, August 30, 2015

Shopping Like a Cruiser

   I bet you have never given much thought to your trips to the grocery store.  Sure, you probably make a list or clip coupons.  You might even go so far as to plan your meals (or at least a few) around those buy one, get one free deals.  You'll probably get creative and wing a few meals during the week.  If you realize you forgot something, no big deal, just hop in the car; those peas are only a few minutes away.

This Mother Duck and Her Chicks Follow Us Around on Our Walk
These Guys Showed Up On Our Last Grocery Run
   However, a quick run to the store or a "just figure it out" approach to our grocery shopping just isn't possible or practical for us.  Like many cruisers, we find that just the transportation to and from the store (or any other place of interest for that matter) takes quite a bit of thought.  With no vehicle, we have to rely on other methods.  This normally means the world's oldest mode of transportation, walking.  We also make use of the local bus system when walking isn't doable and, on rare occasions, we have called a taxi (not very wallet-friendly, though).  Sometimes friends offer to drop us somewhere or ask if we want to tag along.  These are welcomed offers and aren't often turned down.

   Even here in Florida, we find that walking is the best option.  Before we moved the boat to our current marina, the bus was the best, although certainly not the most comfortable, way to get around.  Now, since we are a bit further away from the main bus route, walking is pretty much the only way to make our food runs.

  Transportation is certainly not the only consideration.  Before we even thing about setting out to buy our food stuffs, there has to be a plan of attack.  For us, this means planning a week's (or so) worth of meals.  There are a million different ways we could choose to do this but, there is one resource we rely on all the time,  A great tool - this allows us to create/find recipes, add these recipes to menus, and turn it all into shopping lists.  We can even use it as a digital checklist on our phones. So, we just check the items off as we go, Cool, huh?

Me With The "Stroller"
   Ok. So, Once we know what we need to buy and how we are getting there, the next step is to go . . . with the proper tools of course.  Just what might those tools be, you ask . . . Well, since we will be spending time outside, we consider the weather and bring hats, umbrellas, or (in this Florida heat) water bottles.  We also bring reusable bags, both regular and insulated.  Many people use these because they are trying to cut down on their carbon footprint.  For us, they are simply necessary.  The last thing we have in tow is our foldable shopping cart.  This thing is awesome.  We bought it back when we were in Marathon and it has well earned its keep.  It holds an amazing amount of groceries and has saved us countless sore muscles from carrying overstuffed, heavy bags.  The only "problem" with the cart is that is looks an awful lot like a baby stroller.  So, we hear a lot of jokes from our friends . . . one (on seeing it for the first time), gave me a funny look and asked, "Do you have something you want to tell me . . . ?" and inquired if I was "practicing" for a baby . . .

   Once in the store, we go from aisle to aisle, checking off items from our digital list as we go.  After everything is picked up, we head to the checkout counter.  I break out the reusable bags and work with the bagger to make sure that the "cold stuff" goes into the insulated bags, the shelf-stable stuff goes into the other bags, and the larger items (paper towels, cat litter, etc.) go into the cart on their own.  Bill works to get the items onto the conveyor and pays the cashier.  After the cart is loaded up, we push the cart all the way back to the marina.

Everything Is Ready To Be
Loaded Onto The Boat
   *Now, allow me to interject a note here.  If we happen to be making a grocery run while at anchor (like when we were in the Bahamas), another element is added to this ordeal - the dinghy.  We load everything into the dinghy to go to and back from the store.  In order to use the dinghy, we not only have to allow time for us to lower the dinghy into the water but, we also have to get the outboard onto the dinghy and get it started . . . considerably more time-consuming . . . *

   In order to get the groceries onto the boat, I hand Bill the bags, one ate a time, as he sets them on the deck (when using the dinghy, our roles are reversed because it takes much more muscle to lift the bags strait up to the deck from the water line).  Then I climb onto the deck and down the hatch so that Bill can hand the bags down to me (You didn't realize a grocery run on a boat was such a work out, did you?).  Now, you might think the rest would be easy; just put it all away.  Well. yes, in theory, you'd be right.  However, storing food on a boat (just like anything else) takes a little thought and time,  Things can't simply be shoved into the fridge or a cupboard.  Canned goods go behind the settee or under the seat in the v-berth.  Meats need to be separated and bagged into individual portions and (if necessary) labeled with the name of the meal they were bought for.  Everything packaged in cardboard must be stored in something else and the cardboard itself thrown away; Keeping cardboard on the boat is a good way to discover how many cockroaches your boat can handle.  The bags and cart also need to go back to their storage spots: the cart hangs behind our head (bathroom) door and the bags actually go under the settee cushions (they are out of sight and offer a little extra padding).  
Everything Corralled on The Top of The Dinghy  

Meat Is Packed Into Freezer Baggies

The Cart is Stored On The Door

The last step?  . . . relax . . . have a beer and a snack.  Finally, the weekly grocery run is done . . .  all of this may sound like a real pain and, honestly, it can be but, this ordeal does have its good points.  The meal planning, while admittedly a bit stringent, means that we don't buy anything that we won't use (this definitely saves money), we don't have to fight for a parking spot or make sure we have enough gas to get there, and the walk is good for our bodies. Overall, I am very proud of our little grocery system . . . even if people do see us walking down the street and wonder where our baby went . . .

   By the way, just an  update on the local weather situation . . . We made all the preparations for then Tropical Storm Erika, including stocking up on food, filling all our tanks and fully charging the batteries. Now that Erika has dissipated, we're expecting just some strong winds and LOTS of rain. It may get inconvenient to get around due to local flooding, but we don't expect any problems on board.


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1 comment:

  1. Not much different than living in NYC in a walkup.


Please let us know what you think. Feel free to ask questions and leave nice comments.