How I (Barely) Survived ALDI
I reserve Monday mornings for grocery shopping. After the weekend, my boys have generally devoured everything, except for one ever-present can of baked beans and some pink sprinkles. While I love creating meals out of odds and ends, that’s usually my cue to throw up the white flag and brave an ALDI trip.
Now, let me be the first to say that I love ALDI. LOVE it. You cannot beat the prices, and for an indecisive woman, I love that I have only one choice of ranch dressing. Fifty-something brands tend to leave me dazed, and I end up spending hours at the store, just wandering the aisles. But, not ALDI…I’m in, I’m out, and I don’t have to sell a kidney to get the groceries I need. I’ll be an ALDI cheerleader until you pry that last Fit N’ Active cereal bar out of my cold, dead hands.
But a few weeks ago, I barely made it out in one piece.
When it comes to shopping with a baby and a preschooler, I’m a bit rusty. I had strapped baby boy in the front carrier and gave older brother strict instructions to hold on to the cart. With list in hand, I began to navigate my miniman-circus through the aisles grabbing tortilla chips and oatmeal. You know, the essentials.
We made it safely down aisle one. Trace was diligently helping me find items and put them in the cart. Baby J was smiling at customers—a complete charmer. One woman even stopped to tell me I was “supermom.”
“I’m a total pro,” I thought, swelling with pride about two minutes too soon.
Cue the chaos: Jamison started crying. He was no longer amused by his cushy ride strapped to mama’s chest. I instinctively began to bounce in an effort to soothe him. Meanwhile, Trace developed a case of sticky fingers, and the aisles were ripe with temptation. Suddenly, I couldn’t remember why we were there or where I could find the stinking spinach. We were like a cyclone going through the store, and everyone else was left in our wake. The looks quickly turned from supermom admiration to “why can’t you control your children!?!”
I finally made it to the checkout counter, still bouncing to keep Jamison happy while simultaneously blockading Trace from the Five Hour Energy.
I quickly grabbed items out of the cart and practically hurled them toward the cashier. Speed was the name of the game, but the emptier the shopping cart became, the more difficulty I had reaching the remaining items. Imagining myself an Olympic gymnast, I attempted to bend backwards into the cart in order to avoid smashing the baby strapped to my front. But the sad reality was that I probably looked less like Gabby Douglas and more like my Great Aunt Louise trying to do the limbo at the family barbecue. Just awkward.
My saving grace that day was a kind stranger. She must’ve seen my chaos, my desperate backbend as I strained for that jar of peanut butter. Without hesitation, she began removing the remaining items from my cart. Normally, I would be one to say, “Oh, no thank you. I’ve got it.” But on that particular Monday, I didn’t even try to act like I had it together. I had NO idea how I was going to make it out of ALDI if I didn’t let the lady grab the granola bars and celery stalks at the back of the cart.
Finally, every last grocery was scanned. I thanked the kind woman once again and sprinted toward the minivan.
I got both boys strapped into their seats. Jamison was still crying, and Trace had traded his Five Hour Energy dreams for a cracker pack. I unloaded the groceries as quickly as possible, and then asked a college kid getting out of his car to take my cart.
“Oh, I’m okay,” he said groggily, beginning to turn away.
“But I’m not!” I replied—probably a bit too emphatically. “Just take the cart. You can have the quarter.” Looking more afraid than grateful, the poor guy took the cart and hurried away.
I jumped into the driver seat, put the van into gear, and away we went. Almost immediately, Jamison stopped crying and fell asleep. Trace munched happily on his cheese crackers. I took a deep breath and exhaled: I did it. We got groceries!
The moral of the story? If you see a half-crazed mama struggling through the grocery store, be a saint and help a lady out. Don’t think. Don’t hesitate. Recognize her desperation, and put feet to your compassion. She may not be able to thank you properly, but when she’s on her way home with more than baked beans and pink sprinkles, she’ll be grateful. Trust me.
feature photo credit: Day 3/365 – Ride in the Shopping Cart.. (Explored) via photopin (license)