I'm still adjusting to the fact that every trip to the grocery store is an adventure (to look at it any other way would be dreadfully depressing ;o). On my most recent trip I learned a few things that I need to remember for every trip in the future. Here they are:
1. Always look at the packaging. Most boxes or cans are dented. While it may not matter much to have a dented can of diced tomatoes, but can you imagine what the crackers look like inside the smashed box?
2. NEVER buy the bottom row of bananas from the bunch. In other words, grab the bunch and remove the 3 or 4 bananas on the bottom. They may LOOK haft decent at the store but within a day the bottom ones will be BLACK. Those poor bottom bananas suffer every bump on the plane and they stoically cushion the top ones. We've been here 1.5 weeks and I have enough bananas in my freezer to make banana bread for a small army (thank goodness I have a small army!)
3. Inspect how much dust is on top of the item of interest. You don't have to be a genius to figure out that lots of dust means it's been there a long time. While there may not be an alternative, at least you can lower your expectations as to how fresh the food will be.
4. Rule of thumb: If it's relatively healthy it will NOT be fresh. The Fruit Loops probably came off the plane that morning but the plain-1g-of-sugar-Cheerios have been there since 1963. The cans of Pepsi get restocked everyday but the Ocean Spray cranberry juice was part of last year's Christmas stock (how can I tell that the juice was old you ask? The cranberry juice bottle was RED, the juice had been in the bottle for so long that the red pigment had time to penetrate the plastic thus staining it red. Seriously, the next time you buy cranberry juice, you'll see, your bottle will be CLEAR.
5. The grocery store closes very early EVERY night. Closing time is 6pm most nights and 7pm on Fridays. So now I really have NOWHERE to go in the evenings. Great! It was an outing that I looked forward to. It was the ONLY outing that I looked forward to. ;o)
6. Meal planning needs to happen during the grocery store trip. Planning a week's worth of meals beforehand is futile because the ingredients needed will not be there. So walk in the store, scope what's available then think think think... Or better yet, just buy what looks good and figure it out later (those of you who really know me will know that this is really difficult for me because I am such a planner).
It certainly takes some getting used to but I'm slowly getting the hang of it.