If you’ve read my long enough you know that I do small grocery shops multiple times a week. I have little storage, and prefer as little food waste as possible (just give a gander at how food waste effects the environment). This is how my daughter has watched me shop over the years, and how she has learned to shop.
My daughter’s university has this thing called ABP, which is alternative break program. These are things one can do over spring break that are sort of learning experiences. My daughter participated in one during her Freshman year, and had the privilege of running one this year.
When you lead a program like this, you are responsible for everything: you are given a budget, and you need to make care of learning and enrichment experiences, transportation and food for all participants on the trip.
My daughter had no problem with reaching out to partner organizations and filling up their time with the learning portion. As she is something of a mass transit savant, the transportation portion fell in line rather quickly. But then there was the food…
They would have one day to buy the food needed to feed fifteen people for six days, breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. She knew what her budget was. She had ideas as to what they would serve. But she had absolutely no idea how to decide how much of each thing to buy…, and all those other questions one asks when buying food that is supposed to last for a week.
So I got a panic call the day before the program started.
Would lettuce and tomatoes last a week? (They should if stored correctly)
Are frozen vegetables besides corn and peas OK to eat? (Yes. Check the labels though to make sure nothing is added- FYI- corn and peas are the only frozen veggies that I buy)
How much cheese do I need? Making sandwiches, quesadillas and tacos… (ummmmm….I have no idea how much cheese to buy. I think you would need X amount but I’m not sure)
Bread? (Is anyone gluten free? If not one loaf of two different types.)
And this went on and on.
Frankly, many of her questions stumped me. How do people buy groceries for multiply people a week at a time? I’ve learned to shop for how I live- it’s not easy to rethink how you’ve thought for years. I know there was a time in my life when I worked sixty hour weeks and did shop for a week at a time- but those were also the days I ate a lot of salad and grilled chicken…and ate breakfast and lunch at work…
In the end, my daughter’s particular program was the one where the kids were fed (complaints from other groups were things like cereal for three meals a day) The only thing she miscalculated on the too little side was lunch meats, and she overbought pasta. Unopened food went to the food bank, and kids took home the odds and ends that were left over.
After the program was over, my daughter stated that running this program was the greatest learning experience she has had at college. She said that hands on application of practical knowledge was needed, and this was clearly when she had to apply everything she has learned in her entire life to make this go smoothly. Reaching out to corporations and non profits to set up learning experiences, figuring out which experiences will be most beneficial, learning to budget, learning to deal with different personalities, making sure everything is treated fairly and equally, making sure everyone eats…
Sometimes you really do learn things at college.