To secure groceries is to prepare for war.

Many intelligence reports on obtaining foodstuffs are contradictory; even more are untrue, and most are illogical.

If one is to venture unscathed from the relentless struggle within the market aisles, two truths are indispensable: first, the notion that, even in the darkest hour, retains some glimmerings of scrumptious snacks which may lead to satiety; and second, the bravery to seek faint light wherever it may lead, preferably, to the freezer section where one might amass an ungodly reserve of pepperoni Bagel Bites.

There are cases in which the greatest daring is the greatest reward: a full cart.

If we read history with an open mind, we cannot fail to conclude that, among all the military virtues, the energetic conduct of cuisine procurement has always contributed most to glory and success.

But delectable dining does not belong to hunger itself; it is only a given condition; and to introduce into the philosophy of hunger itself a principle of moderation would be an absurdity... From this it follows that masticating morsels or squelching starvation pangs, whichever we call it, must always be the aim of food shopping.

Anyone who falls into the habit of wandering aimless the aisles and still expecting to achieve the greatest meal-prep of all time is, for that reason alone, unsuited to command the task of grocery acquisition.

From this it follows then that the disarming or overthrow of hunger, whichever we call it, must always be the aim of grocery shopping.

Everything takes a different shape when we pass from abstractions to reality. In the former, every recipe must be subject to optimism, and we must imagine the one side as well as the other striving after perfection and even attaining it. One must ask at the outset of every purchase of ingredients, “Will this overly ambitious YouTube video I saw on New York Times Cooking ever happen in reality?”

The talent of the grocery strategist is to identify the most flavorful fare and to concentrate on it with unwavering fortitude, removing secondary distractions, such as free brownie samples and buy-one-get-one tortilla chips, and ignoring lesser objectives like staring aimlessly at seltzer flavors so inane they’ll leave you dizzy and drunk with indecision.

If we then ask what sort of person has the boldness and perseverance to display the qualities of food procurement specialist, experience and observation will both tell us that it is the overfull rather than the ravenous, the strategic rather than the frivolous approach, the calculated rather than the impulsive shopper, to which in snack collection we would choose to place our faith.

[This writing reflects satirical edits to quotes from Carl von Clausewitz’s ‘On War’]

Observation Post is the Military Times one-stop shop for all things off-duty. Stories may reflect author observations.

Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digital Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.

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