Making a friend of the shopping trolley
Kilkenny woman agrees to take a lunch break lesson on nutrition during her weekly shopMICHELLE HEFFERNAN is a busy woman. On her lunch break from work, the Kilkenny resident is squeezing in the weekly shop for a family of five. Her trip around the aisles is a time and motion master class.
“There’s Harriers and Ladybirds on Tuesdays and they all go swimming on Wednesdays. Our house is a mad-house on Wednesdays,” she confides.
Against a mental checklist of the likes and dislikes of Niamh (10), Ciara (7), Conor (5) and husband Pat, and everyone’s schedule for the week ahead, her trolley will soon be overflowing. In an extra twist, this busy mother has gamely agreed to let local nutritionist Caroline Seale give her verdict when we reach the till. First stop at Supervalu, Loughboy is the bread aisle.
“I try to get a mix of white and brown and sneak a little bit of the brown into them,” says Heffernan. With school lunches in mind, she scans use-by dates and prices, opting for a brand that promises “the goodness of both”.
“They have to have a healthy lunch in school, you get a list of what you can and can’t have,” she says. With the school only allowing treats such as popcorn or yogurt bars on Friday, the rest of the week, sweeties in the lunchbox are a no-no. “My lads won’t even put a packet of crisps in their bag, that’s how terrified they are,” she says of the wise school rules.
Grated cheddar cheese and three packets of cooked ham, 48 slices in total, are sandwich fillers for all except one child who just can’t stand bread.
“For her, it’s pasta. I cook it in the morning and it goes into her lunchbox hot. Either with plain red pasta sauce or pesto, she will eat it by the bucket full,” says Heffernan. Cream crackers with cheddar cheese are a fall-back plan. Packet soups for the girls’ flasks and then Cheesestrings and some mini chocolate bars that promise “more milk and less cocoa” are the Friday treat.
Breakfast is the next challenge. “It’s kind of a guessing game. They go through phases,” says Heffernan. But in the morning, there is little time for debate. “We have to be out of the house by 8.30am and if we are late, then we are really late.”
With boxes of “cornflakes, crispies, Readybrek and porridge” on the go, today she stocks up on plain Weetabix and a “mini” version with chocolate chips.
Full-fat milk, eggs, orange juice and an array of yogurts including a flavoured yogurt drink that promises “10 billion exclusive L Casei cultures” are added to the trolley. Next in are “Frosted Strawberry Pop-Tarts”.
“One of them is not a morning person, she won’t eat breakfast. These might not be good but it’s food and it gets her to eat something,” says Heffernan.
At the meat counter, butcher Kieran Wall says most shoppers choose on price with the health conscious like Heffernan asking for the fat to be trimmed off.