I Heart TJ’s

Despite really really liking it, I don’t shop at Trader Joe’s that often (I know, I know, I know). It’s really out of sheer laziness. I like Safeway, it’s close and it has it all. But I don’t always love the prices there and TJ’s does have great stuff so I’m making a bigger effort to split the groceries up and maybe save a little cash in the process.

Yesterday afternoon after nap time, I persuaded Baylor into the car for a grocery run with the promise of a mini cart at TJ’s. She was intrigued by going somewhere new – this kid has a memory like an elephant. She knows where all her friends and relatives houses are, which street we turn for school and which street leads the way to our favorite restaurant. She also knows where we get our hair cut, where Safeway is and where the pet store is and points them out as we drive. It’s a little scary what she remembers sometimes (like how to get to the airport after not driving there for 6 months…). As we drove, I was relating where the store was in relation to where we get our hair cut. This satisfied her that it wasn’t “real real far” and so she turned her attention to the mini carts.

As we walked in the door, she spotted them. It was like nirvana. A real grocery cart in a real grocery store. She asked me for a wipe to get the handle (just in case there was any doubt about her being my kid) and we proceeded to the produce section. All the while getting smiles and nice comments from everyone she passed.

It was there that I learned that mini carts are not as awesome for the parent as they are for the kid. You know why? Because they are the perfect height to cut your achilles tendon. The third time I was flat tired by the little cart, I became terrified of it. I couldn’t let B out of my sight – it was less about her being kidnapped and more about self-preservation. Much much more. The carts come with a long pole attached to them (security? location? I have no idea) which I proceeded to use as a guide to keep her in my peripheral vision so that I could keep my ankles from being accosted. She was less than pleased about this, but was easily assuaged by a jar of enchilada sauce so all was well.

The kicker was the checker gave her about 2 dozen stickers at the check out. I was so proud when she sweetly pointed to one sticker in the bunch and asked if she could have that one, rather than assuming they were all for her. When the nice checker told her that they were all for her, there was a brief moment where I’m certain she thought about asking if she could move in. And really, who could blame her? The brilliant part is that now she’s asking me “do we need to go to the grocery store??”.

I couldn’t get her to open her eyes for the pic – any time spent taking her eyes off the stickers was a total waste, in her opinion.

The CarCart – Bain of my Existance

What I want to know is this: who is the asshole who created the car cart at the grocery store?? Because this person should be forced to push this contraption around with them everywhere they go and see what a pain in the ass it is.

First of all, the placement of the car is not helpful. It’s low and in front of the basket which makes it impossible to A. steer and B. see where you’re going. Many an end of aisle display has been damaged by these beasts.

Second, because the actual car part is low to the ground, the kiddo is constantly hanging out a window or the windshield trying to get a better view. Or worse case, she decides it’s more fun to push the cart. Thus making what is already an annoying process, impossible.

Third, the damn things are always filthy. I even asked the manager at Safeway (who is on a first name basis with both Baylor and I because we’re there so much) if they could clean them. He says they sprayed them in bleach and scrubbed and they still look like a herd of pigs stomped through them.

I’ve had to resort to more and more elaborate lies to keep B out of them. The car is out of gas, it’s stuck, it’s broken, it’s only for big kids…the list goes on an on. And then there are days where the lies just don’t work and I give into the persistence. Only to end up pushing the cart with the help of my assistant – which turns a half hour trip into an hour plus. All the while cursing the car cart….

Coupons Shmoopons

I keep seeing the commercials for this show called Extreme Couponing on TLC. Here’s the link: http://press.discovery.com/us/tlc/programs/extreme-couponing/

Basically, these women go to crazy lengths to get multiple coupons which then lead to their entire grocery bill totalling $0. Meaning they have so many coupons, they don’t have to pay anything.

I do grab a few coupons here and there when I get them in the mail or from family members who don’t use them. My sister and I trade the leftovers from each Sunday’s paper and I end up with a little stack each week for the grocery. I refuse to buy anything that I don’t need or a brand I don’t like. If it’s not Jiffy Peanut Butter, I’m not interested.  Lately, I’ve had a few duplicates and I was very excited to live my own Extreme Couponing dream knowing that a few items on my list would be totally free. The money saving is just a bonus. Really, it’s turned into a challenge so saving money means duh, WINNING.

And here’s where I call bullshit on the Extreme Coupon movement. I have been to Safeway, Target, Fry’s and even (gasp) WalMart. And let me tell you, NONE OF THEM will take more than one coupon per item. Meaning if I buy one box of Truvia sweetener and I have three coupons, I can only use one coupon per box.

So how are these people doing it?! If WALMART won’t help me out, who will? Do these women stalk the cashier that they know either doesn’t know or  doesn’t care about the number of items to the number of coupons ratio?? That said, how are they buying 20 boxes of pasta for free? Are there coupons out there for the total cost of an item?? And who needs 20 boxes of pasta??

I guess my experiment goes down in the “failed” column. And I can stop trying to hoard extra coupons from family and friends and take a few dollars saved as a win. And leave the food hording, paper cut fingers, dumpster diving for tossed newspapers and cashier convincing to the “professionals”. You win ladies, you win.