Will convenience help or hurt the wallet, waistline, and way of life?
By George Valadie
Happy New Year! How’s the new you coming? On my end, I’ve never been much for making a bunch of resolutions. In fairness, I should restate that; I’ve never been good at keeping a bunch of resolutions.
It’s not that I don’t have plenty of issues that need tackling in my life. It’s that I’ve made them before. Good ones, reachable ones, goals that would make me a better human being. God wants that I think. But as we all know so well, that requires us to be different, to do different, and most importantly, to stay different — for a year. Hopefully longer.
Sadly, I can’t recall a single resolution of mine that has ever lasted much past mid-February. The stuff of life and the comfort of the old ways always seem to take over.
Once again this year, for the who-knows-how-many consecutive time, Nancy and I have pledged to each other that we will eat more dinnertime meals at home around the table.
To a fault, we have allowed ourselves to fall victim to the appeal and convenience of a restaurant and fast-food world. I’m not sure it’s a sin exactly, but giving in to the temptation has been damaging for sure — to both wallet and waistline.
I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had that annual conversation where she says, “I don’t really mind cooking, but I hate shopping.” And then I say, “Well I don’t really mind shopping, but I hate cooking.”
Apparently, we’ve been a perfect match this whole time. This should really work a lot better than it has. We seem to manage this teamwork sort of thing in other areas.
She washes the clothes; I wear them. She picks the paint; I put it on the walls.
But we have hope this year — real hope. Walmart and other stores are allowing customers to order all your groceries online. You drive up, they bring them out to your car, put them in your car, and wish you well. Signed, sealed, headed home.
I can do that. Simple, straightforward, and not nearly as much room for failure as that year I volunteered to take on all the shopping for her. It was one of those resolutions that “seemed like a good idea at the time.”
For my first shopping venture out, she said she’d go easy on me by sending me to get, among other things, the contents of taco soup — a tasty little cold-weather concoction that’s also easy on the calorie counters in the family.
Started off simple enough. I knew where the onions were; it’s not like I’d never been in a store. And for reasons surpassing understanding, I actually knew where the taco seasoning was. Two for two.
But after that? Her recipe also called for “11 oz. of dark red kidney beans.”
After a few minutes of fruitless searching, I began wondering what I’d do if I couldn’t find 11 ounces of dark red kidney beans.
“Just call the woman,” you say. I’d have given anything to have remembered my phone that day.
Left only with my wits, I realized I needed to decipher the critical components? Did it need to be exactly 11 ounces? (You don’t know this woman like I do. Or could it be a typo as most cans seemed to be 12 ounces full?) Or was it more important that they be dark red? (Because most red beans I’d seen to this point weren’t commenting on their particular shade of red.)
And can anyone tell me why in the name of all that is holy are some of the kidney beans on aisle 6B while others are on aisle 5A? Still, I persevered and found it.
Next came a 12-ounce can (not 11) of ranch-style beans I’d never heard of. Found it.
On to “shoe-peg” corn. I’d heard of creamed; I’d heard of kernels; I’d heard of corn on the cob. So what does “shoepeg” mean exactly? Does it represent size? Taste? Texture? Maybe it’s a brand name? Wait, I found it.
I also needed Rotel diced tomatoes. I discovered chunked, sliced, pureed, pieces, whole, sauce, paste, and actual red, ripe tomatoes, though those were six aisles over.
I can’t adequately express my relief when I spied the Rotel brand name, nor can I express my sadness when I found that some had onions, some had peppers, some had onions and peppers. None were plain. Never found it, didn’t dare guess, went home hoping she wouldn’t notice.
I was not the only male floundering in the bean aisle. I think a support group meets there.
He was reading from his list; I was reading from mine. Neither of us appeared to ever scratch off anything. We’d look at the list, we’d look at the cans, we’d look at each other. The list, the cans … the list, the cans. Both of us hoping something would magically change on one or the other. We’d have had more luck swapping lists.
I can’t remember how long I was in that aisle, much less that store. I honestly don’t know how she’s done it all these years — so much to take in. Prices. Brand names. Health content. Discounts.
It’s no place for a novice, that’s for sure.
And all that math you’re supposed to do on the fly — three six-packs of 12-ounce bottles for $13 versus two six-packs of 20-oz. bottles for $15.60. Really? All the while “… don’t spend too much money” kept ringing in my ears.
No wonder she’s hated it. I can’t recall for sure, but I doubt that year’s shopping resolution even lasted to mid-February.
As 2019 gets underway, it’s clear to me now. My resolution needs to be one of being more aware of — and certainly much more thankful for — the good things in my life. Thankful for Nancy. Thankful for Walmart. Thankful for technology. And thankful for Chili’s (she forgot to order this week.)
Dear God — Parts of the planet don’t have what we do. Sadly, they may never. Except they’re not parts, they’re people. Please help us find a way to share. Amen.
George Valadie is president of Notre Dame High School in Chattanooga.