I've Forgotten How To Grocery Shop

Perhaps it says a little too much about the level of excitement I see day to day, but I used to really look forward to grocery run days. Of course, the pendulum has swung since moving to New York.

It used to be that a grocery run day meant two things:
  1. I got to have the car.
  2. The kids and I got to get out of the house.
Sure, it also meant that we had to get up early, be ready with all of our clothes on, teeth and hair brushed fresh diapers for all and a diaper bag packed before we took Daddy to work - most often this meant nobody except Henry got breakfast.

Skipping breakfast - like grocery shopping - used to be no big deal. Ever since having kids, though, if I don't eat in the morning my mood plummets FAST and I turn into Monster Stepper. I hate it. It's definitely one of the top three things I would change about myself.

Wyatt and Daphne have inherited the whole blood-sugar thing from me, it seems. They eat or they eat you. Alive.

 But the risk was always worth it to have a day with the car.

We'd go to Macey's and Costco - our two favorites - and relish the time out of the house perusing aisles we never buy from and usually stopping at Chic-Fil-A for an overly friendly and affordable ice cream cone.

It was always tricky with three small kids, but always enjoyable. We mastered the ways of the shopping cart - Hank would ride in the fold-out kid seat (best seat in the house, he always thought) and Wy and Daph would ride hanging on to either side of the cart. We'd stop, and they'd jump off to inspect the goods and pick the box/can/bottle of whatever we were putting into the cart. Then I'd shout "Jump on!" and they'd jump on, and we'd be off! Down another aisle lined bottom to top with colorful things to look at! We were a wide load, but I got very good at maneuvering a child-laden shopping cart, and so we were a courteous and - frankly - adorable wide load.

Before - at our favorite Macey's in Utah
We mostly solicited grins and laughter and an occasional pat on the head or free sticker or balloon. I'd get comments on my awesome mothering and/or bargain shopping skills.


All that changed with the address.

I'm learning fast that there are some things that I can't out-think. There are some things that a little creativity won't even fix. There is no such thing, here, as a wide load.

The grocery store aisles here are - at their widest point - barely big enough for me to push my one-kid stroller down. And oh, the looks I get! They are definitely not thinking we are adorable. Because in New York, there's this unspoken but universally understood rule. You stay out of each other's way. Having to shinny your way past some weirdo lady and her circus of children doesn't qualify.

After - the adorable but impossible grocery we tried earlier today.
But I haven't yet figured out how to GET my three children to a grocery store without the stroller. And shopping for a whole week is out of the question. There's just not a way to haul a week's worth of groceries for a family of five from the grocery store to the apartment, even if it is only half a dozen blocks away. I was only given two hands, same as everyone else, even without the whole three kid thing. That's been a big change for me - and one I'm still struggling to get used to. I can't bulk buy. I can't stock up. I'm pretty much only shopping for the next two meals.

But the thing that I still just can't wrap my head around is the prices. I feel like I've totally forgotten how to grocery shop because I see the prices and can't fathom buying anything to build a whole meal from. Okay - we can get the chicken and the tomatoes, but then not the tortillas or lettuce. We can get the meatballs, but then the spaghetti sauce is out of the question. We can get lunch meat and cheese - but then forget the bread and pickles.

For example.

A gallon of milk (we go through one every day and a half right now) was $2.00 now $5.00
A small bottle of laundry detergent I used to be able to get for less than $2. Now $6.
Ice Cream (I understand the cost has gone up nationally). I never used to pay more than $4 for my gourmet variety. Now, the cheap box kind is $7.
The gerber 2 packs of puree'd baby food, around $1 back home. Now the cheapest I've seen is $2.23.

Running a load of laundry (having your own washer/dryer here is crazy-rare) is about $5 per load (washed and dried).

I also don't recognize any brand names, anymore. I'll have to learn what's quality and what's rubbish.

I know I'm still acclimating - Have I only been here 3 weeks? - and eventually I'll learn what a 'good price' looks like, here, and I can wait for things to go on sale and we'll hit our groove. Besides, trading the convenience of wide aisles for the New York experience is a total no-brainer.

But grocery shopping as an 'outing with the kids'?

That's right out.


Kristen said...

Wow this brought back such memories! And I just had 1 baby, but I remember how hard it was to navigate my tiny umbrella stroller in the groc aisles.
Plus they aren't really grocery "stores", more like "a tiny shop that has a few groceries in it".

I don't know what prices are like for it but I know some do grocery delivery. Good luck with it all!!

Danyelle said...

As funny as this sounds, check out internet grocery delivery services. There are a few items that I order from Amazon because I can't find them anywhere else and when I asked if Macey's could special order them, the price was 4times more than Amazon was. But my most important question is- does the tiny grocery store have treats at the check out for the little guys? If not, then my kids would NEVER go shopping there. :/

*gu* said...

I can think of nobody better-equipped to handle this adventure than you and your adorable family!

Amy said...

I don't know how close an Aldi store is to you, but when I lived in the midwest they were my salvation! I'll compare it to Maceys but in the Mid-west. And their off brand stuff still tasted really good! Even the ice cream (very important to me).

Here's their website: http://aldi.us/

Go to their store locator, type in your zipcode and see if there's one near enough to you for a day trip (that is if you took your car with you).

Tamsin North said...

Could one of you run to the grocery store while the other one stays home with the kids? Maybe after Bill gets home?
I second (or third) the grocery delivery. A roommate and I even did that in little ol' Provo because neither of us had a car, and it was a think of beauty.
And aren't little grocery stores in New York called bodegas? Please say yes, I think that's so cute.

That Girl said...

Sounds like Brazil. I had to go to the grocery store every other day, with my baby strapped to my chest, my arms completely laden.

It wasn't fun.

My advice? (If you want advice) - ask around. You are NOT the only one with three kids living in NYC. I'm sure there are even people who have MORE. (It's true. Really.) Google some blogs. Ask what they do. You might have to go at night, when the hubby's home. (I know - I hate that too. Cuts into precious couple time.) Make some friends, too. Then you might be able to do a grocery store swap - you watch hers while she shops, then you switch.

As for the prices - I have no idea. Good luck with that one?

P.S. I got a very sweet notes today that might have made me cry. I might have written at least five drafts in my head so far.