Monday, August 14, 2006

Helpful Hints from the Den

If you are trying to save money on groceries, here is a little phrase you should never utter: “OK, look, if this is a long story, how about if you just come with me to the supermarket?”

Bad phrase for saving money at the supermarket.

I took my husband, who had just begun regaling me with a very, very, even say extremely, long tale, with me to Food 4 Less. It set me back an extra $14 – which, considering that my total was $43?

Costly. Mistake.

First of all, having him with me was distracting in the extreme. “Are you sure you want to get apples? We hardly ever eat them all! And the kids aren’t eating bananas like they used to, have you noticed? Captain Adventure just throws them on the floor – oh, what a cute baby! Honey, look at this little guy, isn’t he cute? Lookit that hair! Why are you getting Coke, nobody drinks Coke OH! Greg’s coming, isn’t he? Do they have caraway seeds in this section? Blather blather blather blather…”

And then, suddenly, in the middle of the non-stop stream of conversation, bang! A $7.99 sack of bratwursts hits the cart. What the…?

“What’s this?” I ask suspiciously.

“For the sauerkraut.”

Sauerkraut? What sauerkraut? Oh, the sauerkraut that (allegedly) Greg is going to make while he’s stopping over with us. For one (1) night. Midweek. On a work night. Sauerkraut. Uh-huh.

So I put the $8 sack back. “But isn’t it cheaper in bulk?!”

Sigh. See, the problem here is, he’s right. Per my usual shopping techniques, yes. I would indeed be grabbing the Ginormous Sack O’Brats for $8, not the $4 for four version. I am proud of him for noticing such things. You have learned well, grasshopper…

But now I’m forced into a lecture in Advanced Supermarket Economics. Who will eat brats? Him. Anybody else? No. One (1) person wants to eat brats, one (1) time (and may I just state for the record that said person is on a D-I-E-T, and should not even touch the packaging which contains the brats due to caloric contamination?). Do we need the Ginormous Sack O’Brats? I’d call that a no. Freeze them? It would be a long, slow, lingering death for the brats. Because I will never take them out of the freezer, and you will never take them out of the freezer ergo, ipso-facto, they will never come out of the freezer at all. A year or two from now, I will chip them out of there during one of my sporadic attempts at cleaning the freezer and toss them out.

Let us instead get the $3.50 package of four. This, I feel, between himself and the aforementioned sauerkraut creating Greg, is likely to get eaten. I’d rather spend more per ounce but only $3.50 overall than less per ounce and $8 and ultimately throw away 75% of the package.

Oh! And! For the sauerkraut and brats, we need heavy cream! And beer! And not just any beer – good beer.

Now, granted. I am something of a beer snob myself. I prefer a beer with character, on those rare occasions that I’m going to down one (I’m afraid I’ve moved on – I now buy my vodka and cranberry juice at Costco) (regularly). On the other hand, the idea of spending $7 on a six pack of beer that was going to be used to boil brats…right when I was trying to economize at the market…well. I developed a slight nervous tic and the unmistakable beginnings of a stress-migraine.

We then bounced into the cereal aisle, where he insisted on getting in-person proof of my claims that there was very little difference between Marshmallow Mateys and Cheerios, from a sugar-fat-nutritional value standpoint.

This is a long-standing debate we’ve had, mostly stemming from our having extremely different opinions as to how often kids should be chowing down the cereal. When I had sole charge of their breakfasting, they had it once per week, on Friday. Woo hoo, Friday, here’s some cereal! {Confetti, balloons, clowns on unicycles juggling unicorns, angels singing!}

Daddy, on the other hand, will give them cereal every.stinking.morning. But because he is a Good Daddy, as he’s pouring the Sugar Coated Nuke ‘Ems into the bowls he’ll growl, “I don’t see why you won’t buy healthier cereal for these kids! You should get them Cheerios!”

So. There we stood, while the sands of my life trickled slowly away, so he could zip up and down the aisle seizing box after box and yelping, “OH MY GOD, YOU’RE RIGHT! OK, so corn flakes are better than Honey Nut Cheerios, but only by 35 calories? And the fat is the same!? What’s Cap’t Crunch?! Where’s the Froot Loops?!?!”

If he had been one of my children, I’d’ve smacked him.

He then waxed poetic about the Cereal Situation for the next two aisles, so thoroughly distracting me from the matter at hand that I had to continually scan my shopping list to remember what the heck I was doing in this Satanic place. Tomato paste, tomato paste, tomato paste…

Then suddenly he remembered he hadn’t finished telling me about his shopping experience earlier! So at that point where I am usually on Full Alert watching the scanning of the items and ensuring I didn’t accidentally grab the $4-a-gallon milk instead of the $2-a-gallon brand, he’s telling me about how he got stuck in this line, a long line, a HUGE LONG LINE only it wasn’t so much HUGE or LONG as it was STUPID because! You see! There were returns and then suddenly they just WALKED AWAY and…!

By the time we got out to the car, I was ready for a nap. Then, pausing, he looked at the clock in the van.

“Hey, lookit that!” he said, brightly. “Just in time to pick up the younger two!”

Of course we are. Just in time to go pick up my four year old, who starts talking shortly before she wakes up in the morning and doesn’t stop until shortly after she falls asleep at night, and my two year old, who doesn’t talk at all but commands constant and undivided attention anyway. And then the older two, who just started back to school today and who will undoubtedly have A Lot Of Stuff To Tell Me About…

You know what? I just decided I need to add a little more cash to my coffee budget. I wonder what Boca Java’s got in an Uber Caffeinated roast…?


Very Herodotus said...

What did you decide to do about your job? Are you planning to quit, or move, or stay put for a while, or something else?

Mother of Chaos said...

I'm staying put for now. I've moved to a split-shift schedule (informally - I sometimes take a regular old hour, and sometimes two to three hours; the boss doesn't care as long as the work gets done) and an official "only comes into the office when absolutely categorically necessary" telecommute - which works out to about once or twice a month. We'll see how it works out.

Anonymous said...

Great re: the job being so flexible!
Hah! Love the story. Yep, that's why I don't like it when my husband comes shopping with me, grocery OR clothes shopping, because there goes the budget!
It's nice that they want to be part of it though, don't you think?
P.S. - Binder almost done - Thanks!

Unknown said...

hmmm... so that's why Mrs. Snarky leaves me at home when she grocery shops or does it while I'm working...

Moira said...

LOL That is too funny... still Laughing... I am sorry buy you did know what you were getting yourself into when you married him... and then had four of his kids... of course they are going to be talkers...
Love ya!!