04.24.20: From the so-called desk of…

…Helen.

The Good, the Bad, & the Onions

I have not stepped foot in a market for 5 weeks, and unless I was going to subsist on our reserve of canned soup and chocolate chips, I realized that it was time to start ordering online food delivery. Enter Instacart. But hells bells, why didn’t they offer new users a tutorial, or at the very least post some warnings. Oh sure, on the surface, it all looks pretty easy, simply enter a zip code and choose a market. But what looked to be a piece of cake, was actually all smoke and mirrors — plus, this actually was my first rodeo.

Before I even started, I knew all of this was going to be a bit complicated. We have 3 people living in our house — one is a meat-eating vegetarian, one will eat anything as long as it’s cooked beyond recognition and isn’t considered a fruit or a vegetable, and then there’s me who eats most everything. But none the less I forged ahead.

Step 1 – Choose a market

I started by choosing the market where I would normally shop, but right off the bat there was a problem. Their next available delivery date was in a week to 10 days. Nope, that was certainly not going to work. So moving on to other options, I picked a market that I was totally unfamiliar with, but that thankfully had a first available option. Yay!

Step 2 – Shopping

Next came the actual shopping, and although clearly not as much fun as online shoe shopping, I was oddly drawn in, and within seconds found myself falling right into carried away. It was dazzling, there were so many things that I didn’t need but that suddenly seemed downright indispensable, and so many other things that I really, really wanted that were currently unavailable. At this point I’m sure everyone is familiar with “currently unavailable” – it might as well be new Covid-19 mantra. But not to be deterred, I began filling my shopping cart. I’ll take one of these, two of those, and three pounds of that… I was the proverbial kid in the candy shop. Feeling very satisfied with my over-flowing cart, I checked out — now all that was left was the waiting.

Step 3 – A complete stranger shopping my order, AKA my new best friend

Needless to say I was completely taken by surprise when 24 hours later I received a text from Sara, my very own personal shopper. She was already at the market and was shopping my order. For about two whole minutes I was beyond excited, until this happened. Ding… sorry they are out of sharp cheddar; can I replace it with Cheez Whiz? Ding… they don’t have the whole grain bread you ordered; can I replace it with the light style soft potato bread? Ding… they are out of granulated sugar; can I replace it with corn syrup? What, what, and what? This was not at all what I was expecting, but Sara did her best, and I was eternally grateful that someone was delivering my groceries.

Step 4 – Unpacking my order

Once my order was delivered, I quickly realized that I had not thought any of this through. I suspiciously eyed all of the potentially contaminated bags of groceries left on my front porch. Clearly I was going to need a staging area, but do I want that to be inside or outside. I settled on the laundry room, and began emptying bags and wiping everything off – now dethroned as the queen of reusable grocery bags, all the bags they provided went directly into the trash. I also discovered that depending on what you use to wipe down packages, there may be a semi-permanent imprint left behind. So I don’t recommend using straight alcohol on bags or boxes with printing on them. I currently have the nutritional information for spaghetti on the top of my dryer.

Step 5 – The learning curve or important things to remember

First, the minute you hear from your shopper, drop whatever you’re doing and pay attention, otherwise you might get corn nuts instead of peanuts. It’s also an excellent idea to pay attention to size and quantity when you order. We had quite a chuckle when our first order of baking potatoes arrived and they were all the size of lemons.  And finally, no matter how much you order, within 24 hours you will most likely need to start all over again.

My ponderings for the week:

  • I’m wondering if all of this will help us cut down on our junk food consumption. So far not so much.
  • I’m wondering if I will ever feel comfortable reinstating the 3 second rule when food falls on the floor. According to my son, that should never have been a thing in the first place.
  • Since we are out of olives, I’m wondering if I can make a dirty martini with pickle juice. I’ll let you all know.