Grocery Swap Results

Harmonious! (Photo: usmagazine.com)

Harmonious! (Photo: usmagazine.com)

On January 1, I handed over grocery buying responsibilities to Rom. He is fine with cooking, and likes to grocery shop with me. But I always felt he didn’t know what food was in the house, or where things were stored, or when they needed to be replenished, or how much they cost. So, with a bit of trepidation on my part, I handed over the grocery “envelope” of $500 a month, and put him on a forced learning plan.

When it was my job, I had a system. We did a meal plan for the whole month. We grocery shopped weekly, and swapped meals around within that week. I would check the sales flyers and know when to stock up on basics. On my own, I would make a loop of 4 stores where I consistently got the best prices (No Frills, Bulk Barn, Costco and the local produce market). Whatever was remaining on our list, we’d buy together at Sobey’s. Early last year, Rom was cooking one meal a week (sometimes lasting more than one day), plus a weekend lunch. By the end of the year he was cooking half of our meals. We were both good about avoiding food waste.

Now you might think, why mess with a good thing? But Rom was always asking me questions and requiring my assistance and it made me feel like his supervisor! It would be better to train trust him with food prep, so each of us could have full nights off from kitchen duty. We have an agreement: whoever cooks, also does the dishes, cleans up, and packages up leftovers. That way the other can completely relax. Also, our styles are completely different and we don’t necessarily like taking over the other’s mess! (I rinse everything as I go and set it aside, while Rom soaks the food off bowls and pots in soapy water, which has to be drained later – I would rather use elbow grease!)

Rom decided he would combine grocery shopping with his weekly visits to Wal-Mart. I had never bought food there before and I was skeptical. Their selection is limited compared to Sobey’s or Superstore. But, because it fits into Rom’s usual shopping routine, he has stuck with it. I did exert my will by bringing him to Costco and making him get a spouse card on my account! So now we go there maybe once a month. I think he likes it because of being able to browse the electronics. As for No Frills, Bulk Barn and the produce market, they are off Rom’s beaten path so he doesn’t go to them. Nor does he check the flyers and look for specials.

You might think our grocery costs have gone way up – but no, they are the same! And the reason is, Rom goes grocery shopping exactly once a week. If anything is missed, he makes do and waits until the next week. Every day he takes the bus home from work, then stays in. He never pops out to buy “just a few things,” so he is always under budget. I might have developed elaborate systems to save money, but I was often in a grocery store every other day! It has been good for me not to give in to cravings throughout the week.

I knew Rom got the hang of it last week when he saw kidney beans for $1.89 at Sobey’s and said, “Those are only 77 cents at Wal-Mart!”

Would you ever relinquish being the household mastermind? What would happen – or has happened?

2015 Jan Feb Mar
Grocery 330 403 381
Snacks 7 46 52
Cleaning 10 25 3
Paper 46 0 0
Personal Care 57 7 13
TOTAL 450 481 449 1380
2014 Jan Feb Mar
Grocery 297 400 439
Snacks 3 26 65
Cleaning 5 6 9
Paper 9 27 5
Personal Care 12 13 48
TOTAL 326 472 566 1364

It has been all healthy snacks this year except for Easter candy pre-bought for next weekend 🙂

BTW, for newcomers to the blog, we are a family of 2 adults, vegetarian but not vegan, and we prepare 3 meals a day at home including brown bag lunches, and pay all in Canadian dollars!

27 comments

  1. Wow impressive comparability in spend! And nice work just letting him shop at different stores, it seems to have worked out OK.

    The BF is in charges of cooking, and therefore, groceries, and I do all the washing, folding and all the ancillary tasks (stack and unpack the dishwasher for example). That being said, I cook if I want a vegetable based meal, and so this past weekend made a veggie curry and a onion tart. He tried both, but also cook Spag cabornara and a pork roast. He’ll tidy up after a meal I make for us BOTH, and he’ll clean up the non dishwasher items, like frying pan and sauce pan for his cooking. It works ok. I’m pretty laid back, with respects to eating out, so he has an easy out a lot of the time! But he also reigns himself/us in too, when too much eating out is happening…

  2. I love this! I love grocery shopping, so it’s a family event here. I don’t mind go every day either. It would be interesting if Matt did all of it instead of me.

  3. Fiona

    I’ve really been wanting to know how this worked out! I thought there would be a longer transition time, with a few disasters along the way. That’s fantastic that Rom has been able to do it his way but it’s still worked out so well!

    I have had to relinquish many of my Household Mastermind roles now that we both work full-time. It’s falling into place now, but initially it was a rocky road. We had a few early disasters and I thought the handover of various jobs was never going to work!

    Once I really, properly stopped worrying about it (but still insisted on the sharing of roles) things fell into place. He has worked out his own systems and has that sense of ownership for it to continue. It’s still a work in progress but I’m happy that our household tasks are far more equitable these days.

    • That’s it. really, the ownership. If I stood back and criticized every step of the way, it wouldn’t have worked. For the first month, I was dubious and I’m sure it showed that I had “an attitude,” but I got over it. Good news that all is smooth at your place!

  4. gk

    Go Rom! I’m impressed. No, I wouldn’t relinquish food duties to the spouse, I’m too controlling and he would be awful! I don’t think he has ever prepared a meal since we’ve been married. We’ve divided the household duties quite traditionally, it just turned out to play to our strengths. On the other hand, my son would be fine at managing food purchase and prep, but not so much with cleaning…

  5. It just took him awhile to get his groove going. Shopping on a routine basis with set lists is the way to go. My mother was a Home Economics/ Teacher major and she would map that menu out for two weeks like you did and she would shop basically once every two weeks. We are not as judicious here.

  6. I LOVE grocery shopping and am so good at it (too bad I can’t set up a biz as a professional grocery shopper) that I would never give up my task–at least not willingly. I am a little too controlling and occasionally say—-no, let’s wait till the XXX is on sale!

    DH does ALL the cleaning though.

  7. Mr. G would be perfectly content to eat Hot Pockets, order pizza, or survive on cold cereal for the rest of his days. I won’t be handing over the grocery shopping or cooking anytime soon 🙂 But he is very good about shopping for something specific if I ask (like a gallon of milk or a bag of spinach) and he really enjoys doing the chopping/prep work at dinnertime. I think it’s a fair compromise since home cooking is important to me.

    Very happy to hear it’s working out for you, and not costing a truckload to boot!

  8. I love how exacting both you and your husband are! Your meticulous planning puts our fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants method of shopping and cooking to shame! And only $7 for snacks for the entire month of January–just wow. Great job!

    • I am sure the only reason we didn’t buy snacks in January is because we received enough treats over the holidays to last a month! If you think I’m exacting, you should see Rom catalogue his MTG cards.

  9. Rom’s doing pretty good! I do think that generally Walmart is a tad pricier in Toronto though – generally it’s tough to compete with the Asian supermarkets. As a Type A, I’d find it difficult to relinquish any control, LOL.

  10. Fortunately we live near a Winco (very inexpensive, employee owned chain) and its prices are as cheap or cheaper than Walmart.

    Full disclosure though: I do have a bias against Walmart because of the social cost of shopping at Walmart. So YMMV.

  11. If left to my better half I would be very thin indeed as we just wouldn’t eat! Not that he cannot cook just that he is later home than me and not that good at thinking up menus night after night. I dare say it would be cheaper though – but I am not even going to trial that one LOL. Glad it is working for you though.

  12. Each time I read this I tell myself I must get better at shopping!

  13. Early in our marriage with little kids, Mr S did the grocery shopping. I took over it to save money. He buys too much of everything so we have waste and an overcrowded pantry. As he says, if he does it, he does it his way. And he’s not my employee to be directed. So I won’t hand it back. We save waste, money and time. Latter because I now go once a fortnight.

  14. Ginger R.

    Interesting. I may be the mastermind now. But I think hubby relinquished to job to me! Twenty eight years ago I joined hubby in his home which was under construction. We finished building it together while living in it. I don’t advise this for anyone. He was the mastermind of the household. He worked an early shift and I often worked late. My main job here was to manage our finances. He did the laundry, cooking, shopping and kitchen clean-up and vacuuming. Plus- he maintained our 3 acres. I helped with laundry (fold and put away) and cleaned bathrooms and did the dusting and mopping. He retired 8 years before me and our work load mostly stayed the same – except he added vegetable gardening and raising chickens to his load. After I retired – I took over most housework duties. I’m on a mission to declutter and organize everything. He still does most of the cooking and all the grocery shopping. But we often empty the dishwasher together, change bed linens together, and do a general house cleaning together. And – he helps me care for my mother (88) who lives with us. We each handle our own appointments and keep them posted on a wall calendar so we all stay informed. We have a good division of labor here. ps. I hope he never feels the need for me to take over the grocery shopping!

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