My Grocery List

1532682336“See you later, hon,” I called over my shoulder, “I’m meeting Stan at The Pit for beers.”

“Good,” she replied.

Good was not what I was expecting and when you are not expecting good, it is never good.

So I asked.

“Why good?”

“You can pick up a few things for Thanksgiving dinner,” she said.

“How few?”

“I made a list.”

“You know I can’t read your handwriting.”

“That is why I typed it.”

“Who types grocery lists?”

“A woman in my quilting group said her husband struggles with her hand-writing just like you with mine, so she typed and printed her lists for him. Everyone loved the idea and now we are all doing it.”

Talk about not good.

The challenge with an illegible list is simple. You have to decipher it. The challenge with a typed list is much more complicated, you have to make sense of what is clearly written.

For instance, the very first item:

  • Turkey: 1 ½ lb for each guest

How many guests are we having? Who knows? The appearance of children and grandchildren is utterly unpredictable, and goodness knows how many friends and lovers each might drag with them.

So at the store, I punt and grab the biggest turkey I can find.

The next item:

  • Stove Top Stuffing: 2 boxes

You think this sounds easy?

Stove Top Stuffing come in a variety of flavors, including: Chicken, Lower Sodium Chicken, Cornbread, Pork, Beef, Savory Herbs, Traditional Sage…  And guess what?

There are eight more flavors that I elected not to enumerate. In other words, the good folks at Stove Top have saddled us with a tyranny of choices.

I grab Traditional before confronting the next few items on the list.

  • Turkey Gravy: 1 packet (we need two, but we still have one from last year)
  • Sweet potatoes: 3
  • Cranberry sauce: 2 cans (nobody eats it, but Uncle Earl insists on it)
  • Frozen corn: 2 small bags or one mega-bag
  • Honey Baked Beans: 4 cans

Standing in the turkey gravy aisle, I realize that sweet potatoes are clear on the other side of the store, so I abandon my cart along with the list and trot back over to produce.

Since the store is crowded, it is easier to travel without a cart, but the trick is to remember where one leaves it.

Easier said than done.

After free-wheeling around the store several times, I find myself juggling arm loads of cranberry sauce, frozen corn and baked beans. It is no fun. I’d rather handle barn-cats in heat.

So where did I leave my cart?

I swear I left it in the freezer section, but it is not there. Someone must have moved it. I hope not the store staff. They grab abandoned carts from time to time and shuffle them off to goodness knows where. But I finally find it, along with my typewritten list and check out the next item:

  • Premium Madagascar organic vanilla extract

Holy Moly!

When did something as basic as vanilla extract become a status-symbol? There are more choices of vanilla extract than there are of Stove Top Stuffing. Where will this madness end?

  • Organic Colombian fair-trade coffee

Hey, I have no problem with organic or fair-trade anything – as long as I don’t have to hunt it down in a crowded holiday market.

  • items even more obscure
  • things I have never heard of
  • stuff no one has ever heard of

What was once a shopping trip has become a madcap scavenger hunt. Where did she come up with half this stuff?

And then there is:

  • Turkey gravy: 1 packet


Is this a repeat item or did she change her mind about the packet in the cupboard from last year – but at least I know where to find the blasted thing.

I return to the turkey gravy aisle, where I find a cart with a big turkey, turkey gravy, Stove Top Stuffing (Traditional) and cranberry sauce.

Standing beside the cart is a guy about my age and general disposition. I recognize him as the husband of one of my wife’s quilting friends. He is tracing his way through a type written list using his index finger.  When he gets to the bottom, he starts again at the top.

“Hey, that’s my cart,” I confess, “and my list.”

He looks at me, utterly bewildered, and then he looks at the cart I am pushing and all the items in it. Slowly, as awareness dawns on him, he cracks a big, big grin.

Author: Almost Iowa

65 thoughts on “My Grocery List”

  1. My husband makes his own list, and I hardly ever write a list, I keep it in my head! Not bad for an elderly brain, but then, I sometimes come home without some items I needed.

    1. I used to remember everything, especially technical details. Now that I am retired, I am finding gaps in my memory and the gaps are growing. 🙂 🙂

  2. I loved following you through the store, but I’m with your wife on the Madagascar vanilla. I assume you swapped and got your cart back? Heaven knows, you wouldn’t want to go home with the wrong turkey!

    1. I assume you swapped and got your cart back?

      Everything I write is pure fiction. It has to be, no one would believe how disastrous my actual shopping trips are. 🙂 🙂

        1. It starts with sacrificing a chicken……. actually, chicken McNuggets. 🙂

          Seriously though, I do struggle with this. Most of my writing is what you might call first person fantasy and I worry that my reader might take what I say literally instead of with eye toward humor and what has become known as truthiness (fiction that contains an element of truth). To avoid having my readers take me literally, I throw in absurdities, like big snapping turtles that can run down deer or an old friend who has no moral compass (Stan).

          I strive to entertain my reader with a lot of humor, but a sideways glance at the real absurdities in the world.

  3. I am really impressed with the way you shop. I mean, you’re given eighty choices of stuffing and know to go with Traditional?! This is why I just want to show up at the store and have what I need right there on one shelf waiting for me.

  4. My husband does all the shopping because he says I don’t do a good job of it. Who am I to complain? I give him my typed list and off to the store he goes every Saturday…No lie, Greg. Lol. This post cracked me up.

    1. off to the store he goes every Saturday

      Of course, you know that Saturday is sample day and at either end of every aisle are little stations where they hand out spiced pork sausages, exotic corn chips, slices of steak, ham, and crab meat. At the dairy aisle, you get eggnog, smoked cheese and ice cream…..just writing about it gets me excited.

      And oh yeah, it’s sample day in the liquor section too!!

    1. circling items

      You have to be careful about circling and crossing out items.

      Her: where’s the butter?
      Me: I dunno.
      Her: It was on the list.
      Me: Really.
      Her: Let me see the list….. You crossed it out but you didn’t get it. Why not?
      Me: I guess I just got carried away crossing things out.

  5. Hmmmm…trying to shop off of someone else’s typed list sounds like a terrific challenge. At least when it’s hand-written, you can be excused for buying the wrong thing because you can claim you can’t read her handwriting. My husband and I learned to do our own shopping for just that reason. No matter what I put on the list, he comes back from the grocery store with beer and potato chips. And sometimes a frozen chocolate pie.

  6. Oh, that delightful twist in the turkey gravy aisle. Now I’m imagining you both trying to sort out your tangled typed lists. If only your wives had hand written them you’d have recognised the writing, though your wives might not have recognised the ingredients you brought home. Loved this one!

    1. But it can be. For that one must go on sample days. You know, those days that HyVee has little stations scattered about the store that give out free samples. To be honest, I never shop those days, but I do go “shopping” and come back well-fed.

  7. You all could learn a few things from the single ones among you — but I suppose in the end none of the lessons we have to teach would do you any good at all. The complexities that pile up when more people are added to even such a simple equation as “grocery shopping” are akin to the complexities of the added choices in the Doritos aisle, and those complexities pile up exponentially.

    1. You all could learn a few things from the single ones among you

      Hmmmm, perhaps, but when I think back on my single days, wisdom is not the first thing that comes to mind. Instead, I shudder and quietly whisper a thank you to my higher power for letting me survive.

  8. Totally agree about all the choices! I go to the store looking for chicken broth and there’s an entire aisle full of choices. How do I know which one is the one I need?! And don’t get me started on the odyssey I had trying to get the right rice to make risotto.

    1. The horror of it is well beyond choice, it the churning of choice…

      Her: Now remember when buy the vanilla extract, make sure it is Premium Madagascar organic.
      Me: Sure.
      Her: What kind of vanilla extract?
      Me: [beaming with pride, having remembered] Madagascar – it’s an island off East Africa.
      Her: NO, NO, NO. Premium Madagascar organic.
      Me: Premium Madagascar organic.

      Guy in a HyVee apron: Premium Madagascar organic vanilla extract? No, we stopped carrying that last year. You might be able to still get it from our website.

  9. It’s getting almost as challenging as cave days and running from predators….. Oh hang on, I forgot about the marketeers.

  10. I have mentioned in the past that I have been banned from grocery shopping. Well, over Thanksgiving I was asked to go to the store to pick up some broccoli. “Need anything else?” I said. “Wait I’ll give you a list.” After returning from the store I put the items away. Just before dinner, I was asked, “Where’s the broccoli?” “It wasn’t on the list so I thought you changed your mind.” I have now been double banned with oak leaf cluster.

  11. “I’d rather handle barn-cats in heat.”
    and then there was
    “*items even more obscure
    *things I have never heard of
    *stuff no one has ever heard of”
    You are in fine form with this one–using your writing therapeutically for recovery from PTSD (Post Thanksgiving Stress Disorder)?

    1. Actually, I am self-medicating with leftover turkey. The cats tell me that I shouldn’t do that. They say it is wrong and graciously volunteer to dispose of the leftovers for me.

  12. Brilliant as always.
    What I loath is having mentioned to me on Tuesday that we’re low on yeast and on Saturday asking “where is it?” Perhaps your story will highlight the need to “write it down”!

    1. After years of study and analysis, I have come to the conclusion that frequent trips to town to pick up odd items, correlates to frequent trips to The Pit. I know that correlation does not equate to causation – but you gotta go with what you have.

  13. lol…I never realized how difficult food shopping could be but now that you mention it, every time I go I usually call home at least once or twice for clarifications..:) It’s much safer

    1. Remember the old days when you made sure you had a pocket full of quarters, every time you went to the store. Do you also remember waiting in those long, long lines at the pay phone. Ain’t technology grand?

      🙂 🙂 🙂

    1. It is more practical than being a good sport. She works, often long hours, while I am retired. So, for now, I do most of the shopping and cooking. Once she retires, we will have to revisit the idea of lists. 🙂

    1. She enjoys her quilting group. I enjoy that she enjoys it because I love her and like to see her happy. I also enjoy going to The Pit while she is quilting. The thing that I don’t enjoy is the conspiracies that the ladies come up with – but then to be fair, she often says, “Now what have you and the boys at The Pit dreamed up?”

  14. I don’t type mine, but I try to arrange it by areas like dairy. That works, until they do a shuffle. And, why do they shuffle? To confuse us, make us look around, and buy more stuff that will be in the pantry next year at this time. But, in my case, I have food police who visit and I am shamed into pitching it. 🙂

    1. I think I am going to open a store that will only stock one item. It will be a white can with red lettering, reading “FOOD”. I bet I will make a mint and if I don’t, I will make a lot of guys happy. At least until they try eating it.

  15. I list to one side or the other when I come back from those expeditions. As for the exotic vanilla it is on the shelf in the quest aisle just below the pearl hen’s teeth.

  16. There is no such thing as anything anymore. Everything comes in a bewildering and mindless variety of flavors. I went to the store last week for Fritos. I remember a clear choice, Fritos or BBQ Fritos. I wasn’t prepared to face the Frito aisle. I don’t know about your stores, but ours also seem to enjoy rearranging the aisles so you have to navigate the entire store to find that gravy packet. Did yo uever make it to the Pit?

    1. A marketing genius once explained this to me. “You are of an age,” he said, “where you disappointed when you cannot find things you recognize. We are targeting people who are disappointed when all they find is things they recognize.”

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