We Real Women are generally responsible for maintaining appropriate household inventory levels of grocery items and commonly used home goods. Sure, our husbands or partners may occasionally venture out to the store, but they are either going with a list in hand compiled by us, or they are shopping for immediate need items. They are not going to notice that the household is down to one stick of butter and three eggs, or that the soap dispenser is nearly empty and everyone is on the last roll of toilet paper. So it is our job to take notice of all of these items and plan accordingly.
Some items are more critical than others. In my house, running out of peanut butter or milk is a fate of horrific proportions; a house that is devoid of English muffins is the stuff nightmares are made of. And no Ginger Ale? I hate to see a grown man pout when it is cocktail hour. We do our very best to avoid such atrocities and have back up inventory on our shelves, in a pantry, or in the basement. This is not foolproof. Just this week I ran out of parchment paper. That was a bit disappointing when I wanted to bake some cookies, but nothing to lose sleep over. Replenishing that item can wait until the next shopping expedition, no need for a special trip.
Our plans can go a bit awry, however, when we begin to stockpile random items. We are somehow unaware that we build up multiples of certain items. Either we think that we are getting low on the item and purchase it every time we shop, then get back home to realize there are already 5 on the shelf, or we buy items over time and store them in different places so we never really know how many we have. Or, perhaps, we just lose count.
I have an inventory issue with salad dressings. I have many in the door of my refrigerator. And a couple spares in my cupboard. The funny part is, I really only prefer one type of dressing. It is all I use. Yet I buy others for recipes, or to have on hand when guests are here for dinner, or…well, really, I don’t know why. I’m just trying to come up with excuses.
The other day I went digging through my basement to see if I had a spare disposable tablecloth for an upcoming cookout. Sure enough, I did. As a matter of fact, I had at least eight of them. In a variety of colors. This is a classic example of buying one or two before every birthday, family reunion, summer cookout, and party of any type. Every time. Without checking home stock first.
I happened to mention my discovery to another R.W. friend, and shared that I’m not sure why I have these lapses in strategic inventory planning. She understood my predicament. She shared with me that she “has a recurring problem with mayonnaise and grape jelly.” Another friend shared that at one point she had an unreasonable quantity of Cumin in her seasonings cabinet. It is good to know that we are not alone in our sometimes irrational behavior. I take heart in knowing that I’m not a full-on hoarder because I don’t collect multiples of everything. Just a few chosen products — for no apparent reason.
In reality, this errant stockpiling habit is not just an affliction for women. My husband has the same problem with CD cases. He has some stacked by his desk and he’s got a whole box of them “hidden” in a closet. Empty CD/DVD cases. Why? Who knows. Could he get rid of them? Probably. Will he ever? Unlikely.
Sometimes we just have to allow ourselves some lapses in judgment and common sense, or recognize our hidden need to act like a squirrel preparing for winter. Rather than storing nuts for food throughout the winter, we are storing things like condiments for a possible naked salad emergency.
Hey, it could happen.