"Do you own a restaurant?" a cashier at the warehouse club asked us.
"No," my wife, Donna, replied.
"But—the green beans!" the woman protested.
We snickered. It was an easy mistake. Our contractor's cart was stacked with 42 giant cans of kitchen-cut Blue Lake green beans and cases of peas, tomatoes, applesauce, and ketchup, mostly in school-cafeteria sizes.
On our second trip through her line, the clerk eyed our two carts loaded with flour, pasta, and cake mixes. "Kids?"
"No," I replied. "No kids."
On our third pass, she was certain: "Cleaning service."
The cases of tissue and gallons of cleanser would support her theory, but again my wife said, "Nope." And we chuckled.
Handing me a three-foot long receipt, the mystified clerk said, "See you soon."
"In about a year," I replied.
On the way to pack our car, Donna and I grinned at our secret: we shop for groceries and household products only once a year.
Lovin' and leavin' Cracker Barrel
Our once-a-year buying plan started of necessity and as an experiment. As Donna and I settled into our first house, we found that the due date for the mortgage payment came with alarming regularity. With a penchant for numbers, Donna tightened the budget, and for a few months it helped. Until the shower incident.
New to home ownership, we were unaware that upstairs showers are a common cause of dripping in the light fixtures one floor below.
"You'll have to take all this out to get to the trouble," the contractor said, pointing to walls and floors with a sweeping gesture. The treatment eventually required remodeling a bath and a half, kitchen, and foyer.