My husband, Peter, likes buying in bulk.
Peter hates paying shipping fees. He never wants to run out of anything and he loves a bargain. This is why we buy coffee in enormous bags, crackers by the case, nuts and raisins 10 pounds at a time, rice in 20-pound bags, and beans in 50-pound bags. It is sometimes a little alarming when the boxes arrive.
I’m not quite sure how he got this way. Peter was the youngest child of six, but I don’t think his family went through any extraordinary hardship. My mother is the ninth of 11 children raised during the depression and she buys in modest quantities that last for no more than a week or fit in a small canvas bag — whichever is less.
Most recently, Peter decided to start ordering cheese direct from his favorite cheesemaker, but when he learned what he was going to be charged for shipping he began to fume.
“Ha! If I buy $100 at a time, I don’t pay shipping!” Peter announced, looking over the fine print on the cheesemaker’s website. He spoke with Ricky at the cheese shop and Ricky confirmed there would be no shipping charge if Peter just ordered enough cheese. Ricky recommended a nice gouda in addition to the lacy baby swiss Peter is fond of. Peter was delighted.
“Doesn’t $100 buy an awful lot of cheese?” I asked. Our house is small and our refrigerator generally filled to capacity.
“Oh, it’s not that much…” Peter did the calculations. “It’s only about 20 pounds!”
I couldn’t deny that was a good price per pound, but 20 pounds still sounded like an awful lot of cheese.
Then things were further complicated.
I had used this cheese company to buy birthday presents for my dad and they still had that address on file. Even though Peter made it quite clear this cheese was for us — not my father — we got a phone call from my dad about the time Peter was expecting his big cheese delivery.
“Hey, Peter!” my dad said, “Did you order us a big box of cheese?”
“Oh no!” Peter said.
My parents, who buy little tiny blocks of cheese which they cut into little tiny slices and serve on little tiny crackers at precisely five o’clock every evening with a small glass of white wine, were understandably taken aback by the arrival of 20 pounds of cheese.
“That’s a heck of a lot of cheese! Should we mail it to you?” my dad asked.
Peter said they should just eat it and my mother expressed doubt that they would ever eat so much cheese in their lifetime.
“Oh! You’ll eat it!” Peter insisted.
“That’s an awful lot of cheese!” my mother protested.
“We can pick up what you don’t eat next time we see you!” Peter told her, and promptly ordered more cheese.
Ricky at the cheese company was appropriately contrite and gave Peter a generous discount on his new order so now we have 40 pounds of cheese — 20 here and 20 in storage with my parents. I suspect this situation gives Peter a further feeling of security.
And, while I do shake my head from time to time, I also note that I have never once run out of coffee since I married Peter. We always have plenty of beans and rice to eat and now, I am quite certain, we will never run short of cheese.
In a chaotic world filled with unknowns, uncertainties, and nearly constant change, it’s good to know we’ve got the essentials covered.
Till next time,
Carrie Carrie Classon’s memoir is called, “Blue Yarn.” Learn more at CarrieClasson.com.