Tag Archives: food

The Ten Commandments of Grocery Shopping

Given the fact that the employees at my local grocery store see me more than my own family does, it’s safe to say that I have quite a bit of experience pushing a full cart around.

While I generally enjoy the experience because a) I love finding and checking things off of a list and b) food, there are a few simple things that would make it better for all those involved.

Thou shall not leave your cart in an empty parking spot.

There are two kinds of people in this world: 1) those who return carts to the cart corral and 2) a-holes. Leaving a cart to find it’s own way home often results in the cart camping out in a parking spot someone will inevitably pull halfway into before realizing the cart is there and angrily backing out, pissing off people behind them. The carts have a home. Help them find their home.

Thou shall not walk down the center aisle of the parking lot.

You do not have super-human pedestrian powers that override people in their cars trying to get past or around you. Pick a side — any side — and no one gets hurt.

Thou shall travel up and down the aisle like a civilized person.

Up one side, down the other. If you’re barreling down the middle or the wrong side like a linebacker and clip my cart, I am not above throwing a shoulder. Also, try to refrain from doing a 180 halfway down a jam-packed aisle only to amble along as if you’re taking in the sights of the Louvre. It’s soup. Not the Sistine Chapel.

Thou shall obey the express line rules.

The sign says 15 items or less. It does not say, “Everything you can stick in the small-ass cart you chose instead of regular cart.” That does not refer to the number of item types, but the actual item count. For example, those 75 cans of soup that took you 15 minutes to pick out does not count as a single item. You are not a special snowflake. If everybody ignored this rule, it would just be a regular line.

Thou shalt not decide against the frozen pizza you picked up in the frozen foods section and then place it on the shelf next to the shampoo.

Really? Come on now, people.

Thou shall respect the invisible checkout line bubble of personal space.

Regardless of how close you creep up or how many items you throw on the belt, you will be next — after me. If you continue to creep up, I will pretend to go through my coupon keeper for an extraordinary amount of time and chit chat with the cashier…unless you would like to pay for my produce. In that case, you have a deal.

Thou shall treat the cashier with respect.

This means not chatting on your phone while she’s ringing up your groceries or getting ticked when she won’t accept the four expired coupons you thought she’d ignore. If you get caught trying to sneak in an expired coupon, just let it go. It’s 35-cents off of dish soap. You’ll survive.

Thou shall not stop at the exit to go over your receipt.

Once given your receipt and all 300 extra pieces of paper that get pumped out of the printer with it, do not stop and read the receipt like it’s a treasure map. There is nothing on that paper that is that important that you need to throw on the brakes and cause a backup. Move it along.

Thou shall reconsider the self-checkout.

Know your limits. Can you find a bar code on a product? Match the picture of bananas on the screen to the bananas in your cart? Flatten paper money to insert into a slot? If you answered “no” to any of those questions, don’t be a hero. Go through the normal checkout.

Thou shall not stalk for a parking spot.

Finally, do not slowly drive behind me at 5 mph impatiently waiting for my parking spot that is often only two down from another available spot. Unless you’re going to get out and help me unload my groceries into the back, your insistence on sitting there, impatiently revving the engine on your minivan, will force me to do a full vehicle check — interior and exterior — before getting back in and leaving 5 minutes later.

Thank you for shopping with us.

Have a nice day.

Originally published in 2014.

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My Twitter Account Reads Like a Dysfunctional Food Network Show

They say you should write what you know, which is why I never write about math, sex, or spelling “camouflage” right on the first try. 

And even though my Food Network show would just be me sitting on the couch watching Food Network, it’s been brought to my attention from myself that I tweet a lot about food — eating it, pretty much daily trips to go buy it, and wearing it more than I care to admit. 

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So I decided to share a few of the highlights from the past couple of months, you know, in case Food Network is reading or something…

What can I say? Bon appétit!

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How to Properly Use the Grocery Belt Divider

The fact that the employees at my local grocery store know me and ask where I’ve been if I don’t stop in every couple days gives you an indication of how often I’m at the store.

But don’t worry.

This won’t be about how watching some people use the self-checkout is like watching fish ride a bike or how people still don’t know how to go up and down an aisle. 

No, this is about the plastic grocery belt dividers.

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I enjoy the grocery belt divider for the practicality and simplicity it provides.

Placed on the belt, it divides my order from the one in front and the one in back. There should be no confusion as to where one order starts and one order ends. If for some reason confusion does arise, it’s not hard to clarify and say, “Oh, that’s not my stuff.”

However, there are still people who are entirely too concerned that the cashier will confuse their things with the next persons, protectively creating about two feet of extra “empty” grocery belt space between their order and the divider.

Intercom announcement to this person ahead of me: I did not load up my cart and assume that I could sneak 25 items to the end of your order, dupe you into paying for them and then follow you out to the parking lot to retrieve said items.

But with that said, I do have an issue with the people behind me from time to time. While I don’t exhibit the behavior mentioned above and graciously place the divider at the end of my order, this is apparently not enough for some people. No, instead of waiting for the cashier to move the belt along, they insist on using every single square inch of belt space up to the plastic divider.

This I can overlook, as it’s their own bread they’re squishing in an effort to unload their cart at warp speed.

What I can’t overlook is when they insist on using every single square inch of personal space past the plastic divider, creeping up closer to me with their cart and sighing so heavily at the apparent lack of cashier expediency that it blows my coupons off the checkout stand.

Intercom announcement to this person behind of me: Regardless of how close you creep up or how many items you throw on the belt, you will be next—after me.

If you continue to creep up, I will pretend to go through my coupon keeper for an extraordinary amount of time, chit chat with the cashier and lift up the plastic divider and put it back down repeatedly under the guise of making room for a pack of gum I am actually just using as a prop to piss you off.

But because I’m all about solutions, I propose that instead of the grocery belt divider, we install a plastic divider in the LINE to keep the person behind me from creeping up and invading my bubble.

It could be like a shower curtain or one of those things you walk through at sporting events that simply lifts up and down when appropriate.

Now I realize this plastic divider could be symbolic of the way our society is divided and that unity can only be achieved when we remove these barriers, blah, blah, blah. People who think that are insane. I’m all about being friendly, but we need personal space—on the grocery belt and in the line.

Intercom announcement: Until they install these new plastic people dividers, please just back your shit up.

Unless, of course, you would like to pay for my produce. In that case, I welcome you with open arms and an open grocery belt.

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Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Freak Out

Life advice from Abby:

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I would like to think I never overreact.

It’s not true, but I would like to think that about myself. The truth is that sometimes something like my spoon falling into my oatmeal can garner the same reaction from me as having to go to the hospital again or call a guy to remove a raccoon from my chimney–all three things that have happened entirely too much these past couple months. 

SPOON INTO THE OATMEAL, PEOPLE. 

Anyway, because I’m a helper, I decided to create a guide of sorts with a few questions you can ask yourself the next time you feel like flying off the handle.

Are you in the pasta aisle of the grocery store?

Good call. Pasta is delicious, but this is a maniacal maze of shapes, sizes, and sometimes even colors that if considered for too long, will drive even the most sane person to madness.

Do you want long or short? Small, medium, or large shells? Ziti? Rotini? Penne? Elbow? Bow tie? I DON’T KNOW I JUST WANT TO SMOTHER IT IN PESTO!

What to do:

Keep your eye on the prize–pasta, pesto, and other edible things that may or may not start with “p.”

Consider 1) the damage-to-clothes-while-consuming ratio–what affords you the least chance of spillage, 2) how much fork work you want to do –longer means more twirling while short means more stabbing and 3) why no one has invented macaroni made out of cheese in the first place.

Are you running?

Are you attempting to move at a rapid pace while wearing neon spandex? Are your muscles burning, along with your lungs and calories you just consumed from inhaling the eight pounds of pasta you just made because you can never figure out the right serving size? 

What to do:

Unless you are being chased by a wild animal, just stop. While physical exercise is vital, jarring your body up and down on hard pavement is not. No one should have to endure that. Cease and desist immediately. Take off your Nikes, post on social media about how you just went for a run, and nama-stay on the couch in corpse pose to recover. Power yoga for the win!

Are you dealing with Comcast?

Have you been on hold for 45 minutes? Are you refreshing your browser every .03 seconds and restarting your router only to get the same browser error? THIS IS A LEGIT REASON TO PANIC!!!

What to do:

Unfortunately, there are some things out of your immediate control, and you will probably find yourself going through the five stages of grief–denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance–while on hold for the third hour. This is natural. Let it happen.

When you’re finally connected to a person who assures you that they’re working on the problem, let them know you’ll be “working” on paying your bill whenever you get around to it. Once your connection is restored, be sure to make at least four jokes about “Comcrap” on social media. This appeases the gods.

Are you reading an inspirational quote?

Are there uncomfortable words like, “success” and “motivate” or reference to “Keeping Calm and Doing Something Completely Random” shared by someone you thought as a “friend?”  You might be reading an inspirational quote.  

What to do: 

Distance yourself from that person immediately. Block. Unfriend. Do what you have to do to remove yourself from that situation. You don’t need that kind of pressure in your life, especially if you’re shopping for pasta that night. . 

Are you driving?

Are you behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, minding your own business and putting down an awesome version of Uptown Funk to the zero passengers in your car? Are you the only effing person on the planet who knows how to slightly lift one finger to use a turn signal or go the speed limit in the left lane OH MY GOD YOU DON’T HAVE TO BRAKE WHEN YOU’RE MERGING ONTO THE HIGHWAY!

What to do: 

Actually, if you’re already yelling that at a high volume and using selective hand gestures as you pass the idiot driving with their head up their ass, you’re already doing okay. Gold star. Keep those roads safe. 

Were you eating and now you’re not eating? 

Scene: You were eating. You reached for what you thought was the last bite of food, only to realize you had already eaten the last bite of food and now you’re so emotionally unprepared that you don’t know what you can do. Now you’re not eating. Now you’re sad. 

What to do: 

Wipe the tears and the crumbs from your face, take a deep breath and evaluate the situation. Is there possibly a piece of pita you dropped on the couch? Maybe under your napkin? If not, I suggest you go towards the light, and by that I mean the light in your fridge.

Remember, hummus is the spackle that can fill a hole in your heart.

If after asking these questions you still feel like freaking out, just make sure to do it loudly and in a public setting so we can enjoy the show. I’ve found sometimes people will even throw you some tips. I’ve made $24 this year alone which is enough for a cart full of pasta…

BUT OH MY GOD WHAT KIND?!? Here we go again.  

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Should You Use the Self-checkout?

I have written several times about the victories and defeats that happen each and every time I set foot in a grocery store–which is a minimum of four times a week–but there’s one thing I can no longer stay silent about.

Well, there are many things I can’t stay silent about, but this one is tops on the list–the self-checkout lane.

What should be an easy process–get in line, scan, pay, leave–is complicated by the fact that a) machines are machines and b) most people are not in fact smarter than the machine and make me question the whole theory of evolution.

So because I’m a helper, I have created a series of simple questions that will determine whether or not you should use the self-checkout lane.

selfcheckout

1. Can you count to 12? 

First of all, I’m referring to the Express self-checkout lanes. The sign says 12 items or less. It does not say, “Everything you can stick in the small-ass cart you chose instead of regular cart.”

And that does not refer to the number of item types, but the actual item count. For example, those 35 cans of soup that took you 15 minutes to pick out does not count as a single item. You are not a special snowflake. If everybody ignored this rule, it would just be a regular line.

So if you can’t count to 12, go through that regular line.

2. Can you form a straight line? 

In most cases, there are two sets of checkouts–three on each side. This does not mean that a line forms behind each one. There is one line–ONE LINE–that forms in the middle behind these two rows of machines.

And this is the important part: If you’re the first person in line, do not stand eight feet away from the middle of the two sides of checkouts, therefore blocking the rest of the floor for all the other shoppers and causing the line to snake all the way back through the produce section.

One line. A couple feet back from the registers. Not complicated.

3. Can you find the barcode on a product or match a picture on the screen to your product?

In order to scan an item, you have to scan the barcode. Find the barcode, scan it, and move on with your life. If there is no barcode, as is often the case with produce, they provide a menu on the screen that looks like a children’s matching game. See banana? Press banana button.

Yay! Look at you!

4. Can you put items in a bag?

You must place your scanned item in the bag. If you actually remembered to not only bring your reusable bag from home but also remembered to bring it into the store–showoff–use it and bypass trying to open the plastic bags provided (pretty good call.)

Either way, place the item in the bag. That’s it. If you put it back into your small-ass cart, the voice will yell at you that “an item has been removed.” If you place it there before you scan it, it will yell that there is an “unexpected item in bagging area.”

It’s all about timing. Scan. Place in bag. Proceed.

5. Can you flatten money to insert into the slot?

The voice coming out of the machine gives you two clear options–swipe card on the PIN pad or insert cash. That’s it. They’re telling you what to do. Don’t act surprised and look around, don’t pull out a wad of crumpled bills and expect them to be accepted, and don’t ask if you can write a check. 

You will always have to pay for your groceries. Swipe, insert bills, get a gold star. And seriously? A check? 

6. Can you move along when you’re done?

If there is a long line behind you, do not stand there when you’re done and read your receipt and all 300 extra pieces of paper that get pumped out of the printer with it like it’s a treasure map. There is nothing on that paper that is so important that you need to throw on the brakes and cause a backup.

Shuffle up a few feet and by all means, feel free to make a day out of your perusal. Just don’t block the now-vacant machine. Move it along there, buddy.

So I think that sums things up.

If you answered “no” to any of the questions above, reflect a bit on your limits, swallow your pride, and proceed to the nearest employee-manned checkout. 

Don’t be a hero.

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It’s Not Easy Being Me

I’ve never had my identity stolen, thank god, but I have had a few instances with identity theft-ish things with my taxes and debit card. Needless to say, it’s very stressful and not that much fun.

But with that said, these criminals obviously aren’t that bright if they’re trying to take my identity. Why?

Along with a variety of psychological malfunctions, you are also getting an intolerance to soy and bullshit. But even more than that, you’re getting a lot of responsibility. 

If you checked out my Twitter or Facebook pages, you would know that being me requires that you are:

First and foremost, a social butterfly who is totally a people person.

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Like a good neighbor, stay over there and be satisfied with the cursory “hello” head nod.

A chipmunk just ran into my leg, screamed and ran away. Given my history, it’s safe to assume it was male.

Relationship status: Just found an almond in my pajamas. This is as close to nuts in my bed that I’ve had in years.

I can tell just by talking to some people that they lift up the car door handle every time that you go to unlock it.

Age 23: Yay! Plans!
Age 33: Yay! Plans got cancelled!

I establish dominance at the store by never breaking eye contact with the person behind me when placing down the grocery lane divider.

Ever caught a 33-year-old woman singing “Uptown Funk” to the stray cat in her yard? If you’re my neighbor, you can say that you have.

I never talk on the phone while I’m driving. Or when I’m not. Basically I just avoid talking on the phone whenever I can.

I accidentally made eye contact with a creepy guy at the store while putting on ChapStick and now he thinks that we’re dating. 

Along those lines, you will be responsible for being a fashion icon.

I will never have the confidence of people who use magnifying mirrors.

Can someone else be a sex symbol today? My good T-shirt is still in the wash.

It took me two months to use a package of 7-day teeth whitening strips in case my dedication to beauty was ever in doubt.

I’ve never won the lottery, but I did just find a piece of cereal in my bra so I imagine it feels something like that.

If you played connect-the-dots with the stains on my shirt, it would reveal a picture of a grown woman who should probably use a bib.

I think I just blinded a chipmunk with the whiteness of my legs.

Well, set the “Consecutive days gone without spilling food on myself” calendar back to zero. It was good two day run.

An old man told me I reminded him of his late wife. I’m hoping he meant while she was alive. 

You don’t have to be Martha Stewart, but there is a certain domestic goddess status to maintain.

A good indication of your cooking skills is when you’re asked to just bring ice to a party.

A “Woman vs. Food” show but just me attempting to get food from the fork to my mouth without dropping it in my lap first.

I just used four paper towels to wipe out one Ziploc bag to reuse. I think I’m doing recycling wrong.

I just accidentally hit the switch for the garbage disposal instead of the light again. In related news, I no longer fear death.

The food isn’t done until the smoke detector says that it’s done.

I just burned my hand on the toaster. There will be no more fancy breakfasts around here.

I threw old kale under my feeder last night and now the squirrels are requesting coconut water and wearing yoga pants.

And finally, you are expected to be a motivational force, inspiring people with your knowledge.

Saw a guy pushing a “pull” door several times and instead of helping him, I said, “Never give up. Don’t let anyone tell you how to live.”

Sometimes I impress myself. Other times I try and get out of the car while still wearing my seat belt and wonder how I made it this long.

You say “bed.” I say “nocturnal worry pod of overanalysis.” It’s really just semantics.

My weekend to-do list just reads like a menu of things that I want to eat.

That’s one small step to the fridge, and one giant leap back to the couch.

The woman who cut in front of me at the store had a box of tampons, ice cream, and wine in her cart. I wasn’t about to mess with that situation.

All I’m saying is that I’ve seen more people smiling while eating than smiling while out on a run.

I just threw away my to-do list. Like I need that kind of stress in my life.

Stop, drop and roll is also great advice for when someone unexpectedly knocks on your door.

I woke up planning on being positive, but my spoon fell into my oatmeal and so now that plan has gone to hell.

If you’re happy and you know it, stay in bed. It only goes downhill from there.

Okay. So the answer to my problems wasn’t at the bottom of that jar of almond butter, but the important thing is that I tried.

If I burn my mouth on pizza one more time I will continue to eat pizza because it’s delicious and I can’t hold both a grudge and a fork.

“I’m in no mood for this today.”- Me, any time of any day when anything slightly inconveniences me.

I try to find the good in every situation. Wait. That was a typo. I meant “food.” I try to find the food in every situation.

I never forget a face. Just names. And dates. And why I walked into a room and where I was going with this.

See? It’s not easy being me, so you should probably just move on to someone else. Remember, I have issues.

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Grilled Cheese, Pie and Some Kids With Really Bad Hair

So…we meet again.

I’ll be honest in saying that I’m still trying to get my thoughts together on a more introspective post, but lately my thoughts by the end of the day involve introspection along the lines of, “I would like a second opinion on the fact this jar of hummus is labeled as eight servings” and “Why does the letter ‘W’ have so many damn syllables?”

alphabet

In other words, my brain is fried.

To be honest, these past couple of weeks have been a real emotional roller coaster. I’ve had some awesome unexpected things happen with work–I’m still one of those annoying people who loves my job–and my writing, but then I’ve also had some really unexpected crappy things happen.

We’re not talking life or death–I’m trying to keep perspective–but rather things beyond my control like a flooded basement with six inches of water and thousands of dollars of clean-up and sewer line replacement that wasn’t in the financial or emotional budget.

Let’s just say I’ve had more men going through my house this past week than I’ve had the past eight years combined. Unfortunately, none of them look like Bradley Cooper, unless Bradley Cooper suddenly morphed into a middle-aged, dirt-covered foreman with the stereotypical plumber’s crack.

Anyway, it kind of threw me because for the first time in a long, long time, I was feeling…happy? Content? I still have a long ways to go–and I need to save this ramble for that introspective post I’m pretending I will write–but I’m actually kind of okay. Not too high, not too low, but just settling into a new and slightly uncomfortable/unfamiliar normal. Then all this crap happened.

But, through the help of some friends and carbs, I’m trying to accept that something bad luck is just that–bad luck–and that good things happening are just good things happening. Sometimes it’s the result of hard work and sometimes it’s just a good thing. You have to accept both and not let either of them go to your head too much. It’s a constant work in progress.

But I digress–as usual.

Speaking of work, I thought I would drop a few links on you from 22 Words in case you want some good weekend reading. I’ll be back at some point with a more coherent post, but for now–what the hell is up with “W,” you know?

Detention Slips That Prove These Kids are Too Hilarious To Care (and hilarious comments on my Facebook page.)

30 Haircuts So Bad That These Kids Might Actually Hate Their Parents Now (We’ve all had a mullet…admit it.)

Hilarious Grocery Store Fails You Won’t Believe Actually Happened

30 Innocent Spelling Mistakes that Make These Kids Seem Completely Inappropriate 

20 Restaurants Where You Can Torture Yourself with Tasty but Insane Food Challenges (I’ll pass on 7 pounds of Italian food, thanks.)

Company Logos with Hidden Images You’ll Wonder Why You Didn’t See Sooner

40 of the Most Amazing, Mouthwatering Pies You’ll Ever See 

The Most Breathtaking and Dangerous Flowers in the World (Mother Nature is pretty kick-ass.)

Ridiculous Pet Products that Prove Some People Are Crazy (Three words: Dog sex toys.)

True Animal Heroes Who Saved People From Certain Death

35 Epic Grilled Cheese Sandwiches that  Celebrate April as National Grilled Cheese Month (Seriously. So much delicious. The end.)

And finally, I’m honored to say that I’m included among a fabulously talented group of women as a 2015 BlogHer Voice of the Year Honoree for my “10 Commandments of Grocery Shopping” post. I’m not tooting my own horn–I think it’s broken–but rather humbled and grateful and extending my congrats to everyone there on that list.

With that said, rambling over. See you back here next time.

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