The Grocery Ordeal

Mondays are the grocery shopping day in this family.  Living out the boonies requires some organization in the matter of meal prep, since popping out to the store on a whim isn’t a realistic option.  There is a grocery store that charges far more than necessary, and a Walmart that I avoid upon pain of death.  Combine that with the hassle of lugging around two kids and it’s really worth effort to make one big shopping trip per week.

The ordeal – for that is what it is – begins earlier in the morning, when I sit down with a stack of cookbooks to plan out the dinner menu for the week.  This is a crucial step, for it allows me to shop accordingly instead of buying loads of groceries that don’t get used for awhile, and there’s never any ambiguity about what’s for dinner.  That way I also get to try out new recipes.

We get in the car and drive for forty minutes.  There are always a few complications.  A grocery cart requires a 25-cent deposit and I make sure I’ve got a quarter even before I leave home.  Dragging the kids into the store to find a grumpy teenage employee to break my $20 bill, then returning outside to find a cart, forcibly insert the toddler, and lock in the baby seat while juggling reusable bags and my purse and the list that always seems to disappear is so miserably difficult.  With a quarter, though, life’s a breeze!

The toddler protests against riding in the cart.  On days that I’m feeling generous, I agree to let him walk – if he promises to stay beside me.  Fat chance.  Every single time, he makes a dash for it.  I’ve yet to figure out the ideal reaction: either abandon the baby and my purse in the cart and run after him, usually catching him while the former are still in view, or pop that rickety old cart into high gear and go careening down the aisle after him, baby seat bouncing precariously.  Neither is particularly good, so I’ve learned to watch him constantly and lunge if he shows the slightest indication to flee.  Eventually he gets put in the cart, kicking and arguing vehemently, but then I fish out the list and give it to the toddler to hold.  By the end, it’s chewed and soggy, or gone altogether, but at least it keeps him occupied.

There’s a young guy who works in the produce department every Monday morning that we’re there.  He provides some much-needed comic relief to my frazzled self.  Once he was sweeping the floor, pushing around a mess of lettuce bits, crumbly broccoli florets, hair, dirt, and whatever other nastiness accumulates on a grocery store floor.  I got in his way and apologized.  “No worries.  I’m just making myself a salad,” he said.  I was still chuckling five minutes later when I got in his way again.  “It’s okay,” he said.  “I know I won’t be sweeping you off your feet.”  When he’s not making clever remarks, he’s always got jokes for me: “What do you call a line of rabbits hopping backwards?  A receding hare line!”

We work our way through the store, trying to stick to what’s on the list while the toddler uses all his logic to convince me to buy junk food.  “Mommy, we need Nutella!  I need Nutella!”  Sure you do, honey.  The rest is fairly uneventful until we get to the check-out and I face the eternal dilemma: if the baby seat is in the cart, there’s nowhere to put the grocery bags and I’m forced to carry them on my arms while pushing the cart, which is very heavy.  If the baby is in the front carrier, then I have to pack the grocery bags with a 20-lb baby on the chest who still needs his head supported, which means I’m packing everything with one hand.  Somehow I do it and we limp out of the store, only slightly worse for wear.

The drive home is always worse, since the kids are cranky and hungry.  We explode into the house and I try to make lunch and unpack the groceries simultaneously, while fending off the toddler’s attempts to bite into any fruit or vegetable he can get his hands on.  The baby serenades us in the background with his wails.  At least Monday morning is over, and it’ll be another week until I go through the whole ordeal again.  In the meantime the fridge is well stocked, and when that’s the case, my husband and I are both very happy people.


12 thoughts on “The Grocery Ordeal

  1. Mondays are my grocery day too. I identify with your hyper-organized approach. My children often ask, “What does the list say we’re having for breakfast?”

    1. Wow, impressive. I’m not at the point of organizing breakfast yet, but won’t be surprised if that day comes. With a bit of upfront effort, it makes life so much easier.

  2. I recall the ordeal well!! At one point while living in S.C. they had small carts for my 2 year old to push – now that was challenging! 🙂 Now, he drives me to the store.

    1. Haha, I guess tables will turn eventually, though that seems rather far in the future! I’ve also seen those mini carts and can’t imagine how much more complicated that would make things. Thank goodness our store doesn’t have them!

      1. The store we go to after church on Sundays has the mini carts and the twins love them. Luckily it’s usually not too busy and, with it being such a tiny town, most of the people my kids run into with their carts know them and aren’t too upset (actually, it’s usually me they run into…) 🙂

  3. I grocery shop 2 times a month..and even then it’s an ordeal. I’m lucky though cause my husband works at a wal-mart and if we need bread or milk or something before the 2 weeks are up, then he just picks it up after he clocks out. Also, thankfully we live like 15 minutes from town. You may try making the oldest a quiet book and seeing if this would help keep him occupied….there are lots of ideas on pinterest if you do a search for “quiet book” I’ve been thinking of making my kids one when I get some of my commission projects and Easter crafts out of the way.

      1. You’re welcome….seems it’s always hard to remember things when you are on the go with little ones in tow. Let me know if it works. 🙂

  4. Ha! Can’t imagine making all that effort, I never cease to be amazed at what many moms manage as a matter of course between a couple of kids and managing the house, etc, etc – I even saw this episode of QI that pointed out that contrary to popular belief, even in cave-man-ish times it was most often the women who would end up feeding the family/tribe/whatever because the men would hunt but not always successfully while the women would forage for fruits and such. (at least I thought it was interesting…)

    Oh and your mention of nutella reminded me of this recipe I came across a short while ago that you might try since you seem to like food experimentation:

    And just gotta say, you post a lot! I mean that in a good way because I’m supposed to be a professional writer and you make me feel like a lazy sod! 😀

    1. Interesting about those cave mamas! I guess it’s hardwired into us to feed our kids at all costs! That recipe looks amazing; I’ll definitely give it a try, though blogging is starting to negatively affect my waistline with the amount of dessert I eat while writing 🙂 As for my constant posting, well, in a way it’s a much-needed creative release from the minutiae of raising kids, so I truly enjoy doing it! Thanks.

      1. I can understand the need for creative release – I’m just too lazy to make it happen and then it comes out in random excessive bursts that I need to spend a few days recovering from! 😀

  5. I laughed out loud reading the Nutella part. I got DH to pick up a jar of it months ago (actually, to try a Christmas cookie recipe I never got around to). Over the weekend we realized we were out of peanut butter, which is the kids’ favourite snack food and I tried to sell them on Nutella with no success. I can’t say I’m that disappointed… but very surprised.

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