Does grocery shopping confuse you? You are not the only one

Having too much choice defines our lives in 2016 but when simple chores like grocery shopping feel like complex decision making exercises, you really begin to wonder. My first grocery shopping experience in the local supermarket in UK was overwhelming (and unforgettable) and this chore remains a mental exercise even till this day.

Picture this. I wanted to buy eggs and went to the relevant shelf and what I found was varieties that I had never seen or heard of before. Barn eggs basic, Free range eggs large, Golden Yorked free ranged eggs, Free range eggs rich grocery-shopping-column-sep-2016in Omega and so on. Add to this multiple brand options and pack sizes to choose from. For a person like me who was used to simply buying eggs worth Rs 10 (irrespective of their brand, background or colour) from the neighbourhood shop before multi-brand retailing took off in India, this was and still is nerve wracking. I am almost tempted to move on without buying but then I pick up the one offering most value for money.

The mind boggling ‘choice’ extends to all household products you can think of. Yoghurt comes as 0% fat Greek, 0% fat natural, fat free Greek style, low fat Greek style and plenty more. I feel like little Alice in Wonderland, going around supermarket aisles instead of a rabbit hole, far from having an adventure. Supermarkets with their multi-brand offerings provide lots of choice to their customers but the effort required to make a sensible purchase outweighs any potential benefits of having that choice in the first place.

Online shopping is supposed to make the experience more convenient and cheaper at times but by offering even greater variety than the store it simply adds to the confusion. As I write this, a browse through one supermarket chain’s website throws up more than 100 options for bread, 90 for milk and nearly 200 for shampoo. Then there are also marketing led deals and you are tempted to buy more quantity than you need or worse be tempted to spend on things you never intended to buy. There goes any saving. It can easily take me a few hours to browse through the options for all the things I need. My only solace is that there are people out there who spend so much time each day thinking what to wear.

Market research confirms that people are bewildered by so much choice. According to an extensive research about food trends conducted by British retail chain Waitrose last year, most people who participated in their study said they felt overwhelmed by the choice available to them in different aspects of their lives.

The next time an interviewer asks me how I navigated a complex situation or what kind of decisions I find difficult to make, can I describe my grocery shopping experience, I wonder.

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Things you can do without in your hospital bag

Packing a hospital bag during late pregnancy is exciting and it is easy to go overboard (with raging hormones and emotions). I had spent hours browsing through online posts and magazines and packed and repacked my suitcase endless times before I was finally admitted. After spending a couple of days at the hospital with my newborn I realised how a lot of things I had stuffed in my bag weren’t needed at all while there were many others that we needed urgently now.

Here’s a list of items from my hospital bag that I didn’t find of much use:

Breast pads
These might be useful for some but I always found them difficult to wear. Also, given it took me a few days to establish breastfeeding I could have easily done without them in my hospital bag.

Books and music
After 3 days of labour that didn’t progress, I was finally admitted when I was totally exhausted. The gas and air couldn’t relax me so it is highly unlikely that books and music would have helped.

Make up and lip balm
Honestly, these were nowhere on my mind after a long labour. At that time, I was relieved to have safely delivered my precious one and was totally enamoured with her.

Multiple packs of nappies 
The first few nappies that my daughter wore were provided by the hospital even though my bag was overflowing with them. Simply because my full term baby was too tiny for the Pamper New Baby Size 1 nappies I had stocked.

Toiletries for baby
Baby soaps, shampoos and powders definitely don’t have to be in your hospital bag. In my case, the hospital nurses gave a water bath to my daughter four days after her birth. They also advised us not to bathe her too frequently in the first few weeks.

Maternity mats
Started placing them on bed in the weeks running up to my due delivery date but never found them useful as they always used to move to a side while sleeping

Instead, soon after the birth of my daughter we realised how much we really needed the following:

a breast pump, formula milk, a thermometer and a baby sling.