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Defensive Grocery Shopping, A Supermarket Strategy

Updated on March 4, 2020
Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank wrote humorous bits for her college newspaper many years ago. Her funny observations have continued in print and online.

Grocery Shopping Footwear


We might as well recognize the ugly truth and, and say it right out loud: Supermarket shopping is an adversarial situation. It's us against the giant corporate grocers. Buying groceries, especially on a budget, requires a defensive shopping strategy. It's us against them.

Of course the checkers, and boxpersons are friendly enough -- they may even be on our side -- but behind the scenes, hidden persuaders are still lurking. Grocery shopping is a challenge, a crusade, a war of wills -- and a war of won'ts.

You are a smart consumer, so you make a shopping list and commit yourself to shop in the name of Nutrition, Economy, and Ease of Preparation.

Admittedly it doesn't have quite the ring of "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity", but it's the same idea. After all, didn't the French Revolution have something to do with bread?... or was it cake?

So grab your eco-friendly reusable bags and memorize helpful hints for cart commandos:

1. Assume a defensive attitude.

Don't be deceived by the fact that supermarket doors open automatically. It won't all be that easy. In fact you may notice that the doors close with a somewhat sinister hiss. This is a clue.

2. Wear combat boots.

This is mostly to help you maintain the right frame of mind.

Supermarket terrain is deceptively even, and there is usually nothing to go slogging through unless someone drops a jar of pickle relish in the aisles.

Any good sensible shoe with some traction will do, because you are likely to get a cart with wheels that bump, chatter, or stubbornly refuse to move because of a chance encounter with a stray pinto bean.

Non skid lug soles with give you the needed leverage to counteract those balky wheels until the hoverboard shopping cart is perfected.

3. Read labels.

The confusing statistical nutrition data, which requires some advanced calculus to comprehend, is provided to make us believe we are complete dimbulbs. Additional information shows that the producers are complete dimbulbs.

For instance, the label of one particular product cautions: "Warning: this product contains peanuts." Since this caveat is on the back of a peanut butter jar, I don't find it particularly surprising. The warning is superunecessary and has wasted several seconds of my shopping time.

Another item warns: "This product will become very hot when microwaved." This may be a revelation to those of us who use our microwave for cooling things.

4. Change your mind.

As a child you learned that there is an absolute moral obligation to take the first cookie you touch -- even when you saw something better on the other side of the plate at the very self-same moment.

Merchandisers know this. Flashy special displays beg you to pick up and examine an item.The moment you do, you will get a compelling mental image of grandma behind the cookie plate --and feel committed.

5. Finally, beware of free samples of "delicious-looking things".

A friendly lady in a spotless apron will ask, "Would you like to try a sample of our new 'Delicious-LookingThings'?"

Watch out! I've heard that a serpent used this same line to put mankind on the path to destruction.


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    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      5 years ago from California Gold Country

      Thanks for commenting, RTalloni.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Insightful. :) And useful for saving food dollars in this new year.

    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      6 years ago from California Gold Country

      Thank You, Au Fait. My 'funny' ones don't get many searches, so I DO appreciate the shares.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      6 years ago from North Texas

      This is also very funny. You seem to have a natural talent for writing 'funny,' that to me is the most difficult kind of writing to pull off well -- but you do it.

      In fact researchers discovered decades ago that people are more likely by several percentage points (don't remember what they were anymore) to buy things they touch. Thus the Avon lady with full-sized samples arriving at your door.

      I hate shopping of all kinds. The only thing I can suggest as possibly be helpful for grocery shopping in addition to steel toed boots, as you have already recommended, would be a cow catcher on the front of grocery carts.

      Voted up, funny, pinned to Awesome HubPages, and sharing with my HP followers.

    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      9 years ago from California Gold Country

      That sounds like a good idea-- keep your eyes open.

    • profile image

      cart pushers 

      9 years ago

      There are cart pushers who do watch out for cars and trucks!

    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      9 years ago from California Gold Country

      Chocolate in the dental supplies ?-- that is just wrong.

      For some reason that reminded me that you can get wasabi infused toothpicks in Japan. You would think they are made for sushi appetizers, but the real reason for them is that wasabi has an antiseptic quality.

    • Jewels profile image


      9 years ago from Australia

      Coincidentally after reading your hub - I was in the supermarket today - ran out of dental floss. In the oral care and personal hygiene isle is strategically placed boxed chocolate. I laughed in disgust remembering this article. I wanted to get on the green beret and army boots and take out a few CEOs. Pathetic tactic and worth 20 days in solitary!

    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      9 years ago from California Gold Country

      I guess that only proves that things are still the same. Thanks for commenting, Jewels.

    • Jewels profile image


      9 years ago from Australia

      Glad this hub is timeless, I missed it two years ago. Very funny Rochelle and so darn true.

    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      9 years ago from California Gold Country

      Thanks for taking time to comment Peggy W, and Anthea Carson. Yes, I guess Costco is famous for their samples.

      For them it makes sense. You don't want to buy twenty pounds of something and find out you don't like it.

    • Anthea Carson profile image

      Anthea Carson 

      9 years ago from Colorado Springs

      I love to go to Costco for the samples. Great article! Voted up

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Love your sense of humor. I don't wear combat boots but do have to keep an eye out for people who are oblivious to how they are navigating their carts...blocking the aisles and so forth. And those samples! Costco does a great job with those! One could actually have one's lunch there if all the samples are tasted. Ha!

    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      9 years ago from California Gold Country

      @ Cardisa, thanks. Yes, they know we can't resist the tasty things.

      @ lilibees-- magic? That may be the secret. And I didn't know about Walmart's baskets. Maybe I live near the last known community that doesn't have one of those stores.

      And Patty Inglish,MS-- thanks very much to you, too. According to my stats, not many people have seen this.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish MS 

      9 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Very, very, very good! How did I fail to see this Hub before? Rated up and awesome.

    • lilibees profile image


      9 years ago

      Very funny hub and very very true. The part about not being fooled by flashy marketing signs. Grocery stores play tricks great magic tricks to get a shopper to spend more and more and often times more than a shopper needs. In fact just the shopping carts are a cruel trick of the eye. It is thought that stores make avaliable the use of shopping carts because they know a shopper will fill them with unneeded items. Also have you noticed in some stores like WalMart the little blue baskets perfect for the few items a shopper actually needs are starting to be phased out. Voted Up!

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 

      9 years ago from Jamaica

      Hey Rochelle, I had to laugh as I picture myself trying to push the trolly forward but it refuses and ends up sideways, it happens every time, except for MEGA MART for some reason. I realized that 'those tasty things' have some addictive thing inside it because you end up buying it and when you get home you wonder why the hell you bought it?

    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      10 years ago from California Gold Country

      Thank you all for the comments-- don't know how I missed so many of them. Possibly, I was at the market.

    • LondonGirl profile image


      12 years ago from London

      great hub!

      I get my other half to do most of hte shopping, saves a lot of hassle (-:

    • profile image

      Rainbow Brite 

      12 years ago

      Thanks for being my muse, you inspired me to write a hub in the same vein as this one! Hope you don't mind, I posted a comment on my hub with a link to this hub!

    • profile image

      Rainbow Brite 

      12 years ago

      ROFLMO - love it! So so so true! I wear my combat boots everytime I shop...then again, I also sleep in them, so I don't know if that exactly counts...

      Pushing a shopping cart should definately be liscensed. People on their cell phones, not bothering to look before stepping out into the main aisles, sideswiping you at a moment's notice for no apparent reason, and worst of all - letting a small child (whose head does not even reach over the basket) push the cart in an attempt to "help" or more likely just an excuse to keep them from putting extra items in said cart. Or the people that drive on the wrong side of the aisle. I would suggest that they instal blinkers on the carts, but I know the dimbulbs they are intended for would not use them.

      Maps - believe it or not, I actually entered a Wal-Mart (the bane of my existance - I shop there only when I have no other options) which had an employee at the front handing out maps. This was not because they believe that we are stupid, it is because this particular Wal-Mart was HUGE. I kid you not, the tiles on the floor were 6ft by 6ft. Bigger is NOT always better. I wanted to walk out right there. I was scared.

      The barcodes - there is NO reason why this should be the world-shattering crisis that it is. I have been a cashier and held other various retail positions in the retail industry for upwards of six years now, and I am here to tell you that any cashier that has been in the business for any amount of time should know at least three ways to ring up an item without a barcode. Unfortunately, this rarely happens. The same applies to credit cards - if it doesn't scan the first time, wrap a white plastic bag around it and it will. If that doesn't work, odds are good that it has been demagnitized (usually due to leaving it in extreme temperatures or using a lizard-skin wallet). If this is the case, simply enter the appropriate information into the computer and VOILA! Magic. Good, fast, knowledgeable cashiers are so hard to find nowadays.

      The warning labels - yeah, these are for the stupid people of the world. (i.e. the swedish chainsaw that says "Do not attempt to stop the chain with hands or genitals." Not joking my grandpa had this brand. Also the curling irons that say "Do not insert this iron into any orafice." Also not joking - I worked at Sally Beauty for almost two years, there are MANY brands that have this warning.

      And thanks to Mr. Marmalade for bringing this one to the top again, it's well worth the read!

    • MrMarmalade profile image


      12 years ago from Sydney

      Your hub is very entertaining and

      some of the comments so posted are hilarious.

      Thanks for the laugh

    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      12 years ago from California Gold Country

      Good strategey if you are seeking attention. :)

    • KT pdx profile image

      KT pdx 

      12 years ago from Vancouver, WA, USA

      Great hub! I'm forever getting the carts with one bad wheel, so they slide all over the place or make that squeaky sound and everyone looks around to see who it is.

    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      12 years ago from California Gold Country

      Thanks RG-- this one has lain in hub oblivian for awhile. Thanks for bringing the subject up again.

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 

      12 years ago from Wisconsin

      This is one of the best hubs I've read. It is really good read outloud and the kids loved it.

      I know how you feel. I was in the grocery store the other day and was feeling like I should have brought armor and an machine gun to protect myself. :)

    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      12 years ago from California Gold Country

      Thanks, sixtyorso, I know what you mean. Technology is supposed to make things easier, but when it doesn't quite work, it's worse than the old fashioned way.

      Thanks, bluerabbit.

      And thanks Trish. I don't think i could be a comic-- things are funnier after I think about them for awhile. In the classroom I tried to be serious (too much fun-- can send things out of control). The rearrangement thing is frustrating and often I think it is totally unnecessary... seems to me I wrote something about that once. I'll have to look.

    • trish1048 profile image


      12 years ago

      Hi Rochelle,

      Isn't it great we can make our everyday tasks/routines not so terrible just by looking at it with a bit of humor?

      I'm finding a thread in your writings that is leading me to think you should consider becoming a comic. You know, something you could do when you're not teaching. You'd be great!!! I would have loved being a studenf of yours :)

      rmr, I agree! my supermarket just did that very thing, 'rearranged' their setup, so now I need a map to find what I need.

      I once was shopping not long after my son was born, and as I'm walking through the aisles, a woman tapped me on the shoulder. I said yes? (I'm thinking she wants to ask me where she could find an item) but nooooooooo,,,,,she said, 'Can you tell me where you bought your jeans? I noticed you're wide in the hips, and I have a hard time finding jeans that fit'. OMG, I was dumbfounded! Once I got over the 'nerve' of her, I replied, 'Yes, in the tall/big MENS department at Sears'. It was her turn to look shocked. Geeze!

      Thanks for sharing,


    • bluerabbit profile image


      12 years ago

      LOL--I know what you mean

    • sixtyorso profile image

      Clive Fagan 

      12 years ago from South Africa

      Rochelle your hub resonates with me. Ankles being rammed by the cart behind you. the clearly marked item which cannot be read by the bar-code scanner at the checkout bringing the process to a grinding halt. The odd packets that find their way into your cart, especially when shopping with one (or more) of the grandchildren. The short checkout queue which grinds to a halt ahead of you  because of "the clearly marked item .." etc, the credit card which cannot be read at the checkout and everyone glaring at you a though you are attempting some heinous fraud (or worse)!

      Great Hub very humorous!

    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      12 years ago from California Gold Country

      Not at all, Pam. I think most women have the shopping/bargain -hunting gene. Shopping for necessities for the family, like for food, lets us indulge in the activity without selfish guilt.

    • Pam Pounds profile image

      Pam Pounds 

      12 years ago from So Cal Girl in the Midwest!

      Very funny, hub! Love your satire!

      In a strange sort of way, grocery shopping is somewhat therapeutic for me. I especially love the part when the checker rings everything up, and then your discount card kicks in. The register does a computer rundown of all the items eligible for the discount and you can visually see the computed drop in your total bill by about 50 bucks. Sick, huh?

    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      12 years ago from California Gold Country

      Dimbulbs are great energy saving devices, but I hate them in grocery stores because you can't read the labels even if you aren't one yourself.

    • Shadesbreath profile image


      12 years ago from California

      Dimbulb lol. That term alone was choice! And I'm so with you on the heated things in a microwave are hot. I mean, No S---! Frankly, in my opinion, anyone who gets burnt by popcorn coming out of the microwave deserves what they get. JamaGene was dead on up there. Those warnings aren't for the safety of anyone. People that stupid don't read labels anyway... they're probably total dimbulbs. Great hub (again!).

    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      12 years ago from California Gold Country

      They will do that now and then. It makes it harder for people to ignore the things they don't really want, because you have to look at everything.

    • rmr profile image


      12 years ago from Livonia, MI

      All of the stores near me, have rearranged the store "For my convenience." It is so much more convenient, now that everything has been moved from where it should be, out to the ends of the Earth. Thanks for a funny look at groceries.

    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      12 years ago from California Gold Country

      You are right SirDent, You ahave to watch other cart drivers . . . and you are vulnerable if you go into a store without a cart in front of yourself, even if it's just for a couple of items. One thing that makes other cart drivers dangerous is that half of them have cell phones held to their ears. Driving while using a hand held phone is now illegal in California-- I think they ned to extend the law to cart pushers as well.

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      I love this hub. Very well written with tongue in cheek. Had a good laugh. One thing you didn't mention those cart drivers who don't watch out for traffic. I hate those drivers. :@

    • Rochelle Frank profile imageAUTHOR

      Rochelle Frank 

      12 years ago from California Gold Country

      Thank you Sandy...

      I hope you realize that I might exaggerate a bit just for humorous effect. But I agree with you, I have my favorite shopping places that just feel comfortable. I don't even wear my combat boots in some of them :-)

    • sandyguzman profile image


      12 years ago from philippines

      I like your your post... It seems so funny... Well, it doesn't need to be like what you said. I was in Spain the last time. When i got there, i don't know where could i buy all the stuff i need... and so, i search on the internet... i found this two sites:

      it help me find the Spain supermarkets. and as what i observed, things weren't like what you said... In fact, the people in there are so kind and hospitable. Well, it really depends on the supermarkets that you will go through... All i can say is, if we are going to shop, we just need to go in a comfortable supermarket.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 

      12 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Love the hub, Rochelle! Odd that we both published hubs related to shopping on the same day. =)

      Seriously, tho, those "idiot" warnings aren't for those of us with common sense...they're to protect the maker of the peanut butter, etc, from lawsuits when a consumer who knows he/she is allergic to peanuts eats the peanut butter anyway, then gets an attorney to base a huge lawsuit on "how was my idiot client supposed to know defendant's peanut butter contained peanuts...the label didn't say so". No "duh" about happens all too often these days. The sun screen for my windshield actually has a tag attached that says: "Do not operate vehicle while this product is in use". I kid you not.

    • Eileen Hughes profile image

      Eileen Hughes 

      12 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      Love the sense of humour. Makes good sense. We all need to read the labels and know exactly or hopefully what and what is in what we eat.

      thanks for sharing

    • schanele profile image


      12 years ago from United States

      Oh, you are funny! I love the 'this product contains peanut' warning on the back of the peanut butter jar. Well, duh!

      Great hub. Thanks for making my day :)


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