I love going to the grocery store on Saturday mornings. It’s crowded, sure, but there’s a sense of optimism to the crowd. We have an entire weekend ahead of us. The possibilities seem endless. I love the commradery, like all us shoppers are in it together, working toward the common goal of feeding our families. It’s different from the mood of, say, a Thursday night. Thursday nights are crowded, but the crowd is different. We’re all tired from the events of the day. We’d all really rather be at home, or anywhere really. Saturday morning is a hopeful time. Sure, let’s go ahead and get that rack of lamb. There’s plenty of time to learn how to cook it between now and Sunday dinner. And just think of the leftovers. Ahh, what sweet optimism is Saturday morning.
The beauty of this past weekend’s grocery outing begins before I have even entered the bakery-scented doorway of our local Kroger. Standing outside, fresh faced and eager, are none other than the Girl Scouts of America. And bless their darling little hearts, they want nothing more in the world than to offer me cookies. Would that everyone I encountered in daily life be so accommodating. Michael rushes us past as if we were fleeing a burning building. This could be because I have already threatened to buy a dozen boxes of Tagalongs and consume them all in the car on the way home.
So into the grocery store we rush. When you think of it, the grocery store really is an embarrassment of riches. I sometimes feel guilty about how easy it is for us Americans to get food. There are places in the world where people have to beg, steal, or even kill for food. It’s a sobering thought. I make yet another mental note to donate to some international food bank, but then proceed to assuage my guilt with Cadbury eggs. Have I mentioned how much I do love March? Girl Scout Cookies and Cadbury eggs. Could life get any better?
Of course, grocery shopping is always a more pleasant experience sans the two year old. He brings an element of unpredictability to the venture that is unsettling at best, and can be outright embarrassing at worst. Then there are those times where Michael and I tend to disagree over food choices. This is most starkly illustrated in the cereal aisle. My husband loves cereal. I mean, he could eat it everyday. Sure, I like cereal. Cereal is fine. But I sometimes like to get wild and crazy and mix it up a bit. Say, have a bagel for breakfast. Or even more scandalous, a muffin. But it’s not even that Michael loves cereal. It’s that he loves boring cereal. When I say he could eat cereal everyday, I mean he could eat Corn Flakes everyday. Or Shredded Wheat. Or some other high fiber horror. I mean, with all the vast, nearly endless, cereal choices – Lucky Charms, Cocoa Puffs, Frosted Flakes, Honey Smacks – why in the world would you choose Corn Flakes? I don’t know, but that’s just what Michael does. Then I get his silent disapproval when I pick Count Chocula. This has really become a problem lately when, due to the high cost of food, we have to eat the same cereal. Honestly, I’d rather share a toothbrush than eat his cereal.
So once the cereal debacle is over, my euphoria in the grocery outing is vastly diminished. By the time we get to the dairy case, my good mood has vanished altogether. Here’s something else about my husband: He can read on the grocery list: cream cheese, sour cream, whipping cream, and creamer - and it all registers as the same thing to him. If those four items are on the grocery list, I’ll get home to find that I have four containers of just one of those. Four sour cream tubs for example. Or four cartons of whipping cream. And you know, I’m already pissed off over the cereal selection, so this dairy product SNAFU never helps my mood. Lately, my mood has also fallen prey to the rising price of groceries. I’m not one of those people who believes that food should be cheap. I know what goes into the growing, making, and transporting of our food supply. But as a stay at home mom, I consider one of my primary duties to be planning healthy meals for my family while remaining within the limits of a budget. When the weekly grocery bill continues to register in the triple digits, I can’t help feeling like I’ve failed somehow.
I think it is unfair that once the groceries have been bought and paid for, one still has ahead of her the putting away of said groceries, which inevitably necessitates the cleaning out of cabinets and the refrigerator. There are few things in life I enjoy less than cleaning out the fridge. Being blind lends an element of surprise to the contents of food storage containers. These surprises are never pleasant. ‘Nuff said?
Even though I know how the grocery errand will play out, I still get a thrill every time we pull into Kroger on Saturday mornings, especially on a sunny March morning.