If you are like me, the commissary was a little intimidating on that first trip. I was terrified I would do something wrong and have it announced over the loud speaker that there was a newbie wife on aisle 3.
In fact, I waited several years (yes, years!) before I made that first trip to the commissary. But what I found was that it wasn't that much different -- I should have just sucked it up like a good little Army
wife and headed there earlier in his career.
There are some great deals to be had at the commissary. I was surprised at the savings over my neighborhood grocery store. While the fruit and meat selections weren't always great (at least not at our commissary), there were big savings to be had on cereal and frozen food items.
How about some tips on braving the commissary so you can take advantage of that benefit a little sooner than I did?
- Dress appropriately for the commissary. If you run into your soldier's commander, will you be embarrassed? Or will your soldier be embarrassed? Dress conservatively and avoid being the talk of the commissary.
- Don't park where you don't belong. If the space says it is reserved for the Post Commander, it means that. Don't decide you're above the rules and park there.
- Avoid the commissary on holidays, weekends and pay days if at all possible. It will be a madhouse on these days. Unless you enjoy waiting in line and being in big crowds, hold off on your shopping.
- Go with the flow in the commissary. Some commissaries have directions for each aisle in an effort to keep shopping cart traffic moving. Don't be the one who goes down the aisle the wrong way.
- Be sure you have your military ID. They will ask for it at checkout. Have it out of your wallet and ready to go. Nothing screams newbie like a look of disbelief when the checker asks for your ID.
- Have cash for tipping the baggers who bag your groceries and take them to your car for you. They only work for tips. Everyone's opinion is different on how much you should tip. I generally gave $3-4 for a typical weekly grocery store trip buying food for two people.
Be sure to take advantage of this military benefit that is afforded to families. The savings can be great and it really isn't all that scary once you master your first trip.