Today let’s consider the locust: it looks like a grasshopper, but is something scientists call “gregarious,” which means it joins up with its friends, creates swarms that together cover about a fifth of the Earth’s land mass and eats up to 423 million pounds of food a day.

Not long ago a swarm of them collected in west Africa and flew to the Caribbean, presumably for the beaches and jerked chicken.

And then it flew to my house and still hasn’t left.

A swarm of locusts. Like a murder of crows. An unkindness of ravens. And dare I say: an appetite of teenaged boys.

Early on I realized that I needed to be organized to get everyone and their friends fed in this house. It didn’t take me long to realize that taking all four of my own kids to the store was a recipe for tantrums, petulance and whining. I hate it when I do that, so I delegated the shopping task to Dad, Interrupted.

Sans children, he would presumably be able to complete the chore quickly and return with food for the swarm. That solution worked until the day that he came home with several impulse buys including, but not limited to, 15 pounds of London broil (rather, a carbon of steaks) because honey, look! It was on sale!

As I regarded the mortgage payment-sized receipt and marveled that our debit card hadn’t been rejected (predictably, a rubber of bounced checks), I vowed to take back the chore of groceries procurement.

And so it was I who stumbled upon my No. 1 Parenting Coping Tool: online grocery shopping.

Now when it comes time to acquire the food, instead of finding my purse and sunglasses and corralling children, I pour a glass of wine, put my feet up, corral a nice movie and my iPad, and begin to fill my cart with everything an appetite of teenaged boys demands.

I look at my historical purchases and quickly select repeat purchases. I click on “promotional offers” and see what they’re giving away with the order. The kind folks who fill my order (rather, a politeness of clerks) mind my substitution preferences, meticulously follow my instructions (“only green bananas”) and never spontaneously load me up with Oreos. I don’t wander the store looking for cured condiments; I type a word into a search box and they practically “caper” into my virtual cart. (See what I did there)?

I pick the delivery window and when the doorbell rings, an earnest young man will march my groceries right to my kitchen table. The only tip he can ever accept is a bottle of cold water on a hot day.

There are no wet cleanups on aisle eight. There are no kids asking for a gallon of chocolate milk, nor is there a husband secretly loading up the cart with beef.

Yesterday I received my, and I am not making this up, 417th delivery (rather, a convenience of grocery orders) from our local store. As I unpacked it, the swarm descended and consumed four pizzas before I’d even gotten the yogurt into the fridge.

No worries; more snacks are just another glass of wine and some movies (a reel of blockbusters) away.

• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Elizabeth Evans can be reached at

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