Friday, February 5, 2010

A Game of Grocery Store Pick-Up

Recently, I had to make a quick run to the grocery store on my way home from work. I wanted to try a soup recipe for dinner that night (more on that later), and needed an onion. The recipe also called for smoked ham and a ham hock, which I didn’t have and didn’t want because neither of us are big fans, so… I ixnayed the ham and the hock.

Pondering the recipe further, because this is how I spend my down time, I considered replacing the flavor and fat the ixnayed ingredients would have lend the soup with bacon.

I also needed to get some vitamin E oil, to treat my poor, burned hand.

And, then, I also figured I would need to pick up some drinks for my husband. That is simply a part of most grocery runs for our little family. (Yes, I know that these are not the most economical or ecological choice, but we buy what he will drink.)

So, my list was, roughly in order of priority: onion, vitamin E oil, drinks, and bacon. I also knew that I had to keep the cost under ten dollars. This is not an impossible task, and if not for the vitamin E oil, probably could have been done for closer to five dollars. But, alas, I put the health of our skin high on the list of things that are important.

Into the Marsh I went. Why Marsh, because it is literally on the way home. No turning onto a side street, no minor detour, nothing. It is on Third Street, as I drive home. In general, I’ve noticed that Marsh and Kroger tend to have similar sale prices. The advantages Kroger has over Marsh are: larger store (by me), more store- brand items (more items at lower cost), a bulk section, and a massive wine/liquor section (gotta love Indiana). Advantages of Marsh over Kroger: literally on the way home, $20 meat variety packs, and occasionally, they have better sale prices.

I made a bee-line for the pharmacy section, to case the joint for vitamin E oil. I saw two brands of capsules and one bottle of straight oil. All of the choices, no matter the quantity, were pretty much going to blow my chances of buying the vitamin E and onion. I was crushed.

Deciding that the onion was more important this trip, I left the pharmacy section, questioning my choice of store. I made my way to the produce section, by way of the breakfast meats. A quick survey of the bacons told me that if I wanted something that wasn’t completely chemical-laden, I was going to be paying at least $2.50 for a package. Not a bad price over all, but bacon was last on my list, so the first thing to get cut. I made a mental note, and went on to the onions.

It was about $1.30 per pound for loose onions (I know!), while the three pound bags were about $2.50. The loose onions were larger than the bagged onions, but at $1.30 per pound, they were more expensive per unit than the bagged onions. Also, larger wasn’t necessarily better for me. I can always cut up two onions instead of one. Leftover onion, unfortunately, tends to go bad before it is used or frozen. (This is something that I am working to remedy.)

Bagged onions it was. Now, I had about $7 to spend on the rest of my list. I went back to the pharmacy section, to peruse my choices once more. (All of this back and forth/shopping the store is why I don’t like shopping with my husband, and why he is exasperated by shopping with me.) 

And that’s when I saw it. A display of a supplement brand that had not been on the shelves where I was looking before. They were on sale. I got a bottle of capsules (40, I believe) for about $3.50. Score!

At this point, I rethought the bacon entirely. The previous night, I did have the foresight to pull some ground beef down from the freezer, so I knew that I did have some meat to add to the soup, and that I could count on some fat from there for flavor. Considering my list and my budget, I decided that bacon was not necessary.

Resolved to my choices, I had about $3.50 to spend on drinks. Well, less than that, considering taxes. And ever since I left Kentucky, I’ve never been sure of the food tax rate. I think North Carolina had a weird, graduated system that depended on the type of food, and level of preparedness. As a result, I try to leave a substantial cushion for “The Attack of the Tax!”

The next item, drinks, is where I regret my choice of Marsh over Kroger. My location doesn’t have store brand soda. Unless Faygo is store brand. I just can’t stand spending $1.25 on a 2-liter of soda. Especially when that is the sale price. Curses.

I sped-walked past the sodas, and headed towards the bottles of Lipton Green Tea (Yes, I know that there are tons of additives and such in these, but this is for my husband, not me. He likes it. And, well, it is preferable to tons of soda.) In my speediness, though, I almost sped right past an actual sale on the 2-liters. 68 cents for a 2-liter of Faygo. I almost did a happy dance in the middle of the aisle. I got the lemon-lime. No caffeine.

All in all, I ended up spending about eight and a half dollars. Not my best shopping trip, but not my worst, either. The soup may have been tastier with bacon, but it was still yummy. The Faygo was happily drunk. And I’ve been able to use one capsule of vitamin E oil multiple times.  Plus, I have onions ready for when I need them.

How do you think I did? Would you have made different choices? Do you have any particularly gratifying grocery store stories?


Margaret said...

Wonderful that you managed on your available money by sticking to your priorities and looking around the shop really carefully. You said it was a "quick run" but in fact it only worked for you because you slowed down, went back, had another look.

If you had managed to make a weekly menu then perhaps you wouldn't have needed a single onion, you would have got it when you did your main shopping.

If you managed to persuade your family that there was no more Faygo until the next 'main shop' perhaps they wouldn't have drunk it all. It is no crime to "do without" and drink water for a few days. Perhaps people will ration themselves first if they know that running out really means running out and not "running out to the shops"

This is really easy for me to say as my husband usually does both the shopping and cooking in our household without a weekly menu and going to the shops when he pleases. With a broken leg I can do neither at the moment.

Your poor burned hand did need it's treatment. Perhaps you need a better first aid kit at home.

loreleimarsh said...

I like that you organized your list based on importance. I think I may try that from now on. The most gratifying grocery trip I've had was when I realized that if there was something on sale, and they were out, I would ask for a rain check. They literally wrote me a rain check that was good any time and has no expiration date. It's an awesome option!

swiggett said...

Margaret - For me, it was quick! Now imagine my full shopping trips! ;) You are right about the meal planning. I am going to work towards it, so that hopefully, I don't have to do this often. I hope that your leg heals quickly!

Loreleimarsh - Good call on the rain check! I'd forgotten about those, and could have used them a few time in the past. Congratulations!