14 October 2011

Food-Shopping Time

Welcome back. Earlier I mentioned practicing Spanish when I checked out in the supermarket. For years, I had the opportunity to learn Hindi while checking out. That ended at the height of the recession when many long-term, part-time employees were let go. I emailed my protest to the supermarket and stopped shopping there for weeks.

Checking out here was in Tagalog. (Philippines, 1972)
I do most of our food shopping. That didn’t start when I retired; however, being retired, I’m not as rushed.  

Where and When to Shop

 We live 1 to 3 miles from five major supermarkets. Add a mile, add others. Ranking the markets in order of increasing everyday prices is easily done.

I normally shop twice a week, stocking up on Fridays and filling in on Sundays. When my wife, the chef, is on schedule, she assumes control of the kitchen on Saturday afternoons. Cleaning as you go is not her modus operandi.  

The precise shopping times can be critical—too early, yesterday’s produce in disarray, restocking incomplete; too late, crowds.
Shopping Lists, Sales and Coupons

Like my mother, I wouldn’t shop without a list or without first checking sales prices. Unlike my mother, I follow my list and don’t run to different markets for items because of sale prices. I probably would if gas were still 25 cents a gallon. 

Checking the supermarket flyers.
I faithfully cut coupons from newspaper inserts for items I would otherwise buy or try. I’ve mulled over online coupon sites but shy away from registering or installing a special printer. We don’t buy a large range of couponed items and I am sufficiently spammed.  

The Shopping Moment

  Unit pricing is great for comparing items, except when it doesn’t. What a quandary to find one paper towel unit-priced by sheet count and another by sheet area. What’s the common denominator of paper towels that offer variable size sheets?  

Retired, I’m more tolerant of shoppers who haven’t passed the shopping-cart driving test and are oblivious to blocking entryways, aisles or whole floors. (Seniors get a special pass.)My new patience also extends to waiting in checkout lines.  

I prefer to bag myself to speed the process, yet schmoozing is de rigueur, certainly with checkout people I’ve chatted with weekly for years. How are the boys? You’re kidding. He went to Mumbai to study acting? No, my back’s fine, thanks. Is your husband feeling better?

Even when or where I’m new to the checkout person, there’s a schmooze threshold. Last Friday, I shopped in a market where checkout people must ask, “Did you find everything you were looking for today?” How cheered she was when I responded, “Yes. How about you? Have you found everything you’re looking for today?”

 Wrap Up

I don’t mind shopping for food. Now that I’m not pressed for time, I don’t even consider a self-checkout station. I’m sure they speed you along if you only have a few items, especially if all are bar coded. Whenever I look, though, somebody’s having a problem with one of them.  

A clerk monitoring the stations once called me over so I’d avoid a particularly long line. She took me through the steps and surprise! It didn’t go smoothly. No doubt, the station wanted to schmooze.

I expect I’ll have to use the stations eventually. I was slow to start pumping my own gasoline, too.

Thanks for stopping by. I’ll write again in about a week.


  1. Warrens, I love the way you make common, everyday experiences interesting.

    When I returned from 15 years overseas, I was nearly stunned by the choices available on the shelves; dozens of cereals, with each brand having multiple variations. Almost mind-boggling to be temporarily paralyzed by choice. Now I'm used to it. I guess.

  2. I always loved the results of you finding a coupon of something new to try at home! Maybe in a few years I'll slow down and not get frustrated with those blocking the aisles. Loved this post.