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Food Shopping: Do It Solo Or With A Partner?


weinoo
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Sure, there are topics about grocery shopping and what you've bought at the grocery store, or shopping at a farmer's market and what season you like best, but really what I am interested in from a foodie sociological viewpoint is how you do your shopping. That is, whether you shop alone or, if you're in a partnership, as a team.

For example, I have a partner; she's my wife and she's nicknamed Significant Eater. She loves to eat, be it my cooking or at a restaurant. But man, she is not a shopper. And even if she was, I wouldn't want her along because, basically, I'm the cook and I don't need anyone's, ahem, help. And I know from experience when we've been in a grocery store or at a market together that she drives me crazy.

For example, she'll say something like: "Do you have to pick up every melon and sniff it?" Or, "How many times are you gonna circle back to that item - do you think it has changed since 10 minutes ago?" In other words, a real pain in the ass to shop with. It's almost like shopping with a 4 year old in that she'll also suggest stuff that we have no need for...."Hey, why don't we get these chocolate covered licorice balls?"

As you can guess, I shop solo. For good reason. To keep my sanity.

So - do you tag team it or go it alone?

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

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I am never in a good mood when I shop.

I always get mad at people who insist on squeezing every mango, avocado and tomato whether they intend to buy or not. I think 45% of fruit spoilage is from people squeezing. You can see the dents on the fruits. I am paying a lot more because of fruit abusers.

So I go alone.

dcarch

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I am single. My son and his fiancee live with me. My son came back here when I got ill and decided to stay after I recovered. ( I am closing in on 70 years old.) Their interests and work hours do not fit well with my shopping. For instance the Farmer's Markets are best visited early in the morning, long before they awake. When we do shop together they pick up stuff I wouldn't and it is mostly frozen meals for when their schedule for eating and mine differ.

Last January I broke my ankle and they did the shopping and cooking for two and a half months that I couldn't. The grocery bills were a lot higher than when I shopped and I recently threw out a lot of what they got that was still in the freezer in the garage.

They both like my cooking and prefer that I do it and I am happy to be the one that cooks. Son's fiancee has a side job baking special occasion cakes, cupcakes, cookies and so forth, but most of the time the two eat take out when I am not cooking. It's not that they can't cook. They can, it just isn't something they are all that interested in doing on a regular basis.

Edited by Norm Matthews (log)
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My wife is an avid shopper just not food shopping.

Since I do all the cooking, I do the food shopping solo. When my wife has accompanied me I find I spend more money on things I would not buy. So while I enjoy her company i'll continue to shop alone.

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Well, since Toots and I don't live together, we often shop alone, but we also shop together at times. But we don't hold each other's hand ... we may have different assignments, such as she'll get dairy and I'll get produce. Or, there's a farmers market right by the Trader Joe's that we shop at, and often (but not always) one of us will hit TJ's and the other will shop the farmers market.

Now, we frequently shop for "us," getting what we'll need for the three or four days a week that we're together. She's good at making lists - she keeps one by the fridge in her apartment and adds to it as things are needed. I'm not so good with lists (although getting better), and so when I shop I often just look for what's fresh or on sale or what looks interesting, and just make many purchases on the fly.

So, we shop the same venues, but individually, except, strangely enough, at Costco. There we work as a team. Maybe it's because the store is so big, it's easier to stay together rather than search for one another towards the end of shopping.

Neither of us really like shopping with the other since we have such different styles, and that's probably why we shop independently while in the same venue. I much prefer shopping by myself - I find it relaxing and enjoyable, and don't feel any pressure to hurry up.

Toots ALWAYS asks me what I'm going to get when we're at the farmers market, and my answer is always pretty much the same, "I don't know - gotta see what looks good." I think that frustrates her.

 ... Shel


 

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I do most of the cooking and most of the food shopping. I must say that I enjoy it whether it be a Supermarket or an out door market and I mostly do it alone.

What I find very interesting to do is to take our friend Jean shopping. Jean is severely sight impaired (She doesn't like the B word) & has been for over 30 years. Yet, she is an excellent cook.

We go up & down each aisle with me telling her what's on the shelves. She never misses a thing & asks if they have ??? or XXX. Many of the items which I've never noticed before. She does a lot of feeling & sniffing of things and her instincts are never wrong. We have a great time shopping together.

Edited by Dave Hatfield (log)
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Thank you Mitch. An early morning laugh.

We used to shop together before DH retired. Now because I don't get much time alone...and I need time to be alone...he goes by himself. And besides, I hate shopping with him now as he is SOOOO slow as he looks at everything on the shelves for its unit price. And I argue that inexpensive (aka cheap) is not always a bargain. Does no good. Never did.

He's a good guy...married 53 years now :wub: ...and I love that he does most of the shopping. He's not an impulse shopper so we don't end up with "canned curried octopus from North Korea". However, if I send him for something we haven't purchased before or for a long time, invariably he gets it wrong. But then, I am always very nice about it. :smile:

We shop from a printed shopping list which we have compiled over the decades and which hangs on the side of the fridge with a red pen for circling items which are needed. Sure helps.

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Darienne

 

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Life in the Meadows and Rivers

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weinoo, my situation is identical to yours. My wife likes to eat the food, but doesn't shop for it or cook it. On the very, very rare occasions she runs to the store because I can't, I keep fingers and toes crossed that she won't come back with the equivalent of "chocolate covered licorice balls," or the $7 eggs.

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I apologize if I offend anyone. This may just be my superstition, not backed up by any real science.

I seem to remember that studies have shown that women's olfactory senses are better than men's. Those times I went with a female to go food shopping , I had been amazed that she always can pick out better items than I could.

dcarch

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I shop almost every day - it's a good excuse to get in a nice walk. On weekends my DH and I shop together for big/heavy items I can't carry (he drives, I don't). I like shopping alone, because I'm the one who plans and cooks our meals, mostly, and because I like to take my time and look around at things that might not actually be on my list (although I'm sure I'm not as slow as Darienne's DH :biggrin: ), and he likes to see how fast he can get it over with. Sometimes I literally have to run to keep up with him!

"Canned curried octopus from North Korea" gave me a laugh - that was my Dad. He loved to shop but only ever bought exotic items no one else would touch. Mom rarely let him go with her and hated it when he went alone. Granted, she came home with boxes, cans, and the like, but at least we could eat that stuff!

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I miss shopping with my husband. We love to shop together, and in fact back when we were in grad school, some of our "dates" were spent in the supermarket doing our shopping. When we visit somewhere new, we always make a point of going to a supermarket there. We drive relatives bonkers when we go to visit them, because the very first thing we do is a "recon" where we walk up and down every single aisle to see what they have, and only then do we put together a list and start putting things into our cart.

My town of 18,000 people is down to one supermarket, which we both dislike tremendously and therefore don't want to spend money in. However, I make the hour's drive down to the city each week, for my regular Friday morning pickup hockey game. Afterwards, I do our regular weekly shopping at a much nicer supermarket near the rink. We've made a ritual of compiling the week's menu, and the shopping list, a night or two before. Anything we need to fill in the gaps at either the orchard store or the small grocer with the terrific meat counter, I pick up during the middle of whatever weekday I'm in the appropriate neighborhood, alone. Sigh.

We do make a point of visiting the farmer's market together each week, when it's the season. And we periodically get a shopping trip together into the city on a weekend, usually when we need to do other things that we can't do in our town anyway.

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MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

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I'm single and live with my retired parents; we shop as a tag team. If you've been reading the grocery thread mentioned above, you'll see that in any given week we buy about 100 lbs of stuff, which would be nearly impossible for a single shopper to carry home (even with the help of kindly truck-taxi drivers). Since all three of us cook and eat in addition to working at the bakery, we're all invested in what we can find at the markets.

Mitch - in my family we're all sniffing every melon (or especially the strawberries and peaches - tree-ripe fruit has a different smell from box-ripe), or rapping the squashes to gauge how thick the meat is, or other similar things that would drive your SE nuts at the store.

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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I shop alone. I'm much more efficient without husband or kid(s) tagging along and being no help because they hate food shopping. I can take my time and look around to see what's new and what's on special and maybe change my plans for my menus for the week. I can follow my list, not feel rushed and not forget anything when I'm alone. Hubs and I shop together at Sam's about four times a year to restock our canned goods and chest freezer. I keep a running list of bulk items and we can add to it between excursions. We also take his truck since it is a full-sized compared to my light truck and has a heavier payload in case we also need to go to Lowe's or Home Depot.

Recently, we have had a farmer's market run by Hmong spring up in our town on Wednesdays and Saturdays. They have a lot of Asian vegetables that are very fresh and unavailable at the local stores. I've been shopping there for fresh vegetables once a week or so for a few months. I hope they don't vanish this fall.

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Food Shopping: Do It Solo Or With A Partner?

I do it as seldom as I can get away with.

But when I can't get out if it, I'm usually with my gf. She does about 95% of it solo. It's pretty rare that I go alone. I actually don't mind grocery shopping but I pretty much hate almost everything else related to being in a grocery store. The people entirely blocking the aisles while standing there talking for 10 minutes. The constant rearranging making it take 3x as long as it should to get done because nothing is where it was before. I'm strictly business in the grocery store. Go in, get what I'm after, get out. Anything that interferes with that tends to make me grumpy. A weird thing about the rare times we do go together... for some reason, it takes us longer to get the shopping done together than it takes either of us alone.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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alone, it's one of my zen moments :-)
And I don't have to listen to "don't you have enough different salts already?" or "I think we have enough xyz" etc. I put my shopping blinders on (i.e. would walk past my mom not realizing it) and select and pick and cruise back and forth and look if there's a new hot sauce I don't have yet and what the meat looks like today and so on. Relaxing me only time. Same at the farmers market, sometimes the kids come along (and watch my cart) but mostly I go alone Sunday after coffee and newspaper. My wife doesn't cook (she's the working bee, I'm the stay at home dad) and wouldn't know what to get anyway ;-)

Then I get home and get to wash/prep/chop all the new goodies, an other zen moment for me, even if I might blast Motorhead or the Grateful Dead in the kitchen, keeps the pests (family) out ;-)

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

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The big weekly shopping is Berkeley Bowl, and my husband goes alone, with a list made by me. I'm embarrassed about this, but I am a tad phobic about the Bowl. I know it's fabulous but I find it overwhelming; it's so crowded and I tend to lose the cart and I don't have the store mapped out in my head the way he does. I do all the cooking, so it seems fair enough. We go to the farmers' market together, mainly because it's more fun and I like talking to favorite vendors and seeing what's new and beautiful and partly because I don't trust my husband to come back with ripe fruit and perfect tomatoes. At farmers' market prices that's important! Misc errand shopping gets done as needed by one or the other of us at a variety of venues closer to home.

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For example, I have a partner; she's my wife and she's nicknamed Significant Eater.

I love that nickname, weinoo.

I always get mad at people who insist on squeezing every mango, avocado and tomato whether they intend to buy or not. I think 45% of fruit spoilage is from people squeezing. You can see the dents on the fruits. I am paying a lot more because of fruit abusers.

I am with you on this, dcarch. I always want to ask those people what they imagine they're really checking for.

Also: The public's aversion to "mushy" tomatoes is why supermarket tomatoes taste like cardboard. Tell your friends!

... He's not an impulse shopper so we don't end up with "canned curried octopus from North Korea". However, if I send him for something we haven't purchased before or for a long time, invariably he gets it wrong.

Hey, your loss. That NK canned octopus is pretty fantastic :P

I shop by myself because I live by myself. On the rare occasion I accompany someone else grocery shopping, I either get frustrated because they rigorously work off a list and try to check it off as fast as possible (thereby missing the fantastic pears one aisle over) or leisurely stroll through the supermarket with no regard to checkout rush hour or how long we've been in the store while I'm craving a smoke.

Yeah, us single shoppers are pretty spoiled.

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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I too live alone and therefore almost always shop alone. This is not a problem. I love checking out what the market has today and chatting with some of the vendors whom I have come to know over the twenty years I've been shopping there. Even the supermarkets can be interesting.

However, I do have two dear friends who very occasionally accompany me (never both at the same time). This is a nice change. Fortunately both are as inquisitive as I am and have to check out everything they don't recognise and question the vendors. I usually learn a lot when they are with me - and they say the same.

I also have other friends who I wouldn't take shopping if they paid me! The list shoppers. The 'I'm not really interested in food' shoppers. The 'what's cheapest' shoppers (I know too many people have no choice but to shop for the cheapest, but these people do. They will happily allow themselves to be ripped off in a restaurant, but won't pay ¥0.50 more than necessary in the market.)

Back when I first arrived in China, I was teaching and students would always offer to come to the market with me 'to help me'. They hadn't a clue. They only knew how to make scrambled eggs with tomato but weren't sure which eggs to buy! I took to sneaking out a little known back door from the university (I lived on campus, as most college teachers still do), desperately praying no one would notice me and decide to 'help'.

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