Tuesday, January 13, 2009

How To Almost Get Free Groceries



Recently the lovely Kim wrote a post about how she realized that fear is optional.  She gave a short list of things, large and small, that have triggered fear for her, including "Fear of the cashier listing my total and realizing I didn’t have as much cash as I thought I did."

This made me realize how fearless I am about things like that.  So fearless, in fact, that Greg sometimes wishes I would develop at least a tiny bit of doubt or self consciousness.  I'm quite a dork and it really doesn't bother me.  Well, sometimes it does, but mostly I'm fine with it.  When I read that item on Kim's list, I thought, "Well, let's see, I have to pick out food items that have already been bagged because they cost more than I have with me maybe every third shopping trip.  I think my fear of this happening is a great deal lower than it should be.  If I could only make that anxiety increase a bit, maybe I'd stop overfilling my shopping cart.  Maybe it's actually my optimism that causes me to take more than I have the cash on hand for.  Yes.  It's my optimism.  Not my idiocy.

The kids have been wondering lately why they need to learn math.  David has assignments where a few items are pictured with their price and he has a given number of zloty that he is supposed to spend any way he likes.  I need to explain to him that this exercise will come in handy in the future if he should happen to turn out like regular people who go shopping and buy the amount of food they have money for.  Or, if he takes after me and is an optimistic shopper, he can use it the way I do:  Fill the cart.  When all food is bagged and its cost is tallied, take the amount that you have gone over the amount of money you have in your wallet and remove items from the bags that together equal that amount.  Those math exercises really are useful for everybody.

And just one more example of why you should all hope to be seen with me in a grocery store. A few weeks ago I was shopping without kids, a rare treat.  As I was bagging my groceries (in my linen grocery bags-see, I DO care about the environment!) the checker noticed my tortillas and mentioned her surprise that they cost less than 6 zloty.  Poor lady!  I had to go on and on to her about how, "Yes!  Isn't it great!  All the other brands used to be about twice that, and lately I'd found some for about 9 zloty, but this new brand was so much less expensive!  I'm so glad because we use them all the time, etc. etc." (I was buying 5 packages, as you can never be sure in Poland if you'll ever see an item again, like the molasses that I was excited to see and didn't buy for three weeks, then on the fourth when I needed it, and went to get some it was gone, and I've never seen it since.) 

We chatted the whole time I filled my bags and as I  packed in the last few items, she asked what I do with those tortillas.  I explained all about the fajitas* I was making for dinner, in maybe too much detail (but she was interested, I promise!  She's from Mielec and has probably never had any sort of Mexican food) and when I had finished and answered all her questions, I smiled, said good bye and started pushing my cart away.  She called after me, "Um, you didn't pay for your food."  Oh yeah.  Oops.  I was far enough away at that point that I actually had to drag my cart a fair way back to pay her.  

Did I mention that I'm something of a dork?

Tani <span class=

money pictured is Polish money,  We won't convert to the Euro for a few more years.
* Love this recipe, although it has very unauthentic ingredients.  I substitute the chili powder with cumin and double the marinade so I can throw a little over the chicken and veggies and saute for one last minute before serving

21 comments:

Kazzy said...

I think dorks are awesome! Really. One of my sons is carefree about that kind of stuff and it is refreshing! And I really enjoy grocery store conversations!

Kaylynn said...

I am also a dork, and I am glad to meet others. When I have my kids, I can never have any conversations, but often have many when I can shop alone. The best way to teach kids how to spell words is by doing word sorts, and categories. A great resource: "Words Their Way" has sorts and a video explaining how to do sorts. Did I mention I'm getting my graduate degree in education, so I'm really a dork.

Josi said...

You were trying to get out of there with free groceries--admit it :-) I admire your dorkiness, I've pulled things out of my bag, but I hate it so much. Usually I take a pad of paper and add up as I go to make sure I don't find myself in that situation. bummer about the molasses, that would tick me off.

McEwens said...

ALMOST you got away!!! I am laughing here, notice I didnt say LOL!

MelancholySmile said...

My family was always on the brink of poverty when I was young. Going grocery shopping was a huge feat of mathematics- trying to get the most for your money. To this day, I do as my mother did. I have the cashier scan all the 'necessary' items first, give me a total, and then I decide if I can purchase the rest of the items in my cart, which I've categorized as 'can live without if we have to'. I do this even though I pay with a debit card and don't have to stick to an exact total. Long live dorks, eh?

Jillybean said...

I wonder if that would work at Wal mart?

Erin said...

I am so glad that Aldi takes debit cards now for this reason. But last week I filled my grocery to capacity as I always do at ALDI to stock up and swiped my card and it had expired! I am sure the bank had sent new cards and I had forgotten about it. I only had a few dollars in cash so I had to leave without any food. Now I keep going to make something and realize that I don't have an ingredient because I didn't actually get to buy all that food.

That is a good price for tortillas. Even cheaper than what you would pay in the states.

Annette Lyon said...

I'm a total spaz about sales and coupons. I'd be lost w/out The Grocery Game.com Brings me much joy to save money!

Abra said...

mmmmmmm, I want fajitas....

CaJoh said...

Before I met my wife and was single I used to have to carry my groceries home. This made me come up with the phrase "bulk-limit". This was the point I would not be able to carry the groceries home if I continued to put stuff in the cart.

Melanie J said...

I have the same fear as Kimberly does because I came up short at the checkout a couple of times in college.

However, since that was years ago, I think I need to trade that fear in for a new one, which is much more recent. I haven't walked off without trying to pay, but I have walked off without my purchase many, MANY times. So now I'm going to fear doing that and maybe it will make remember not to. Which was probably not the point of Kim's post but I think I'm on to something.

charrette said...

I'm famous for having my head in a completely different planet whilst attempting a grocery transaction. Have never quite forgotten to pay, but walked off without my loot plenty of times.

I never fear spending more than I brought because I never carry any cash. That would be far too limiting! :)

wendy said...

I hate going to the grocery store anymore --it is just me and hubby at home and we WASTE so much food which translates into WASTED money. Veggies and fruits spoil at an alarming rate --but hubbies ding dongs don't seem to last long. I try NOT to talk with people at the grocery store -don't make eye contact cause I usually like to go without my makeup and in my comfy sweats (don't want to be seen)

Melanie J said...

"Dollars" seem like a stupid name for money when there are people out there spending something cool like zloty.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

I have to agree with Erin about Aldi. I'm totally inept in a cash-only market. I can't count how many times I've had to go to the ATM to complete my order.

Emily said...

I'm s dork, too!

That's hilarious. I wish I could have seen you almost walk out the door without paying.

Heidi Ashworth said...

I finally made it here! I decided to go with the newest post to the oldest ones so that I had a marginal chance of being in the top 20 commenters in one or two of them. Phew! Anywho I want to go shopping with you! It sounds like so much fun! (I live with many anxious people. I love them but it does get old. It would be so great to go out with you when it was one of those days when you didn't have enough money for everything and to watch you just deal with it, cheerfully and with a smile, rather than me having to clean up after somebody's meltdown. Really!)

Anne said...

At least you didn't let someone pay for them! Last week I had run back from the register to exchange an item and when I came back the cashier wan't there. But some other lady was where I had been and had swiped her card. Turns out SHE was coming back for a transaction and while both my cashier and I were away from MY transaction she came back to the wrong register and paid for it!!!!! I guess I could blog about that!

Moody said...

The old, distract them with fajita recipes ploy, eh? I must try that! LOL

David Sibert said...

You thief! Haha Just kidding. I have done that too. I think that everyone has thought that they paid for their food.

Ola Zan said...

Lisa, this was a great observation. I thought I was the only person in the world who has that kind of fear. I actually gave up on one shop today because they are too impatient with me fearing if I have enough money on me(and then being mistaken in my calculations). But then I think it's their problem or their trial of patience. Take care