Food Shopping: Consider the Alternative
by Marjorie Dorfman

Are you overwhelmed whenever you go to the supermarket? Do you plan to buy just a few things and end up spending a fortune? Will this article help you stop? Probably not, but it will give you a laugh.

Someone once said that one should never go food shopping when hungry as this would cause one to buy more groceries than planned. (This statement may have been made by the same person who said that the moon was made out of Swiss cheese, but I couldn’t swear to it.) It does make sense though, if you think about it. Being sated can put a damper on impulse. I don’t know about you, but whenever I go shopping for "just a few things," I always end up spending more than I meant to. And so I have devised a system with few rules of the road to be applied every time you even come close to the door to your favorite supermarket. They are divided up into three categories; before the shop, during the shop and afterwards.

The very first thing you must do is realize that being prepared isn’t only for boy scouts. Park as far away from the market as possible. It may slow you down, as it will force you to at least think about how far you have to travel with that "lonesome load." It also helps to never take a car inside the store with you. You will always need one and that is precisely the point. You will be forced to return to the entrance of the scene of the crime in the middle of your shopping adventure. This action may delay expenditures, but even if it does, it will only last for a little while (like your money). Write in your grateful journal two hundred times before you enter the store. You are grateful, if only because of the alternative presented by not needing to shop for food. No need means that you must be a dead consumer and that’s not so nice. Better to be overstocked and over extended than dead. N’est-ce pas?

Shop mostly in inclement weather. This will help to reinforce your sense of control over the situation. Blizzards, torrential rains and monsoons are very good; hurricanes are even better. Apart from the thrill of never knowing whether you will live to get home, there is something about rain, snow and murderous winds that turns one’s thoughts to home, hearth and over-stocking such staples as rice, soups, pet food and Haagen Das. Food shopping under these conditions will encourage you to buy more than you will ever need of everything under the sun. Oh, and by the way, avoid the sun. It’s no help at all.

Shop early in the morning and wear a mask. (Avoid cashiers and managers as they might think you are trying to rob them.) No one will recognize you, and you can buy all that junk food without looking over your shoulder or feeling guilty. (And if you do this, don’t buy low fat potato chips and the like. Go all the way! Hell, you only live once!) Don’t think about the fact that no one you know is watching you shop because any normal human being will be asleep at this hour. Why aren’t you?

Buy lots of cottage cheese and yogurt in all flavors and varieties. Vow to devour all before that dreaded expiration date. Make sure they all have different dates or you will really be sorry you made that promise! Buy whatever is on sale and whatever isn’t. Why take a chance? Buy four of everything. (You’ll find three people to give the others to in time. Just be patient.) If you take a shopping buddy with you, make sure you separate once you are inside the store. After all, you don’t want to be encouraged to make the right food decisions for you and your family!

Leave your glasses at home if you wear them and bring them with you if you don’t. And don’t forget those coupons. They are a first class pain in the neck and sometimes much lower. Bring them unsorted and stapled together in three corners and check them against each item you select. Decide that if there is no coupon you must have the item in question and that if there is one, the product couldn’t be that good in the first place. Keep sorting and deciding aisle by aisle, step by step. By nightfall, you should be home safe and sound and may only need one Valium to get to sleep.

Last but not least is the trip home. Try a new way to get there (preferably in bad weather with or without your glasses depending on whether you need them or not). Do not, I repeat, do not attempt to put your groceries away unless you absolutely have to. Leave them lying about to trip over, misplace and in general forget about. This works well if you have a very small home but can be just as effective in a large living space where there are more areas to search. Both are wonderfully counter- productive and serve to feed the situation well.

If all of the above fails, consider bulk shopping. Places like Sam’s Club, Price Club and others offer mayhem at very reasonable prices. If I live alone, I can see that twenty-five pounds of flour for two dollars is a bargain, but where on earth will I store it? I suppose I could bake for all of my neighbors, but twenty-five pounds takes up a lot of space. No matter. I’ll buy two bags. Then I can bake for my neighbors for the rest of their lives! (Maybe even after they die.) It’s a bargain, just like the 5,000 pink and blue paper plates for three dollars. Surely there will be enough baby showers in my lifetime to warrant such a purchase right now rather than wait until I need them and they are nowhere to be found (like the police and some husbands). Twenty pounds of tea in a household of one where I don’t even drink it unless I am sick is too good a deal to pass up; not to mention the thirty pounds of dog food for four dollars, even though I do not own a dog.

There seem to be no end to bargains and their justifications in our consumer oriented brains. All I can say is keep shopping. If nothing else, it’s better than being dead and not being able to take advantage of all those things that you will never use even once in your lifetime!

Sic Semper Food Shopping!

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Copyright 2002