Was is Charles Barkley who said “It’s not bragging if you can back it up.”?…no. I looked it up. Mohammed Ali said that. But it’s true. So I’m not bragging when I say that I can buy groceries. I buy them very, very well. I am organized, efficient, and I use those cloth tote bags. In fact, I am so good at it I should teach lessons. Not that I’m smug about it or anything.
No, I don’t do coupons. Maybe I should, but I’ve watched that Extreme Couponing show a couple of times and while I am impressed at someone buying 1250 bottles of iced tea and paying nothing for them, I do not want that much iced tea and besides, I make my own thankyouverymuch. No, coupons don’t happen here because you never see coupons for fresh meat, vegetables, and dried beans or rice. It’s all premade stuff and premade isn’t done much here. I also lean heavily toward brand loyalty because knowing exactly what to get means getting in and out of there in an hour, rather than perusing through each aisle to find whatever’s cheapest. Time is money, ya’ll, and worth more than the 10 cents I’d save by spending time clogging up the aisles (another pet peeve…inconveniencing someone else makes me uncomfortable).
I have a system, and in the interest of educating people, here it is. Yes, it takes a little bit of time, but can be spread over several days for the sake of convenience.
1. Make menus. I used to make them once a month, since that was how often Terry was paid. Now they are biweekly, because that’s how much will fit comfortably in a buggy (or grocery cart, to those of you living above the Mason-Dixon line or west of the Mississippi) (River). I love to look for recipes and have about a million bookmarked, neatly in folders labeled “Beef, chicken, salad, (etc). I sift through them when making out the menus. I have a friend who makes menus as well. She makes out one week’s worth and repeats the week throughout the month so she only has to do it once, for 7 days, and grocery buying is a snap. I remember being (very) briefly horrified by that, but she also speaks conversational Latin so I got over it. Plus it works for her and I also got over thinking that just because someone does it differently doesn’t mean they’re wrong, or that they think I am. It works for her so cheers to that!
2. Simultaneous with making the menus, make the grocery list, adding ingredients as per the menu. When making the grocery list, break it down in to categories on the paper, by the way the grocery store is laid out, so you have several mini-lists within the big one, and you don’t have peanut butter next to the bleach then have to go back to the aisle to get something you missed. This streamlines the picking up of stuff. It is also intensely satisfying to mark through each item in an orderly manner instead of willy-nilly all over the place. Like an organized sock drawer or filing you music CDs alphabetically by genre. or having your bedsheets folded and stored in chromatic order. Wow…I sound OCD. I’m not…really. much.
3. Over a period of about 3 months, we gradually accumulated a bunch of those tote bags everyone is selling, so now there’s a nice pile (neatly folded and stored all in one bag, easy to grab when heading out the door! Aaaand…now I sound like some chipper young thing with only one child (who has never had a cold or a whiny day), who’s all full of sanctimonious advice for the Less Organized Unfortunate Woman…who if she’d just get her act together for once would actually be able to function properly. Anyway, those bags are great. I highly recommend them and not just because of some starry-eyed Save The Planet thing, but because you can put 4 times as much in them and they don’t spill in your trunk. Eventually,if you frequent one grocery store, you’ll figure out which clerk shares your sense of order and packs the bags Properly. I will wait in line to get the right clerk, and avoid this one lady who seems pissed off with my bags and hurls stuff into them, even if there’s no wait in her line.
4. When unloading the buggy onto the conveyor belt in the store, put stuff neatly on it, with each like item together, with a small gap between each group of items. Throwing them up there willy-nilly signals the clerk that it is fine to put cans on top of bananas, it also makes the food pretty. I like to group the boxed stuff chromatically, and put the cans on large-to-small. The clerks appreciate that, even the ones that make comments like “I bet you have your sheets arranged by color and your DVDs are alphabetical.” Not quite…they are by genre THEN alphabetical. That way Evil Roy Slade isn’t next to Emma because that would be weird and uncomfortable. Even though John Astin is a hoot.
Did you know I can fit an entire buggy full of groceries in the trunk of my 2008 Beetle? I can. It takes precision and a little time and occasionally there’s an audience of old men who are pretty sure I can’t do it, but with the exception of the jumbo pack of toilet paper, that 2 weeks worth of food fits right in there. It is disappointing when they won’t, and kind of weird and uncomfortable to have groceries in the backseat, but I am flexible enough to allow it once in a while, as long as those are the ones that get put away first.