Yes, you too can spend $9.50 at the grocery store for a week's worth of groceries for a family of four. I did so this very morning.
I'll give you a step-by-step chronology of how I accomplished this - without coupons, even.
1. Have your day meticulously planned out. Your husband is working all day making a presentation to his Board, so it's quality time for mommy and the cherubs for a good 8 hours and then some.
2. Drive Boo to Acting Class, realizing en route that you don't have the slightest clue how to get there. Rely on son's autistic memory to tell you. When son is correct, look at this as a positive benefit to said autism.
3. Realize that you have forgotten to bring cash for son to get a snack during Acting Class. Scrounge around in crevices of minivan for change. Come up with $1.25 in dimes and one quarter and hope that his breakfast provided sufficient nutritional benefits to get him through the rigors of "A Year With Frog and Toad."
4. Wait while Betty "I-Can-Do-It-Myyyyyyyyysellllllf!!!!!" buckles herself into her booster seat.
5. Drive to grocery store, feeling so freakin' proud of your mommy self for finding a very efficient way to spend the 3 hours until Boo needs to be picked up. Grocery shopping with Betty is something you do every week with Betty in tow, and without incident, so this will work out just fine. (You moms know where this is going, right? Riiiiiight.) You can go grocery shopping and bring the groceries home and return to pick up Boo all in the nick of time.
6. Park at grocery store. Pick a cart. Tell cute Cub Scouts that no, you don't want to buy any Fudgelicious WhatevertheHell they're selling, but that you'll give them a donation when you come out of the store.
7. Proceed through Fresh Produce, Prepared Foods, and Deli with Betty. Upon turning down Aisle 2, Betty announces that she can push the cart All. By. Herself. You allow her to do this, your hand casually on the end of the cart. Have the following exchange with Betty.
"Nooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!" wails Betty. "I can do it myselllllllllllf!"
"I know you can sweetie," you say, fake saccharine dripping from your voice. "But just let Mommy help, OK? I know you don't want to knock into anything or anybody."
"I !! Will !!! Not !!! Bumpintoanyyyyybodddddyyyy!!!!!"
"Betty, please calm down," you say, with slightly less saccharine and with hopes that the caffeine from your morning coffee has kicked it by now. (Note: at 11:05 a.m., it still hasn't. You see a Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce Latte in your near future.)
"I'm giving you one more chance to get your act together, or else we're going home."
"But I want to push!!!! the!!!! cart!!!!"
"I know you do," you reason. "But here are your choices: you push the cart and I help, or we go home."
Your sentiments exactly. "Let's go," you say.
"I want to stay! I want to push the cart! I don't want to go! I don't! Mommy, no!"
"We're leaving," you say. Crocodile tears ensue. Feet stomp. Arms crossed. The tantrum extraordinaire is underway.
You look at the contents of your cart. One Family Size package of refrigerated tortellini. Two cans of Progresso Savory Vegetable Barley Soup. Three bananas. Scan the checkout lines for the cashier least likely to call Child Protective Services on you.
"No! No! Nononononononononono and NO!" Betty screams.
You hand the sympathetic cashier your keyring with your Bonus Card.
"That's nine dollars and fifty cents," the cashier says. She wisely does not ask you if you need help out to your car.
Betty begins kicking you from behind, passing the Cub Scouts offering a taste of Fudgelicious WhatevertheF they're selling. "No, thank you," you reply, as Betty forms her hands into fists and starts pummelling you in the back while continuing to kick your legs. (She's this generation's karate kid, let me tell you.)
Betty continues screaming "NO!" at the top of her lungs in the parking lot. You're convinced that someone is going to arrest you for attempted child abduction. You think of someone you know, just a few towns away from where you're standing, who actually did get such a visit from a State Trooper following a very similar incident at McDonalds with his precious offspring. Last you heard, he was still dealing with being under investigation by Child Protective Services.
(This is a true story. Some passerby called the authorities on this acquaintance of mine - who shared this story himself with me and others - so there's some freakin' busybody in our vicinity who apparently gets a perverse pleasure out of ruining innocent people's lives.)
And that, my friends, is my True Confession account of how you too can spend only $9.50 at the grocery store.
Anyone wishing to borrow Betty and try this out for yourself is more than welcome to do so.