What first got me interested in the world of grocery shopping a few years back was the sudden desire to discover what seemed to regularly excite my spouse. We were becoming empty-nesters, with retirement around the corner, and in serious need of reconnecting as soul mates. Always the opportunist, I decided to accompany my wife on the weekly visit to the local stores to stock up on food for the week. For too long, I had left it to Belle to take care of such purchases, expressing from time-to-time certain requests like favorite ice-cream, candy, beverage or fruit. In  the years following a serious illness that forced her to go on long-term disability from her job as a school secretary, she did most of the shopping as well as keeping house while I taught at the local high school. What an amazing job she did all those years keeping us fed and clothed, based mainly on her wise and effective management of money. Any conversation on matters related to the home economy were mainly one-way, with her regaling me with stories of where she got a good deal on flour, eggs, meat, raisins, tea, or potatoes. She never shopped without a list that reflected the best price obtained from some thorough price-comparing, either through the flyers or a walk around the stores. I never tired of hearing about coupons, sales, specials, new products, best buys, and missed opportunities. Of course, there would be mention about meeting up with so-and-so in the frozen food aisle at Super-Valu and the fact that they gave a big shout-out to me because I had taught their daughter years back. I got to thinking, the more I heard more about Belle’s exciting shopping experiences, the more I was missing out on a very important social and cultural ritual that amounted to connecting with people through the medium of buying food. How more sociable could you be if the constraints didn’t get in one’s way to get home and put supper on the table! As I learned later, I had read it all wrong. Grocery shopping was never meant to be a glamorous opportunity to get out and have the best of all worlds like choosing for others, spending money, using one’s intuition, and feeding your family. Even when I got to walk the aisles of Safeway, Walmart, and Costco, helping Belle make the weekly outing more complete and objective by offering my suggestions, I could never quite feel an equal partner. I was there out of sufferance for someone new to the game. When I went shopping in earlier times, it was usually to keep the kids in line or on a single mission to buy cream or coffee. The fine art of making a list, using a calculator, and verifying the bill were not in my wheelhouse because I was exclusively the breadwinner with a few discretionary privileges  that amounted to impulse buying. That was Belle’s forte, which it goes without saying created for us hundreds, perhaps thousands of dollars of purchasing power over thirty some years.  Too often, a purchase would come down to pure instinct: wanting a product like imported cheese meant I needed it right then, and in the cart it would go even if the price wasn’t right or the brand a complete mystery. Belle would invariably give in for the sake of an argument, but good-naturedly reminded me that my presence invariably added 30% to the food bill. As we moved into our new life in the big city, something dramatically changed in my attitude towards the weekly task of grocery shopping. I started to see it as a culture that went well beyond a spousal relationship and a thing to do to get out of the condo. Since that fateful day in the summer of 2011, when I finally felt freed up to join as an equal partner in the hunt for food, a big change has come over my life. I now see myself as one who is very engaged in this pursuit as I help Belle look for great quality food at a reasonable price. While my knowledge of product, brand, nutrition, and price has increased enormously, my learning curve was not without a few challenges along the way, such as becoming more empathetic with store personnel as I tried to assert myself as a credible customer and consumer.