Monday, February 17, 2014

The Grocery Store Dilemma

Okay the grocery store, let’s do this.

Let me preface by saying that I do not have the luxury of time or financial surplus to shop at organic grocery stores with artistically arranged produce and a different aromatherapy for each aisle. I shop at the normal everyday grocery store of which Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Alba would heartily disapprove.

So here we go. I hate grocery shopping. I do. The whole process of preparing a list (if I happen to be organized that day), slogging through the aisles, trying to fit everything in the cart, taking everything out of the cart to put on the conveyer belt, packing everything up in my reusable bags (if I’ve remembered them), taking the bags out of the cart and putting them in the trunk (unless the trunk is full of sports equipment or Husband’s unloaded purchases from Home Depot, in which case I have to cram them into the back seat), driving home, dragging the groceries into the house and then finding space for them in the cupboards filled with condiments and special ingredients I paid too much for for that one recipe that no one wound up liking, putting the bags away and then having the hateful teenage offspring trudge into the kitchen to open and slam shut the cupboards and refrigerator declaring there is nothing to eat in their lovably scornful way; that whole process has definitely lost its luster.

I’ve got it down to a science though. I can do the whole farcical outing door-door in an hour or less. This boggles Husband’s mind since when he goes it is a two hour affair and he comes home with enough food to feed a family of eight and seems to be under the impression that our house, or at least our refrigerator is twice it’s actual size. And, because he’s a man, the entire thing becomes a bizarre competition as he proudly declares how much money he saved. I never beat him on money saved. I do beat him on overall grocery bill though since I did not buy five boxes of Apple Jacks just because they were on sale if you bought all five.

But even though I have it down to a science and can go and be back and have the groceries tucked away before a single person has woken up I cannot escape the ESPN commentary on my overall performance in the event. The “did you remember to get this,” and the “didn’t they have any of that?” and the “don’t you know I always need blank?” That’s right, everyone’s an expert all of sudden. Just like all of us armchair experts during the Olympics who shake our heads at the poorly executed triple sow cow and the doubled toe loop as if we could really distinguish one jump from the next. So it is with grocery shopping in my house. The rolled eyes at my forgetting something or choosing a undesirable brand seems equivalent to Tonya Harding’s maiming of Nancy Kerrigan.

So it is not just the act itself of grocery shopping, but the ritual scoring of the event by my bevy of boys, my panel of three whose expertise barely extends past Campbell’s soup and the frozen food section. It all adds up and makes me loathe grocery shopping beyond reason. I would give it up altogether if I could, except for the clause in the unspoken parental contract that I continue to feed my children. It’s one of those basic requirements that my lawyer just can’t seem to get me out of.

So I will keep buying food that no one likes, yet they all consume before the day is out. And I will continue to give them ”the look” when they question my motives. And I will still feel guilty every time I forget my recyclable bags. And I will forever wonder with woe and incredulity as to why it always rains on the one day I can grocery shop. Because I am a mother, and we all need something to complain about.


  1. We had a good chuckle at home on this one, Mary. --Steve