Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Grocery Shopping 101

I am of the belief that grocery shopping should require at least an Associates Degree from your local community college. It is the most complex household duty that I am responsible for on a weekly basis.

I'm not sure who does the meal planning & food preparation in your home, but if it's anything like mine the responsibility lies almost solely on me. Andy's good about making his own breakfast and eats lunch out most days, but other than that I plan and prepare what every mouth will eat each meal of the week. And I'm totally fine with that. Andy contributes in huge ways to our family life. The food category just lands on me.

SO, in honor of all those women out there who bravely march about grocery stores each week...
in efforts to give the men in our lives a glimpse of what it's really like...

I've compiled a TOP 10 list of things our husbands never realized about the complexities of grocery shopping.
  1. Meal Planning- Before ever making it to the store, we plan out what we will eat for the week. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. Breakfast is easy; a couple different options is all you need. Lunch is overwhelmingly boring and difficult to get out of the same ol' ruts. Why does a salad or a turkey sandwich taste so much better from a restaurant than it does from my kitchen? But dinner, now this is where the real art of meal planning is exposed. Every dinner requires a protein, vegetables (not all the same color), starch, make sure it's filling yet low fat, make sure there's something everyone (or most) will eat, consider the family schedule and how much prep time each meal will require. Sometimes I just stare at my cookbook and a blank sheet of paper until I put it away and decide to try again later.
  2. Hormones- As I peruse the milk, eggs, and meats I realize that many of these animals have been beefed up on hormones. We've all been scarred with images of those chickens who are so fat they can't even support their own body weight, right? So I check out the organics which cost 3 times as much. And then I have to decide if I'd rather have my sons develop breasts by age 12 or if I'd rather have enough money to continue feeding them by age 12. Tough choices. 
  3. Artificial ingredients, additives, and preservatives- Whenever a label contains 50 different ingredients which you cannot pronounce, you know you better leave that one on the shelf. Seriously, what chemicals would they have to use to make something taste like strawberries without actually using strawberries? So I attempt to by-pass the center aisles of the store as much as possible and just shop the perimeter.
  4. Pesticides- I feel pretty good about myself loading my cart up with all kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables. What a great mom! Providing an assortment of healthy, colorful, fresh options for my family. I feel pretty good until it occurs to me that I may also be poisoning my family with pesticides! Yikes. I should just grow my own food.
  5. Human Trafficking- I never buy coffee or chocolate that I don't wonder if I'm supporting the slave trade which forces children and innocent people to pick coffee and cocoa beans. Talk about paranoia and guilt! I know none of us would want to support that!
  6. Refereeing Children- All the while I am making earth-shattering decisions regarding the wellbeing of my family (and, unknowingly, people around the world!) my children are in tow doing things like eating goldfish and raisins left from the last kid who rode in our grocery cart. Please don't stick your fingers through the plastic on the packages of ground beef! No, we're not buying pop tarts for breakfasts. Let your brother out of that headlock! Please do not lick the handle on the grocery cart, even if there is something sticky on it!
  7. Coupons- At this point, who in the world is in the frame of mind to use coupons?! If you do, God bless you and maybe you could share your wisdom with me. But I for one, am unable (unwilling?) to match which coupon goes to which brand and which size orange juice or yogurt. I often have coupons in my purse that I fully intend on using, but I'm just too mentally exhausted to figure it out while I'm mid-course. 
  8. Budgeting- Because I suck at couponing, I have sticker-shock more than I'd like to admit when the cashier rings up my food for the week. Seriously? But I didn't even by organics! I opted to let my sons grow boobs and poison them with pesticides just so I could meet budget! And you're telling me my groceries costs that much?! Fail.
  9. Reusable bags- Sir, I really do have a whole pile of reusable bags in my trunk. It's just out there in the parking lot! Do you still have to charge me $0.10 per bag because I'm forgetful? Just think of all of things that I have to think of to get through this grocery shopping experience!
  10. Unloading- I love how they ask, "Do you need help to your car?" I'm always tempted to reply, "No, but if you could come home with me and help me unload, that would be very helpful." If you happen to live in an apartment like we have, you know the joy of trying to carry 100 pounds of food in your apartment in one sweep. You have bags hanging off every appendage while you attempt to close your car door with your foot. The above mentioned children are not much help as they are perhaps too small or too clumsy to carry a bag. You take slow, deep breaths while herding your children and staggering toward your gated apartment when you realize that your keys are deep in your pocket so you'll need to put everything down in order to get them. You unlock the gate and before you have time to reload the groceries on said appendages, your kids take off in a sprint towards home. At this point, the long journey of grocery shopping has taken its toll and you begin to lose it altogether. You scream at the top of your lungs, "FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING GOOD AND HOLY, COULD SOMEONE PLEASE JUST HOLD THE DOOR FOR ME?!" With your children no where in sight, an unsuspecting single gal walks up sipping her latte and grabs the door for you. The look in her eyes is somewhere between surprise and pity as she looks at a very harried version of you, and you think to yourself, "It wasn't all that long ago that I looked like you..."
So, honey, every time we sit down for a home cooked meal in the evenings, please know that it is a gift labor of love for you and our kids. I have nearly lost my mind and come back again to the world of sane-living just to bring you this filling, low-fat, expensive, and fresh meal. Sorry about the man-boobs and pesticides!


Wendy said...

LOVED IT!!! I actually read it to my husband too and he was laughing! Great post :)

Gennie said...

I shared the link to this post on facebook, and several of my friends that wouldn't normally read a blog titled marriage, motherhood, and ministry read this and shared it as well....I love it, and I love that because of this there are a few of my friends that are going to be more open to reading/talking about christian things too....THANKS

Hannah said...

That made me laugh out loud! :-)

Cristine said...

LOL!! STACIE, you just said it all!!! I had to read it to Marcos too...so true and so funny!! I just had the whole experience with "buy the healthy and go broke, or by the unhealthy and have enough to live by" today...we went to Whole Foods for the first time and I actually only left with 3 items (after looking for a long time at everything so healthy and expensive and wishing I could buy it all!)