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Monday, September 20, 2010

Missteps of First Time Grocery Shopping...

I nudged my 9-year-old daughter with my elbow as I noticed the final tally on the cash register: $161.57 (Yikes! That’s before I handed the cashier the coupons my wife had given me, which brought down the total to $159.27… woo-hoo!).

My daughter looked at the digital numbers on the register and just opened her eyes and mouth in a look of horror, that, while she didn’t say it, meant, "Mommy is going to kill us!”

Yesterday was my first venture into grocery shopping for my family.

Sure, I often go get milk, dog food, pampers and all the “honey, can you pick up…” items on the way home from work (toilet paper comes to mind), but I never had undertaken the entire week’s groceries for the family.

I actually volunteered (or, in retrospect, may have been volunteered… I’m not sure).

One night during dinner last week, my wife was expressing her frustration about all the chores she has to continuously do on a daily basis (laundry, cooking, picking up after the kids, supervising homework, baths, etc.). She volunteered, not for the first time, that her father used to do the weekly grocery shopping at her house when she was growing up to help out her mother (while the thought of going to the market didn’t exactly thrill me, the thought of coming home with some of the “goodies” I like did). So, I inadvertently blurted out, “I can do that…” (Did I have a choice?)

But, I didn’t expect to be thrown in the game so quickly. On Sunday, our younger daughter (the social butterfly) had yet another party to attend. It was a “spa” party. So, my wife took her and I stayed with our older daughter and son.

My wife suggested I go grocery shopping while she was out (mind you, I’m not a Dolphins fan but the party coincided with the game, and the Mets game, which on another day would have been a great opportunity for me to lounge around on my couch, and have the kids go play in their room).

But hey, I’m trying to be a better husband and father that sets an example for my kids (nobody said the Christian walk was an easy one). “Sure.” I said.

My wife proceeded to go on the internet, look up all the weekly specials at Publix, and hand me an elaborate list of all the things we needed (including quantities, details and the buy-1-get-1-free specials). I gave the list to my daughter, who placed it on a clipboard and we were off (I never actually looked at the list).

We worked our way through the aisles, with my daughter looking at the clipboard diligently and scratching off whenever we placed an item in the cart (a little trooper given a mission) and telling me what we needed to get next, while I looked for things that I caught my interest; like Jell-o chocolate pudding, which we haven’t had in ages. (She was actually very good at keeping me focused on the things we needed. Obviously she’s been shopping with Mom before because she knew where most things on the list were).

I’ll admit, about halfway through the supermarket, I started to get antsy and wanted to finish up as quickly as possible. “Is that it?” I kept asking.  “No, we still have to finish the second and third page.” (Second and third page? How much stuff am I getting? I usually come in for the basics, and maybe wine, and finish in 10-15 minutes!). Patience, I thought. I did volunteer, didn't I? (not to mention, that I have been praying to be less self centered)

It actually gave me a chance to spend some time with my daughter without the distractions of others, TV or the computer. Fortunately, my son was sleepy and didn’t complain about being in the shopping cart, which is often the case. The worse he did was poking his finger into the meat several times and wanting to grab things along the way.

Over an hour and a cart full of groceries later, we were checking out. We completed the list, with a couple of substitutions and additions (although the substitutions did not sit too well with my wife. She wanted ground turkey, not ground beef and American cheese instead of Cheddar!).

When my wife does the groceries, we usually hover somewhere in the $100-$120 range so apparently the few deviations from the list augmented the bill slightly.

Oh well, live and learn; I’ll do better next time.

Let's hope shopping at Publix is still a pleasure next time around...

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