Friday, March 2, 2012

Miser mom in the grocery store

Last week, in my quest to make my own laundry detergent, I popped into our nearby grocery store to pick up a box of washing soda.

For most people I know, that's an ordinary event.  One radio station tells its advertisers that its listeners go to a grocery store, on average, almost  3 times a week.  Last year, Supermarket News set the bar a bit lower -- only 2.1 visits per week.  Either way, that's a heck of a lot of time spent trolling around with a grocery cart.

But for me, grocery stores are a rare occurrence.  I try to grab my food from our local farmer's market, or from our CSA, or in bulk from local butchers, or a bit from my own please-don't-die-on-me garden.  Disadvantages: This is not one-stop shopping, for sure.  Advantages:  But I also don't shop 2 or 3 times a week.  More like 3 times a month.

So you know how people ask hypothetical questions like, "What would a Martian Anthropologist think of this aspect of human culture?"  Well, I go into grocery stores so seldom, that last week I might as well have been from Mars.  (Since women are from Venus, maybe I was a Venusian Anthropologist instead).   And what did I think?

Wow! overwhelming!

If you haven't been inside a grocery store or a mall for a while, when you go back it seems like a temple to stuff.  Rows and rows and rows of brightly lit things.  Lots of plastic-wrapped something-or-other.  Beautifully arranged.  Full.

You probably think you see lots of people in a grocery store, but the carts that people push around create a bubble of more things around them.  At our local farmer's market, where shoppers carry bags over their shoulders or baskets on their arms, the people fill the aisles.  And although the counters and tables are full of foods and other things for sale, on the other side of the counter are more people.  People everywhere.  Four people waiting to pay for their food at a market can clump up, shoulder-to-shoulder, often chatting with one another.  Four people lined up with their carts in a grocery store is an objectionable delay.  An angry mob.  At my grocery store, it is Not Allowed to Happen.

No, when Miser Mom goes the grocery store, she sees just what Madame Blueberry sees when she goes to StuffMart.  A temple to things.  I was struck dumb.  I got my washing soda.  I had a robot check me out.  I left.  No people involved.


  1. Wow with that many kids you do have to be a good frugal shopper for sure. I agree, having your own garden and shopping at farmers markets is great. In the past I have even kept my own hens for eggs. One year that was a big of a trade off though because the hens would free range in the day and one day they found the strawberry patch and every day after that, this is the first place they went. Mind you they also ate slugs and grasshoppers. Anyhow as it is now my hubby works in a grocery store so he is always shopping. Its always good to ask the store where they keep their discounted items, sometimes you can get really good deals, especially on produce that is still good but just "looks" a bit bad.

    1. Brenda, I have neither hens nor strawberries. (I keep trying on the latter, but I kill them before I manage to eat them, even without help from chickens!) And, like you, a big part of the reason I don't go into grocery stores is because my husband likes doing it. Good tip, on looking for the discounted items! I've found that asking around has been one of my biggest savings strategies. --MM