July 2013: To market, to market

I need to go get groceries.

Well, what’s the big deal, right? Everyone needs to grocery shop from time to time. But grocery shopping for me usually does end up being a big deal.

I try my hardest not to let this happen, however. I like to make lists of what I need before going to the store. Otherwise, I find myself repeating over and over in my head, “I need four things … toilet paper, milk, cat food … dang it … I know there’s a fourth thing … pancake mix? Lint roller?” Having a list to refer to makes it harder to forget what I’m going to buy. Not so helpful is when I forget to take the list with me.

(But then, no one else ever has that happen, do they?)

If I’m feeling extra ambitious, I’ll try to organize my list by type of item so that I don’t find myself pushing the cart with the broken wheel that I inevitably end up with racing back and forth around the store like I’m on some sort of “It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world” treasure hunt as I find myself in the produce section and realize I forgot to pick up cheese on the other side of the store while I was there.

(But then, no one else ever has that happen, do they?)

Thankfully, the grocery store staff must see this frequently happen, as they usually don’t give me odd looks until about the fifth time I madly wheel through the feminine hygiene products aisle.

(The first odd look I get is probably because I look anything but feminine.)

Making a list does not guarantee I will remember everything I need, of course. This is usually discovered once I return home from the store or later that evening when I am preparing dinner and realize it’s really hard to make meatloaf without ground beef.

Taking a list with me when I go for groceries is no guarantee that I will only buy what’s on the list, either. For while I try to shop not just for what I need via my hopefully-remembered list, but also by what looks tasty or interesting, balanced by the amount of storage space I have in my cupboards, freezer and refrigerator. I also tend to find myself planning out meals in my head as I go along, usually hindered by not being able to remember exactly what’s already in my cupboards, freezer and refrigerator. (Obviously, this accounts for why I have to be ever concerned about the amount of storage space I have in my cupboards, freezer and refrigerator. That fourteenth can of refried beans has to go somewhere.) So I buy not only what I need, but also what I think I need. Plus, there’s always room for pie.

I also sometimes buy what looks new and interesting, because of the (probably highly paid for by manufacturers) “wow factor”, as in “Wow! Look at this! It’s remarkably unhealthy and something I’ve never shown any interest in before, but suddenly I want to try it!” This most often occurs in the breakfast cereal aisle or frozen food section, but has at times occurred in the produce section as well, where I’ve been known to buy a piece of fruit of unknown origins and equally unknown taste expectations with a name not readily pronounceable.

One time in the cereal aisle, I spotted a new cereal located in the “wow factor” section that shared a name with a brand of cat food from the 80s. My roommate was with me at the time, but was not familiar with the brand of cat food in question, and therefore did not understand my amusement. I even tried to jog his memory by singing the cat food brand’s jingle, but this was only met by a blank stare as he slowly moved away from me in the aisle until he was of sufficient distance that a casual onlooker would not associate him with the large, bearded man singing, “My kitty-cat craves chicken … my kitty-cat craves milk …”

I usually go to only one grocery store the majority of the times, so that I learn where everything is and don’t misadvertently turn down the feminine hygiene products aisle any more than is necessary (And it is truly awe inspiring just how many different feminine hygiene products exist, by the way. I tip my hat to the female readers, because I have a hard enough time choosing between and understanding different brands of men’s underarm deodorant, and that section is significantly smaller.)

I tend to work my way through the store in an odd clockwise-serpentine style, usually starting in the produce section and ending in the dairy section. It really throws me off my grocery-buying game when the store has its produce section on the left side of the store. I have to think my way through the store backwards when that happens.

To add to the already confusing food-buying mix, I recently joined a bulk-food warehouse store. I’m not sure why I joined, as I’m not really in the market for 50 gallon drums of grape jelly, or pallet-sized cases of cheese puff balls, or sticks of lip balm the size of cannon shells that have to be set up on end on the floor and used by placing one’s face on the top and spinning around slowly. I guess my defense is that the membership was on sale and the ‘wow factor’ got to me. Granted, the low price I paid for what will be a lifetime supply of toothbrushes probably has already covered the cost of the membership, even before I factor in what I saved by buying the vat of mayonnaise.

(But then, no one else ever has that happen, do they?)

Unloading my massive load of groceries once I return home is easily the least-liked aspect of my shopping trip. No matter how carefully I pack them into my trunk, by the time I return home most of the contents have usually escaped their plastic bag bonds, and the canned goods have rolled into the furthest reaches where I need to use a long-handled ice scraper to retrieve them. Sometimes, they take the eggs with them, and in the mad scramble the eggs get, well, scrambled.

After I re-bag my groceries, the next step is trying to carry all of them inside the house. Being a typical American male, I see taking more than one trip to be a sign of weakness. I usually load up each hand with 10 grocery bags, stick the carton of toilet paper under one arm, a case of soda under the other, kick the 50 gallon drum of grape jelly in front of me like a lumberjack kicking logs, and close the trunk lid with my chin. This works great up until I get to the front door and have to find my keys to unlock it, although this usually isn’t much of a problem as the plastic grocery sacks tend to lose their structural integrity right around there, anyway.

Once I’ve got the groceries inside the house, dodge the cat, put away the groceries, determine what I forgot to get, and throw away the shredded plastic bags, the greater part of the day has usually passed, leaving me to once again start a new grocery list and try to figure exactly what I’m going to have for dinner that I can make with meatloaf components without the meat.

Loaf. It’s what’s for dinner.

(But then, no one else ever has that happen, do they?)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: