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In an effort to stave off a total Christmas breakdown, the list making has commenced. One list certainly isn’t enough. I have lists spread through the house, the car, my office, and my tote bag. This gets tricky, as they are mostly multiple versions of the same thing — some annotated with useful information and some that are scrawled on a napkin from McDonalds.

Loosely, they contain things I need to BUY and DO. There are even some returns already (this is apparently a nation-wide trend — the news is calling it “buyer’s remorse”. Mine is a case of the buyer not paying enough attention to what the giftee already has….until today)

The TO BUY list is made up of food I need for Christmas dinner with our extended family along with a few staple products. I cannot think of a trip to the grocery store where we didn’t need milk, iced tea, and yogurt. The volume of dairy products we go through makes it extra frustrating that you can’t stock up on it the same way you can hoard macaroni or cereal.

It’s those damn “sell by”, “use by”, and “best before” labels. Not a month goes by that I don’t Google how long the general populace thinks you can keep any one item. I know there’s some leeway there, and I’d like some outside opinions.

I think we can all agree that “best before” is the weakest warning they’ve got — I’m not even sure it’s sanctioned by any official food monitoring body. Honestly, I’ll be the judge of how it tastes, and, let me assure you, if it costs more than $10 a box or jar, it still tastes TERRIFIC! (at least that’s what I keep telling the kids).

Playing loose and easy with the “sell by” dates is something I don’t mind doing, but I don’t need the grocery store to do it FOR me. The store that I frequent most often has a nasty habit of selling yogurt whose “sell by” is TOMORROW. The folks from Yoplait give their yogurt a pretty nice shelf life, and you can find it with the date still about a month out (I’ve seen it!). Our steady consumption of it means I SHOULD be able to stock up.

Not today! The whole shelf expires in two days. Not one to give up that easy, I pulled down about a dozen yogurts, stacked them on the eggs in the cooler below and dug back for the newer stock. Tah dah! – dated a MONTH after the stuff in the front. How does that even happen? I’m not in the grocery business, but I suppose that means they get a yogurt shipment once a month. Are that many people coming to buy just ONE yogurt that it doesn’t bother anyone but me? Does anyone even notice? I may, if you believe my receipts Scott, be at the store “every” day”, but I refuse to buy yogurt one or two at a time, laying in just enough for the next 48 hours.

The chances of the yogurt being less palatable in a week are low (it’s a petri dish experiment anyway, right?), but someone in the house is a stickler for the printed date. I’ll give you three clues. 1) It’s not me. 2) The kids will eat food off of the sidewalk, and 3) The dog can’t read.

My “better half” will not touch food after the expiration date. He also makes everyone in the kitchen stop talking so that he can hear the comforting “woosh” or “pop” of a can lid that has been properly sealed. He also on the lookout for any cosmetic defects in our bread or rolls because he thinks that I go into the pantry and surgically remove any and all signs of mold. In MY defense, I hate wasting food. In HIS defense, I once ACCIDENTALY served him a hotdog in a bun that was literally blue on the bottom. Mea culpa.

I think I have everything I need for the weekend, but I’m sure I’ll be running out for “one more thing” at 6pm on Christmas Eve — it’s a holiday tradition.

Here’s hoping the Health Department doesn’t crash our bash, but if they do, I’ll know who called them. I’ll give you three guesses…..

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