Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Case of the Missing Pork Loin

A tale of what grocery shopping is like for this new Mom:

Let me start by saying that grocery shopping has changed drastically for me since becoming a Mom. I used to love food shopping. I would literally spend hours in the store. Traveling up and down each aisle, blissfully throwing anything that looked good into my cart, no plan, no list...just enjoying the items piling up. I would shop whenever it seemed like I should...if I ran out of food I'd just order out. Grocery trips were a nice break from the routine. I loved it. Sounds dreamy right? It was. I was a single twenty-something with the time and money to treat grocery shopping like a trip to the mall.

Fast forward to today- add a four month old and a one income household and BAM! Grocery shopping has completely changed. It is now a hill to climb, a mission to accomplish, I count it as exercise it is so exhausting. That's right...you read that correctly...on the days I grocery shop I consider my cardio workout complete. Between the bending, lifting, carrying, and power walking I would say I am somewhat justified. (somewhat)

I am now a coupon-holding, list-toting, store-brand-shopping, budget-watching machine. I try to shop on the same day each week, I always have planed out our dinners before hand, and I must have a list. If it's not on the list- it is not coming home. I shop to feed this little family and save money and if I can get out of the store without Noah screaming his head off. I've won.

Today I loaded our little bundle of joy into the car. List - check, coupons - check, diaper bag - check, reusable shopping bags - check. Drive to the store and I am faced with the first colossal challenge of shopping with an infant...getting it all into the store. I park nearest the cart return...it took me about 3 months to figure out this is more important than being close to the door of the store. The best spot for this mommy is if I can get right next to the cart return. I get out, grab a cart, put Noah (in his infant carrier) down into the main basket of the cart.

Side note: No, I do not use those carts with the seats attached for infants. No, I do not perch him precariously across the top of the cart or try to hook his seat to the smaller pull out basket. I put him down inside. This cuts down on two things. One, my own fear that putting him across the top of the cart or in the little basket thingy is not secure and that as I am trying to round some corner he will fall off. This may be completely irrational but whatever...it makes me feel better knowing he is down inside. Two, and more importantly, people are less likely to look at/talk to/stop me/touch the baby when he is inside the cart. This only took me one shopping trip to discover. Look, ladies, I know you love babies but seriously I have about 45 minutes of good sitting-in-his seat time before it is possible that he will start screaming his darling little head off...so I have got to book it here!

Ok, so Noah is inside in his seat, now add my reusable shopping bags, and his diaper bag to the cart. Can you picture that? Bingo...very little room for food. But I have gotten good at packing the food around my sweet baby and utilizing that little tray underneath the cart.

So...here we go...into the fray with barely any room for food before we've begun. Noah has already spent a good 20 minutes in his car seat due to travel time alone. Mommy...start your engine.

And I'm off...trying to balance moving as quickly as possible with getting the best deals as possible. Comparing prices, checking my coupons, checking the list, dodging people who want to stop and talk about the baby (sorry!), trying not to go down unnecessary aisles. I stack cans and boxes around the outskirts of the cart and place any and everything it can handle on the rack underneath.
Exhibit A 
Now, today, we needed a light bulb. We also happened to be shopping at my least favorite place in the whole entire world to shop...I won't name names. Let's just call it, Ballmart. Ok, so we are at Ballmart due to their incredible low yogurt prices (I told you- budget is king). I am forced to go there once a month and buy enough yogurt to last for weeks. This is solely so that I do not have to shop there again for as long as possible.

Anyway, I am searching through the aisle right next to the grocery section- paper products, cleaning supplies, home office stuff- no light bulbs - finally, I ask a nice Ballmart employee who informs me that light bulbs are in hardware on the other side of the store.

Side tirade: WHAT?!??! Are you kidding me Ballmart? Since when did light bulbs become something banished to the other side of the store. Aren't light bulbs the kinds of things people are always buying and go right along with toilet paper and hand soap. Not only were they on the other side of the store they were buried five or six aisles in- behind paint. PAINT! You are telling me that light bulbs have become something we want to make people search for behind things like paint and dehumidifiers! Is this because they have fancy light bulbs now (that last about four years) and so now the little people who still buy normal light bulbs have to fight our way past the Easter section and cosmetics to get this basic need for our home. *deep breath*

Ok...so I look down at my lovely who by this point is starting to make those "mommy-I've had-about-enough-of-this-I-want-out-of-this-seat" noises. I grab the cart and start power walk/running toward the other end of this super store in search of one darn light bulb. About 10 steps into my walk/run I hear "uh...mam...you dropped your yogurt." Sure enough, I look back and the precious yogurt that brought us to this horrible place in the first place is on the ground about 10 ten feet behind me....I run back, grab it, throw it back in the cart and dash off again. About 5 steps later...*thunk*...this time oatmeal has fallen off that lower rack...stop...grab...throw...push...run. (I told you exercise! I am now breaking a sweat.) I finally get to Siberia (where we keep light bulbs now) and head back to find a (please God) short line as now the baby child IS making very upset sounds...not crying yet. *Old lady incoming on the left hand side*...ack...after a lovely exchange of "yes, thank you, he is so cute"...and "oh, yes, he does sound like he wants to talk"...we are in the checkout line.

Now, this is like my finish line...I feel like pouring a cup of water over my head, like someone should wrap a flag around me, I have a "where's my Gatorade?" kind of feeling. The baby is not crying yet, the list is done, and I think it is all going to come in on budget. Why do the checkout clerks not get this? Instead of being greeted with a "you did it!" or "nice job." I get an unhappy face or someone who is upset I brought my own bags and doesn't want to deal with my coupons or my soon-to-be crying baby.

Anyway, I load the belt. And as I am unpacking my purchases from around Noah I notice something is missing. My peppercorn pork loin. Somewhere between the meat section and light bulbs my Sunday meal went AWOL. For a moment, I think about going back for it. Flashes of, "leave no man behind", type speeches go through my head. Then a *squawk* from the boy and a puzzled and not-to-please look from the lady behind me snaps me out of it. Sorry peppercorn pork loin...I have this needs-a-nap baby and two more errands to run.

On the way home I picture my poor pork loin...did it roll under the bargain bins as I flew across the store? Drop out near the frozen vegetables? Did someone see it and decide to take it home for supper or has it been left to be found by some night cleaner?
This is life...it's not perfect...all my planning and lists and effort to make it as perfect as possible doesn't mean that pork loins won't jump ship.  And that's ok...I'll make mac-n-cheese instead of pork loin. And we'll try again next week.

I have to laugh at how my life has changed. Wonderfully, beautifully changed. Do I miss my leisurely trips to the store and my cart filled to the brim with whatever I wanted? No, not really.

Because my cart is so much fuller now.

Oh, did I say cart? I meant heart. My heart is so much fuller now.  


  1. Hi Kathleen! This is Bep, one of the three redheads who shared Sheppard 1 South with you our freshman year! I just started reading your blog and yes, you still make me laugh very hard. Ballmart! I love it! (The name, not the store.) Though I do shop there. And I too covet the near-the-cart-return parking spots. You'd laugh too if you saw my weekly shopping expedition--one four-year-old boy walking (hopefully not running) beside me, one two-year-old girl in the cart seat, and one four-month-old boy strapped to my front! Crazy times! Props to you for using reusable shopping bags. I am just not that cool. :)