My wife, Mary, and I have two daughters, 12 and 16, and I am the grocery shopper in our home. It's been my job for years. I'm good at finding deals, using my club card, and maximizing coupons. I relish looking at my receipt and seeing "You Saved 41% Today". Besides, if I shop, I get to choose what we're going to eat for the week.
But, today I opened the fridge and still couldn't see the white of the back walls. Our fruit bowl still has bananas, oranges, a pineapple and one of those mini-watermelons. We still have half a gallon of milk, and in our pantry I saw an unopened bag of Wheat Thins Pita Chips. What am I going to do when I go shopping tomorrow?
A more important question might be, Why is there still food in my house? And, the answer is simple: because my teenager has been gone all week.
My 16-year old, Riley, has been traveling in the Caribbean via a cruise ship, with a close friend, her family as well as a third girl. It's the longest she's been away from home away without the rest of the family, a total of ten days. It's good practice for us; we're getting a taste of what life will be like once she heads off to college in a year and a half.
Her little sister, Grace, misses her, as do Mary and I, but we FaceTime with her, call and text almost daily. Grace is getting our (Mom and Dad's) our full attention (something she's never really had before). Riley is learning what life is like with roommates and a little more independence.
But, the most unexpected benefit of her being gone has been the free grub the ship offers. Riley is trying new foods (escargot) and enjoying experimenting with her palate. We knew that teens ate a lot, but we had no idea how much until after Riley had been gone a week. We actually have food leftover, and that means, that although we will miss our daughter once she moves away after high school graduation, our grocery budget will decrease significantly.
Yeah, I know, spending less on groceries doesn't quite balance out how much we'll miss our girl, but it doesn't hurt. And, after the youngest one is away as well, we might actually be able to afford a cruise ourselves.
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