I spent the last two weeks faithfully watching both political conventions and, like previous election years, came away with the same three questions:
Exactly who ARE these people in the audience?
What purpose do they serve other than to hoot and holler every time a speaker says, “transformation”?
Why are they wearing funny hats?
I listened as President Obama and Mitt Romney laid out their plans to cut the deficit, put people back to work and find a nice retirement community for Clint Eastwood. Yet once again, neither candidate unveiled a simple solution that would allow the average American family to save more money by cutting their food bills in half. I have the solution and am happy to share it with either man but so far, my phone remains silent.
I’m not asking Americans to skip meals or eat instant oatmeal three times a day. My plan is far simpler. Ready?
Ladies, stop sending your husbands to the grocery store. The reason? Guys always come home with two of everything.
I am guilty of this reckless spending each time my wife pushes me out the door with a list. Mind you, a wife’s grocery list is never specific; there are no numbers anywhere on the paper. My wife never writes that she needs “four tomatoes”. Instead, she just scrawls “tomatoes”.
And this is where the problems begin.
What husband hasn’t returned with bags full of groceries and his nose proudly in the air because, yes, he found every single item — only to see a disgusted look on his wife’s face as she unpacks the goods. The inevitable inquisition follows.
“You bought ONE box of tortellini?”
“Yes, the list said ‘tortellini’. There it is.”
“How am I supposed to make a tortellini salad with one box? Should I just put a note on the bowl that says, ‘No more than three noodles please?’”
“I’m sorry, I did not have average tortellini consumption figures at my disposal.”
And with that, the husband sighs heavily, grabs his car keys and returns to the store to buy another box, along with a case of beer since we can NEVER have too much of that item in the house.
Recently we hosted a party for 11 adults and five children. The menu — and the list — consisted of hamburgers and Italian sausage. Again, no specific numbers, just the items. Armed with those requests, I ventured to the local grocery store determined to get the most and spend the least.
Once inside, I was confounded by questions that invariably pop into my head when seeing the different numerical packaging of each item. Italian sausage comes in packages of eight, while the sausage rolls I selected are six to a bag. A pound of ground beef should make four hamburgers, but what would I do with the remaining buns in the six-bun package? To make things equal, I’d need 3 pounds of ground beef and two packages of buns.
Then I tried to anticipate each guest’s culinary preferences. If they all opted for sausage, would I have enough? If they were burger people, would I have to say, “Get in line first if you want one?” If two trains leave Boston travelling opposite directions at 40 miles per hour... OK, stop it!
Besides the ground beef, I returned with 24 sausages and rolls. When the party ended, we were left with enough food to invite everybody back the next morning and have a delicious burger and sausage breakfast. But no tortellini salads; we ran out of that.
Maybe I should have gone to Costco. The “purchase two of everything just to be safe” rule never applies there because that would mean buying 6 pounds of salted cashews as opposed to a 3-pound container. Costco items weigh more than some newborns. I recently bought what passes for a “can” of Costco coffee and am confident I will not live to see its bottom.
Whichever candidate wins in November, I’m calling on him to appoint a grocery czar. Sex, race and ethnic heritage are immaterial; he or she simply needs to school the nation’s wives in the finer arts of food demands and their other halves into not needlessly emptying the shelves of hot dogs. The savings will be astronomical.
Good thing. Some of those convention hats look awfully expensive.
Greg Schwem is a stand-up comedian and author of Text Me If You’re Breathing: Observations, Frustrations and Life Lessons From a Low-Tech Dad