Everyone can name a chore that fills them with dread and for me, that chore is grocery shopping. There is something about the process that makes me want to volunteer for a root canal instead, or even endure several hours of watching golf on television. Yes, it’s that bad. I try to analyze my strong negative feelings toward this innocent task and all I can come up with is that I am simply not the grocery-shopping “type.” First of all, planning dinners doesn’t come naturally to me. Being a rather spontaneous gal in many respects, the act of sitting at the kitchen table and guessing what I think we’ll want to eat each night of the week seems to require superpowers to achieve.
How on earth do people know they’ll want to eat spaghetti on Wednesday and pot roast on Thursday? I am a woman who refused to name her children until I could see their faces and decide if they “looked” like a Ryan or an Andrew.
The same principle applies to meals. Some nights are taco nights and others are fish and chips nights, but you can’t always know that in advance. I am acquainted with more than a few women who spend a good chunk of their Sundays surrounded by cookbooks and recipe websites, carefully choosing diverse and healthful dishes and assigning them a night of the week, then writing down all the required ingredients on a grocery list. Some are high-tech and use special apps for this. I admire and respect these women for their organizational skills, and I envy the heck out of them because doing this is so difficult for me.
My husband says I rebel against anything that smacks of control or dares to limit my options and I suppose planning out our meals a week or two in advance falls into this category. Instead, what frequently happens is I’ll drag myself to the commissary with a list of staples and only a vague notion of the dinners I plan to make. Inevitably, that means I won’t have a critical ingredient or two when it comes time to actually make, say, chili or a stir fry. That’s when I’m either forced to make an emergency trip for the missing items or call my neighbors in a panic and hope they can spare whatever I need. If all else fails, we end up having breakfast for dinner. The funny thing is, when I HAVE taken the time to plan our meals, the evenings seem to go much more smoothly and I’m not cursing myself at 5 p.m. when I realize the chicken is still frozen and we’re out of green veggies.
Couponing is another grocery-related activity that baffles me. Oh, I’ve cut plenty of them out of the newspaper and I’ve even gone a step further, buying a cute little organizer that separates the coupons into categories. The problem is, I have a habit of leaving the coupons at home, which makes it pretty difficult to cash them in. Another challenge is that many coupons are for items I would never normally choose — things like chocolate yogurts with fruit-flavored sprinkles. Do I buy something we don’t even like because they’re a dollar off? Or they require that you buy enormous quantities for “Dugger-sized” families: “Buy six, get the seventh free!” I am not dissing the usefulness of coupons, mind you. I know many families save a lot of money using them, which is wonderful. I just haven’t cracked the code on using them myself.
Having a deployed husband throws an interesting wrench into all of this grocery stuff as well.
See, without Rob around at dinnertime to eat his fair share, we have major leftovers.
And my kids aren’t big on eating leftovers, which leaves just me — and the dog. So I’m finding it hard to determine just how much of everything to stock up on.
Still another reason why grocery shopping and I just don’t jive is that despite knowing better, I often go on an empty stomach. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to guess what results from this. Not only am I light-headed and irritable as I wander the aisles but my cart starts to fill with weird items I wouldn’t normally choose — fudgy-wudgy peanut clusters or five packages of extra spicy beef jerky. And then we end up ordering pizza anyway because I’m too weak from hunger to cook! If I could pay someone to shop for our food items, I certainly would. In the meantime, I will continue to do this loathsome chore because eating is necessary.
And if you happen to see a person resembling me at the commissary with a glazed look in her eyes, just know that I’m not losing my marbles. I’m grocery shopping.