Life in the Kitchen

How Grocery Shopping as a Couple Makes My Marriage Stronger

Image Credit: Kim Lucian

True story: I like grocery shopping. Planning meals, seeing what's on sale, and finding new cheese is always a pleasure. My husband, Alex, likes it as much as I do, but for slightly different reasons. I'm mostly into the food part, but he's super social and enjoys running into people and catching up. (We live in a smallish town, so it's unlikely that we'll go to the store without seeing someone we know.) And he also likes the food part — especially when it comes to picking cheese.

Grocery shopping together is one of our favorite outings, and I think it's made our marriage stronger.

Eating together is at the heart of the family experience, which means shopping together is just as important. Food has always been a big part of my relationship with Alex. On one of our first dates, he made me paella. This was around the time I decided he was The One. I mean, paella. That was impressive when I was 22 and it's impressive now. But I digress.

The meaning of food has changed for us. In the last 20 years or so, we've combined households, gone through some budget challenges, and added three children to the table. On a busy week, it's easy to forget how much we enjoy food, and meals become just another box to check. Shopping together reminds us not only how much we enjoy food, but also that we need to plan ahead to share great meals.

Image Credit: Diana Liang

How Grocery Shopping Together Makes My Marriage Stronger

Shopping for food together puts us on the same page, on everything from budget to scheduling to actual food preferences. Not all couples get their jollies from talking about cheese, although I bet more Kitchn readers do than people in the population as a whole.

1. We Get Time to Plan Our Weeks

Shopping together means we talk about the week ahead and plan to be together. We both work. Our kids go to school and play soccer and football. They bowl, they play basketball, and they sing in the choir, although not all at the same time. We do a lot and we enjoy it, but it's easy to miss each other if we aren't careful. Shopping together means planning meals, which means talking about which nights we'll be home and at what time. The Sunday shopping trip gets us on the same page for the week ahead.

2. We Get Time to Plan a Special Meal

We really like food and it's fun to plan at least one meal we're looking forward to. It's easy to get into a rut, eating the same five or six meals, week after week. Shopping together makes us more likely to add something new to the rotation. Instead of just shopping from the list, we notice what's on sale and what's new.

3. We Remember How Well We Work Together

As I mentioned, Alex loves stopping to talk with people at the store, and everywhere else. If he goes out to a movie, I ask him how the movie was when he gets home. And if I go out to a movie? He greets me with, "Did you see anyone we know?" He's a people person, and I ... try to be, with varying degrees of success. When we shop together, he can take care of the glad-handing while I contemplate whether we should get fennel or turnips to roast with our chicken.

4. We Talk Budget

The two topics couples fight about the most are sex and money. At least that's what they say, and anecdotal evidence supports it. While we have a lot more flexibility in our food budget than we used to, shopping together means we keep track of how much we're spending on extras and we talk about whether or not we need to cut back.

5. It Can Feel Like a Small Date

Our kids are old enough to stay home alone, so it feels like a date. The boys are 19, 16, and 11 (how did that happen?), which means they're all old enough to stay home alone for an hour or so while we shop. Back in the day, I remember seeing a couple we know at the store whose only child was old enough to be home alone. They were grocery shopping together, leisurely choosing produce, chatting about food, and smiling. Our own children were young then and it seemed so decadent. #RelationshipGoals, indeed.

How has grocery shopping affected your marriage? Let us know in the comments!

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