Mom, We’re out of…!

{insert household necessity here.}

In a house with six people, trips to the grocery store are frequent. The four-to-five-days-per-week variety of frequent! How can it be? I’m a planner, and when I shop, I hit the stores with an Excel-based spreadsheet made up of dozens of staples that we couldn’t possibly use in the next year or two. Before embarking on my skillful hunter-gatherer mission, I even update my spreadsheet to include items that my loving family so obediently adds to the handy dandy grocery list attached to the side of the refrigerator. Oh, wait! That last part was a daydream. Sorry about that.

Back to reality. Here’s an example of what really happens…

Last week when I passed through my kitchen on the way to a chore of some kind I’m sure, I noticed a kid squinting their eyes to double- and triple-check whether or not something was written on the list. I took the bait and inquired about what exactly said child was hoping to see on the list. The response was, “Trash bags”. I don’t know why, but I asked, “Are we out of them?” Did I really want to know the answer to that question? No, but the question had been asked. So, I held my breath and awaited the inevitable, “Yes”. Ugh!

Why, why, why does no one write things on the grocery list until we are completely, utterly, entirely, totally out of something, thus setting into motion an emergency trip to procure something of immediate need? This is what causes so many unplanned shopping trips.

What other emergency items have the potential to send me running and screaming in the direction of my local market? Soap , bathroom tissue, deodorant, and toothpaste. Pretty much personal hygiene products. We can’t have body odor emergencies!

To lessen the frequency of emergency shopping trips, I keep some of these items “in stock” away from the grubby hands of my children who refuse to alert me to an outage until the need is dire. So, when I hear, “Mom, I’m out of deodorant!“, I’ve got it covered. One stick of deodorant from my personal stash in exchange for an addition to the grocery list coming right up…! My secret hygiene bank includes handsoap and toothpaste as well.

Bathroom tissue takes up lots of storage space, so I don’t stockpile much. When either the girls or boys runs out of it, I ask them write it on the shopping list and tell them to borrow some from their sibings’ bathroom.

Soap is small and doesn’t take up much space, but I use the bathroom-tissue method: send the offender(s) to borrow a new bar from a siblings’ stockpile and replace it when I buy more.

I’m still trying to figure out the trash bag dilemma as it is one that can’t go unresolved . I don’t take out the trash, so I rely on the children to update the shopping list, because each day of the week, one of them is assigned to trash duty in rotation. That leaves seven opportunities each week to add the item to the list as the box goes from empty, to emptier, and dare I say – nothing but a cardboard box. How could it be that a box of 90 trash bags disappears and no one noticed the emptiness until emergency status was reached?

Never fear, this organizer had a plan! I would buy two 90-count boxes and all would be well in the world! Not! The kids went through all 180 bags then cried out for more. My next attempt at maintaining an adequate supply of trash bags will involve hiding away one of the boxes and magically producing it in case of “emergency”.

What items do I no longer consider worthy of an unplanned trip?

Milk . Yes, milk! I will no longer watch my children drink milk at every opportunity to fill their cups then react by racing to the store to stock up on more milk. If two gallons of milk disappear in two days, so be it. I refuse to buy more before my original plan calls for me to do so, because two gallons would turn into three gallons, which would turn into four gallons, which would turn into a problem that can’t be solved.

Snacks are also on the “Do not rush” list . Being out of Goldfish does not constitute a state of emergency. Pick another snack – or not. Either way, we have plenty from which to choose, so no one would starve.

Bread is also now considered a non-emergency item due to its hit or miss status around here. Some weeks it sits around and becomes somewhat of a science project and other weeks it vanishes without a trace.

Finally, c leaning supplies aren’t an immediate need either. The borrow-from-another-bathroom plan applies here, but the list must still be updated. Chores will be conquered! No excuses! Well, no good ones anyway.

In this circus that I call home, I have learned that no amount of planning will stop me from hearing, “Mom, we’re out of {insert household item here!}“. Oddly, sometimes those words are music to my ears, because it reminds me of one of the greatest gifts in life! Children! :-)

Happy shopping!



In case of an impending snowstorm, all bets are off regarding the emergency vs. non-emergency list. No one wants to be snowed in without bread, milk, or great snacks! :)

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