When I saw a picture of a mom’s grocery cart on Facebook the other day, I couldn’t help but do a double-take. Looking at her cart loaded down with toilet paper, meat, carrots, granola bars, and barbecue chips, I couldn’t help but think:
This is a woman who gets me.
Jill Warren, 38, an office manager and mom of four from Michigan, shared a picture of one of her two carts from her weekly grocery shopping haul, along with some of the choice comments she inevitably gets. And man does it highlight the very real struggle that is trying to keep a large family fed.
I’m a mom of four myself and I swear I spend the majority of my life meal planning, assessing what food what need, shopping for said food, unloading it from the car, and of course, cooking. It’s insane and sometimes I wonder if I really am insane, because no one else seems to struggle with the weight of carrying a grocery store cart on their shoulders.
But thanks to Warren, I finally know that I am not alone.
“Shopping and cooking is so tedious and it seems to rule my life!” Warren tells Babble.
With a family of four daughters ranging in age from 9 to 19, Warren says that she spends 90 percent of the day in her kitchen and between $1500 and $1600 a month on the food staples alone. In addition, with two family members suffering from celiac disease and others with severe allergies, there’s tons of foods she needs to avoid when shopping.
“There is no wheat, barley, rye, spelt, couscous, bran, and oats (unless they are certified oats) anywhere near our house,” she explains. “To add to this list, we also do not have soy, yeast, dairy, chocolate (eek), corn, shellfish, and store-bought eggs.”
Due to their restrictions, Warren says that the family cooks most of their food from scratch and rarely eats out. Meal planning for their family can be a “real puzzle,” Warren says, so they utilize a lot of online shopping and grocery planning guides to plan out meals and automate deliveries when they can. When she shared her picture, she says that the cart was a very normal shopping trip for their family.
“We typically walk out with two of these carts,” she says. “Thankfully on the days that my husband isn’t able to go with me, Costco provides wonderful help getting me through and out of the store.”
Of course, carting around massive quantities of food every week — even in a superstore like Costco — is bound to get you some looks from fellow shoppers. Some of the comments Warren received the day she shared her photo included:
- “You must be planning a party!”
- “Are you shopping for a business?”
- “You must have a large family!”
- “Woah!!! Have many boys are you feeding!?!?”
- And the best one … “Well, you surely aren’t overweight. Your family must be very active.”
Warren says that although she avoids taking her kids shopping with her (“There just isn’t any room for them to sit when we are done!”), she gets a lot of comments about having boys, which she always finds funny. “It is pretty comical,” she says. “They truly eat like football players, but no boys around here.”
You mean girls eat, too? *gasp*
She also finds it strange that bystanders frequently comment on her food choices in relation to her daughters’ bodies.
“The constant comments about our weight really annoys me,” she admits. “It’s like they are trying to make my girls insecure about what they eat. We don’t talk about weight in our house, only about healthy choices and positive body image, so those comments are NEVER appreciated! We get the scan over, up and down eye glare often. I may not owe anyone an explanation but sometimes I want to give one.”
And despite the struggle of trying to keep her family fed, Warren says that at the end of the day, she is thankful she is able to make it all work.
“Our lifestyle isn’t for the faint,” she notes. “It is work, a work that I am grateful for. It is a blessing and a curse. Society makes choosing convenience a top priority. Not choosing it teaches us time management, patience, and creativity. The time I get to spend in the kitchen with my girls teaching them is priceless. Some of the the best memories are made laughing at experiments gone wrong or the endless heart-to-hearts about life happen in those wonderful moments in the kitchen.”