Tales From Aisle 14: Grocery Shopping for the Non-Cook

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Photos by Kanaiyalal Patel
I spent six years living in New York City, eating every meal except breakfast Cheerios out and about on the wide streets of Manhattan. During that time, cooking seemed like a quaint idea in the face of all of New York's world-renowned, and hole-in-the-wall, eateries. Cooking. Cute, but unrealistic.

Now that I've moved back to Houston, the grocery store is necessary, especially since my metabolism isn't 21 years old anymore. These are the grocery-shopping tales of a 30-something-year-old gastronomical nothing.

Boulevard of Broken Dreams

First, breathe, and pick your grocery store. Walmart and Super Target, hell's to the no. You are not heading to the gym -- you are attempting to eat. Whole Foods, faaaancy. You can't find Fruit Loops here, and you don't want flax seed.

H-E-B and Randall's Flagship are so opposite in reputation that you just knock them both out, as you never claimed extremism. And Rice Epicurean -- if you can't pronounce the last name, you don't deserve an invitation. So it's the last mart standing: Kroger. Specifically, the one in Sugar Land. It's nice enough, has a great wine selection, and allows for a fantastic coupon card. Easy, breezy, you go girl.

You've grabbed your rickety cart, and the wheels don't turn. But you've managed to enter the automatic glass doors to be met with a blitzing assault of the sights, sounds and the brightness of the neon floral department. Temporarily mesmerized by the gigantic sunflowers, you feel an overpowering, false sense of hope and want to celebrate. Fifteen minutes are wasted because you will plant those tulips and someone in your life certainly needs a plastic balloon. Put those roses down. We both know they're going to rot and mold in some glass serving as a vase because you are too cool, out eating at restaurants, to be bothered to sit staring at them at home.

Leaving the mini-nursery on crack, you remain entranced. You somehow hit the bakery, with all its enriched flour and red sugar icing. Trying to force yourself away from the sprinkle donut, summer cupcakes and baby croissants, you stop and stare at the one thousand varieties of artisan bread. Buy the cupcakes and donate them as a gift at your best's barbecue; his three kids will leave you one. Leave the bread -- you've already scarfed down five different samples. Hello, jalapeño-Asiago cheese bread. But really, you do not live in a teeny French village, so who's going to slice those golden loaves anyways?

Cheese, Fresh Olives...Charcuterie!

Moving on, you suddenly land in the United Stores of Europe and think you are just that fabulous, going to whip up a spontaneous pre-dinner wine-and-cheese party. With white flag, I declare Gruyere, Manchego and Brie awesome. Add fresh, whole, marinated olives, with razor-thin pancetta, prosciutto and smoked salmon, ooh la la.

But, ding goes the tortilla-maker's oven, and you snap out of your flower-induced pollen hallucination. You can't cook, so what makes you think you're an Italian bistro? Put the charcuterie down. Unless you are going to slice Gouda while watching Kim Kardashian, what you'll have is a nice, thick block of green fungus.

Location Info



1938 W. Gray St., Houston, TX

Category: General

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Loved it! Ahh how I miss SL Kroger!!!


 If you miss out on one, you have to pay the penalties. Keep your records straight. This will save you a lot of headaches in the long run.


You should always have a couple of Totino's pizzas in the freezer at all times...just in case..


I google'd 'how to cut a mango' last week;).  great article!  I always throw things in my cart and hope for the best too!

Divya R Mohan
Divya R Mohan

Great article! Sums up my trips to the market :-)


This reminds me of my days in college. Totinos and frozen burritos. Yes, I did partake of the sodium phosphate infused goodness. Now it is milk, cereal, and real groceries but the temptation to just buy the bad stuff or run out of the store and make a beeline to the nearest fast food restaurant still strikes me from time to time. Thanks for taking me back. Great read.


Excellent.  Enjoyable read.  Once I discovered the joys of cooking, grocery store visits went from harried pit stops to leisurely field trips.  Discovering some new fun thing to cook was like a successful exploring expedition.  I still love to grocery shop.  I hope the same thing happens to you someday!

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