This is probably a grocery trip I’ll remember for a while, too.
It’s a well documented fact that there is one grocery store in my town. There is also a Walmart, but it’s not as big on the groceries as I know some Walmarts can be, especially in the meat and produce departments.
Like a lot of communities during the current heat situations, things moved very quickly. One day things were mostly fine and the next there were confirmed cases in our town and the stores were mobbed. The two stores that carried food.
This was the first grocery trip of my new reality, but I wouldn’t say it is the new normal. I think the new normal comes in a week or two, when we all get used to the fact that there are shortages on some items. The new normals come when the panic subsides and we all buy what we know we need, not the panic buying that comes from wanting a thing, not seeing it, and then over buying a different thing to compensate. I was definitely guilty of that this trip. The new normal comes when we’re smarter and calmer about our circumstances, even if the circumstances haven’t changed right now.
But this was not that new normal. This was a transition, this was the space between what we had so quickly left behind and what we had no idea was in our future. This was something new, but it wasn’t normal.
This was my routine grocery shopping trip. This was the weekly trip I make to feed my family, not a stock up trip or an emergency trip. It took me about six seconds to realize this was not going to be the average grocery trip that I talk about on a weekly basis. But before I talk about about my experiences, the choices I made, and the cheese I managed to find, I would be remiss if I did not address the staff at my Kroger, and all Krogers, and all grocery, supermarket, and food serving establishments. Y’all are heroes. You are amazing. You were calm, professional, and courteous. In a sea of crazy, you were a still, strong port. I don’t think I could have done what y’all did, are doing, and will continue to do during this time of uncertainty. You are amazing. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
While the behavior at my store from shoppers was mostly civil, there was definitely some tension in the way people were communicating, the way they were moving through the store. But the real tension was in my own brain. I was not mentally prepared for how shopping in an emergency situation would affect me. I went into what I have since named, a Compensation Trance.
It goes like this: I would look for the thing I wanted, bread. There would be no bread. I would start to panic, and in order to fight the panic I would buy an unrelated item that was in stock. In this case, pickles. The Compensation Trance carried me through the store. I would up with many things in my cart that, at the end, I had no memory of putting there. That includes: Stovetop Stuffing, a type of cheese I have never purchased before, pickles-even though I bought some a week or two ago, and something that shows up on my receipt as WNDR HAL. I have absolutely no idea what WNDR HAL is, or why I paid $4.99 for it. I have inspected this picture a dozen times for clues and still come up empty. I’m sure I bought it, I just don’t know what it was, or if I already ate or used it or what. Compensation Trance.
Along with the Compensation Trance comes the compensation spending. I spent way more on this trip than I wanted to or planned (why was WNDR HAL $5??), and by the time I arrived home I was almost in tears. This was not smart shopping.
But luckily, I married a man who is kind and gracious. When I burst into tears that we were going to be so over budget because of WNDR HAL, his response was so loving: “Well, then we’re over budget. We’ll just just take it from the entertainment budget. We won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, anyway.”
- Activia Yogurt, 4 pack (4)-$10.76. This one was actually on purpose! We got this from Costco on sale and my girls are crazy about it.
- Bananas, 2.62 lb-$1.55.
- Beech Nut Pouches (5)-$4.45. In-store sale, $.89 each.
- Black Grapes, 2.25 lb-$2.18.
- Ben & Jerry’s-$3.49. *Digital Coupon* for $1 off.
- Boar’s Head Sandwich Pepperoni, .5 lb-$4.75.
- Clementines, 5 lb-$4.99. You guys, I’m such a dummy. HERE are the WNDR HAL. Wonder Halos. Mystery solved. ;)
- Dello Pasta (3)-$5.98. These were the only two pasta products in my entire store. They were organic and expensive, but they were pasta.
- Frozen Salmon, 1.25 lb-$5.99. Compensation Trance when I saw there was no chicken.
- Gala Apples, 2.20 lb-$2.18. In-store sale, $.99 a pound.
- Granny Smith Apples, 2.74 lb-$2.71. In-store sale, $.99 a pound.
- Kraft Salad Dressing-$2.19. Compensation Trance.
- Kroger Canned Mandarin Oranges (2)-$1.78.
- Kroger Italian Sausage, 2 lb-$7. Two for $7, but Compensation Trance, really.
- Kroger Milk, 2 gal-$4.38.
- Kroger String Cheese-$2.99. *Digital Coupon* for $.40 off.
- Mom’s Best Cereal-$3.29.
- Monterey Jack Cheese-$2.19. Manager’s Special.
- Mt. Olive Pickles-$2.29.
- Pepper Jack Cheese -$4.26. Compensation Trance.
- Private Selection Angus Steak-$11.51. Manager’s Special. I have no idea how many pounds, I just grabbed it.
- Private Selection Ice Cream, .5 gal-$3.49. *Digital Coupon* for $1 off.
- Private Selection Wildflower Turkey, 1 lb-$7.71.
- Raspberries, 6 oz (2)-$5.
- Red Gold Canned Tomatoes (4)-$4. The store was out of pasta sauce, but you can always make your own!
- Red Grapes, 1.75 lb-$1.70. In-store sale, $.97 a pound.
- Red Leaf Lettuce, 1.06 lb-$1.79.
- Roma Tomatoes, 1.11 lb-$1.43.
- Salmon Filets, 2.48 lbs-$16.82. *Digital Coupon* for $3 off any Seafood Purchase. It brought the price for to $6.82 a pound.
- Silk Almond Milk (2)-$3.98. *Digital Coupon* for $1 off the original price of $2.99.
- Simple Truth Organic Baby Pouches (10)-$7. *Digital Coupon* for $3 off Simple Truth purchase.
- Starbucks Coffee-$5.49. *Digital Coupon* for $1.50 off. The last whole bean one in the store. I had to reach very far back.
- Stovetop Stuffing (3)-$8.07. I’ve got a free, leftover turkey in the freezer, so this one kinda makes sense.
- Strawberries, 2 lbs-$4.99.
- $.50 off entire purchase Catalina from last week’s Gerber purchases.
- Apps I’ll submit to: Fetch Rewards, Ibotta ($.10 Off Any Item), CoinOut
Total Budget: $99.77
Total Spent: $161.88
Total Saved: My receipt didn’t say. It looks like they’re making the receipts shorter.
Deducted from Next Week: $62.11
I was able to get some things I very much needed (milk, meat) and a few things I didn’t urgently need but will definitely use, in the future. I’m very going to say no to pickles.
We don’t know what the future will bring, but my hope for you, and for me, is that this tense transition is fast, that we settle into a new normal quickly, that we’re able to be grateful for the things that are available, and keep calm over the things that aren’t. We’re all in this together. Sending you all the pixie dust for your next essential grocery trip.
Kristen B. is wife to the best Prince around, mama to the spunkiest little princesses, and lover of all things Disney. She started her savings journey five years ago and is now dedicated to making her family’s wishes come true one coupon at a time. She is so excited to take her love of saving to the next level and share her journey with you! Click here to catch up on Kristen’s Savings and join in on your own savings adventure!