I swear never to purchase another gargantuan shopping club package of paper towels, toilet tissue, disposal cups, behemoth cellophane packs of cooking spray, unliftable containers of cat litter and laundry detergent, cases of soft drinks, banquet-sized entrees and mounds of ground chuck.
I’ve used up the last of my bulk purchases from closets, spaces under sinks and garage cabinets. I am rid of choking overflow.
Purchasing bulk items had transformed our family van into a mini delivery truck. At first, my purchases rolled around freely. My shopping club didn’t supply bags — only bizarrely shaped cardboard cartons.
I stocked my van with used plastic bags. When I’d run out, I’d set small loose items on seats. The variety of unrelated purchases confused my mental inventory list as I unloaded. A package of swim goggles or a bundle of socks distracted me. I’d forget about the maverick pieces of produce that had rolled under the seats until telltale fruit flies swarmed.
Unloading presented a challenge. Aching upper arms, palpitations and a perspiring forehead made me wish for a loading dock off the kitchen with a testosterone-raging teenager. Soon, my arms firmed and weight-bearing trips up the steps strengthened my joints. I saved time and money otherwise spent at the gym.
I plopped off-loaded packages in the middle of the kitchen, unwrapped and distributed them to various rooms. When I finished warehousing new inventory and rotating older items forward, I’d predictably run out of space and needed to find storage for the odd assortment of surplus.
Left brain activities of warehousing management shifted to creative right brain inspirations of “stuffing the stuff.” I jammed rolls of paper towels onto top shelves of coat closets, toilet tissue in the oven, cans of cleanser in clothing trunks and bags of pasta in the refrigerator crisper. Bottles of drinks lined my closet behind my shoes. I even stored things in the trunk of my husband’s car.
The guestroom offered lots of extra storage, however, when my sister planned to visit, I de-stuffed the guestroom and shoved articles under the queen-size bed. Her foot slipped through the bed skirt ruffle. The plastic wrap boxes’ serrated edges almost required two toes to be stitched. But, I had a nice emergency-room-sized box of Band-Aids and six tubes of antiseptic ointment.
I turned paranoiac. I’d planned to sustain the household for weeks in case of a terrorist attack. I’d have plenty of paper products, bottled water and canned goods to open a soup kitchen.
Bulk-item shopping did present positive aspects. It promoted neighborliness. I couldn’t pass up 36 eggs for $2.15. I can’t eat 36 eggs before their expiration date. I tried. Ask my arteries. So, I shared.
One and a half dozen eggs went to my neighbor, Julie, who returned a thank you of four packs of light bulbs from her bulk-shopping spree. Eight boxes of strawberries in a tray will gag one person within two days with four boxes left over. Pat returned a strawberry thank you by passing along three boxes of pasta from her bulk inventory. A party tray of baklava dries out one’s mouth with oozing nutty syrup in about three servings leaving about eighteen leftovers. Gert thanked me for the pastry with two pairs of gardening gloves from her last run to the club.
Bulk buying shined during parties and holidays. Cold cuts, blocks of cheese and frozen banquet-sized entrees proved easy and cost effective, but huge-sized condiments like honey mustard or mayonnaise out-lived their usefulness.
It’s taken many months, to kick the habit, but now, cabinets and closets are emptied of overflowing bulk. Clutter and piles in the house are clearing.
I plan to control future bulk-shopping temptations with a move to an area without shopping clubs. Eating out, supplemented by take-outs, pizza and Chinese food deliveries will decrease the frequency of my need to replace items.
I will reaffirm not to be obsessed with economics. Self-control will be necessary the first few times I shell out ten bucks for a modest layer cake as versus a restaurant service size cake for the same price. I will be strong and re-establish the old supermarket mindset of weekly sales and coupon clipping.
Slipping back to basic foods might be hard to swallow at first, but I’ll make more use of those specialty cookbooks I purchased at the club, “100 Ways to Serve Chicken” or “The Secrets of Ground Beef.”