01/18/2011 05:56 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Polly Wanna A Cracker? Not Today. A Grocery Shopper's Tale

All I wanted was a box of crackers for some cheese.

My quest began at one of my neighborhood's fancy food stores. I know what I'm in for as soon as I walk through its doors, I bop to the sound of "ka-ching, ka-ching."

Not any cracker would do. I wanted something with a little something in it, rosemary sounded perfect as it would pair well with the soft cheese I'd selected. (One 'selects' items in fancy stores.)

At the register, the five items I bought rang up to $29.00. The box of crackers was $3.99, the liter of sparkling bottled water, $3.00. "I'm sorry," I said to the cashier, "I think I'll put the water and crackers back." I was proud of myself. I'm sick and tired of leaving stores with one bag of groceries and no balanced meal inside - for what I spent, there should be. It's not all right with me anymore.

Before leaving the store, I'd already planned my next stop - the corner greengrocer. "You should've gone there in the first place," my inner frugal voice scolded.

I marched around the corner already savoring the savings I was about to enjoy. I spotted the cracker section immediately, went straight to rosemary, picked up the box and stared at the sticker in disbelief. I guess the corner store's rent is pretty high because the crackers sure were - $4.59.

"When did your prices go up?" I asked the lady behind the counter. I was holding the box hoping that she'd say it was a mistake. "Around the corner a box of these costs just three dollars."

"That's what they cost, that's what they cost," she said with her hand in front of her mouth as she continued to eat. I put the box back and plotted my next move. "You should've gone there in the first place, you know the bigger the store, especially a chain, the bigger the store, the lower the prices," that little voice said. I sensed some annoyance.

The cold air made me walk quickly to the supermarket. I rushed to the gourmet aisle and spotted the rosemary crackers. "Ha," I thought. "At last, they will be mine." Not really, at $4.99, not today. The first box at $3.99 was beginning to look like the bargain of the century.

At the end, I gave up on rosemary and settled on another brand that had a gourmet-ish, British name for $2.99. I found a smaller bottle of sparkling water for an even two dollars.

I walked home nodding my head. It took three stores to find one box of crackers that wouldn't threaten my balanced budget or clog my arteries. Sorry it took so long, Polly, wanna half a cracker?