Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

Grocery blues


I thought a lot about my mom this morning.

I’d put off going to the grocery store as long as I could. We were out of everything. Cereal, bananas, Kleenex (DARN I forgot that this trip!!) meat, lettuce, tomatoes, lemon juice, frozen peas, everything! I stalled earlier in the morning, doing other little tasks, waiting for it to be late enough that the store might have a cashier working. I hate scanning my groceries when I have a full cart.

Anyway, I was thinking about my mom and how she shopped for a family of 6 on a much smaller budget than mine. I don’t remember her complaining about it, though I don’t remember her complaining about much of anything. I do remember her hollering when she pulled into the garage for those of us home to come help her put the groceries away. And her lament about how much it was, on average, per paper paper bag filled with groceries. Seemed like it was always more than the week before.

I hate going grocery shopping. First there’s the list making, which involves pulling out cookbooks and determining a menu for the week. That alone makes me want to wait at least another day.

Then there’s the traipsing around the store, dodging those big carts pushed by the professional shoppers, mostly teenagers, who are picking groceries for those smart enough to order online, and the pallets of food sitting in the aisles waiting to be put on shelves, and the little old folk comparing prices while their cart sits in the middle of traffic, (I’m not one of those!) and the preschool kids hanging onto an adults hand while whining. No, the grocery store is not somewhere I want to be.

I try to organize my shopping list in the order of the store so I don’t miss something (like Kleenex) or have to backtrack too often. That kind of works to get me in and out fast, even with a longer list like today. But by the time I get to the frozen vegetables I’m usually in a decision overload mental crisis, and just grab a couple bags of something and hurry over to checkout.

Where I wait.

If I’m lucky there is one lane open, usually a new person is running the register. I feel bad for them. Today there was a customer finishing up an order, a total of $300+ who was paying for it with assorted gift cards some of which didn’t work. It took awhile. Then she was getting $20 back. The clerk handed over the receipt and the $20 and the customer decided she didn’t want a $20 bill. She wanted 3 fives and 5 ones. The new clerk didn’t know how to open her cashdrawer once the transaction was over. It took awhile longer.

The woman ahead of me, with her full cart on the conveyer just smiled at me and rolled her eyes. It’s good to be retired.

By the time I got out of there with my order and loaded it into the back of the car, then unloaded it onto my kitchen counter I was feeling really sorry for my mom. In fact, on one of my many trips from the garage to the kitchen, while passing the back bathroom I noticed my reflection in the mirror. Mom looked back at me. Neither of us seemed happy.

I don’t know how my mother did it, shopping and cooking for a big family night after night. After night. I have it easy in comparison. I know I could order online, and I have, though what I get isn’t always related to what I thought I ordered. And I could even have the groceries delivered. But I’d miss the inspiration of seeing something on sale and figuring out another meal on the fly, or that impulsive quart of Ben and Jerry’s. (No, I didn’t even go down the ice cream aisle today, I faded out at frozen tortellini.)

So I guess I’m writing this as a sort of rant, and now that I’m done I should feel better. But you’d think after spending $150+ my fridge would be more full. I don’t know how big families survive these days.

I’m sorry, mom, for not appreciating you more back in those days. Grocery shopping is exhausting, I think I’ll go take a nap.

Something you never got to do.

Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

32 thoughts on “Grocery blues

  1. Once I convince myself to go shopping, I don’t mind it too much. What I do mind is the carrying in and putting away part – which would still need to be done if I could get myself to place my order for curbside pickup. I have a need to choose what I’m buying and the concept that if I don’t go in person, I’ll miss something.


  2. It’s funny. Grocery shopping is the one type I don’t mind doing at all – though now I definitely have sticker shock. What in the name of all that is holy is going on? When butter is “on sale” at $4? That ain’t no sale…

    I loathe shopping in general – am the type to go in, find what I want and get out. This walking the mall perusing? Nope. Not for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I shop only for one, so it’s not a big deal EXCEPT for the crazy prices now!


  4. It was my dad that did the grocery shopping. My mum didn’t drive so it was either take six kids or have dad do it. He had quite a routine of checking the flyers and making lists for each store, the days before price matching. I don’t mind grocery shopping, all the things that bug you, bug me too though. I kind of miss lockdown when there were fewer people in the store. I don’t menu plan, I buy whatever meat is on special and use the internet to find meals I can make with the ingredients on hand.


  5. I don’t like grocery shopping either or planning meals. Now that I am older I feel justified trying to keep things as easy as possible. I don’t know how your Mom did it either. I do order stuff like Kleenex online and I love curbside pickup.


  6. I sent my husband grocery shopping today. He did an excellent job. I think that I will try this more often!


  7. Kroger is pushing hard on the digital coupons. Savings are often a dollar or more if you use the digital coupon.
    Can you imagine having to add yet another step to the process by having to go online to search out coupons. Ugh. So far I have resisted


    • My husband does something that has to do with digital coupons…the cashier last week congratulated me for getting them downloaded and I had no idea what she was talking about. It’s still not clear to me.


  8. I don’t know how my mom did it, either,for the 7 of us. Or more if we had guests. Mostly no one-pot meals because dad was a picky eater AND had reactions to an assortment of foods. So everything had a different pot and serving bowl and we were just trying to remember whether the 1st 2 houses they bought had dishwashers, so lots of washing by hand.’

    our mothers were amazing


    • Harder even, with a picky eater. We didn’t have any of those other than my sister who wouldn’t eat anything green. My aunt had one child allergic to milk and her husband wouldn’t eat anything with tomatoes or sugar. That was tough!

      I’m lucky, Bruce will eat whatever I put in front of him. I just don’t want to have to put something in front of him every single day.


  9. Although I appreciate the wide variety of food available at grocery stores, I can’t say that I enjoy food shopping. First of all, the stores never smell like food. Second, after over forty years of grocery shopping and mostly eating every meal at home, I can say with some authority that income has not kept up with the rising cost of food. Eating well on a budget has become quite the challenge.


  10. LOL!! “the little old folk comparing prices while their cart sits in the middle of traffic” I’m retired too, but I know enough to get my grocery cart off to the same side of the aisle that I’m perusing. I used to go grocery shopping on Monday mornings or Tuesday mornings (depending on which chain store had their early morning “senior” sales), but I can’t stand it anymore. I’d rather pay more money. Ok, some day I’ll be among those folk muddling up the aisle, but for now I’m shopping on Wednesday! 🙂


  11. When my grocery store started “order pick up” it was a life changing moment for me. Then COVID hit, and with all the shortages it became a nightmare. I just started using it again, and am a happy camper, but you do miss out on deals and seeing what’s available.

    I feel like my mom’s weekly grocery bill back in the 80s was always around $40. Is that possible???? When she was working full time, I know she went on Sundays. Saturdays seemed to be my dad’s responsibility to entertain us kids, and maybe the grocery store was her alone time on Sunday? I think our mom’s must’ve been pretty exhausted at all times!

    My classroom is directly across the hall from our in school food pantry. It is such a busy place these days, with kids bringing home heavy, heavy back packs of food. Puts my grocery woes (and many other gripes) into perspective.


    • I do like the convenience of ordering on line and picking it up later that day or the next day. That still requires me to do menu management though. I wish meals would magically appear from some trap door in the ceiling…sort of like what happened in George Jetson’s world. And while they’re at it make them zero calories too. I’m sad about the food pantry at schools, and those heavy backpacks going home with the kids. It’s here too, and we’re supposedly living in an affluent community. I have a friend who just retired from the school district here and she said I’d be amazed how many students take those backpacks home Friday afternoon to help the family get through the weekend.


  12. It was my dad who did the shopping here. They only had one car, which he needed for work, and no way was Mom going to make it a family vacation by taking us kids, too. I usually go early, like before sunup, so I can avoid the crowds (especially when a snowstorm is on the way, and I don’t want to find picked-clean shelves!). Nothing can ease the misery of shelling out that much money though … and getting so little in return. Sigh.


    • I don’t recall my dad ever doing grocery shopping…or any kind of shopping now that I think about it. At least not when we were growing up. I have tried going early, so that there are less people…but less people means they don’t have any cashiers open, nor any TO open…so I have to scan everything through these little self scans….now I just go when it’s busy enough for them to justify paying someone to do our scanning. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. We tell Dad he needs to buy more dog treats when he goes grocery shopping. Glad you got it done.


  14. Oh I can identify with this! I don’t know how my mom did it either. Or how she was able to do all the canning and freezing and gardening with a job and 4 kids and a husband who was always on call. And the prices today are just awful. I totally identified with your angst, Dawn!


    • Yes, my mom did canning and freezing too..and worked, and later owned her own business which was even MORE hours. I think it was just what was expected of women then. Dad worked all day, sure, but when he came home he went to sleep on the sofa until dinner time. When mom came home she made dinner.

      Liked by 1 person

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