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I Stole Something At The Grocery Store

A few weeks ago I did something I am not proud of. I stole something. I know, I’m a horrible person. What kind of example am I setting for my children? The good news is my children were not with me so they do not know about it. However, it’s only a matter of time before they find out. I’m hoping that once you hear my side of the story you will stop judging me, though I’m sure some of you strong moralists will not.

It was a weekday evening and I was at the grocery store by myself. It probably doesn’t need to be mentioned, but the fact that I was at the grocery store by myself was reason enough for me to be in a good mood. When a mom is at the grocery story by herself she is unstoppable. There is clarity in that moment that she never experiences otherwise.  She can walk in without a list and walk out with everything she needs. Folks, a mom at the grocery store alone is walking on cloud nine.

And so it was that I found myself strolling the aisles with a smile on my face. I didn’t need much but I took my time knowing that I had a solid 30 minutes before I could return home to a quiet house. I tried not to feel guilty that my husband was probably at this very same moment telling my children for the tenth time to return to their beds.

When I had everything I needed I walked to the self check-out line. This is another luxury I don’t have when I’m with my children. When I’m shopping with my children, the last thing I need is to be looking for the item number on my Gala apples. I will wait in a line 4-deep if it means someone else will scan and bag my groceries. But, when I’m childless, I love the self check-out line because it fulfills my childhood dream of being a grocery store clerk. Who wasn’t jealous of the clerk that got to scan every item? Clearly the person who created the self check-out process was not only looking for a more efficient way to move people through a store, he/she also knew the excitement people would have scanning their own groceries.

But I digress.

So I’m in line behind a young woman who is paying for her groceries. It’s important to note that I did not see who was in line before her. At the time that I entered the line, she was almost finished with her purchase. A few minutes later, she was done and she grabbed her bags and left. As I walked up to the scanner I noticed a piece of paper. Again, I cannot confirm that it was hers, but in that moment I had to make a decision. Do I call to the woman and hold up the piece of paper or do I assume that it belonged to the person in front of her? I opted for option B. I’d like to say it was because she was too far away or because I saw her look at the piece of paper and intentionally not take it. Sadly, the reason I opted to remain quiet was that I caught a quick glance at the writing on the piece of paper. It contained a recipe for chili. This was not just any chili recipe, this chili recipe had cocoa in it. I’m the first to admit I’m no expert in the kitchen but a chili recipe with cocoa in it seemed just too good to pass up.

I waited until the woman was out of sight and then I quickly grabbed the recipe and put it in my purse. I blame Pinterest. For weeks I’ve been reading status updates on Facebook about all the amazing crafts and recipes that my friends are finding. I can’t help but think my refusal to join Pinterest is putting me behind in the race to accumulate the most chili recipes. I can hardly be blamed for taking this recipe.

It wasn’t until I arrived home that I realized how unrealistic this recipe was.  Three pounds of ground turkey? Three large onions? Three cans of Kidney beans? Was this woman feeding an army? There is no way this will fit in my crock pot. [In anticipation of your future comments, I'm aware that she clearly tripled the recipe and all I need to do is divide everything by 3. That is beside the point.  How on earth was she going to make this large amount of chili?]

I also began to question that completeness of the list. What if there were other ingredients that she didn’t put on the list because she had those items at home? And what is with the random line on the right that seems to group some items together? Do I mix these spices together first and then add them to the pot? Wouldn’t it make sense to put the chili powder in that subgroup?

I am also assuming that the 1% milk and gas items at the bottom are not related. But can we pause for a moment? Who puts gas on their grocery list? I get it if you are going to Costco or Safeway where there are gas stations in the parking lot, but we were not at a Costco or Safeway. I’m no longer sure I can trust the source of this recipe.

I still haven’t brought myself to make this chili. I can’t stop thinking that this poor woman arrived home to make the chili only to find her recipe was missing. Perhaps she was newly married and was having her in-laws over for the first time and this recipe was a in-law family favorite. This was her chance to prove herself to her new in-laws and she had nothing to go by except the contents of her grocery bags.  Would she remember to keep the tomatoes whole and undrained? Would she mix the chili powder with the other spices separately? Would she remember that the milk was to be kept separate? I fear that I will never be able to adequately enjoy this recipe. The guilt is just too strong.

However, I encourage you to try it. Let me know how it goes. Who knows, this could be the next hot item on Pinterest.


Lauren M. Hug, J.D., LL.M.

Laughing so hard there are tears streaming down my face. Not just because you’ve perfectly captured the bliss that is grocery shopping without children … or because of your willingness to critique a recipe you stole … but also because of the list of ‘what-ifs’ you’ve conjured up. I can actually see this poor woman standing in her kitchen, completely at a loss without her recipe. Superb imagery! Bravo!


I thought I was going to read that someone else accidentally stole a kids’ toothbrush from Harris Teeter and found it in a stroller pocket a couple months later. Not that I know anything about that. But you’re so right about the freedom and scope of a grocery store without kids. I hope you start a Pinterest board about the cocoa chili.