Thursday, April 14, 2011

Grocery shopping on a bike: An exercise in practicality

Earlier this week, my fitness/commuter goal for April was put to the test by general necessity.

My cupboards were bare, my fridge nearly empty and the only things left to eat around my apartment were ranch dressing, pancake syrup and leftover Buffalo Wild Wings food from Lord knows when.

It was time to go grocery shopping. However, since my biking/running totals are still catching up to my driving mileage for April, I had to figure out a way to pad my mileage. Beyond that, gas prices have been going up like crazy lately and unfortunately, my modest salary is not matching that rate of inflation.

So with that in mind, I put my car keys away, grabbed a backpack and did my grocery shopping on a bike. My shopping included stops at Cub Foods, Kwik Trip and Aldi.

Surprisingly, it wasn't as difficult as one would think. I essentially bought all the groceries I would have gotten with a car, only I took two trips. The method I used for packing the groceries included my backpack and dangling a pair of grocery bags from my handlebars (first photo on the right).

The most difficult aspects of it were figuring out how to make everything fit and keeping myself balanced for the bike ride home. The only real trial and error came from determining that the weight of items in the grocery bags on the handlebars had to be relatively light, otherwise steering would get awkward (I initially tried this with a gallon of milk in one bag, bad idea).

I will touch on the experience more in a column I wrote for Monday's paper, but for the time being, here is a list of groceries I was able to carry home on each trip, with photos accompanying each list. As you can probably guess, the second trip was a lot tougher to package and carry than the first.

First trip (Cub Foods and Kwik Trip)
  • 2 bags of hashbrowns
  • 1 pound of grapes
  • 2 pounds of bananas
  • 4 boxes of cereal
  • 1 gallon of milk
  • 1/2 gallon of orange juice
  • 2 bags of pizza crust mix
  • 1 dozen eggs

Second trip (Aldi)
  • 1 bag of apples
  • 2 jars of peanut butter
  • 1 jar of jelly
  • 4 cups of yogurt
  • 1 package of breakfast sausage patties
  • 1 box of pancake mix
  • 3 boxes of rice
  • 1 box of banana bread mix
  • 1 package of chocolate chips
  • 1 container of bread crumbs
  • 1 package of tortilla shells
  • 2 jars of spaghetti sauce
  • 2 pounds of shredded cheese
  • 1 package of dried fruit
  • 1 package of baby carrots
  • 1 box of mashed potato mix
  • 1 6-pack of bagels
  • 1 package of pepperoni
  • 1 box of cereal

(Note: this isn't intended to depict me as a hulking figure of grocery getting ability. Rather, it is meant to illustrate how much a person can actually carry on a bike if they organize it correctly. Also, I realize my eating habits probably seem a little odd, but I happen to like cereal ... a lot.)


  1. I had alot of trouble with gallon jugs

  2. Nice pictures! Looks like a challenge!

  3. I think you are doing a great job! It is also environmentally friendly! Props to that! :) I don't own a bike as of now, but I walk to the grocery stores and carry groceries home. I make more trips because of having to carry them home, but it is fine because I enjoy walking.

    I am been challenging myself too. For example, I decided to walk home from MSU one day. It wasn't bad! I enjoyed the nice weather and it felt good. Last week, I took the city bus up to ISJ for an appointment and then I walked all the way home. I took the longer way around and went down Madison Avenue instead of taking the hill over by Bethany College. I enjoyed it. It was a really beautiful day and the sun was shining. I was honestly having a stressful day and it was good stress reliever for me. Later that night, I walked down to Cub Foods and back too. I overdid it a little because I felt it in my knees and feet the next day when I walked to the city bus to school. It was well worth it! :)

    Exercise is great for the heart, it is good overall for ones health and it is a wonderful way to relieve stress in a healthy way. I feel ten times better after I exercise and walking has helped me feel better.

    Keep up the good work and I have found your blog to be an interesting read! :)

  4. you normally use a rack of some sort while grocery shopping with a bike? I feel like that would make it easier if you could get the items to balance right. Having an expandable backpack like the one I had helped a lot.

    Kato_Green...thank you for the kind words! I kind of figured this would be a good monthly goal because it's essentially combining exercise with transportation, plus it's saving money. It's great to hear from readers that are living an active life! Health and fitness isn't about bench pressing a ton of weight or running a marathon; it's about getting the most out of life and feeling good about yourself.

    Thanks for reading!