I mentioned in a previous post (way back in September) that my very first job was at a movie theater. However, my second was at a grocery store. I worked there for six and a half years, and for quite some time I was a courtesy clerk. Part of my job was helping people to their cars and bringing in carts from the lot. When I pushed in trains of heavy carts, if I noticed a lone cart off in the distance, I took note to get it as quickly as possible. If someone did not get to that cart fast enough, within minutes there would be six or seven more joining it. It sometimes felt like they were planning a secret rebellion. Some of my co-workers and I called this the Shopping Cart Conspiracy.
I still suspect that carts have minds of their own.
It has been ten full weeks since our project ended. I’ve been thinking about the way it has made me look at grocery shopping which used to just be something we did on autopilot. We knew the foods we usually had in our lunches and the basic ingredients for the dinners we commonly ate, so we would let our cart lead us down the aisles as we dropped our regular foods into its waiting belly.
Our shopping trips are different. They are not only less frequent, but what we buy has changed. We now spend most of our time on the outside walls of the store where there are few packaged items. Pre-September, we did not do very much price comparing, but we now put things back if we don’t think they are worth the cost. Yesterday when we checked out, I was a bit disappointed to see that our bill was $115.59. I thought we had moved away from spending that much.
Tonight, when I sat down to write, I took out the bill to really look at what we had purchased. We bought a number of household items that we were out of: toilet paper, paper towels, dish soap, shampoo and bath soap to name a few. Our biggest ticket item was dog food; our dogs each weigh about 75 pounds. After I subtracted those, it turns out our food items were $56.35.
Not bad. We bought only a few packaged items, tofu and almond milk among them, but most of our food came from the produce section. We are still using the remains of our project as a base for many meals and supplementing with produce. Last night we made dinner for Christopher’s mom’s birthday, and the only items we needed to purchase to make the meal were chard (the recipe actually called for kale; I messed up, but it tasted fine) and an onion.
Our vocabulary about food had changed as well. We no longer say there is nothing to eat in our house, instead we say there is nothing prepared. Our cupboards are mainly made up of raw ingredients. I no longer buy the prepared packaged broth that I like as a soup base, but instead I use the much less expensive boullion. One day soon (maybe over winter break), I will attempt to make my own broth from scratch. It is not difficult, but due to the convience factor, I have never tried.
I am glad that we have taken a step toward gaining control of the cart.