Photo of Moody AFB Commissary’s single long line. This week’s commissary trip brought back memories of our “big shopping” trips we would take to Langley AFB’s commissary as a kid. Photo: Air Force News.
You might or might not remember my post from when we first moved to Florida in 2010. When we have to move from one military assignment to another, we often will relinquish some of our pantry goods and cleaning wares. Such as vinegar, soy sauce, household cleaners, Lysol sprays, and any perishables in the fridge and freezer. Friends are usually happy to take that stuff off our hands. We’ve come to expect that type of trading around when living in a military community.
This weekend we’re going camping. Right after the camping trip, I’m hopping on a flight back to Nebraska for my two-week Air Force Reserve tour. Why do I do this to myself? I don’t know…
I try to help Dave plan meals before I leave on these trips, and in this case, I offered to stock up on as much food as I could for the kids’ quick-and-easy favorites: tacos, spaghetti, pizza (with a Boboli crust), turkey burgers, etc. On Tuesday I went to the NAS Pensacola commissary to stock up on groceries for this weekend’s camping, plus I attempted to buy 2 weeks of groceries for my boys while I’m gone. I had another appointment in Pensacola this week, which is why I didn’t go to Hurlburt’s commissary this time.
I usually go grocery shopping weekly. I have a pretty good rudimentary meal planning system down pat and no one here starves. One shopping cart typically fits the bill, and everything fits in my pantry and fridge when I get it home. I don’t have a large pantry, nor do I have substantial freezer space. So once a week works well.
My boys eat a lot more than they used to. This started over the summer…we always had one son eating a ton with a growth spurt, and the other one playing picky eater. They now both eat…eat…eat…eat…
Two+ weeks worth of lunch stuff, dinner ideas, cereal, bread, eggs, milk, orange juice and meats added up in a hurry. I don’t think I’ve ever had to pay more than $300 for a batch of groceries other than that first time grocery shopping at a new location. For the first time on Tuesday, I did.
It brought back memories of the “big shopping” trips my parents would take approximately once a month when I was growing up. When we were living in Norfolk, our whole family would load into the car and drive to the commissary at Langley AFB and I have memories of using two shopping carts while my parents would stock up on meats, frozen foods and pantry goods for the month. I have memories of the LONG lines* if we were shopping on the Saturday after a military payday…the single line would extend back through the frozen food aisles to the dairy…and maybe even to the meat area at the back of the store if everyone was taking their post-payday, pre-holiday shopping trip.
*A little military lifestyle lesson here: Unlike most grocery stores, checkout areas at military commissaries will establish a SINGLE line, and whoever is at the head of the line will take the next available open register. Bigger commissaries have these funny machines — centrally located near the head of the queue — that announce “Next, Please” with the register number lit up. This blog post explains the single line, as well as many other nuances of the military commissary. Most civilians will see such queueing techniques mainly on Black Friday at stores like Old Navy and Best Buy (although Best Buy does it all the time now, if memory serves).
The monthly shopping thing? It’s a sensible way to shop if you plan properly. Which I don’t. My family simply can’t plan that well…
It’s also a sensible way to shop if you have the space to keep all that stuff. Which I also don’t. This house is spacious enough for us, but not in pantry space.
This turned into a problem when I got home on Tuesday. I didn’t have space for everything…my fridges and freezers (I have two refrigerator/freezers, one in the kitchen and one out in the garage) are packed full, and so is the pantry. I ended up having to pre-load the bags with the camping non-perishables to free up space.
To conclude, the big shopping trips don’t seem as convenient in our current state of storage. Perhaps one day we’ll have a bigger pantry, bigger fridge or a deep freezer with which we can long-term store more goods. But not in this house.