Sometimes I think I’m really good at something, and it will turn out that I am not. A perfect example of this is drinking when I was younger. I thought I was the king, you know, because I could drink a lot. The thing I found out as I got older, is that there is a lot more to being good at drinking than just quantity ­— things like not vomiting and remembering the way back to your house at the end of the night. I thought I was good but found out later that I really wasn’t. I currently think I am a fine grocery shopper. Something tells me if I take a closer look, I won’t be so sure.
I ran across some tips to be more effective when shopping for food, and I sort of rolled my eyes like I always do when somebody tells me how to do something. Still, I will admit that I have a very “all over the place” sort of style, so it couldn’t hurt to improve a little. Now, we usually do big grocery shopping once a month or so, picking up staples, and then I stop by every other day or so to pick up whatever else is needed for the next particular meal — things like meat and vegetables and bread.  Obviously, the big trip once a month was already not working, but I didn’t want to admit that just yet.
Not surprisingly, the first tip actually covered this. They said simply, “Have a plan…” Well, that’s usually the easiest way to make God laugh, but maybe they have a point. The problem is that without a plan, you waste time by going to the store more than you need to. Also, the more you are exposed to the grocery store, the more likely you are to buy things you don’t need. Hey, it all makes sense, but I’m still not sure I’m on board. For me, planning five or six meals ahead is like settling on a retirement home right after you get out of preschool. A lot can change between now and then, and as REO Speedwagon said, I like to roll with the changes. Bad song — worse idea.
The only way I can really absolve myself of my dilemma is that I sort of consider grocery shopping as a form of entertainment and socialization. It sounds dumb, but it’s true. Forget looking around at the food, I run into so many people I know most days that it almost feels like a happy hour. Besides that, it’s nice to just look around and figure out what sounds good that night. I realize doing things depending on mood is a terrible idea, but that’s why I became an adult. Otherwise, staying a kid would be a whole lot more fun.
Along those same lines, it’s good to have a list. I do this, but it’s usually the same list, and all it says is “some sort of food and ginger ale or something.” This is not the kind of list they were talking about. The thing is, making a list takes all the creativity out of the process and makes it more like the worst scavenger hunt ever in the world. To keep this from getting out of hand, they say to break the store down to sections. This way, you can avoid problem parts of the store like the soda pop or chip aisle. Considering those are the first aisles I generally go to, this sounds like a terrible plan.
The tip most of us have already heard is, of course, don’t go to the grocery store hungry. I’m sure we could argue the logistical possibilities of this all day. It’s just tough. It’s sort of a logical path. “Oh, I’m hungry. Damn, I don’t have food. I should go to the grocery store. Wait, I can’t because I’m hungry…” It’s like saying don’t go to the strip club if you have a hankering to see a lot of boobies. Besides, if you go eat somewhere before going to the store, you’re going to be far too tired for any sort of shopping.
There were other things, too. I think we all know that the kids’ cereal is at the eye level of children so they can see it and then torture their parents until they get some. I also found out that most of the fresh, and therefore better, foods are generally located around the outside ring of the store, things like dairy, fresh meats, vegetables and fruits. The inside aisles are usually full of things that are processed. I suppose I knew this, but I never really thought about it. As it turns out, I actually focus on those parts and amazingly, I still find a way to eventually make them unhealthy.
So, I found something else I suck at. In this case, I’m fairly sure I will just continue to suck. It’s not that I can’t see the benefits to making changes so much as that I simply enjoy going to the grocery store. It nice to see a few people, plan a menu on the fly and maybe even come up with something weird and new for dinner, like say, Spam cakes with an Orange Crush glaze. I’ve simply accepted I’m going to suck at grocery shopping. It’s actually a lot more fun than being good at it.

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