The understated joys of grocery shopping

Finding comfort among the aisles

Maggie OBrien

More stories from Maggie O'Brien

Across the Pond
February 28, 2024

Photo by Maggie O'Brien

Woodman’s market offers everything that I seek in a grocery store.

Understandably so, many people dread the idea of shopping for groceries, to the point where they favor a barren fridge over a trip to the grocery store. I can certainly sympathize with those who lament grocery shopping, but I can’t quite relate. 

For me, grocery shopping is a warm reminder to make the most of simple moments. I have a bit of a healthy habit of wandering around the grocery store for far too long to marvel at the beautiful produce section and wave at smiling babies.

Hopefully, if you aren’t quite as fond of it as I am, reading on may remind you of a few of the hidden joys of grocery shopping.

A quiet morning trip to the grocery store warrants a mellow, sunny drive that’s best paired with listening to soft, slow songs. Part of the wonder of grocery shopping is the journey there. 

It brings me joy knowing that I’ll be returning home with my favorite things, and if I’m feeling gracious, some lovely surprises and treats that I picked up along the way. 

If it at all fits into your schedule, I would fully encourage doing your grocery shopping in the morning. I prefer to arrive at the store around the muted hours of 7 to 8 a.m. 

At this time, the shelves are still orderly and well-stocked, and the aisles are an absolute breeze to pass through. 

My preferred destination for grocery shopping is none other than Woodman’s Market. As my wise mother always says, if you need something, you’ll find it at Woodman’s. 

I’m partial to this particular store for its generous selection of vegetarian goodies and reasonable prices, but I would agree that you can find even the most uncommon of things there. 

Woodman’s and I have become quite close over the past few years, to the point where I’ve developed a comforting routine for every visit I make. 

I always start my grocery shopping journey with the produce area and begin to fill my cart with colorful berries and ridiculously expensive kombucha. As I venture into the dry goods aisles, the warm embrace of nostalgia reminds me of shopping for sugary cereal with my babysitter.

From there, I head to the pricey-yet-tempting organic aisles and loop back around to the toiletries to gaze at all of the fun soaps and lotions. 

Throughout my grocery-seeking trip, I’m never against strolling through every aisle at the store to see the exciting new products and foods that I wouldn’t have known existed. 

Oddly enough, grocery shopping can offer a kind of cathartic release. It sounds entirely dramatic, but when you step into the grocery store, you can momentarily escape the stresses of home, school or work, and be whoever you want to be for however long it takes. 

You can choose to be kind and compliment someone’s outfit or grin at everyone who looks your way. Or, if you’re feeling stressed, pop in some headphones and listen to some soothing tunes, an intriguing podcast or a comforting audiobook to pass the time. 

Regardless of my emotional state upon entering the grocery store, there’s nothing that can take away the glowing satisfaction of completing a necessary task and having a wonderful time doing it. 

O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]