Monday, February 1, 2010

A list of complications...

Why does everything always seem to need to be so complicated? It doesn't matter if it is something as simple as buying groceries, it is still a complicated task. Everything is difficult. Well, everything can be difficult.

If you are headed to the grocery store, how do you prepare? Do you clip coupons? Do you make a list [and check it twice]? Do you have certain days when you go? Are there better deals on food certain days of the week? Do you buy only sale items? Do you buy huge quantity? There are so many questions for what should be a simple task. I mean seriously, we are just buying some food, right?

Since I am a typical man, I don't make a grocery list. I have made a lists in the past, but I usually forget them at home. So, I usually try to "wing it." I have pretty decent success in "winging it" until I get home and remember the identity of the item that spurned the trip. Later, when I get home, my list is right there on the counter waiting for me almost giving me a look like "I thought I got to go along, too." Messed up, I know.

How do you decide what to buy? Do you buy regional items? I always seem to want to support my local people as much as I can and I do so even when buying groceries. If I buy sliced ham, I buy "Sportsman's Ham" because it is delicious and it is packed in Saint Michael, MN [If I remember right]. If I buy other canned goods or meats, I always try to buy a local vendor's brand. I think it is a good thing for our local economy. If I am buying the item anyway, I MUCH prefer to give my money to a fellow Minnesotan. I bought chicken drummies from Walmart a couple years ago [before I was SURE that Walmart is the most evil company in the world and probably a spawn from Satan, now I will not shop there NO MATTER WHAT]. The chicken drummies I bought were from Ecuador. Seriously. They certainly weren't very local unless Ecuador is a city in Minnesota. And, to top it off, they weren't really much cheaper than the drummies I normally bought. I saved like $.04 per pound. After buying them, I was a little creeped out. I wondered how often the people of Ecuador washed their hands when butchering. I wondered if anyone ever asked. I wondered how an employee of the FDA could visually look at a chicken and be able to tell if the person butchering had poop under their fingernails. Gross. Also, I thought that I probably directly hurt the local economy by buying them, so I was riddled with guilt. I couldn't enjoy eating them because first I knew somebody local lost their job or couldn't take a vacation because of my purchase. Secondly, I didn't think that anything I could put on the chicken to wash off or kill the invisible poop was very healthy for me to eat. I was hosed either way.

For some reason, I can't seem to get myself to clip coupons. Why don't the store just automatically give you the money off? Instead, they give you tasks. Find a paper with our ad. Find a scissors. Clip out our ad. Bring it with you. Go to this store between these hours on these days. Buy this item in this size only. Then, you can save $.40! Ta da! [Limit one per customer.] So, I always figure that I am outsmarting them by not clipping coupons because I am sorry, my time is worth more than $.40. Then, I get to the store and find that the bag of potatoes that I want is $5.99 normally, but "This week ONLY" is $.79 with coupon. Suffering nuts! Does this really need to be so complicated?

I hate that the local grocery store seems to have sales that are very dependent on timing. I must be a magnet for this because I notice this all the time. I either see about the huge money saving sale in the store ad, but then get there and realize that it ended yesterday. Or, it starts tomorrow. It seems to be almost every time I have zero success. I wonder if the sale truly starts tomorrow if the items "on sale" are different from today until then? Do they magically restock the items in the middle of the night? I don't think so. Nope. I think the sale items are the ones that are currently on the shelf, but they can be bought at a reduced rate. But, for somebody else. Not me.

I am a sucker for a volume buy. It always seems like a good idea when I am at the store, but it not such a good idea when I get home. If a person is buying toilet paper, for instance, it is pretty much a situation where you can buy as much as they will let you and you are guaranteed usefulness out of all of it. If a person is buying something like ketchup on sale, this situation becomes a little more touch and go, but still fairly safe if you use ketchup regularly. If you are buying potatoes in the bag, on the other hand, it is maybe a poor idea to grab a few extra bags even if they are on sale. So, when I am carrying my 5 bags of potatoes to the car, it dawns on me that perhaps I didn't think this through very well. I know there are solutions, like to shred them and freeze them, but I never thought of that until they were beginning to stink. Lesson learned. I hope.

Do you buy generic items? Do you stick to brand names? Do you buy "Miracle Whip" or "Spinblend?" Do you buy "Heinz" ketchup or generic ketchup? Is there really a difference? I think there is a HUGE difference in barbeque sauces, but I can barely taste the difference in ketchup. I can tell the difference between "Cap'n Crunch" and the Malt-O-Meal generic bag cereal, but I think they are both good. The concept of generic versus name brand adds to my shopping confusion. For instance, I love baked beans. I buy "Bush's Baked Beans" because I think they taste great. I also love their new line of "Grillin' Beans." I wouldn't consider buying generic beans because the brand name ones are so good. On the other hand, I wouldn't consider buying brand name beans when buying black beans for cooking. I am using the "they are all the same" or "I am not paying for their advertising" theories and I could very well be wrong. But, I will likely never know.

When I get home from the store it is a truly special time. This time is the time when I remember what it was that I went shopping for in the first place. Whether it is toilet paper, laundry detergent, or deodorant it is something that I need. Not something frivolous like the ice cream I forgot to buy [that was on sale when I was at the grocery store with no coupon], but something that I needed badly enough to venture out and get. Something important. [sighs].

Each time I go grocery shopping I can pretty much figure that I just made plans for the following night. I suppose I can pick up some of that ice cream I was looking for assuming the sale didn't end today. Maybe a potato recipe. Maybe not. You get the idea.

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