By Larissa Schlueter
We have all been there. You’ve had one of those hectic weeks where you’ve cleared the fridge and pantry of all goods and you haven’t gotten groceries since you’ve been to three parent-teacher conferences, attended four sports practices, and had permission slips and planners to sign. You’ve now found yourself with 72 minutes before the kids get off the bus to shop before the weekend or your bare kitchen might call for a visit from CPS. Grocery shopping is no easy feat when you’re trying to stick to a tight budget, make meals that don’t induce tantrums, walk-outs, or strikes, and are still nutritious for growing kids.
I’m getting it done today in those 72 minutes. I throw my hair up in a bun and power walk into the grocery store with a fist full of coupons, my grocery app open, and a meal plan so fine-tuned it may have taken an advanced degree in Home Economics to make happen. I push my cart at full speed, bobbing and weaving around the senior citizens socializing near the dried lentils and fill my cart like I’m on Supermarket Sweep. I bypass all the samples because Mama can’t be bothered and time is too precious today.
I stroll the aisles, filling my cart with fresh produce, meat, dairy, and bakery items. Yes, bacon, beef, pork, chicken, all the animals. Feeling confident in my selections, I make my way to the front of the store. I’ve gotten everything I need to make a week’s worth of great dinners my husband and kids will actually enjoy. I’m winning.
I smile to myself, gloating, as I stand behind every Janice, Nancy, and Karen in the check-out line. I’m starting to sweat through my athleisure unloading all my purchases when I hear a ding from my phone in my pocket. Of course, NOW he’s responding.
I texted my husband BEFORE this grocery journey began asking which pancake mix he prefers I buy. Every time I gamble on a pancake mix, I bring home a loser. Buttermilk, Buttermilk with Chia, Chia with Oat, Oat and Buttermilk, Chia Butter Oat. Give me a fucking break, they all end up drenched in half a cup of high fructose corn syrup anyway.
This is his passion. He thinks feeding the children healthy pancakes (given that’s all he knows how to make for a meal) earns him a gold star in parenting each morning. I pull out my phone as I put my last item on the conveyor belt, figuring I will tell him they were out of whichever variety he wanted. And then I read it: “I want to be vegan now.” God. What Netflix documentary has he been staying up to watch this week?
So I hand over my check card and thank the cashier as I pay $300 for my pounds of animal by-products. As I leave the store, more texts follow. “Mushrooms. Pick up mushrooms.” And then, “Maybe get some more sweet potatoes.” Another ding: “Get some of those little avocados.”
I start loading my haul into the station wagon. I glance at my phone as I get into the front seat, and in comes the last text. “Buttermilk and Chia,” I read as I start the ignition. I silence the phone and shove it back into my pocket. I turn up the radio and drive home thinking of what temperature I need to preheat the oven for my meatloaf tonight.
So my husband asked to go vegan and here’s what I did: Absolutely fucking nothing.
About the Author
Larissa is a regular mom, not even a cool mom, trying to keep it together in the suburbs of cold and snowy St. Paul, Minnesota. She spends her days working full-time a dental hygienist and her nights finding creative ways to hide from her blended family. You can follow her misadventures on Instagram (@larissa.schlueter).