Grocery lists aren’t what they used to be. Or perhaps I should say they’re inherently different than they were before the advent of the smartphone. People no longer simply jot down a comprehensive list of the sorts of things they need with regard to food, toiletries, and paper goods. Instead, they “tell” their phones what they need or type those necessities into the notes app as a reminder — or at least I do. Then I can conveniently add items on the go, not once having to deal with finding a fresh scrap of paper or a pen that actually writes.
Even still, our family uses a notepad that is housed within a tiny cabinet in our kitchen, a place that is practical if nothing else. It goes without saying, however, that half the battle is getting certain inhabitants to REMEMBER to add things to that list. I am no exception as I often forget to jot stuff down when we run out of it. I, of course, convince myself that I’ll easily recall the fact that I’m almost out of dental floss, but somehow it doesn’t wind up on the almighty grocery list, which means I’ll have to forego the joy of removing food particles from my teeth until one of us gets to the blasted store.
I can’t even imagine trying to explain what a struggle this is to my great-grandmother who lived in a very different time and place. She and my great-grandfather owned a grocery store in the early 1900s — a store that stocked hundreds of items that were available for order and delivery. I still have a framed original of the order form, one that has since yellowed but hangs in my kitchen in all its glory.
Yes, Ovaltine made the list of must-haves at Mrs. Ray Rose’s Store back then, as did Wheaties and Vicks VapoRub. Aprons and dresses, too.
Cheetos — not so much.
I guess it comes as no surprise that grocery delivery is still a relatively popular service these days, just not in my house. We prefer to traipse around in a store ourselves, plucking items from the shelves in hopes that we purchase the exact variety of shampoo/conditioner our teens requested. It’s no wonder we screw up from time to time though, as there are roughly 17 adjectives that describe said shampoo/conditioner — all of which must be present on the bottle we end up throwing in the cart. Heaven forbid we bring home the wrong kind. There’s always a fair amount of hell to pay, aside from dealing with a shopping cart with a rogue wheel and a parking lot full of idiots.
One way we’ve found to alleviate such incidents, however, is to turn to our dear cell phones, once again — this time employing the camera function to great benefit. Whenever someone in our family requests a grocery item with RIDICULOUS SPECIFICITY, he or she simply takes a picture of the packaging TO INCLUDE ALL NECESSARY DESCRIPTORS and then texts it to the individual planning to visit the grocery store next, which is usually my husband. For some unknown reason, he seems to draw the short straw when it comes to running errands. In that way (at least in theory), there can be no misinterpretation or confusion about what to buy.
Thus far, this system has served us well, except when it doesn’t. Perhaps more frustrating than having to search the aisles for an elusive product is discovering that its manufacturer recently decided to change the packaging, making the mission to find said product almost impossible. The only way to circumvent choosing the wrong item is to physically bring all interested parties to the store, which is often met with audible groans of disapproval. At least they can then be responsible for picking out the wrong product themselves and refrain from blaming someone else.
Planet Mom: It’s where I live, probably texting my husband in the grocery store — ad nauseam. Visit me there at http://www.melindawentzel.com and http://www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom. Now available in bookstores: On Motherhood: Fireflies to First Dates: A Collection of Planet Mom Essays.