Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Commissary Run

I go to the commissary every week for our grocery run.  At first I thought going every week was excessive, but it's what works for our family, so that's what I do.  I tried going on different days of the week--when we first moved here, I was going on a weeknight after the kids went to bed...but that was very stressful, and Dan was never happy about me cutting out early on the bedtime process if I had to run to get there before the commissary closed.  I never wanted to lose a weekend day at the grocery store, but now I've resigned myself to the fact that the weekend is the best time to go--usually Sunday mornings, when the place is somewhat quiet, and I've had a full day to clip coupons and make my list (coupons come in the Saturday paper here, for some reason!).  I don't take the kids with me to the grocery store--for one, it's too distracting, and for two, I couldn't fit them and everything I buy in a cart!  I go so often because we eat a lot of fruits and veggies--I buy a honeydew, a cantaloupe, 4 pounds of strawberries, 2 pints of blueberries, at least 15 bananas, red grapes, at least 5 apples, cherub tomatoes, 3 red peppers, 3 yellow peppers, 3 orange peppers, broccoli, carrots, and green beans every time I go.  Writing that all out makes me feel a little crazy, but that's seriously what I buy.  When watermelon is in season, we always add that to the list, and occasionally I rotate clementines in.  Sometimes the amount of fresh food I buy amazes me!  I almost never have coupons for the produce, either, which is a bummer.

this stuff isn't cheap!

I also get our toiletries at the commissary--toilet paper, paper towels, toothpaste, vitamins, cleaning supplies, soaps, medicines, etc.  Those items along with the food we need for the week brings my weekly commissary budget to around $150.  Everything at the commissary is tax free, which is great, but they charge an operational "surcharge" that may as well be tax...overall, though, I think I save by shopping at the commissary.  The commissary produce isn't always in the best shape, though, so sometimes I have to run to the regular grocery store outside the military gates to get stuff that will last for the week.  I am not the best coupon shopper, but again, with all the fresh produce I buy, I'm not sure how I could do much better coupon-wise--I tend to save between 10-20% every week with my coupons.

I have commissary shopping down to a science now, after I don't know how many trips--at least 52, since we've lived here for more than a year!  I always start on one end of the store and make my way methodically to the other, crossing stuff off my list and checking my coupons.  Going to the commissary is often my only "outing" to myself in a week (other than my workout classes these days)--sometimes my only outing, period, as sad as that seems.  So a lot of times, I bring my iPod and totally zone out, enjoying my "me time" even though I firmly believe that grocery shopping does not in any way count as "me time."  I sing as I walk down the aisles and totally don't care if people are staring at me.  Dan thinks this is bizarre and that I must make a big spectacle of myself, but people usually just smile at me--and a lot of other folks wear iPods, too.  This past weekend, though, I somehow got off my game, even though I didn't even bring my iPod and wasn't at all distracted...I ended up heading UP an aisle that I usually head DOWN.  That doesn't seem like it would be a big deal, but for a mildly OCD person like myself, it was a mess!  Obviously, the items in the aisle are the same no matter the direction from which you approach, but getting turned around totally threw me off.  My usually-efficient grocery run became a maze of confusion until I somehow righted myself again...and I'm not even sure how I did that, even though the easiest thing to do would have been to just turn around and walk one aisle again...  I blame the fact that it was my bigger, end-of-the-month shopping trip (always cramming in a ton of expiring coupons!) and I was buying some less-familiar stuff for Dan's promotion ceremony--but no matter the cause, I was totally thrown for a while.

Despite my aisle confusion, I got a compliment from the bagger when checking out.  (No, that is not normal at the commissary or anywhere else!)  At the commissary, folks bag your groceries for you, and then walk with you to your car and load the bags into your car for you, in exchange for a few dollars' tip (yet another bite into my shopping budget!).  The lady bagging my groceries this weekend told me that I am very organized about how I put my items on the belt, so that it makes it easier for the baggers--ie, fruits and veggies all at the end, milk at the beginning, canned goods all together, etc, etc.  Apparently this is rare for "people of my generation."  I just told her that I have lots of practice grocery shopping--ha ha!  She was probably just angling for a good tip.  Truly, when you grocery shop once a week, you get good at it--but I wasn't honestly trying to be organized.  It just happened to be how I took things out of my cart, and I'm sure it doesn't happen every time.  It struck me as a funny thing on which to be complimented, though--apparently, I rock the commissary check-out more than my peers...you know you're jealous!

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