Grocery Shopping Bingo with Hechshers!

Houston, we have arrived!  Er – okay.  San Antonio, we have arrived. Husband and I have been here about a week and we’re getting back into the groove of things.  The apartment is unpacked, our dog no longer fears that we are going to abandon her (never ever) and our kitchen pantry could almost qualify for stocked. Things are getting exciting over here.
This isn’t our first rodeo.  We’ve been in San Antonio before.  We know where the 3 synagogues are, were the mikveh is and where Glatt certified meat is available.  Surprisingly, the first place husband and I had our own kitchen was here in San Antonio.
Even before we had our own kitchen husband and I talked about how we were going to set it up.  Was it going to be kosher?  Yes.  Were we going to keep separate counter tops, sinks and stove burners?  I wanted to.  Husband agreed to the first two but vetoed me on the stove burners. We also agreed that everything was going to be hechshered and there would be no takeout eaten in our home unless it was from the one kosher restaurant (that we have yet to visit) in San Antonio. Husband was a little surprised at how strict I wanted to be, but accepted and understood that I was doing what made sense to me.  I partly blame reading “Kosher Nation” by Sue Fishkoff.


Grocery shopping turned into a game of Bingo.  I’ll share an important lesson my MIL shared with me about kosher grocery shopping – shop the whole store. Lots of products are certified, but not all certified products are kept in the Kosher aisle.  For instance, Monday while at the HEB sour cream was on my list.  I found it in the kosher cooler for $4.98 but when I went to the regular dairy section I found 16oz of certified Berkstone’s sour cream for $1.29. BINGO!
We’ve had frustrating times when we ended up leaving without everything on our list and sad times when we realized that some of our favorite sauces like Sweet Baby Rays are not certified.  I was looking for refried black beans during my latest trip.  I liked my odds given that I am in Texas where there are aisles dedicated solely to salsa and spicy things.
Apparently, however, Texans don’t do vegetarian refried beans.  I picked up can after can of refried beans looking for that magic little symbol.  Star K, OU, CRC – whatever, I’m not picky about hechshers.  I just want one. I double and triple checked some cans.  I resolved to go home, use my powers of Google to learn how to make my own when someone offered to help.
While we searched the store together he chatted about having been in the food industry for 17 years and how more and more people were letting go of their kosher kitchens.
“People I never ever thought would go hechsher free are straying away from it because it’s so difficult to find what they’re looking for.” He shrugged and put a can back on the shelf. We ended up finding the beans and I put a few extra cans in my cart to tide us over until I learn how to make them myself.


We don’t plan on letting go of our kosher kitchen any time soon.  It might be a huge pain in the tuchus and it might take us 2 hours to grocery shop rather than 45 minutes, but in the end, we believe it’s worth it. We get creative and resourceful when we can’t find something with a certification.  Observances are personal and should be meaningful and for now, we’ve found our comfort level.