I had the chance to chat recently with Gen X mom Sarah Krause about "produce staples," asking her views on how she and other moms determine what fruits and vegetables get on the weekly shopping list.
Besides being an occasional contributor to the Fresh Talk blog, Sarah is a University of Kansas grad, one-time member of The Packer staff and currently a freelance writer for The Packer and other publications. She and her husband have three kids and live in Kansas City.
10:02 a.m. Tom Karst: Sarah, thanks for joining us today with more thoughts from our "Gen X" mom!
10:03 a.m. Tom: We talked about "produce staples" as a topic to address. What are some items that you consider fruit and vegetable staples in your household?
10:05 a.m. Sarah: In our household, our most basic produce staples are: apples, grape tomatoes, onions, carrots, broccoli and Romaine lettuce. These are things we always have on hand. I fill them in with other "lesser" basics, such as bananas, green beans, cauliflower, potatoes.
10:06 a.m. I talked with other moms and they agreed and added garlic, potatoes, and bagged salad, too.
10:07 a.m. Tom: Pretty solid lists. But I see you rate apples ahead of bananas? How do you create your list? Based on kids' preference versus your own?
10:09 a.m. Sarah: Apples have staying power over bananas, which I have to replenish way too often! Also, there are so many varieties that all 5 of us can easily find an apple we love.
10:10 a.m. All of the moms, myself included, were driven by our kids. We pretty much stocked what we know they will eat! Anything to get your kids to eat produce!
10:11 a.m. That being said, one mom friend who doesn't like cherries (don't know how THAT is possible!) doesn't buy them much for her kids. So I guess we do consider our own taste, too.
Tom: I'm curious what items you consider "snack staples" versus "meal staples"
10:12 a.m. Sarah: For kids or myself?
Tom: For the kids
10:14 a.m. Sarah: Ok -- snack staples for them include fresh produce items like carrots, apples, bananas, berries (like strawberries and raspberries), red pepper strips for my daughter, and then I always have applesauce and prunes on hand, too.
It can change seasonally, though.
10:16 a.m. Tom: When you go into the supermarket, how much of your produce purchase is a result of being on your shopping list, as opposed to being an "impulse purchase"? What makes you pick up something that wasn't on your list? Good price, samples, or special display?
10:19 a.m. Sarah: Most of the time, I either have a list or know what the staples are that I usually buy. I asked the other moms this same question and they agreed. What makes us stray from the list? "Emotionally or financially?" quipped one friend. Another said: "It depends if I shop hungry or not!"
10:20 a.m. We all were swayed by sometime on sale or produce that looked particularly good. That seems to be the driving force. Bonus if the supermarket is sampling a certain produce item, because we are much more apt to put in our cart after tasting it.
Again, all of us change what we buy seasonally, too.
10:23 a.m. Tom: You mention the seasonal changes in what you buy. Is that something that is just instinct and what the produce department displays promote, or do you make a point to look for certain items at certain months during the year?
10:26 a.m. Sarah: In the summer, there is so much more fresh, local produce available, such as peaches, watermelon, corn, berries, cux and green beans, so those become the new staples. Less apples and oranges and more stone fruit! Most of the area supermarkets heavily promote local fare and usually in an eye-pleasing way, so that will certainly make me buy! Also, I have a little awareness of when certain produce items are at their peak, so I buy then. When in doubt, I always ask my local produce manager for a heads up or any tips!
10:28 a.m. Tom: Sarah, you have been giving great insight. Thanks. One more question. What do you do if a produce "staple" strikes you as high-priced? Do you buy it anyway or look for a substitute? Tough question, but perhaps for an item like Romaine, what would you do?
10:30 a.m. Sarah: Usually, I'll buy it anyway because I know it's something everyone in our family will eat. Other times, say, if peppers are pricey one week, I'll wait til the next to buy it, hoping for lower prices. As a sub for Romaine, I'd probably do a bagged salad. I usually opt for the Romaine hearts because they last a long time in my fridge!