Grocery Shopping: Girls versus Guys

28 Mar

My husband and I share everything and enjoy doing most things together. Grocery shopping together, however, is a different matter. It’s usually a lot of work to do this task together because we have such different approaches to the chore. To get around our differences, we either split the shopping list and meet at the check-out line or one of us just goes alone. Since Vita and I have started this anti-diet weight loss project however, I’ve realized that I have a lot more fun–and am a better shopper–when she and I go to the grocery store together than when I go alone or with my husband.

When I compare the different outcomes, It’s obvious, at least in my case, that my shopping habits not only reflect my eating habits, but also my moods. Because of this correlation, I’ve decided to give more thought to how I time my trips to the store rather than just focusing on making a detailed shopping list.

Let me breakdown the differences in grocery shopping style. Here are typical examples of what happens in these different shopping scenarios:

Michelle by herself: I keep a notepad and pen in the kitchen junk drawer so that when we run out of things I can just write it down immediately and not worry about forgetting to get more when I go the store. Before I go to the store, I spend about 10 minutes going through the kitchen looking for things we need and looking at the receipt from our last trip to the store to see if I’m forgetting something and to estimate the budget.

Grocery Shopping List and Preparation

My preparation ritual for grocery shopping: My new list, my old list, my reminder about which noodles to get, and my As-Seen-On-TV Quick Carry bag handle.

When I get to the store, a lot of that effort and guidance goes unheeded. I don’t know why but I feel compelled to take my time going aisle by aisle to make sure I don’t overlook something I might need but didn’t think of. So, of course, I end up getting everything on my list and a bunch of other stuff that looked appealing or was on sale. I justify it to myself as a need instead of an emotional desire or weak will power. I leave the store feeling rich with all the wonderful ingredients I’ll be able to satiate us with and recipes I’ll be able to try even though I’m poorer because I’ve gone over budget. And then I get home and snack on the goodies while I put everything away.

Michelle with her husband (whom she loves with every fiber of her being): I enter the store just as I described above, except my husband is already five steps ahead of me elbow deep in the produce section. As I pick out the spinach and glance around at the rest of the section, he has already loaded the cart with the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, garlic, and bananas that are on the shopping list. The distance between us grows, literally and figuratively, as I get the cumin, Knorr, and canola oil, and he’s already picked up the eggs and orange juice, brought them back to the cart, and gone to the other end of the store to get the beef and chicken. Our frustration with each other increases when we meet in the middle of the store and he’s ready to go but I feel a slight anxiety that if I don’t check a few more aisles and the fish counter, we might miss out on something good. He emphasizes that we’ve got everything on the list so we go to checkout. We rush through bagging and he hurries out to load the car. By the time we get home, we’re no longer upset with each other, but it certainly wasn’t a good time. We end up eating a fabulous dinner together and are extremely happy.

Michelle’s Husband by himself: He goes to the store with the list I carefully wrote out. It’s like a game show challenge for him of how fast he can get everything on the list and get home to get back to doing stuff that is more fun. He doesn’t deviate from the list, except to get some beer or wine on the weekend. At least, he doesn’t think he deviates from the list. In his haste, he occasionally gets the tomato-flavored Knorr instead of the regular or the small corn tortillas instead of the flour ones I needed. It’s a minor, irksome, infrequent thing that bugs me more than him. I just adjust my menu plans to suit whatever we have to work with.

Michelle with Vita: We get in the car and chat and laugh all the way to the store. We share a cart. I am armed with my list; she seems to have her plan in her head. We go pretty much aisle-by-aisle together, except for the occasional moment where she runs to get something while I seem to stare, bemused or longingly, at all the cheeses. Vita is really good at pointing out sales on things like meat; I’m not very helpful in the store except to drive us there. Although, in the Korean market, I found these awesome acorn noodles that we have to go back for soon. She also sometimes lovingly slaps me on the wrist for picking up something we’re trying to avoid, like sugary fruit juice or bread. We leave the store with everything on our lists in our budgets and maybe just one extra thing that was on sale, like the salmon we got last week for $4.99/lb. We go home happy, unpack in our respective kitchens, and then meet up for a healthy snack.

I’m trying to use the benefits of shopping with Vita to make me a better all-around grocery shopper when I’m alone or with my husband. [Side note: I am an excellent, like champion-level clothes shopper. It’s food I struggle with, not fashion or resourcefulness.] I think if Vita and I were to challenge our husbands with a grocery shopping contest, they’d win in terms of speed and maybe even budget but we’d win in terms of item accuracy and fun.

Share with us your habits, tips, troubles, or stories about grocery shopping. :)

Stay healthy, my friends!

–Michelle

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8 Responses to “Grocery Shopping: Girls versus Guys”

  1. The Modern Home Economist March 28, 2012 at 6:09 pm #

    What a lovely article. As a newlywed I recently started shopping with my Hubby. I find that if I go alone I take longer because I too like to do the aisle even though I have a meticulous list, he is pretty patient with me though and after a short while I just want to be done too. Before I go shopping I carefully list everything we need plus any ingredients for new recipes which I want to try. The Hubby and I are both pretty efficient and similar in the store but it was so fun to read about your experience!

    • Diet Drop March 28, 2012 at 7:12 pm #

      Thank you! Congratulations on getting married…and to a patient guy too; that’s so sweet! I hope you’ll share some of those recipes you’re trying. Vita and I and our husbands love trying new recipes. Best of luck to you and thanks for reading and commenting! –Michelle

      • The Modern Home Economist March 28, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

        I have a few recipes already on my blog but I am always hunting around for more (so I can try and write about them). Maybe you can visit :). He is patient (more than me) which can be an unusual dynamic, he does make me feel guilty because I frustrate more quickly.

      • Diet Drop March 28, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

        We’re following you now, and what you’ve posted looks good. I’m going to have to try the corn and potato mini quiches! Don’t feel too guilty about getting frustrated; at least you’re aware of it and appreciate his helpful reaction. When I frustrate too quickly, my husband likes to distract me with affection. Works every time. :) Best regards, –Michelle

      • The Modern Home Economist March 28, 2012 at 9:14 pm #

        So thrilled you are following. I am looking forward to your future posts too. I am on a bit of a health kick at the moment but I will be uploading some healthier recipes soon!

  2. Diet Drop March 30, 2012 at 1:13 pm #

    When I stop at the market to grab stuff for dinner, and if I’m by myself, I take just a basket instead of the cart. That saves me from compulsive shopping and I don’t overspend as I would having a cart with me. My rule of thumb, whatever I can carry in basket is allowed, which after the gallon of milk gets heavy enough already )) — Vita.

    • Diet Drop March 30, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

      I like that rule, Vita. Let’s do “baskets only” next week when we go to the store. :) –Michelle

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