Learn strategies for navigating public transportation, crowded streets and small living spaces from Manhattan mom Monica Storch.

Appreciating Routine: Shopping in the City

Jessica's kids in the supermarket
Photo: Jessica Shyba

“When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.”
— G. K. Chesterton

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Given my Greek heritage, I was not surprised to learn how desperately personal and gratifying the effects of a good, home cooked meal have upon me. I did, however, quickly realize the absence of those particular comforts and quickly acquired the recipes from the scrapings of my mother’s memories and set out to find the correct ingredients.Grocery shopping has proven to be one of the most challenging experiences for us as new residents of the inner city. I never even questioned the fact that we wouldn’t have a vehicle upon our move, and because of that our food and necessity shopping would take on an entirely different presence in our lives. Gone are the days of bulk shopping at Costco and Target, coupon clipping and inexpensive groceries. For some reason, it completely baffles me that grocery stores can change so drastically from one side of the country to the next, and per each specific borough. Produce is different, prices are much greater, and certain brands that I was used to using were simply no longer readily available. Thanks to the grace of the internet, we eased our way into shopping online for diapers, cleaning, and personal hygiene products. We learned the hard way that we certainly didn’t need to lug both toddlers to the middle of Union Square to purchase a carton of diapers, or haul 10 bags of groceries in the stroller across town. Most places in the city will deliver your purchases for a relatively small fee, depending on your proximity to the store.

Despite the two hours it takes and ten times the effort it used to take living in the suburbs, I still find myself taking the 20 minute walk to Whole Foods for produce and meat, and Trader Joe’s for their inexpensive organic milk and grain products. Occasionally I’ll bring both children, pushing them in the stroller in front of me while dragging a cart behind me-a task that has gotten much easier with experience.

I’ll never forget the panic that set in when the winter arrived – our first real winter on the East Coast – and I set out to stock our pantry like a bear preparing to hibernate.  I trudged through the sleet and snow, weeping in fear and exasperation that I wouldn’t be able to provide for my family those familiar and comforting foods that reminded us of home. I spent a golden brick on food that winter, and while I was feeling safely entombed in pastas, steaks and salads, the ease of “home” had yet to embrace me.

It’s been nearly two years since we stripped ourselves of our familiar routines and embraced our new lives, devoid of the simplicity of driving to the grocery store, loading the trunk and driving home-caring and preparing for our lives in the only ways we knew how. Online shopping and list making has made an ever prevalent space in our Wednesday nights after the kids go to sleep- a time that used to be reserved for cuddling on the couch and watching our favorite programs.

Life is about renewing, reinventing, and learning new things – even when it comes to the most very basic and mundane tasks necessary to life a productive and successful life. I’m hoping that I’ll embrace this change again in the future, rather than fearing it as much as I did… Though I suspect I’ll have the gratitude for change and peaceful routine than I ever possessed.

About Jessica

After moving to Manhattan from the suburbs of San Francisco, Jessica started a blog called Momma’s Gone City. Jessica's learned to navigate her way through the New York City preschool system and around Manhattan with two toddlers in tow. She's written for New York Family Magazine and StyleMom.com, and serves as an ambassador for various children’s brands.

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