Let me go on record: my wife is a good cook. She works and we eat out a fair amount of time, but when she is cooking, my mouth waters in anticipation. What she puts into the food or whether it is “good” for me or what it costs are not important. Do I have enough time to savor this meal is all I feel compelled to ask.
Back to the grocery store. Since I eat cereal for breakfast with some banana slices on top, I picked out a couple of boxes of cereal and carried them to the cart. Nothing in life prepared me for her questions. “What’s the price? Did you check to see if they were 2 for the price of 1? How much fat is in them? What is the sodium content? How many grams of carbohydrates are in each serving? How big is a serving? Can you eat just one serving amount?” and the topper, “Let me see if I have a coupon for that specific cereal.” Then she informed me, with a self confident grin, “I have a coupon and they are cheaper at Kroger so I will pick them up on Tuesday which is Senior Day.” All I wanted was a box of cereal!
As so the time we spend together at the grocery store went like that through the canned goods, the lunch meats, and the produce, “I’ve seen bananas for 39¢ a pound at Harris Teeter.” I searched through hundreds of coupons to find one worth 25¢ for a tube of toothpaste. Not only must you find the right coupon but it must not have expired yet. Huh! I learned you don’t squeeze peaches you smell them to see if they have a peachy smell. You thump watermelon and gently squeeze oranges and search for a hard head of lettuce.
It’s the ingredients that got me. Watch the sodium content and stay away from the carbs, “They are not good for your heart condition, dear.” There are at least two kinds of fat, trans-fat and saturated fat and polyunsaturated fat, and one of them will kill you. Dang, if I could only remember which one. Now I know about calories. Too many will make you fat, but I need calories to replace all the calories I’ve lost going to the grocery store. If it is sugar free and low in calories, it is bound to be high in cholesterol and sodium and vise versa. The problem I have is getting something that is good for me but doesn't taste like cardboard, although I hear they have developed a cherry favoring for cardboard. White enriched bread is out and four wheat whole grain bread is in. Ice cream is out but sugar free sherbet is in. Dark meat chicken is out and white breast turkey is in. A package of cookies is out but a package of chocolate cookie mix is in. I can’t explain this one except that
she likes to bake cookies. It is mustard not mayo, fish not red meat, non fat milk not the real stuff, and on and on through the store.
I am exhausted from this little activity designed to spend more time together. But when we get to the check out counter is when
she shows her stuff. She pulls out her coupons and with a sweet smile lays them down like a poker player laying down his royal flush and sweeping in the pot. It is Senior day at this store, 10% off, they also have a promotion giving a free item when you spend over $10, today it is toilet paper, the store is running a special and tripling all coupons up to 50¢, they also let you use the coupon on the 2 for 1 items even if you only buy one of the items. She was also observant of the “Manager’s Specials” in the meat department and bought some huge steaks at 70% off. We used our own bags and saved 5%.
We walked out of that store with $100 worth of groceries and it only costs us $53. More importantly, I walked away with a new found pride in my wife and an awareness of why our food bill was so low. Not only does she cook wonderfully and cooks healthy but also cooks cheaply. But I get headache thinking about it. I would rather have a root canal without pain medicine than go grocery shopping again!
But if the shopping diva asks, I’ll still say, “Sure let’s go.” Because I do enjoy spending time with her.
I almost forgot, this is an advice blog. So the lesson from this is very simple. Sometimes we don’t see and therefore do not appreciate the talents and skills of others particularly those who are closest to us. Maybe mom is just mom to you but she is the go-to lawyer on sexual harassment issues at the law firm. Maybe dad is just dad at home but at the charity he supports, he is the chairman of the Board of Directors and a delegate to the national organization. Brother may just be brother but he is also an astute businessman who has successfully started three businesses and is in demand as a speaker. Aunt Louise is your favorite aunt but she may also be a talented musician. Look at those close to you, you may see them as regular ordinary people but they just may be anything but ordinary and have more talents than anyone else you know.
That’s my View From the Fall.