Zen and the Art of Budget Grocery Shopping

13 Aug

I hate grocery shopping. There, I said it. I’m kind of not a fan of shopping in general (unless there’s something cool I really want and I have the money for — a rare, rare occurence these days) but grocery shopping for someone like me … there’s always a point, about halfway through, where I just sort of lose the will to live. This usually happens in the spice aisle, when I’m looking for some very specific ingredient my wife needs for a recipe off of food network. Fivespice? Really? Can’t I just, like, grab some randoms spices in the house and make my own.

I know, all of the foodies and chefs in the audience just cancelled their pre-orders for my upcoming cookbook, “A Geek’s guide to kitchen survival: 100 recipes using just hamburger, tortillas, and Worcester Sauce.”

I cook a lot, because I am the one who is home. But nothing complicated. And, at my wife’s request, nothing that involves the use of knives. If you have to wonder why, you have obviously not been paying attention.

Anyway, I have a very specific list and try not to wander far away from it. And in these times, when money is really tight, I have discovered the joy of store brands, and this little magic label below every shelf called “price per ounce.” I love the price per ounce label. And I make a game of everything, calculating the prices per ounce against the main brands we usually by, and the “value-difference,” which is what I know of the difference between how some things taste compared to the brand names. On most items, the value difference is 0. In some cases (store brand instant fruit and cream oatmeal mix), i actually like the store brand better. There’s really only been one thing that is better in the brand name, and that is Honey Nut Cheerios. Tried the bag variety. Not. As. Good.

So, I play this little math game, hum songs to myself, ignore my six-year-old grabbing things off the shelf to scan the prices (unless he accidentally trips an old person, which requires attention), and 2/3 of the way through the trip, a few aisles past the spice-search induced meltdown, can reach this calm, serene place that gets me through at least to the meat section, when I have to fight with the little plastic bags that always stick together, but which I require to protect myself from the chicken gunk that always congeals on the outside of the package. Seriously, what’s up with that stuff? It’s really, really gross.

Unless my daughter is with me, and then she can open those bags.

I don’t really know what the point of this was, except to further illustrate the already well-established fact of my dorkitude, and expand it into yet another category. But I guess that is its own achievement.


Posted by on August 13, 2009 in life


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2 responses to “Zen and the Art of Budget Grocery Shopping

  1. Unfocused Me

    August 26, 2009 at 2:59 am

    Hate the chicken gunk. Beef gunk doesn’t bother me, but with chicken gunk I imagine the salmonella bacteria swarming all over.

    In the last couple of years, since both kids started school full-time, my participation in the family grocery shopping has dropped to almost – but not quite – zero. This means I go to the nearby supermarket approximately once every three months. It wouldn’t be a problem except that they completely redid the aisle arrangement shortly after I stopped going regularly, so now nothing is where I think it should be and I don’t go often enough to learn the new layout. I have to bring my phone (like I wouldn’t bring it anyway) so I can call my wife and ask “Where’s the damn bread aisle?”

    Pathetic. I’m like a 50s sitcom dad without the pipe or fatherly wisdom. “Father Knows Jack Sh-t,” that’s me. But my 8-year-old daughter spontaneously referred to evil twins from an alternate universe yesterday, so I must be doing *something* right.

  2. C.E. Grayson

    August 26, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    don’t feel too bad about getting lost in the grocery store. I fo all the time, and they’re always changing things around so that I’m lost anyway. It’s not you, it’s them.

    and the other day my son and I had a conversation about obscure characters from the SW expanded universe and which ones were in which video game, so I was feeling pretty good about that.

    And my daughter told me that one of her career goals is to be one of Doctor Who’s companions. And that Martha was her favorite.


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