By Julie Provost

You love the commissary! You hate the commissary! You know shopping there will save you money. . . but is the stress worth it?

Here’s what can really make any spouse’s blood pressure rise:

1. Taking all your kids

Kids from Flickr via Wylio
© 2006 jess2284, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

Your spouse is deployed, it’s spring break, and you need groceries. Looks like you are bringing all of your children with you to the commissary. You pray that the car cart is not being used because you know how that will help, even if you feel like you are pushing a bus around the store. Add extra money to your budget because bringing kids means extra food will inevitably end up in your cart.

2. When they run out of your favorite products

Empty shelves from Flickr via Wylio
© 2013 Glenn Dettwiler, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

You always buy your favorite brand of wheat bread during your weekly shopping trip, but when you get to the commissary, they are sold out. You either need to go without, come back another day, or visit another store.

3. Dealing with the craziest day ever

Red all plastic carts. from Flickr via Wylio
© 2011 Polycart, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

If you end up at the commissary on payday, you are a brave soul. The lines will be much longer and you will have trouble pushing your cart down some of the aisle. Payday commissary shopping is as stressful as it’s going to get. Best to plan around it or go somewhere else if you can’t wait another day to do your shopping.

4. Having an empty wallet

ODCempty51 from Flickr via Wylio
© 2015 FolsomNatural, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

When you go to the commissary, baggers will take your groceries to your car.
They only make money from tips. Not having the right change for them is stressful. The good news is you can get cash back when you pay and get some dollar bills for the tip that way.

5. Needing a PhD in Comparative Grocery Sales

Coupons from Flickr via Wylio
© 2011 jridgewayphotography, Flickr | CC-BY-ND | via Wylio

The commissary is supposed to be cheaper. . . but that isn’t always the case for every single product. Sometimes you find certain items cheaper at Walmart or another grocery store. Are you saving money at the commissary? The only way to know for sure is to shop around and compare receipts.

6. Seeing people you know

Hidden from Flickr via Wylio
© 2010, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

Sometimes you just want to run in, get your groceries, and head back home. You don’t want to see anyone–not your FRG leader, your friend from the gym, or your spouse’s commander. But you will. . . you always will.

7. Playing hide-and-seek

Commissary from Flickr via Wylio
© 2011 USAG Livorno PAO, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Visiting for the first time? Frustration may set in if they don’t carry certain products. You don’t want to have to shop off-base just to get them. Here’s a trick: You can ask the commissary to carry that item. . . and they just might be able to honor your request!

8. Waiting on a cart

Ahem - this is a parking lot for cars not carts! from Flickr via Wylio
© 2006 IndyDina with Mr. Wonderful, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

If you go to the commissary during a busy time, you might have to stand and wait for a cart. This is annoying , especially if you have limited time to shop.

9. Finding your car

Lost from Flickr via Wylio
© 2017 Rolf Brecher, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

It’s one thing to forget where you parked when you come out of the store by yourself; it’s another when you walk out to the parking lot with a bagger, clueless. Always park in the same spot so you know where your car is and can avoid embarrassment in front of a bagger.

10. The on-base shuffle

Concrete Fence from Flickr via Wylio
© 2014 Pavel P., Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

When you don’t live on base and the commissary isn’t right down the street, is it worth driving to base to shop at the commissary? Should you just do to your local grocery store instead, even if you end up spending more money? Combining a commissary trip with other trips on base helps will make life a little easier for yourself.

Julie Provost is an associate editor at Military One Click and a National Guard spouse. She can be reached at