Running Out of Groceries


Buying Groceries

Tuesday, December 5, 2017, was the last day my late wife went to the grocery store and purchased groceries. It’s not unusual I would remember a date. She usually shopped on a Tuesday. 

She worked retail for over fifteen years for the big box retail store based out of Northwest Arkansas. As a Christian and regular church attendee, she had Sunday and Wednesday for her scheduled days of work. Selecting those two days for her days off allowed her to attend church. Sunday and Wednesday as days off work permitted her not to have to work more than three consecutive days.

When she got off work on Tuesday, she just clocked off work at the time-clock and then moved obtained a shopping cart and bought groceries. Working at the big box store, she knew where everything’s location.

On December 7, 2017, she went into the hospital with a brain tumor that had a cause of Melanoma cancer. During the five months and five days between her admittance to the hospital and her death, I began my adventure in grocery shopping.

1-Ply or 2?

At first, I just picked up essentials like milk or toilet paper. I was shocked to find out there were multiple choices on dairy products and alternatives. I could buy milk or milk substitutes in gallons, quarts, half gallons, or pints. It came in cartons or jugs.

Toilet paper came in various quantities and plies. I had no clue what a toilet paper ply meant. So naturally, I Googled what does toilet paper ply mean.

I learned that toilet paper quality is often described and measured by the number of stacked sheets. The number of stacked layers the toilet paper roll is made of is called plies.

The 1-ply toilet paper is 1 layer thick. A 2-ply toilet paper is two sheets. An easy way to understand is to remember 1-ply toilet paper is often thought of as a lesser or commercial quality toilet paper. Think public potty.

The 2-ply paper is often considered as the premium quality paper. It has two stacked sheets per roll and is thicker and somewhat textured to provide ultra softness. Think private (or home) potty.

Naturally, I bought the wrong products. 

Using Cellphone Photos 

I started taking pictures of cartons of milk, packages of toilet paper, bags of cat food, dishwasher soap, etc. All I had to do is match my cell phone picture to the product on the shelf. That sounded easy except I couldn’t find all the products in the store. It took me six visits to locate the baking soda. Unfortunately, big box stores don’t always have employees who know where all the products are found.

And wouldn’t you know it, just as I started learning where things were the store decided to rearrange all its merchandise? Me getting frustrated accompanied the store’s reorganization.

During the time between my wife’s brain surgery and her death, I had help. My wife’s youngest sister spent the best part of the entire five months with us. She often bought the groceries.

And then my wife died, and everyone was gone. Not only was the house empty but soon the refrigerator and the cabinets and cupboards were bare. Oh sure, I could have gone out to eat instead of buying groceries and eating at home. Going out to eat is expensive and going by yourself is lonely.

Using a List

I found myself doing what the old Christmas song “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” advocates. I made a list, and I checked it twice. I put a notepad on the kitchen counter. Every time I would run out of this or that I would add it to the list. 

I would take my list and go to the grocery store. The first few times I went grocery shopping it took me one to two hours to buy the groceries. I would come home without twenty percent of the items on my list because I couldn’t locate them, I also came back with many things not on my list because I had impulse bought this snack or that treat. I found myself spending too much money on food and not having much to show for what I had purchased. Even worse, I found bread getting moldy, milk smelling funny, and lettuce and other fresh veggies changing colors before more eyes from having made purchases in the wrong quantities and without me checking on expiration dates.


I had to recalibrate my thinking and process. I adjusted the quantities bought to smaller amounts. I checked the expiration dates. I purchased less and made purchases more often.

I learned my way around the grocery department. I slowly walked up and down every aisle. I learned to buy the non-perishable items first and the refrigerated items later. If an item wasn’t on my grocery list, I didn’t buy it.

I’ve also been learning what can be frozen and how to allow time for something to defrost where it will be available to use at the day and time I need it.

It’s a Process

I have focused on creating a routine and a repeatable process. I try to shop from a list.  I go to the same store where I can learn where the foods are located as well as see the same employees. I try going on the same day of the week at the same time.

Why About Using Coupons?

My wife used them. I don’t even know where she got them. I’m not there yet. Maybe someday.

Photo Source: Pixabay

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