Photo by Flickr user Lyzadanger.
The line of glaring shoppers gathering behind me has nearly snaked its way back to the meat department. “No, I’m going to be late,” one of them relays via her cell-phone, “I got behind some idiot at the grocery store again.” My items are beginning to form a small mound near the cashier because I can’t keep the conveyor moving fast enough as I struggle to bag the haul. I realize I left an envelope of carefully clipped coupons somewhere behind me, probably near the paper products or maybe in the cereal aisle. The beads of sweat forming on my scalp and streaking down my face are starting to fall on my groceries in audible “plops.” The total is coming and I don’t have my bank-card ready. I’m shuffling through the multi-colored plastic plates when I discover—I’m missing one—the one with the money—“$163.85, please”—and I’m without a single cash cent. I look to my children for a sympathetic smile, or some indication of a greater good, and I notice only one of them is in visible range and he is choking down an unauthorized grab from the candy rack.
Grocery shopping sure ain’t for sissies, and until recently it was a task handled mainly by the super-moms of the world. I don’t mean to suggest that men can’t buy groceries. I realize there are millions of single guys out there, and at least half of them have moved out of their parents’ houses and now have places of their own. But, generally speaking, outside of a few professional cooks I know, grocery shopping isn’t very highly regarded (or appreciated) among the dudes. To underestimate the effectiveness of a well-honed shopper’s acumen is a fatal mistake however, that can lead to vein-popping stress-tests like the one described above. As the traditional roles of “husbands” and “wives” become less defined by gender, more men are being pushed into unfamiliar territories (like “produce”), and it is advisable to get your game-face on. Don’t be alarmed. I’ve been there, and in my ongoing effort to discover my inner “House-Husband,” I’ve found some essential practices that are sure to ease the strain.
More and more men are starting to shoulder their way up and down the aisles of our supermarkets, and their inexperience causes them to underestimate the complexity of the job. This often leads to a mismanaged household and worse still, reinforces a guy’s apprehension about doing it. Do yourself a favor, get serious and get good. Successful grocery shopping is an exercise in proper planning and refined technique. Everyone develops their own routine and there are countless effective strategies. I’ve only included basic practices aimed at assisting the novice shopper. With a little preparation, anyone can determine a personalized approach that meets their family’s needs. Most guys will puff-up at the slightest sign of an accomplishment, so roll-up those sleeves, unleash the “guns,” and show June Cleaver who’s the boss of the bulk bins.
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