Confessions of a Supermarket Failure: A Cry for Help

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Does anyone know how to shop for groceries for their family?

I don’t.

The entire process requires a type of strategic planning that I haven’t gained mastery of. I do know how drive to the supermarket, wrangle a cart up and down the aisles, foggy headed, rushing because frost-bite is setting in, doubling back to the aisles I’ve already been down to grab something I (might) need with my shivering hands. The temperature inside the store adds an urgency that clouds my judgment. (“I may be out of bullion cubes. Better snag some in case I decide to make homemade chicken stock this week.”)

I don’t know how to tell which apples are fresh, and I choose a cantaloupe based on which one feels the hardest… Is that right?

My strengths at the grocery store include buying all the ingredients I need to make a simple meal for my family less one key item.

When I do succeed at preparing a meal we fail at eating the leftovers, and there are always leftovers. Recipes never yield three servings and for example, packages of hamburger buns come in eight-count. That’s the minimum quantity. I honestly believe if we added another member to our family our grocery bill would increase by 0%, and my Tupperware, Ziplock bags, and aluminum foil budget would decrease. That would actually be a savings.

When I’m at the grocery store my meal planning thoughts sound something like this:

“Ohhh. We could have sandwiches for dinner. Jonah would like that. How much deli meat should I buy? Well, let’s see. We could have sandwiches tonight but tomorrow Jonah will be at camp, and then at his nanny’s, Christopher has to work late… Then Wednesday we have plans to go eat pizza with friends… But I could definitely eat another sandwich Thursday. Better just get half a pound. (cost $7)… This artisan bread looks nice! No preservatives! Perfect, that should definitely stay fresh until Thursday (cost $5)… Gonna grab some Swiss cheese to layer on these babies! I think we are all out of cheese at home! (We aren’t. Cost $6)”

Grand total for sandwich fixins: $18

Cost per sandwich once Thursday rolls around and the artisan bread is molded and no one besides me wanted a sandwich the first night: $18

This is a real scenario which has played out in our family too many times. It’s shameful. My parents programmed me with the standard messaging about starving orphans in third world countries. I was raised right.

About once per month I haul a trash bag into my kitchen, open up the refrigerator doors and old food starts getting evicted from the shelves like it is Puck on season 3 of The Real World, and for the same reason (being nasty). The whole time I feel a mix of guilt and stupidity.

Why is it so hard to just eat the food we buy? Why are we so wasteful?

Am I alone here? Can anyone help me?

(Photo of store via Pinterest)