My trip to the grocery store begins before I ever even get there. It begins when I determine that my family or I need or want something. Perhaps we’re out of milk. If that’s the case, I try to remember if there is anything else that we need while I’m at the store. I may make a mental list if its short or I may actually write something down if the list gets longer. Of course, this is all pretty subjective. Sometimes I forget something when there are only two things on the list, and sometimes I can remember 20 different things with ease. So, I begin with a list.
Then I figure out how much money I’ll need. Do I have cash? Do I need to get cash for something else? Should I stop at the ATM? Can I just use my check card? Do I REALLY need the things on the list? So, the next step is determining how to pay for whatever I get.
Finally, I get to the store. You might think it’s crazy, but I even think about where I’m going to park. My preference is in an area where I can just pull through when it’s time to leave. If this area is full, however, I prefer another area that doesn’t have any rows of cars near it so that there’s no worry of backing into someone when I leave. If that’s also full, I park in the middle of the lot… but that’s my last choice. So, there….I’ve parked.
Getting into the store is something else. The bank of shopping carts is located right outside the sliding doors. There are two size carts…normal size and giganto size. I NEVER use the giganto size. If that’s all there is, I just don’t use a cart. Inside the sliding doors, there’s a stack of shopping baskets. If I know I’ll only be getting a few things that are pretty light, I opt for a shopping basket. If I know I’ll be getting too much for a basket and there are no normal size carts, I’ve been known to actually wait around for one even if there are 30 giganto carts sitting there.
So, I’ve got a cart….or basket…or neither…but I’m in the store.
Like most grocery stores, this one is laid out in a pretty standard fashion. There’s a type of loop along the interior perimeter and then aisles take up the center of the store with cash registers at the front. To the left, at this store, the produce section and baked goods are located. At the rear of the store, the meat counter, deli, and milk are all housed. To the right, along the perimeter, more dairy and frozen foods find themselves. All the other things that make up a grocery store are located in the aisles (except for dried fruit and nuts…that near produce).
Where I go in the grocery depends on what type of shopping trip I’m on. If I’m on a “dinner run,” I begin in the produce section. I’m not sure why because I hate their produce and rarely buy anything beyond a bunch of grapes or bag of lettuce (I don’t even trust their head lettuce). After looking at produce and (probably) not buying any, I nearly always pick up a couple loaves of bread. With three teen-aged boys, I don’t know if we’re low on bread but the odds are pretty high. If need a specific type of bread for dinner, I’ll also pick that up although I’ve been known to forget that more than once. Then I head to the meat counter. Even if I don’t have any meat on my list, I’ll check to see what’s on sale. If ground beef or pork tenderloin is on sale, I’ll probably buy it.
Next, it’s on to the milk case. I’ll either get one or two gallons of 1% milk whether it’s on the list or not. The milk case is also near the pop/chip aisle, so I’ll check to see if Mountain Dew is on sale for my husband. I’ll also think about something I’d like to drink and then not come to a decision (for so many reasons). As long as 12 packs are less than $4, I’ll get a half case of soda. Then I’ll continue on around to the dairy section, where I might pick up some butter, and I’ll get anything else from there that we may need for dinner. Finally, I’ll walk past the ice cream case, remember how the freezers have a tendency to thaw and refreeze, completely messing up the ice cream, and move on.
In the midst of all that, as I work my way around the edge of the store, I’ll make little forays down specific aisles to get certain ingredients for dinner. Some people have a type of zig-zag pattern where they go down every aisle. I rarely do that.
Finally, I get to the cash register. Depending on what’s in my cart, I’ll choose paper or plastic or neither if I remembered my reusable bags (rarely…but sometimes). If things are frozen, I’ll get paper bags. Actually, I prefer paper bags, but I know they cost considerably more than plastic bags and I figure I’ll do what I can to keep the owner’s costs down so he, in turn, can keep my costs down. I never get any bags for things like bags of apples or potatoes or large things with handles. What’s the point of bagging something that’s already packaged to carry?
And so ends my “dinner” trip to the grocery. There are different types of grocery trips like the “breakfast” trip that just involves going directly to the single-serve instant oatmeal and a half pint of chocolate milk. That’s a very fast trip and rarely has any variation. On the other end of the spectrum, however, is the “kitchen stocking” trip. That requires hours of planning and is absolutely exhausting. I rarely go on a “kitchen stocking” grocery trip at this point. Maybe when school is over.