Monday, December 15, 2008

Adventures in grocery shopping

The Interior of an Edwardian Grocery available at

Whew, grocery shopping.... it's quite a task, y'know, especially when it's one woman and three children against a massive store (we shop at H-E-B, which is more of a Texas thing).

Usually, Hubby and I go grocery shopping together, but this time I decided to brave it on my own. I did it all the time before we moved here (in August), and back then, I was still breastfeeding a baby. Now grocery shopping is a little easier, since, if the baby (who is 15 months old now) gets a little fussy, he can have a little snack (like a mini-bagel) or a bottle. (I have to admit, I really like it when my babies are big enough to hold their own snacks without making a huge mess. This really helps me get stuff done.)

Grocery shopping use to be this huge event I had to prepare for. I'd find my wrap. I'd "pre-wrap it", meaning I'd go ahead and arrange it on my body so all I had to do was slip the baby in. Then I'd have to get the two oldest munchkins and have a little talk with them.

We're going to the grocery store, and I expect you to listen. Uh-huh. It is very important that you pay attention to Mommy and stay by my side. Okay. Now, I have a list of things we can buy, and we cannot buy anything that is not on my list. *Nod* Please do not grab anything off the shelves unless I ask you too, okay? Yes ma'am. So, what did I just say? Listen and obey and don't grab stuffs off da shelf unwess you say so. That's right. Now, both of you go potty so we don't have to make any bathroom stops on the road or in the store, okay? But I don't have to go! Try to go anyway, okay sweetie?

Then, while they were tinkling, I'd nurse the baby so he'd be content during our shopping trip. Of course, once we were in the grocery store, Nolyn would ask a million questions about everything and everyone he saw (which often caused some embarrassing moments). By the end of the trip, I barely had enough energy to unload the groceries from the car, much less actually put them away. I would end up just putting away the refrigerated goods, then we'd all go down for a nap (after I nursed the baby again), and I'd finish the job later.


Now, grocery shopping by myself (with three children, but without my husband) is still tiring, but not as exhausting as it once was. I no longer have to have a ten-minute talk with the kids before we leave. I also don't have to get all the children ready, because Merikalyn and Nolyn are prefectly capable of doing that themselves (I would like to thank the inventors of flipflops, velcro shoes, and imitation crocs....). Of course, sometimes, in the middle of the grocery store, I realize that my daughter's shirt is on inside out and my son's shorts are on backwards and his shoes are on the wrong feet... but for the most part, they've got it together. (And if they don't, then they're giving all the people in the grocery store a good laugh for the day.)

Now that they have the routine down and know what to expect, all I usually have to say is, We're going to the store today to buy groceries. Please pay attention and stay by my side, okay? I confess, I am a little paranoid. I fear that someone will snatch one of my children (I mean, they are super-duper cute), so when we go somewhere, I panic if I cannot see them even for a second (and sometimes I can't see them because they are standing right behind me... and I don't realize it).

Now the only one I really have to prepare is the baby... diaper changes, bottles, maybe a snack or two, but he's pretty well-behaved and actually enjoys sitting in the cart (unlike my older two who HATED the cart). He usually twists his torso around and rests his arms and head on top of the back rest so he can take account of everything I put in the cart.

The only thing I haven't mastered in the art of grocery shopping (it is an art you know) is not buying duplicates. I now have about a dozen cans of cream of mushroom which is matched by my dozen cans of diced tomatoes. But hey, at least they can be used in a million and one recipes, so it's not like they'll go to waste.

Speaking of groceries.... what are some of your kitchen staples? What are few things you always like to have on hand, besides the common goods (flour, salt, sugar, eggs, milk, bread etc).

Mine are, obviously.... cream of mushroom and diced tomatoes, as well as:
- Sausage. My husband is cajun, so we use this often in dishes like jambalaya, gumbo, and red beans and rice. Venison is my favorite. (Did I just hear a vegan cry?)
- Tortillas. I love Mexican and TexMex food. I usually keep two kinds of tortillas on hand- corn and flour. And of course we always have tortilla chips as well.
- Canned green beans. I will eat them straight from the can, if you give me a chance. :)
- Bagels. I love bagels, but now days, I just buy them for the baby. They're a perfect snack that is easy for him to hold and doesn't crumble all over the place.
- Onions, specifically red onions. I mean, you could never have enough! (And green onions/chives too.... yum!)
- Rice. It's true, I wasn't a big fan of rice AT ALL when I first married Brandon. Growing up, we ate potatoes with everything. Cajuns, well, they eat rice with everything. I've converted, and we eat rice several times a week. (Although I still love potatoes.) When funds (or groceries) are low, sometimes we make a gravy using cream of chicken and pour it over rice. Pretty tasty!

What is your favorite thing about grocery shopping, and your least favorite? I'm always curious to know how others feel about doing this chore. I wish we had a farm and were able to grow/raise our own food, but that just isn't possible right now (and my garden was left in Louisiana). My least favorite thing about grocery shopping is the crowds. I really like to grocery shop with my husband, but he's not available until evenings or weekends, when stores here are PACKED and CRAZY. My favorite? I like food.. so.. :) getting more food is always fun.

When Merikalyn was a baby and we were living in Indiana (and we were sharing a big apartment with my brother), Chip (my brother) said he was going to take over the grocery shopping, and I had a little postpartum breakdown. I seriously shed big, fat, juicy tears over it, which won my case, as I was still able to do the grocery shopping for all of us. Through my sobs, I managed to say, B-b-buuut... it's my... *sniff* only *gurgle*.... time... *sniff* out of the *sob* house! As a new mother, I really looked forward to that time grocery shopping because it was a change of scenery! Plus, back then, grocery shopping was the only time I was allowed to get in my "retail therapy" (even if I still had to stick to a list and a budget). Now I no longer need retail therapy. My therapy nowdays usually consists getting RID of stuff, not getting MORE stuff.

If you have any funny grocery shopping stories... share them, and give me a little laugh!


Heather said...

Once upon a time I had 3 little ones under 5 whom I took everywhere alone (my husband doesn't go out much for anything.) Two tricks I learned: In the parking lot they must be holding the cart, me (my pockets so I had hands), or have one hand on the car. It made things SO much easier. And in the store they were to be on the right side of the buggy with one hand on the buggy at all times unless it was crowded and then they would fall back, one in front of me while I pushed, the other behind holding my shirt (the littlest was in the buggy.) They knew this inside and out and it made life SO much easier.

Nowadays it is harder since they are older but they still hold my hand or the buggy in the lot and must stay in view at the store.

Foods? tortilla's, flour for bread, rice milk, lettuce, rice, sushi makings, crackers, pork egg rolls (keeps us out of the restaurant), green beans, frozen berries, pretzels, cheese, cheese, (my stepdad hunts so we have a deep freeze full of meat) oh, and more cheese.

Arlene said...

Staples: rice, crushed tomatoes (for sauce), ground beef (quick & easy recipes), Tyson chicken nuggets (sometimes I don't feel like cooking, okay?), frozen veggies & cake mixes.

What I love most about grocery shopping: sticking to my budget and getting good deals. Especially love buy one get one free offers.

What I hate most about grocery shopping: the crowds, the lines, the anxiety because there's just too many people. That's why I like to shop during the weekdays, when it isn't as packed.

My hubby used to go grocery shopping with me. Now he works selling frozen foods to grocery stores, so the last place he wants to be on his day off is the supermarket!!

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you didn't intend for *me* to answer this question. Really. You would think I grew up starving or something the way I LOVE to store extra food.

You mean you don't buy cream of mushroom by the case intentionally? *horrified gasp*

Honestly, I could probably feed us a year with what I have. I have a grinder, 50# of red wheat, 50# of white, and today we're picking up 25# of soft white. Oh, and we have 20# of organic corn for cornmeal ... did I mention that I did a happy dance when I found baking powder in 4# containers?

I don't run to the store hardly ever for one item or two. It's once a week or less if I feel frugal. All we really buy anymore is fresh fruit and veggies, milk and eggs.

Did I mention I have a side of beef in the deep freeze? And about 40# of butter we found on sale?


Ashley from homesteadblogger

p.s. I'm so happy I can comment now!!!!

Anonymous said...

staples: butter, flour, sugar, rice, eggs, hot dogs {Kylie's favorite snack}, apples, milk, yogurt, burger and cheese.

These are on my shopping list every week.

I love grocery shopping. I don't care if it's packed or not...I'm off in my own little world, checking my lists off and adding it all up on my lil pink calculator. I doesn't matter to me!

Martha said...

This blog was so entertaining; it made me laugh! I can just picture your shopping trips in my mind with your three little ones. Have you ever considered submitting articles for publication to magazines or newspapers? You should - you are a great writer!

Wenchy said...

I do the grocery shopping for the family I work for. I usually go in the morning... no crowds! Sometimes I get there before the fish section has put out their display yet.

I shop once a week, but usually it ends up being more like twice to get forgotten items. The List is on the fridge for a reason, folks! USE IT!

Well, since I'm there so often I am now friendly with all of the deli department and lately a young, blonde, manager has begun hitting on me. Haha!

Staples: orange juice (gotta have my one glass in the morning. It wakes me up better than anything else), milk which I can't digest anymore (but the fam drinks it), american cheese which I find yuck, and plenty of junk food for the boys and organic snacks for ME!

From TX to you said... Cream of mushroom soup, green beans (I'm with ya'), rice, Rotel, cream of chicken soup (interchangable sometimes with cream of mushroom), canned peas, mandarin oranges (good for any cold salad), pineapple bits.

I do do the talk with the kids so we don't have the begging bit, but like you, if you start the lectures young, then they get the point that Mommy is only going to the store for what we need to eat...not for candy, gum etc. And...the nice thing about HEB is that claw machine and the buddy bucks!:) Not to mention they have the freshest produce around.

Anonymous said...

Our kitchen staples: tortilla chips, salsa, a block of havarti/spicy jack cheese and frozen pizzas for the hubby. Soy grounds, tofu, soy milk, orange juice, frozen corn and frozen peas, ww flour, oatmeal and pasta for me!

Fav thing about shopping is finding something new, or getting a new idea for a meal. Least favorite thing about shopping would be going when it's crowded/late or going with hubby (he takes forever!!!)

Anonymous said...

I always make sure we have rice, pasta, bread, milk, butter, ramen, some kind of chicken/meat (walmart has a big bag for $7 that I freeze), beans & canned fruit

Mother Hen said...

Hi Mandy, this would be a great post to link to Help for Growing Families. Come on over to the Ship and meet Mister Linky. :D

Megan said...

Are you sure you weren't describing MY grocery trips?? :-) I guess it's par for the course with kiddos the age of ours.The things Heather said she did in the parking lot are the exact same things I do with my crew. It seems to work better than anything else I have tried. And...when you homeschool, you always have them with you. :-)
Staples...we go through 5 gallons of milk a week. I like to stock up on dry soup mix so that if I have a bad night we don't have to order in. My latest "convenience" is to make a big batch of pie crust, roll it into individual sized balls and freeze them for later. It cuts out some of the time if we have unexpected guests and need a quick dessert.