Grocery shopping is work. It involves both physical and mental strength. Any woman or man who does not leave their local supermarket totally exhausted has not properly shopped.
Our parents knew how to grocery shop. Mom made a list of items she would buy based on carefully thought-out supper plans. She knew how many potatoes she’d need, how many hamburgers she could get from each pound of meat, and what was on sale that week.
More: Chaos about order
If you looked at Mom’s completed grocery list, you would see an exact layout of Kroger’s floor plan. The prices she penciled in behind each item were within a dollar or two of her receipt. Nothing was left to chance; there was no room for splurging.
The list remained clenched in Mom’s hand, with a stubby pencil crushed into its folds. Each item appeared in the order she’d listed it, and I knew there would be a hesitation after its addition to the cart while she drew a line through the word on the list.
The task of shopping was like opening a vein and giving blood so that others (her family) might live. Serious stuff.
I don’t see many lists in the store anymore. The carts I jockey around are filled with noisy kids, cell phones, credit cards, and bottled water. Nobody is comparing servings to dependents.
Instead, they BROWSE. Their trips to the store are jolly jaunts of gastronomical serendipity. They don’t know what they want until they see the pretty pictures on the packages.
It was only Mom and me at the store each week when I was a girl, and I knew why. My job was to fetch and pack and carry. Mom’s face was a stern picture of determination as she wheeled a creaky cart down the tiled aisles. I kept my eyes off goodies and tended to the business at hand.
When I go to the store now, there are entire families clomping along behind a single cart. Generations of family members—Grandma, Grampa, babies, and the mosey-ing teens. They all come to the store.
Kids roam the aisles as if visiting Willy Wonka’s factory, sampling grapes and snatching boxes of TV-touted cereal to show Mom.
“This one!” they screech. Their heart’s desire is flung into the cart that blocks the aisle while Mom argues with Grandma about the nutritional value of Metamucil.
Is this a new kind of “quality time”? Can we agree that the narrow aisles of a grocery store are not the best place for bonding? Maybe food is the universal Love Language now.
Sometimes, I see shoppers who have come to the store as if by executive order. They stand slumped against the doors of the dairy case, gazing at cartons of milk.
“Did you want me to get 2%, or is skim okay?” he yells into the handset.
I have to wait while he relays prices and weighs options with his significant other before I can grab a gallon.
Grocery shopping has become a lost art, and it’s time we review the time-honored, fundamental rules. We who remember the proper way are fuming as we follow behind you at the store.
Here are a few key points.
1. Shopping is not a team activity. Bring a kid for help if you must. One. And keep him with you. I’m tired of hearing your Marco Polo calls throughout the store.
2. Move along. This is not an art exhibit. We all have lives to live. Just pick a bunch of bananas. They all taste the same.
3. If you don’t know what you need, leave the store. Go home and make a list.
Contact Robin at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article originally appeared on Canton Daily Ledger: Robin Leach writes how grocery shopping has changed since she was a kid