Years ago when people were hungry they had to hunt or farm for food. Nowadays we might not have to bring down a woolly mammoth for supper, but that doesn't mean it's not still a challenge to bring home the bacon.
The grocery store can be a crazy place. As they continue to get bigger, more and more of us do all our shopping in one place. From clothes to cosmetics to car parts, these mega-marts have it all.
Because of this overwhelming selection, it takes a little more preparation before a trip to the store. I'm a big list guy. I want to have a game plan before I walk through those automatic doors. If it's not on the list, I don't want to buy it. The shopping list also serves as a nice confidence booster. Finally a to-do list I can actually to-do. As every item hits the cart, a line crosses my list and pride fills my heart. The world is mine!
By the way, before you even begin acquiring edibles, do yourself a big favor and return that funky shopping cart. They never roll perfectly, but if you get a cart where the one wheel just does not move, you'll save yourself a half hour of agony if you just turn around and choose another chariot. Doesn't your food deserve a smooth ride?
There is one entity more powerful than my shopping list: The Almighty Budget. If I've got 40 bucks of food money in my wallet, that's all I'm going to spend. It may require a tearful parting with a bag of KC Masterpiece barbeque potato chips, but it's for the best. Please don't take it personal, Mr. Pringles guy.
So I'm good to go. I've got my strategy and I'm ready for action. One thing I don't want to do is wander around aimlessly. The less backtracking I have to do, the better. Challenge yourself to go through the aisles once, in order. If you're buying a new product and aren't sure where it is, keep your eyes open from the start. I once spent like half a day looking for raisins. My grocery store keeps them in the "Pie Filling" aisle. Does that make any sense? Who eats raisin pie?
When they say not to grocery shop while you're hungry, they mean it. If I'm going through those aisles without a full stomach I'm in a world of hurt. I once almost got into a fistfight with a box of Ding Dongs that tried to jump into my cart. If you haven't eaten all day, that Little Debbie ain't so little.
Might I also encourage taking a break from the kiddies the next time you shop. Those little buggers like their sweets and toys, and they have no problem letting you hear about it. When you're already engaged in combat with Debbie and Mr. Pringles, you don't want to be distracted. I know sometimes it's not possible to shop alone, but if you're in a tag-team relationship, take advantage of it. Husbands, if you're not willing to go to the store, at least be man enough to hang out with the young'uns so mama can shop in peace.
You have hunted your prey and gathered your future feasts. But the battle is only half over, my friend. You could be an all-star basket-filler, but if you pick a bad checkout line there's no glory for you. Always be on the lookout for full carts, but remember, it's not the size of the items being bought, it's the number of items that have to be scanned.
Coupon Lady is not an ally. Not only does the cashier have to scan each one of her treasures, but C.L. has to double check the receipt to make sure she did indeed save 15 cents on her oat bars. Check Book Guy should also be avoided. If it were up to me, in-person check writing would go the way of the raisin pie.
Now, your cart is filled only with items from your list. Your mental notes say you'll have a little cash to spare. Your checkout line operator moves like a samurai. You're home free until…Oh no! Impulse buys! Resist the urge. You don't need an air freshener shaped like a smiley face. You don't need to read about the alien living in Ashton Kutcher's forehead. Don't spoil a successful shopping experience with a bad buy. I believe in you!
And you pull it off. You flip through the magazine but return it to the shelf. You pay for your items with cash and/or debit card. You roll out into the parking like with a smile upon your face. The mighty hunter has prevailed!