• Rachel

Planning for Battle: Adventures in Tesco Extra

I'm drawing up a 6 x 7 table in the Excel app on my phone. This one needs some serious strategizing.

Normally, I do my weekly, sometimes twice-weekly, food shop the in medium-sized stores. I'm talking Tesco Metro, and our local "middle-sized Lidl" as I like to think of it. These kind of places are large enough to have what I'm looking for at a decent price, but not too large that there is too much choice and the experience is utterly overwhelming...especially during our Covid era. Usually my shopping trips are combined around already being out meeting someone, or doing something else. Don't get me wrong though, even my "popping in to Tesco" on my way home from a coffee date or an appointment requires a more-than-average amount of list-making and prior market-research. (Having the Tesco Groceries app for research purposes only must irritate Mr Ken Murphy no-end, but that's his problem, I'm afraid).

However, this week, for various reasons I'll not bore you with, my food shopping had to be combined with my Dad's weekly trip to the supermarket....Tesco EXTRA.

It had been months since I’d set foot in a supermarket of such magnitude. Not actually uncommon in our unprecedented times. But food anxiety combined with all the vagaries of Corona does not make for a wishful experience. And with my body’s new-found disposition to start experimenting with vertigo after wearing a face mask for too long...the pressure felt ON.

Most people make shopping list. I usually do, too. Sometimes even with footnotes. But with such a potentially overwhelming experience on the horizon, this procedure needed belt and braces.

I mentally divide up the supermarket into six sections — these make up the columns of my Excel table. The freezer section comes last. On too many an occasion have I misjudged my timings and ended up basketing my freezer items too early, only to have a panic in the tins aisle then made worse by my defrosting fishfingers.

My shopping list, which has been prepared in advance with the aid of aforementioned market-research, is then inputted into the relevant column headings. Now, I can go from section to section, in a sensible order, not forget anything, keep my anxiety levels under control, and hopefully bag some bargains on the way.

Naturally, the dawn of this adventure was very much on my mind for most of the day until Dad picked me up around 5:00pm. I must have opened and checked my Excel table to cross-reference it against my list and the Tesco app about 20 times. One can never be too careful.

5:00pm came, and 5:00pm went. I sit here, upon my return, delighted to report that my experience in Tesco Extra was a phenomenal success. Oddly, people here seemed friendlier and more chilled out than in middle-sized Lidl. The aisles are wider, so a mid-aisle meltdown poses less risk of looking like a Covidiot. And my wandering back and forth slightly aimlessly looking for my specific, prior-researched cereal bars is less noticeable here.

The best news, though? No defrosted fishfingers.


“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

~ Bilbo Baggins

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