;Twas the day of good christmas and all through the house, the food was casually burning, not a piece good enough, even for a mouse. The fire extinguisher was hung by the oven with care, in hopes the fire department would not have to ;soon be there….Ok ok, our family christmas dinner may not have turned out this bad, but the potential was definitely there! In my last post (read it HERE) I spoke of how shopping for holiday presents was not my favorite pastime, and shopping for groceries ranks right up there with it. The aisle are crowded, the check out lines are long, and I, like many other frustrated shoppers, can manage to walk in for a quick trip with specific items in mind, walk out an hour and a half later with 250 dollars with of junk food none of which were on my original quick list, nor do they manage to make one complete meal. Most of the time it is just my husband and I and two cats (who are not that picky thankfully) so the meals tend to be quick and easy. But this week we are hosting our first ever family Christmas dinner. Thats right folks, I, Jennifer Lynne Shidler, is cooking a meal from start to finish, (hopefully with out the aid of the fine members of the Temple Fire Department). In order to prepare for such an event, that means that Matthew and I had to set off on adventure that I genuinely try to avoid. Holiday grocery shopping. After all is said and done, I managed to get all the items I needed and developed another one of my infamous “how to” lists!
So Your Cooking Your First Christmas Dinner. Part 1.
How to successfully shop for your first ever Christmas Dinner
Go with a game plan. ;weeks before the actually shopping marathon commences, i like to do a ‘steak out’ (yes pun intended) the store in question. Just like a bank robber casing the joint before the big show goes down, i like to go and map out the aisles, make a color coded diagram and perhaps a shoe box diorama if i have the time. If your lucky/patient enough, you will learn the patterns and schedules of the cashiers. Allowing you to track and record their items scanned per minute average and their average customer service calls per transaction. This step is key as the check out process is one of the most stressful steps. ;
Know your grocery cart “types” There is nothing worse than setting out on a long journey with a bum cart. There are 3 ;
main cart types found in your common grocery stores. First is the squeaker. You know, that cart that sounds like it is auditioning for a solo in the carol of the bells. About halfway through the store you find a squeaky rhythm and next thing you know you have developed your own lyrics and they are now stuck in your head for the next 3 days. The next is the infamous Texas sidewinder. This is the cart that acts like an attention deprived dog on a leash in a park full of cats. You may start out going straight in the aisle, next thing you know your making 90 degree b lines into on coming carts, shelving unites and small unattended children. The last, and possibly the worst cart is the “rode hard and put away wet” cart. This, i think is the worst of all the carts. It is commonly found after a severe rain storm or snow blizzard and was perhaps pulled out of a retention pond just minutes before ending up in your capable hands. The handle bar is either unbearably cold/frozen, sopping wet or an awkward sticky mixture that no amount of wet wipes can fix. Old receipts and mailers are paper machined to the bottom of the basket, zip ties and old gum are holding the only things holding the wheels together and plastic bags are hanging off like streamers. This cart is likely on its last legs but still remains in the cart line up. A week before the event go to the store and tag/pre-select the perfect shopping cart. (don’t be afraid to whip out the GPS trackers) in an effort to secure the perfect cart for your shopping adventure.
Organization is Key. My weapon of choice is an oversized clipboard. Nothing says “back off, I am a serious shopper on a mission” like a clipboard and highlighter with the above mentioned color coded diagram laminated and taped to the back. This not only keeps you on point with what you need and helps minimize the back track blues. Because lets face it, no one wants to be all the way on the straight away of the last leg of a race, only to find that they missed a lap and have to go around again. (Yep, I’m just that lazy) The clipboard also gives you a point of reference to help you see the light at the end of a very long tunnel. You not only need to organize with your clipboard, but you need to keep that perfect cart organized itself. While putting a 12 pound turkey on top of 2 dozen eggs sounds like a winning idea, it really is not. (nor is the bread) ; ; ; ;
Dress the part. Just like the map of middle earth, the different regions of a grocery store require different attire. Tennis ;
shoes are a must. You need to be able to weave in and out of traffic, dash quickly from one end of the aisle to another, jump high, crouch low. The pants and shirt don’t really ;matter, but a easy to remove jacket for the dairy and frozen food sections and perfect grip gloves are ideal for cold grab and go’s. The closer you get to the finish line you can shed the layers!
Don’t be afraid to help direct traffic. It is no secret that one of the most frustrating parts of grocery shopping is the people. Everyone has a cart, everyone has a mission, and we all end up in the same aisle grabbing for the same things at the same time. Just like driving on the open road, knowing the traffic rules in the grocery store could save you a lot of time and energy. It is for this reason that I like to step up and be a leader! ;I bring with me a yield sign, stop sign, an LED blinking light for left turns, and the ever popular back up beeper. But please remember, if you take on this responsibility, know the rule book and memorize the ‘right of ways’. Women with children and elderly people get the right of ways. 25 year old men with beer bellies and a bulk size containers of cheesy puffs ;wait until the green left turn arrow appears. This is non-negotiable. ;
When the sign says, please ask for assistance for items on the top shelf, do it. There is not time in the busy holiday season to make a quick trip to the local emergency room because you didn’t foresee the 10 pound bag of flour falling on your head from the top shelf. ;
Last but not least, try not to take notes in a busy crowded aisle for your semi popular blog as this will back up traffic and will inevitably leave the people around you irritated making your cart an open target for unwanted items placed their by bored strangers. It is funny until you get up to the check out counter with 5 days worth of baby food and preparation h and you don’t have a baby or hemorrhoids.