Monday, February 12, 2007

Doing the Deed

These days if you asked me what my least favorite household duty was, I'd answer Grocery Shopping. By that, of course, I do not mean picking up a few things at the market. I mean full-flegded, spend two to three hundred dollars, need help back to the Suburban, Grocery Shopping.

I guess the thing that makes it so awful is that it's not just shopping. It's so much more.

The very first step is figuring out a day and time when I will have time to complete this task, and gear myself up for it emotionally.

I then start off the actual process the night before with cookbooks, note pad, and pen in hand. And I write Menus. I don't do other meals besides dinner, and I don't even include side dishes. Only main courses. Only seven to ten days worth. But it takes seemingly forever. Sometimes if the kids are awake I make them each pick one. If I make Larry do one too, there are 5 down. Problem is that those five are generally some shape of pasta or bread with tomato sauce and cheese on top. So the lucky first kid asked gets his/her choice of spaghetti or whatever. The others get, "We've already got that, think of something else."

Having the Menus written I feel I've climbed Mount Olympus. Then comes the writing of the Grocery List. This is the easiest of the Grocery tasks. I go back through the recipes and make sure any ingredients which are not pantry items are included on the list. Sometimes I try to save time by writing the items as I write the Menu, but then one or both of two things may happen. I invariably forget to do it for one meal, and therefore leave out something odd like capers, or I run out of space, put the item in a weird spot, and miss it at the store.

I guess I may need to explain that. I know my store pretty well. I write my Shopping List in the order I will hit it in the store, more or less. At the very least the item will be within the category of it's correct aisle. If don't have a good feel for how much, let's say, "pasta-sauce-beans-soups-rices" I am getting, and I run out of space, I will put that item elsewhere. While Shopping, if I don't miss the item entirely, I will certainly have to head back several aisles at the store, which really busts my hump, especially if the cart is getting heavy and hard to turn.

Next a 25 minute drive to the store.

Then I dig in to the Shopping. I always hope I am there at a perfect time to mostly miss the early, elderly, slow shoppers, the hurried lunch-time shoppers, and the shelf re-stockers. I decide whether I'd rather make more room in the cooler for milk and oj or make an extra trip to the market once I'm up the hill. I buy five apple juices. I make selections at the fish counter. I run back to get the onion soup mix that I forgot. I try to remember which cereal #1 was complaining that we were out of. My cart is almost overflowing by the time I hit produce. But I heap it on, sometimes fighting back tears, and wanting so badly to be in the Check Out Line.

"You think we'll need another cart?" "Definitely." I hear this exchange every time. People shy away from the lane where I am unloading. Yep. We eat a lot of food, us 6. Once everything is on the belt, and I've told the cashier about the case of Arrowhead under my basket, I can breathe for about 90 seconds. Then we caravan out to the car. "No thanks, I'll load the car myself--I'm a little picky," I tell the bagger with half of my groceries. My pickiness is actually the job of sorting through the bags to find the meat, dairy, and frozen items that need to go into the cooler. I used to request that the bagger keep those separate. All that got me was building anger as I STILL had to look through for the deli turkey and sour cream that was stuck in with the granola bars and chicken broth.

25 minute drive home. Sometimes I have to stop here for gas. Often I am fighting car sickness the last ten minutes of the drive.

Unloading the car is a bear. Our main floor is actually on the second floor of our house. So, lots of stairs. Luckily, the kitchen is right off the entry. But still back and forth, back and forth, up and down the stairs. The LAST thing I now want to do is put Groceries away for 1/2 hour. Some days I don't even have time for that. I just unload the cooler and head to pick up the kids. Some days I can get help from #2, 3, or 4. And there have been day when I'm putting Groceries away after dinner or the next morning after breakfast. Luckily, I think those are rare.

And ten to fourteen days later, I'm looking at my calendar, and my emptying fridge and thinking, "Can I make it with just a little trip to the market? Maybe tomorrow night we can just order pizza."

1 fishy comments:

Jenn said...

Oh, I HATE that. I try to put my list in store-aisle-order too. Or else I just order from I really like it better that way. :P