Thanksgiving Grocery Shopping and a DNA of Hoarding

My partner Sara says I’m a hoarder.

She insists on this—especially when I lamely claim otherwise.  I prefer to think of myself as a supporter of surplus—not so much a believer in excess, as an advocate for plenty.

Call it what you will. We all have our crosses to bear, and having a few extras of everything lying around is Sara’s, I suppose.

Some of you may recall that Sara has accused me of this before—of collecting things like empty cat food cans—of saving labels, boxes, buttons.  She seems to believe that she’s the trash-savvy half of our relationship.

However, around this time of year we begin amassing a grocery surplus, as well.  If one can of Libby’s pumpkin is good, then a dozen’s better.  If a sign at Kroger reads, “Buy 10, get 1 free,” then believe you me, we do just that.  Who doesn’t favor free?

Now, Sara is as guilty of the grocery grabbing as I am.  She’ll claim otherwise.  But she’s likely lying.

She’ll remind me that when we lived in Haiti, I once stock-piled, according to her count, 13 cans of diced tomatoes and 14 bottles of salad dressing.  Now this is factually accurate, but it’s the context of this collecting that matters more—that when we could find an item we really wanted in the our Haitian grocery store, it was wise to stock up.  We might not see it again for weeks—if not a lot longer.  It was a consumer-driven form of expat carpe diem.

Fast forward over a year—land in Lexington, Kentucky.

At the moment our pantry is empty—“empty” being a relative term, given our usual surplus.

And today Sara is going grocery shopping.  This makes me nervous, since our food vacuum, if I can call it that, is begging to be filled—or fed, as the case may be.

So I know Sara will be buying in bulk.

I predict that today, when she returns from shopping, I’ll have to ask why.

“Why in the name of bread-crumb warehousing did you buy so much?”

She’ll inevitably insist it was on sale and remind me that collecting excess anything is an illness of genetic origin I suffer from—that my mother does it—that my grandmother was a chronic bulk buyer.

Yet, now that we’re back in the land of Sams and Wal-Mart superstores, my very own supporter-of-surplus Sara will also claim, as my grandmother once did, “I’m keeping it so all the hoarders don’t get it.”

Will the real bulk-buyer please stand up!

Is there a DNA of hoarding in your family?  What supplies are surplus-ed in your pantryWhen you go grocery shopping for Thanksgiving, what will you buy in bulk?


Sara and I invite you to do your Black Friday, holiday shopping at idiomART, our Etsy site.

Stay tuned—a borderline-big announcement is coming in my next post!


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97 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Grocery Shopping and a DNA of Hoarding

  1. My husband loves to grocery shop (he’s the one who cooks the most) and he can’t resist buying in bulk, either. The problem I have, is finding space to cram 20 cans of soup in our tiny apartment! I’m the one who’d prefer to just buy as I need. Go on little shopping trips here and there.

  2. Haha! This made me laugh for sure! I do not hoard groceries at all. We are usually out of everything so there is a plus side to your hoarding. Now my husband’s family is another story. They are hoarders on steroids!

    • LOL–love “hoarders on steroids.” Too perfect! It’s hard for me to imagine seriously running out of stuff. It’s kind of sad–and borderline immoral when you live in a place like Haiti. Great to hear from you today! Hope you’re doing well.

  3. I’ve noticed that my mother has become quite the hoarder as she gets older. Or perhaps I simply didn’t notice it when I was younger, because I was too busy enjoying the surplus. Nathan’s parents are hoarders,extraordinaire, and the result is that sometimes, when they feel the urge to clean out their pantry to make room for more, they inevitably send us a box full of stuff that I’d prefer not to have.

    • I don’t think I’d be happy to have the food my in-laws should have thrown away, either. Nice that they think of you, BUT! Big BUT. Hard to sound grateful, I suppose. Happy Thanksgiving, dear Lisa–and hugs to all of you!

  4. This made me laugh! I am not much of a hoarder either, certainly not when it comes to groceries, except for fancy sauces and cooking ingredients, like dried porcini mushrooms… And when I spring clean, I chuck stuff out in bulk! Problem is, that I will then start looking for that one receipt that I will be sure must have been thrown away when I cleaned the last time!

    • Sara wishes I were much more willing to throw things away. It’s hard for me to part with stuff. Sara, on the other hand, while she stocks up on food products, is much more inclined to toss–and all too often it’s something we end up needing–rather I end up needing. Happy Thursday, Gertie. Glad to got a laugh out of this one.

  5. I have quite a stockpile of canned goods .. for what reason I cannot say – only that when beans are on sale and I’m in the mood, I just throw a dozen cans in there. Oh yeah, and Ken’s salad dressings on sale (the LITE variety). And good bread I can freeze — i’m just a sucker for that!!

    • Oh, yes, Ken’s is good! Hard to go wrong there. Have you ever counted the cans of beans you have? I think so many of us Americans don’t even realize how much we have. I was appalled to find out how many cans of tomatoes we had in Haiti. Embarrassing–especially in light of the hunger issues there. Great to hear from you today, Betty.

  6. I have always bought ahead when things were on sale—-a lesson learned from my mom who made the most of her limited money. I don’t do it quite as much as I used to and not to the hoarding proportions but it is nice to have a full pantry and be ready to make a casserole for someone who might need a meal unexpectedly. Case in point–last night I made a delightful Hot Chicken Salad Casserole for a local family who lost their young adult son a couple weeks ago. Their supply of lasagna and rotisserie chickens has run out and I am ready to step in and had all the supplies on hand in my trusty pantry!!! I was never a Girl Scout but married a Boy Scout so I am always prepared! :-) Will be interested to hear what Sara comes home with!

    • I love that you use your extra food to cook for others, Beth Ann. Somehow that doesn’t surprise me at all about you. I think you have got to be one of the most gracious and giving bloggers I have met to date. Your heart is huge. Thanks for sharing with so many of us.

  7. Valid point about stocking up if it is hard to come by, even in London where it should be plentiful, I despair when a chipotle sauce is discontinued and I have to live eternity without it. So now I bulk buy the more obscure things I come across. Trouble is I’ve taken to extending the philosophy with a pair of shes I like or a shirt and buying a couple of the same thing so my wardobe resembles the rack in the store with everything the same.

    Other than that I hate clutter but my partner is a bit of a hoarder, going so far as never opening mail, when I met him he had bags and bags of unopened letters going back years. And keeps every item of clothing they had since they were 16, as if one day they will magically fit again!

    • I agree with you. I hate it when foods I love are no longer available. At times that motivates me to buy, as well. My partner does what you do with clothes. If she finds an item she likes she buys several. However, I’m more like your partner with mail. Hate to throw it away. It really fascinates me how couples come together and work out some of these differences. Thanks for sharing yours.

    • I totally and completely agree with you, David. One needs to buy when the prices are good. It’s just a matter of finding room to store the excess. As you know, our house is large, but our kitchen lacks storage. Great to hear from you today! And I try diligently not to run out of what we use.

  8. I HATE being in the middle of making something, or really wanting to make something, and not having the ingredients necessary to hand. I truly don’t understand people who actually run out before they restock. In spite of this I have made huge progress in denying my own genetic propensity to “stock up”. My dear mother loves this season because on top of the freezer attached to her fridge, her deep freeze, and my sister’s freezer she can begin to use her outdoor gazebo as overflow freezer space. I know where I want to end up for the zombie apocalypse!

    • OMG, Lisa, that is too funny. Your mom’s place does sound like a good spot to find yourself in that event. Also, I’m like you, in that I want to have on hand what I might want or need. It’s covering the “what if’s” that gets me in trouble. But, gosh, I agree with you!

  9. I’m the grocery shop in our house, and actually enjoy it. Bulk buying though isn’t the rule of thumb – thus we resist many urges at Costco. Besides, I can’t come up with a reason for a 5 gallon jug of Tabasco sauce. Meanwhile, thanks for the reminder that I have some bins of old stuff to go through!

    • Yes, Frank, it’s hilarious that stores even sell 5 gallons of stuff like that. You have to ask yourself who’s buying that. Good luck sorting your canned goods or whatever you happen to have in those bins.

  10. One of MTM’s siblings is a certified hoarder. I am not allowed to go into his house. Whenever MTM tries to keep something that I think needs to be thrown out, I just call him that sibling’s name, and he always throws it away.

    • Very effective strategy you have there. I don’t think that there are any certified hoarders in my family. However, I hear from my sister-in-law that my brother has trouble throwing away some of the same things I do. I wonder how much of that is learned–how much is passed along genetically.

  11. “But she’s likely lying.” You gals crack me up!

    I think the only item we have in bulk is toilet paper. We’re prepared for a good bout of Montezuma’s Revenge, a bridal shower where you have to create a wedding dress out of toilet paper, or a night out TPing our neighbor’s houses.

    • Interesting that you all have excess TP. I like to have a lot, as well. However, my grandmother was the worst with the TP. When she made comment about “keep it so the hoarders don’t get it,” she was responding to my uncle’s questioning why she had a floor to ceiling pantry pretty much full of the stuff.

      Also, Sara and I have learned to laugh at ourselves and one another. Humor helps most folks get along. Great to hear from you, Laurie. Happy Thursday to you!

  12. I can see you two bantering back and forth! So sweet and funny. We have moved into a smaller home and I have no space with which to hoard! I get mad at myself when I buy a duplicate can of beans by mistake; above hoarding I’m thrifty! Go figure.

    • Oh, yes, the banter around here is pretty damn funny. However, I think you’re onto something when you refer to thrift. I suspect a lot of folks who are inclined to hoard are motivated by wanting to buy lots when prices are low. I don’t know. Just a guess.

  13. It is a sad side effect of hoarding – or over-buying – that the purchaser cannot justify throwing the unused excess away. I do not want 25 pounds of lovely rice flour that was so cheap at the Amish grocery that it couldn’t be passed up. Even free, it involves storage and learning recipes that will use it. I also don’t want condiments – even unopened – when houses are closed for the season. I tend to over-buy on my own; I have my own issues. I cannot, WILL NOT, add other people’s hoarding issues to my own!

    • You make some important points here! Humor aside, I think there is a difference between over-buying and hoarding–big difference. And yes, even free costs something. Gosh, that would make a great subject for a post, in and of itself. Great to hear from you today. Thanks so much for your comment.

  14. I believe in stocking up! WHAT is the point of buying ONE of something you use A LOT and will be cussing about when you run out. Not that I do that, but if….

    And when my father passed away we very humorously, yet accurately, put in his obituary: “An active member of Sam’s Club”. :)

    Did I ever tell you about the stock up jokes after his passing? That he did not particularly find funny??? ;)

    • No, you never told me about the “stock-up” jokes, I’m afraid. They sound enteraining, however. You dad must have been a hoot in this regard then. And, I could not agree with you more, Colleen. Why buy only one of something you use all of the time? Is gas not expensive enough? Who can afford to drive to the store all the time, right?

      • Oh the stories we could swap, I am sure!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I will have to share the stories of dad. :)

        Not to mention I don’t LIKE going to the store. So get as much as possible and go only when needed (when there appears there might be an empty spot on the shelf soon).

      • I’m sure we could swap for hours–if not days. I hate going to the store, as well–unless it’s a book store or art supply store. Then—I LOVE it! Hope you and David have a wonderful weekend.

      • Well, book stores and art supply stores ARE not shopping. They are life sustaining necessities. (Do not give give that analogy to Sara she might point out that food is as well. But it’s not the same. ) :) Thank you, and happy weekend to you and SC!

  15. Jim is a hoarder of toilet paper. The man fears running out of TP worse than running out of food. He is currently on restriction because if one more roll of toilet paper comes into this house I may very well wrap him in it before I kick his butt outside!……….And that announcement is not borderline, Sista. It’s gigantic, awesome, wonderful, stupendous.

    • How funny about the toilet paper. Have to admit, I have a bit of a fear of running out of TP, myself. However, my grandmother was the worst. It was when my uncle confronted her about all the toilet paper in her panty that she defended herself, “I’m keeping it so all the hoarders don’t get it.” Poor Jim! Poor you! LOL

  16. The only thing, aside from my elusive brand of dental floss, that I buy in bulk is a six-pack of Dove soap. I live in a studio apartment in Manhattan that is no bigger than the size of your welcome mat. I always spend Turkey Day with my longtime pal, Martini Max, and his family, a clan that is very dear to me. I just pay half on whatever bottle Max decides that we’re bringing. After knocking back a few belts of liquid courage, his Italian mother, who Max is certain was a mafia don in a past life, looks at her son and me and audibly laments, “I look at my son and her and it kills me. Why did she have to be a lesbian?” His mom and I get on well. It’s a shame that Max wasn’t born a woman — maybe I’ll mention that to his mom this year. Maybe not.

    • How hilarious! I swear, I can almost hear Martini Max’s mom. Yeah, maybe don’t mention that to her. What cracks me up is that you consider 6 bars of soap bulk. I mean, I never buy that many bars at once, but somehow that struck me as funny. Oh well, have a great weekend. May the floss be with you.

  17. What a hoot, Kathy. But I’m not surprised, knowing what I know of how you save the cat food cans. I love how you see yourself as an advocate for plenty. lol. The only thing that stops me from buying so much in bulk is my tiny home. Nothing would fit besides the bare essential. Though, I must admit, I love shopping at Costco now and then. (Thanks again for visiting and commenting on my new blog! I really appreciate it.)

  18. Don’t even get me started on hoarding in my family. We recently cleared our spare bedroom which my dad had made into a cloakroom. 40 coats! I don’t even know where he got them from.

  19. Oh gosh! It’s been so long since I’ve been visiting here on WP!! I have so much to catch up on!

    But first things first… I just checked out your store. I LOVE IT!! Kudos to you my friend for not only having the talent and imagination to create such beautiful pieces but for figuring out the whole e-commerce thing as well!! I’ve looked into it in the past and quickly decided it was over my technical skill set.

    As far as the “hoarding” goes on my part… living in the camper has certainly made that more than a little difficult. But yes, I still do tend to buy more of certain things than we need at the time (i.e. toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates etc.) and then go bonkers trying to find a place to store it all. I guess I’m still on the learning curve… lol

    I also wanted to let you know that I’ve moved my blog from WP over to Blogger. I have really enjoyed having you as a follower and I’m hoping you’ll be able to find the time to pop on over to the new URL and follow along again from there.

    The new URL is:

    Wishing you, Sara and the family the very happiest of Thanksgivings!!


    • I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed idiomART, Wendy. It’s great to hear from you. I stopped by your new blog and tried to comment at least 5 times, but Blogger wouldn’t let me for a number of different reasons. They changed. Maybe it was a bug. I did subscribe though, so I’ll try again on another post. Have a wonderful weekend.

  20. Whatever we do, we’d better not send Sara and my step-dad to the grocery store together!
    At last count he had 12 different kinds of mustard in the pantry! I didn’t even know there were that many mustard options.

    Happy weekend to you and Sara! :)

    • How funny–especially since Sara has been bad about buying many, many different kinds of mustard, as well. We nearly had to empty the fridge to make room. Jeepers. Feel sorry for your mom. Have a great weekend, Jackie!

  21. Tara comes from a small town, where the nearest major big box retail grocery outlet was four hours away, so to this day she still has that “I’d-better-stock-up-on-this” hoarder mentality even though we have a dozen grocery stores within a five-mile radius that all carry the same. exact. thing.

    You can take the woman out of Ely, but you can’t take Ely out of the woman, I guess!

    • Wow, four hours away–that a huge distance! It would be hard to take that Ely out of anyone, I suppose. Would love to know what Tara likes to stock up on most? I think these details can be telling. Congrats on the new job, Mark!

  22. I have a couple of terrible downfalls – toilet paper, paper towels, broth, coconut water and cooking sauces. Those are what I have in bulk. Everything else? I am always on the edge, always checking if I have enough of. I buy what I need when I shop and usually shop three times a week. Buy meat, fruit and veggies as we are going to use it.

    Love the etsy site!

    • Thanks so much. Glad you like the Etsy site. I’m afraid my Sara also has a thing for sauces–a big thing, I might add. I’m curious, however. Why the coconut water? I mean, what do you do with it? Drink it? Great to hear from you, my friend. Hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend.

      • Coconut water, for cooking. Like it much better than broth for somethings well for most things really. Cook fish in it. Use it for a base for curry. Stew some fruits in it. Also use it as a base for juices in the morning. It is so good for you! It adds a wonderful flavor to foods. Just love it.

      • Thanks so much for sharing. Maybe it’s like coconut milk–the juice inside a coconut–now that I know. Maybe it’s the word “water” that threw me. My Sara says I think way too literally. LOL

      • The milk is sweeter. The water is from younger coconuts and it is unprocessed. Both from the same origins. You have to read the labels though. Usually I find coconut water either in Asian or Caribbean groceries. When I can’t find the water I will use unsweetened coconut milk for the same purpose.

    • Thanks so much. Glad you like the Etsy site. I’m afraid my Sara also has a thing for sauces–a big thing, I might add. I’m curious, however. Why the coconut water? I mean, what do you do with it? Drink it? Great to hear from you, my friend. Hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend.

  23. This is hilarious! I swear to god, you sound exactly like my Aunt. She buys multiples of everything. Its been a long-standing joke in the family since I can recall. Her basement is like a fun-house. There’s actually a path that meanders throughout — boxes stacked to the floor joists. If I had to conservatively guess, I’d say she has at the very least, a couple hundred thousand dollars of collectibles. Maybe I should send you guys her email address — you can all go shopping together one afternoon!

  24. I`m keeping it so all the hoarders don`t get it. HILARIOUS! Competition among collectors! Happy Thanksgiving! (I would say I`m hoarding Costco Pumpkin pies because a good pie is hard to come by here but since I`m eating them it doesn`t count as hoarding does it?)

    • Depends on how quickly you consume. You mean to tell me you’re not baking your own pies? Do you all have an oven? Do you know yet what your plans are? Enough questions for you? Happy Thanksgiving, dear Emily, from Sara and me! Hugs to you!

  25. Hope you’re having a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, Kathy! My dad is a hoarder/collector extraordinaire, so I probably went overboard in the opposite direction. I’m never happier than when figuring out a way to give stuff away. My entire family makes fun of this behavior.

    • Interesting, Kathy. I have to wonder, however, if this desire to give away is more a functon of your big heart than a hoarder father. You strike me as incredibly generous. Note that here you said “give stuff away”–not get rid of. Happy Leftovers Day, my friend.

  26. My hubby is the food hoarder in our relationship. I am constantly trying to use up what we have. He is constantly creating a surplus. His theory is, “We can always use some of this… eventually.” When I counted ten boxes of pasta in the cupboard, I put a ban on pasta buying, among other things. Now it’s a joke when we go to the store. He stops in the pasta aisle and asks, “Don’t we need some of this?”

    • How funny, Terri. I tend to be the borderline hoarder in our family, but Sara has a thing about gourmet mustards. Now tell me. How many varieties of mustard does one need? LOL Great to hear from you, Terri.

  27. I’ll ‘fess up. My pantry overrunneth. If it’s on sale, I stock up. I bet my husband and I could live off the food in the pantry for a couple of months. (He says a year. Not the way he eats!) I hope you and Sara had a wonderful Thanksgiving. :)

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