One of the best parts, for me, of being a military dependent is getting to shop at the commissary.
One of the worst parts of being a military dependent is getting to shop at the commissary.
The balance that you really need to be prepared for is all about the timing. The issue? Everyone who can use the commissary gets paid on the same day. Every two weeks, the 1st and the 15th. Like clockwork.
I had this facebook status up the other day
"Mentally preparing to go grocery shopping at the commissary after work. I am hoping we hit the balance between pay days where there won't be too many people, but it's not like shopping in Soviet Russia either..."
and for the uninitiated, let me explain it.
If you find yourself in need of groceries on the 1st or the 15th, it may be worth it to haul the family to Wendy's for a night and give yourself a buffer. Because let me tell you, if you head to the commissary on the 1st or 15th, you will think the end of the world is coming and nobody told you. Bumper to bumper shopping carts, screaming kids, I am not even sure you can imagine it if you haven't experienced it first hand.
It gets so bad that there used to be arrows at the top of each aisle showing which way traffic went. And let me tell you, even if you didn't need one aisle, but needed the next one, you were going down that unnecessary aisle. The looks you received when going against the posted direction of traffic still give me chills. They have since taken the arrows away and it is pandemonium in there sometimes. I almost wish they would bring them back. Almost.
On the other hand if you wait until smack dab in between paydays, it is like shopping after the apocalypse.
Actual commissary photo from here
Empty shelves, the worst in the selection of produce, you might as well just not even go. So, you hope for the best and tentatively shoot for the middle.
Oh, and did I mention it closes at 7? So those 'after work' trips need to be planned to military precision, friends.
Please don't get me wrong. I love being able to shop at the commissary. The prices are right, which is a huge blessing, the food is typically great quality, and it is one of the only places you are pretty much guaranteed to run into someone you know.
But, if you're gonna go - you had better have a battle plan.