Whenever I go food shopping, which is once in a blue moon, at which time I head directly to the beer aisle so I can buy a six-pack of Blue Moon, I accompany my wife, Sue, who clips coupons, knows what’s on sale and always carries a circular. This baffles me because circulars are rectangular, which is the admittedly feeble excuse I use for rarely going to the supermarket.
But I recently got a crash course in food shopping — the crash occurred when I hit another shopper’s cart with the one I was pushing — from Christine D’Angelo, a certified nutritional counselor.
I won a raffle for a free grocery excursion with Christine, who met me and Sue on a weekday evening after work at the store where Sue does her food shopping.
With Sue holding a rectangular circular and me pushing the cart, which in accordance with federal law had four wheels that all went in different directions, we set off with Christine, who brought budget shopping tips and a weekly meal plan for Sue and a Groucho Marx mask for me.
“Does this mean I have to buy animal crackers and duck soup?” I asked Christine, who should have gone with Harpo, the Marx Brother who didn’t talk.
I put the mask in the cart and we headed up the first aisle, where Christine gave us her top tip: “Don’t go food shopping when you’re hungry.”
“I haven’t had dinner yet,” I said. “Would you mind if I nibble while we shop?”
“No, but you’ll have to pay for whatever you eat,” said Christine, who was on the last day of her three-day bone broth diet. “It cleans you out,” she explained. “No solid foods, only liquids.”
“I could do that with beer,” I said.
“Beer builds bodies,” acknowledged Christine, adding that women sometimes use it as shampoo. “We like it on our heads.”
“I don’t shampoo with beer,” I said, “but it goes to my head, too.”
Christine’s second tip: “Buy in bulk.
“If you buy too much food,” I pointed out, “you’ll end up being bulky.”
“Now you know why I don’t take him grocery shopping too often,” Sue said to Christine, who nodded sympathetically. Then she extolled the virtues of a Mediterranean diet because it saves money
“How could it save money,” I wondered, “when you’d have to travel to Italy every day?”
Christine, wisely ignoring the remark, continued: “Consider eating more natural foods. Go organic. We’re not made for synthetics.”
“I know,” I said. “Polyester is kind of chewy.”
“I like greens,” Sue said.
“That’s good,” Christine replied.
“Sue’s even married to a vegetable,” I noted.
Christine did not disagree. Instead, she gave us more tips: Buy seasonal produce, buy only what’s on your list, look for store brands.
“And,” she said, “look on the lowest shelf because food at eye level is the highest-priced.”
“What if I bent over and couldn’t straighten up?” I wondered.
“Then you’d save money every time you went shopping,” said Christine, who walked us through the condiment aisle and talked about the benefits of olive oil.
“You know who loves olive oil?” I asked.
“Popeye!” chirped Christine, referring to the sailor man’s girlfriend, Olive Oyl.
“Very good,” I said. “I’m impressed.”
I was even more impressed when Christine also talked about the benefits of organic beer.
“American beer contains ingredients that aren’t allowed in Europe,” she said, suggesting I try Spaten Optimator, a German brew. “You could be the terminator of the Optimator,” Christine said.
I put a six-pack in the cart and said, “It’s good to know I’ll not only be eating healthy, but drinking healthy, too.”
“You could even be shampooing healthy,” Christine said as she walked Sue and me to the checkout.
“Thank you,” said Sue, who already was an educated food shopper but appreciated Christine’s tips, expertise and, especially, patience in putting up with my stupid jokes.
“Tomorrow, when you come off your bone broth diet, you should have some organic beer,” I told Christine.
“Good idea,” she replied. “After shopping with you, I think I need it.”
— Jerry Zezima