I used to love going to the grocery. It was like a field trip that I looked forward to each month end. I would make sure all the members of the home clan are washed and fed, dress myself up and head out. I don’t favour carrying the whole family to the supermarket with me though unless I really have to. Boyo doesn’t like to stay in the stroller for long periods of time even in wide aisles and air-conditioned comfort. Mam’zelle and Son-son forever squabble about who gets to push the trolley which drives me up a wall and Husby always makes me buy random stuff outside my budget.
Now I say ‘used to love’ because even with my happy intentions and my genuine need to put food on the table, I’m finding it to be a droll chore. This is mainly because there is such a heaviness when I observe people (read: women) in the grocery. One after the next stare at the shelves at the products, hemming and hawing, deliberating, pro-ing and con-ning. People quarrel to themselves, mutter under their breaths, suck their teeth (steups) and even outrightly complain about what a state we are in with food prices rising and rising to seemingly meet the Lord. And I completely understand it. The fact is, money is tight and when you make out that monthly budget, that allocation marked “Grocery” seems to be rising higher, denting your other categories of spending.
Once I spoke to a friend of mine who told me she wished she could just walk into the grocery, see what she needs/wants, take it, dump it in the trolley, head to the cashier, pay and leave.This may seem very normal to some of you reading this, but that reality is far removed from some of us like me who live in the middle. Going to the grocery is indeed a process. You spend more time doing mathematical functions, adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing as well as justifying, predicting and wondering if it’s cheaper in Pricesmart or Maharaj Wholesale.
The thing is I usually make sure I get everything I need to I wouldn’t have to buy food outside which is a bad habit that I’m trying to cut down on. Eat home and save money? Sure! But this idea is also under the scrutiny of a ‘cut-eye’. Example: hot dogs work right? For dinner, work, lunch kit, breakfast, you name it unless you are a parent who is adamant against processed meats but dais not me. Everything requires balance like box juice one day, freshly squeezed the next. Anyways I wanted to upgrade my hot dogs so I decided I will buy the jumbo ones instead of the usual skinny franks. Usually I make those with the lettuce, grated carrots, the full nine for family dinners or for school. There is a particular brand I like that I’ve been buying for $32.99 for the longest while. Aye aye, when I gone this month to pick it up, is $39.99 staring me in my face yuh know! The prospect of paying that extra seven dollars out of nowhere hurt me, made me consider a hit or miss with a next brand, a return to the skinny franks with an addition of tortillas or fries to the meal. Sigh, I really liked those jumbo hot dogs dammit!!!
Food prices are ridiculous. Now let me say for those of you who are thinking “set up a kitchen garden” or “budget your money better!”, my thumbs are as black as they come and if my budget were any tighter it would give millennial jeans a run for their money. Mankind needs to eat and you see particularly as Son-son is hitting puberty and again, nobody adequately warned me about his voraciousness that has no bounds, I have to do what I must. But the fed-upcy is growing. You know with carefully crafted buying of ingredients, follows the carefully crafted providing of food for a month using said ingredients and meals must be varied. At times this mother here does not have the mental fortitude to win at this game every day and with the way things are looking at the grocery, the odds are beginning to stack higher.