I'm drawing up a 6 x 7 table on an Excel spreadsheet. This one needs some serious strategizing.
Normally, I do a weekly, sometimes twice-weekly, food shop in medium-sized food stores. I'm talking Tesco Metro, and our local "middle-sized Lidl" as I like to think of it. These kinds of places are large enough to have what I'm looking for at a decent price, but not too large that there is so much choice and the whole experience is utterly overwhelming. Usually, shopping trips are combined around already being out and about, meeting someone or doing something else. Don't get me wrong though, even "popping 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 CEO no-end, but that's his problem, I'm afraid).
However, this week, for various reasons I'll not bore you with, my own food shopping had to be combined with my Dad's weekly supermarket trip...and this was in Tesco EXTRA.
Months have passed since I last set foot in a supermarket of such magnitude. Not that this is actually uncommon in our unprecedented times. But, food anxiety combined with all the vagaries of Coronavirus does not make for a wishful experience. And, with my body’s new-found disposition for experimenting with vertigo after wearing a face mask for too long...the pressure this week felt very much ON.
Most people make a shopping list; as do I. Sometimes, my shopping lists even contain footnotes. But, with such a potentially overwhelming experience on the horizon, we needed a belt and braces.
I mentally divided up the supermarket into six sections — these make up the columns of my Excel table. The freezer section comes last. On too many occasions have I misjudged my timings and basketed my freezer items too early, only to have a panic down the cereal aisle made worse by defrosting fishfingers.
My shopping list, which had been prepared in advance with the aid of aforementioned market-research, was then inputted into the relevant column headings. Now, I could 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 spreadsheet to cross-reference it against my list and the Tesco app about 20 times. One can never be too careful.
5.00pm came; 5.00pm went.
I sit here, upon my return, delighted to report that my experience in Tesco Extra was a phenomenal success. Oddly, the 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 in such a big store.
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