This post was first published in May 2015. As originally written the tone was “tongue in cheek” but many people (ok, women) told us that the ideas here were right on. Thanks to those who requested that we re-print this post as a public service announcement.
What does every woman want?
Today that is equal rights, equal pay, and respect. All as it should be. In previous eras that might have included diamonds, furs, and a home in the suburbs.
But if we dig a little deeper into the research, I think we would find that what every woman truly wants is someone to go to the grocery store and bring home EXACTLY what is on the list and NOT bring home anything not on said list.
Let’s explore this a little more.
When did going to the grocery store become such a difficult task?
Take a handwritten list of items needed and head to the grocery store. Simple. Done? Not quite!
Follow me on a recent trip to our local grocery store to see how quickly the process breaks down.
The start was easy…eggs, skim milk, and toilet paper. Then the first problem…almond milk. The list was no help as it only said, “almond milk” but in front of me I see regular almond milk, vanilla almond milk, unsweetened almond milk, and more. Why can’t I remember which brand we buy and exactly what type I drink everyday?
So, you see the problem! And I’m only at the beginning of my list. What will happen when I get to the hundreds of brands, flavors, sizes, and types of yogurt? With or without fruit? Low-fat or non-fat? What was it I read about Greek yogurt…good for you or not?
This is where technology can be so useful to boomers and seniors. Turn that $200 smartphone into a “smart grocery list.” I suggest a seldom-mentioned use of a smartphone that is immediately useful and practical.
So, here are three can’t-miss ideas to help out anyone (but particularly those who are “grocery shopping challenged…ok I will say it, MEN) who can’t remember what they are supposed to buy when they go to the grocery store.
Strategy #1 begins before you leave home. Take out your smartphone and snap several photos of those items that you are headed to the store to buy. That way you have the exact item on your phone and all you need to do is match it once you reach the correct aisle. While I find that I prefer a written grocery list over a written list on my phone (I like to cross out the items as I add them to the cart), the photos of items that are a little tricky and I must identify exactly or get in trouble when I return home, are invaluable. These items include the aforementioned yogurt (although honestly, I think my wife changes yogurt brands every month just to keep me off guard) and wine and ice cream. Like yogurt, these last two items occur in far too many options.
Here are two other major benefits for taking photos ahead of time:
- It shows that that you plan ahead. And shows your wife that you are really making an effort to get what she wants you to get at the grocery store.
- When you whip out your phone in the grocery story you will most likely receive admiring glances from other women who wish their husbands were as smart as you.
Strategy #2, of course, is the emergency call or text from the store to your spouse/partner about a particular item and it goes something like this:
Me: Honey, you have arugula on the list but the store is all out.”
My wife: Are you actually in the produce section? See all the leafy green stuff in plastic containers? Buy the one that says, “Arugula”.
Me: Oh, there it is. Thanks.
Some people try texting in this case but the time delay may make texting impractical. And your grocery store may not want you loitering too long around the tomatoes. Besides one call (or text) inevitably leads to the next one and then one after that and that just shows your wife that you were NOT paying attention. (“All talk and no action,” she will mutter.)
Strategy #3 may be particularly effective for those who need some hand-holding all the way through each visit to the grocery store. For them I suggest a strong internet connection and a video chat app like Skype or FaceTime. When faced with a vast array of choice, the person shopping can pan the camera around each section until the person on the other end (other spouse or partner) can actually see the item she wants you to buy. At this point she will say, “That’s the one. Now, pick it up and put it in your cart.”
Downside to this strategy? Other shoppers may not want to participate in the classic husband/wife interaction this will entail. And you all know what I mean by this. Second downside to this face-to-face strategy? Your wife is desperate for at least one hour of peace and quiet with you out of the house! She definitely does not want to waste a minute of that time talking to you while you shop.
Bonus Strategy: There is another possible course of action that I shouldn’t even mention here. Additionally, I reject it out-of-hand because many men (including myself) are genetically incapable of doing this. And that is actually PAYING ATTENTION to what one eats and what one typically buys at the store. Let me repeat: I do not see this as a realistic alternative. This is exactly why you have your smartphone to use as a crutch when you can’t remember what to buy, what it looks like, or even what you have eaten in the past (like breakfast 35 minutes ago).
A sad story with a happy ending…
Recently, good friends just celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary. They have been together a long time and shared thousands of meals. The husband in question returned from a trip to the store thinking he had brought his wife a nice treat—some pistachios. (Ok, a big spender he is not!) However, they weren’t just plain nuts, they were spiced; unfortunately spiced with paprika. Do I need to add that said wife is highly allergic to paprika and can’t come in contact with it let alone ingest it? I rest my case. The happy part is that she knows to check everything her husband buys!
Why did this incident happen?
Because he ignored every one of the three strategies and failed to use the smartphone his wife bought him for emergencies.
And grocery shopping is always an emergency!