Staying close to the buggy keeps grocery list minimal

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 16, 2004

[8/8/2004]The seven-layer salad is one of my standards. I needed some fresh basics a head of lettuce, bacon, cheese, bell pepper, onion.

As I strolled down the grocery store aisle, I caught a glimpse of another shopper’s buggy. She had a selection of wholesome choices … chicken breasts, vegetables, cereal. And, on the lower rack, there was a DVD player.

I can’t shake this image, but I can’t figure out what it means, either.

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I bought my TV and VCR at the same store I buy groceries, but not in the same trip. Produce and appliances just don’t make it onto the same list in my book.

Should we sing hosannas or lamentations that we’ve come to a moment in time where raw meat and electronics can be bought under the same roof?

When I zip into Kroger or Wal-Mart or IGA after work to pick up “a few things” casually, some weeks every day, I remember a different way.

Monday was grocery day for my grandparents as long as I could remember.

There was no dawdling.

I would sit under the hackberry tree and watch my grandfather smoke an unfiltered, hand-rolled cigarette while my grandmother cleaned up the breakfast dishes and changed into town clothes for the 25-mile trip.

We would be back in time to sit down with peas and cornbread just as “All My Children” came on at noon.

In between lunch and watching my Pa Pa’s first smoke of the day, I got my first exposure to the world at the Piggly Wiggly.

I learned about economics, discipline and family tradition. I even learned a little bit of math.

The economics was simple. If there is $50 for food, that’s what you spend. This takes me to discipline.

When there’s $50 for food, you don’t buy a $4 magazine, no matter how badly you want to read it.

Those were the obvious lessons. The family tradition was different. At the grocery store, there are thousands of items that I never buy. But just their existence proves to me that someone buys them on a regular basis.

I’m not saying I eat like my grandparents. I lack the time and space for a vegetable garden like theirs, so vegetables fresh and frozen frequently clutter up my buggy. But there are certain things that NEVER find their way into my buggy. No Hamburger Helper. No canned biscuits. No cake mixes.

I bought Jiffy mix cornbread once but I was embarrassed. And, there are certain things I always have. I never run out of flour. There are always a few cans of tuna. I live in fear that I will run out of eggs.

Don’t mistake me. I’ve wandered far away from my perch in the Piggly Wiggly buggy.

I don’t fry chicken or eat cornbread because I’m on a grain-free diet this month. And I’m not making creamed potatoes either because root vegetables are a no-go, too.

See, I’ve turned into a bit of a tree hugger.

If they could hear my serious talk of chakras and Buddhism and energy blocks, my grandmother would shake her head and pray while my grandfather would laugh and roll another smoke.

But, you know, I’ve still got my black skillet and my favorite sharp knife came from my grandmother’s kitchen, as did the pitcher that holds my washing sponges.

What I DON’T have, though, is a DVD player.

I have a 15-year-old TV in my kitchen but the dog ate the remote, and I suppose that it would be nice to watch DVDs while I chop up the lettuce and fry the bacon for my (grainless and root-free) seven-layer salad.

Maybe I should add “DVD player” on my grocery list, right under “2 bell pepper green.”

Or maybe not.

Sonya Kimbrell is features editor of The Vicksburg Post. E-mail her at