It Started With a Watermelon

Tara and I go grocery shopping pretty much every weekend. Usually, it’s an uneventful excursion. We pick up pasta and pork and peanuts, buy bananas and butter and bread, add apples and asparagus and artichokes, mix in milk and mayo and mustard, choose cherries and chicken and cheese. And then our cart is full, so we check out. It’s a simple process, one we could probably do in our sleep. But on a recent trip, everything that could go wrong did go wrong.

It started with a watermelon.

You know how sometimes selfish pricks people focus so intently on picking out the perfect jar of peanut butter and become oblivious to everybody else around them, they end up blocking the aisle? That happened to us the other day, only in the produce section. This woman was blocking our way because she was too busy examining every minute detail of a bunch of carrots. Or celery. Or lettuce. I don’t even know what she was checking out, but she was in our way, and no amount of passive-aggressive throat clearing was getting her to budge so much as an inch.

“Go around her,” Tara said.

So I pushed the cart around her, squeezing by to the right. Only I was too close to a box of watermelons, and suddenly they were bouncing onto the floor and rolling across the aisle. I suppose I should be thankful that none of them broke, but it was still embarrassing, gathering them up and restocking them while apologizing to our fellow shoppers and hoping no store personnel had witnessed this mishap.

We had barely recovered from that blush-worthy moment when Tara let a bottle of Worcestershire sauce slip from her fingers. It crashed to the floor and shattered into  pieces, a pool of noxious liquid seeping everywhere. Whoopsie. I had to track down an employee and tell him we needed a “clean up on aisle 6.” Now I can cross uttering that phrase off my bucket list. I didn’t exactly claim responsibility for the broken bottle – and by “didn’t exactly” I mean “not at all did I even imply we had caused the damage” – but in my defense, he never asked.

Ten minutes into our weekly shopping trip, and it had turned into a monumental FAIL. We were pretty frazzled after that, but we still had eggs on our list – gulp! – among other items. We pretty much tiptoed around the rest of the time, and triple-bagged everything when we finished. watermelon-road

I have a love-hate relationship with grocery shopping. When I’m not knocking over fresh fruit, I’m nearly getting run over in the parking lot. I consider it a necessary evil, like death and taxes. And I hate that it takes up a chunk of our precious weekend time. Plus, weekends are the busiest time to go shopping. Unless you’re old or unemployed, that’s probably the only time you can work it into your schedule. We’ve tried to switch it up and do our shopping during the week, but most times we’re just too tired or busy after work to get it done. Yeah, I know. First world problems.

There is an exception to my “I dislike grocery shopping” rule. That would be Trader Joe’s. I actually love shopping at TJ’s. Their prices are reasonable, the ambience is cool, and they’ve got some really fun – and great-tasting – products. Even though I generally despise frozen foods, theirs are a cut above the rest. Any of their frozen fish is really good. You can’t go wrong with their frozen steel cut oatmeal. They have individually-sized frozen breakfast quiches that are surprisingly tasty. And the frozen chili lime chicken patties? Hell, yeah! The non-frozen stuff is good, too. We always stock up on their pita crackers and cheap (in price but not quality) wine. Dips, spreads, juice – even bagged haricot verts (a fancy name for green beans) – they’re all really good. There’s an amazing fresh mushroom tortellini with spinach and asparagus, and during the fall, pumpkin pancake mix. I haven’t tried the Speculoos cookie butter yet, but everybody raves about it. When they stopped carrying a delicious fresh avocado salsa verde a few years ago, I almost cried. That stuff was like crack to me.

What do you think of grocery shopping? Love it or loathe it? And what’s your favorite TJ’s item?

 

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20 thoughts on “It Started With a Watermelon

  1. aka gringita says:

    I loathe the grocery store. I loathe it with a fiery hot passion. (I worked there as a cashier for one of my first jobs. Only thing worse than grocery shopping is working there. Can you imagine? Spending 8 hour shifts, day after day there? I shudder to recall…)

    Anyway, I loathe grocery stores enough that I am willing to live without the variety of the store, pay delivery fees and endure wait times in order to have the vast majority of groceries delivered to my door. (Thank God (and Stop & Shop) for Peapod service.)

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    1. Mark Petruska says:

      I’ve considered the home-delivery option before. I think the problem for me ultimately is, I would hate letting others pick out my produce. I’m picky about my parsley, potatoes, peas, pears, and plums. Then again, I could always buy that stuff separately. We do have great farmer’s markets up here!

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  2. Kathryn McCullough says:

    Grocery shopping here is so much different than in the US, I don’t know that I can make a fair comparison. I know Sara likes to purchase groceries more than I do, as she loves to cook. However, I end up doing most of the shopping. LOvE the watermelon story, Mark. Happy shopping this coming weekend, as well!

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

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  3. Ron says:

    “You know how sometimes selfish pricks people focus so intently on picking out the perfect jar of peanut butter and become oblivious to everybody else around them, they end up blocking the aisle?”

    OMG yes, Mark! And not only that, but I love the people who are oblivious to anyone else around them that they walk right in front of you while you’re trying to selection something off a shelf and block your view. This happens all the time to me.

    Love the story about the watermelon!!!

    I shop like a European. I shop in little bits, two times a week. I shop at two different stores, Super Fresh and Trader Joe’s. LOVE Trader Joe’s. I have days off during the week, so I like to go grocery shopping when no one else is. I honestly don’t mind grocery shopping, except during the hot summer months because I have to carry my groceries 13 blocks. UGH!

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    1. Mark Petruska says:

      I’ve thought about breaking down the shopping trips into smaller ones more often, but therein lies the problem: since I already hate grocery shopping, doing it more than once a week would just cause extra aggravation.

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  4. Bijoux says:

    I once dropped a bottle of wine in the parking lot while loading my car. No employees around to clean up and I didn’t want to cause anyone a flat tire, so I cleaned that up myself 😦

    I love TJ, but it’s out of the way for me and in a really congested area with poor parking availability, so I only go about once a year. I like their rolls and their bags of trail mixes.

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  5. Honie Briggs says:

    I have a friend who loves Trader Joes. She drives quite a way to shop there. I’ve never shopped in one, but I recently noticed a sign near my new house that says “coming soon”. Yep, looks like there may be a trip to Trader Joe’s in my future.

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    1. Mark Petruska says:

      Oooh…oooh! You, my friend, are in for a treat. Trader Joe’s is the awesome sauce! And they carry some pretty awesome sauce, too…

      (I’m probably the only one still saying “awesome sauce.” Oh, well).

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  6. cestlavie22 says:

    I loathe grocery shopping. But I make sure to just shop for the night ahead. Problem with buying for a week is plans change and food goes to waste. And with just the two of us often our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. So if I am cooking that night I head to the store and get what I will need. Here and there I will shove in snacks or pasta to hold us over if we dont get to the store one night. But this means grocery shopping multiple times a week. UGH! Not a fan! I have never been to Trader Joes but I am definitely intrigued. Everyone raves about it I just don’t even know where one is around here. Might have to google that this morning!

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    1. Mark Petruska says:

      I once dated somebody who basically shopped every day right after work. She claimed it was impossible for her to know what she would feel like eating three or four days in advance. I don’t know about that! I agree, plans change, but you should still have some basic idea of what you feel like having. And if your mood changes, THEN go back to the store. Let’s just say there’s a reason we didn’t work out: I couldn’t imagine a lifetime filled with daily grocery shopping excursions!

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  7. Jess Witkins says:

    Ha ha! You guys were “thooooose people.” I would’ve laughed. Sorry. Glad you escaped relatively unharmed. My awkward moments in grocery stores involve trying to reach products on the top shelf because I’m so short. I’ve dubbed myself a “ketchup monkey” because I occasionally climb shelves to get what I need. I’m sure I’m a sight to see as well.

    But yah, Trader Joe’s rocks. The closet one to us is an hour away, but we try to make trips every now and then and stock up. They have the best potstickers there. The best.

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    1. Mark Petruska says:

      That’s okay, Jess – I would’ve laughed at us, too! And I agree: TJ’s potstickers ARE really good. We finally got around to trying the Cookie Butter over the weekend. Let’s just say it more than lives up to the hype!

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  8. Wendy Koch Haase says:

    I like Tj’s Olive Oil Popcorn, Artichoke spinach dip (frozen) and Maui Short Ribs…although the short ribs have been super fatty lately and I end up trimming them before grilling and throw over HALF of the package away…..but other than that they are delicious. Also love their Lavosh bread

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