A stop at the local utility pay station where I would pay all my current bills.
Filling up the car at the gas station with the least expensive gas I could find.
Lotto tickets (Hey you never know) at either a convenience store or the gas station
Two “dollar stores” ( snacks, bathroom stuff, pack of gum for my toolbox at work, hand sanitizer, sandwich bags etc.)
Aldi – where most of my actual groceries were purchased (bread, lunch meat, milk, cereal, coffee, half and half, sugar, bagels, burger patties etc. )
and then a trip to a regular grocery store for anything I couldn't find at Aldi.
This was usually accomplished in one whirlwind tour of my humble little city, then I would come home and put everything up and I was done for two weeks.
Shopping then transformed into a nightly excursion, usually extended by an inadvertent omission of one item we either couldn't find or just plain forgot to buy the previous night despite a nightly shopping list, or Mrs Mom had a new recipe she just had to try that required something we didn't have in the kitchen. My once near-empty refrigerator and freezer are now packed solid with meats, Ziploc containers of leftovers and the largest assortment of salad dressings, jams and jellies you will ever see outside of your local grocers shelf. My once-barren pantry shelves are brimming with various mixes, canned goods and a truly diverse potpourri of spices. And yet it's never enough; we wind up treading a well-worn path back to one of the several grocery stores almost nightly.
Albertsons, Tom Thumb, Kroger, Aldi, World Market, Central Market, Trader Joes, Sprouts... I'm beginning to become all too familiar with each and every one of them and the regular inventory they carry. I know which stores stock lavender dish soap and which ones don't. I know which ones have rice in one pound bags and which ones only have it in five pound bags. I know which ones have the best prices on soft drinks and which ones have the best selection of produce. Not that I'm complaining mind you; sometimes this can be knowledge that helps me stretch a dollar just a little further. One of the stores I just named above has a regular weekly “Buy One-Get Two Free” sale on their meats including steaks, chicken breasts and pork chops, so guess which one we buy the most meat at? There's absolutely nothing wrong in my book with paying $45 for a heavy sack of meat I can just barely lift. And Mrs Mom frequently adds a much-needed level of common sense to our shopping; otherwise I could just as easily come home with a sack full of frozen fish sticks and peanut butter Snickers.
In my pre-Mrs Mom years, my diet consisted of frozen dinners, sandwiches from Subway, take-out food from a select hand-full of my favorite independently-owned restaurants and when I was feeling really rich grilling a steak or hamburger on my modest little tail-gate grill. Fast-forward to my Post Mrs Mom years and I have gained enough weight to require purchasing larger jeans and boxers thanks to Mrs Mom feeding me a diet of real food. Mrs Mom never ceases to be amazed on the rare occasions we do dine out how the owners of my favorite independently-owned restaurants come out of the kitchen to chat with me ( “Where have you been?”) because this is one example where familiarity did not breed contempt. But when she tries to pry me away from either the safety and comfort of my nightly SEINFELD re-runs because we forgot one item on the shopping list the night before I have to make a concentrated effort not to roll my eyes because I know it's another evening of “Hi ho, hi ho … it's off to the store we go....” and Mrs Mom has to remind me it's not just shopping; it's RESEARCH....
Mom's Last Word
Just the two of us, arm in arm, picking out groceries,while gazing lovingly into each others eyes as we strolled down endless aisles of pristine store shelves filled with all of our favorite foods.
Instead, it looks more like this:
While I liked the cute little gherkin pickles in handy individual single serving packages, he wanted the super-sized garlic dills the size of full sized English cucumbers, because they were more manly.
There is a store in NYC that I think is really on to something. They have what they refer to as a Man Aisle, filled with everything Mr Mom would consider essential: Doritios, BBQ sauce, beef jerky and giant sized jars of dill pickles.
But never under-estimate my ability to adapt. I've learned now that when I want something I put it in the cart, without a word, because the minute I share how adorable I think something is, I get "the look" -- you know -- the "I can get this cheaper at the Dollar Tree" look.
Bless his heart, he's learning though, albeit on his own terms. We needed dish soap last week and he stopped to pick some up on the way home -- from the 99-cent store of course. I braced myself for the industrial sized faux lemon monstrosity that he would be walking through the door with at any moment. Imagine my surprise (and pleasure) when I opened up the bag to find a beautiful bottle of pink summer bouquet scented dish soap instead. It sits proudly on my sink -- you know -- the one with the window that overlooks the rolling hills in the South of France...