Men And Vegetable Shopping…?!

Posted: December 4, 2013

Most women I know are never really satisfied when they send any of the men in their lives alone for vegetable shopping (be it their fathers, their spouses, their sons, or anyone else).

I always think, “What is it with men and vegetable shopping” that simply doesn’t gel?

And I am not talking about illiterate, dumb, foolish men. But educated, smart, successful and really intelligent men. Men who are in charge of large global organizations, men who run billion dollar projects, men who have a double masters and a Ph.D, men who are so wise, learned, logical and experienced in every facet of life.

But then, what happens to them when they go to buy vegetables? I mean how difficult can it be? After all, you are only buying vegetables and that too on the request of one of the most important woman in your life. All it probably requires is some clarity on what needs to be bought, some basic knowledge on where to buy, some basic sense of how and how much to buy and some basic skills on communication and negotiation. Pretty basic stuff. Almost like common sense!

Men and vegetable shoppingSo most men leave the house entrusted with a clearly written shopping list which clearly specifies the quantity. Not to mention additional instructions on where to buy and how to look for the right stuff. All you have to do is follow instructions. I mean how complex can that be? We all know how to follow instructions. And probably leaned it in kindergarten!

And so after the shopping, the MAN returns happy with his ‘vegetable shopping’ efforts expecting an acknowledgement, appreciation and heart-felt gratitude. And in turn he is on the receiving end of displeasure and dissatisfaction. Something just does not add up.

Why are the women invariably dissatisfied? Simply because the instructions are not followed!
– Most times, everything on the list will be ticked – that’s great!
– Quality is completely questionable to the point that many times, lots of stuff simply needs to be discarded, (Is it so hard to identify good quality? Or rather so easy to ignore bad quality? Well…whatever!)
– Quantities are invariably ignored and mostly ends up much more than what is written in the list (there’s a reason why the quantity was mentioned, and there’s also only so much that a human being can consume!)
– Several additions are invariably included – a great bargain or a new exotic looking or a fancy organic breed is irresistible (it really does not matter whether they are really required or already available in the house or what the price is).

After a point in time, one of the following happens:

Most women either buy vegetables themselves OR accept their fate and just silently utilize whatever is bought – What other choice is available huh?

Most men either learn to follow instructions to the dot OR expect and are prepared to be on the receiving end when they are back home. They pay no heed to any comments on this subject – What other choice is available huh?

And I’ve wondered why men fail in such a basic and simple task. So I asked a few of them. Here’s what they said:
– It’s so boring. I’ll just be in a hurry to finish it off so that I can get back to my TV / laptop (as if there is no boring activity in their professional responsibilities. But they still do it with some level of interest!)
– I am just not interested. So I’ll buy whatever I can lay my hands on first (Yeah! Application of complex LIFO algorithm – Last In First Out )
– I thought I will help her by buying more stuff (as if it takes a genius to realize that vegetables are perishable and have a fixed shelf life. And as if he does not know how many people are in the house and how much it is humanly possible for one person to eat – basics of any estimation?)
– I felt proud that I got a great deal. Just could not resist buying extra (Yeah! Right)

And when I heard the responses of one of these individuals who has a double masters and Ph.D and is on the Board of Directors of several reputed organizations, I almost asked him, “How did you get your Ph.D? Why did Dr.NA confer you with this title? How do you figure on so many boards?” Because to me a Ph.D is a great honour, achievement and the ultimate degree one can formally ever get. In addition to establishing your credentials in a specialized area, it involves a great deal of research. And with any research, there is a process to be followed and a logical and analytical mind-set required. So, how difficult should it be for him to buy vegetables from the local market? $#$!@!

Are you happy with the vegetable shopping that the men in your life do? Leave a comment to let me know. 

Pic credit: Rupert (Used under a Creative Commons license)

Working Mom • Marketologist - Digital Artisan - Brand Storyteller • Ideapreneur • Writer - Blogger - Columnist • IIMB Alumni • Mentor • Horizon

Learn More

Culture Of Equality



  1. Hahaha..couldnt resist reading your post after seeing the title!

    As a newly wed who hadn’t stepped into the kitchen earlier and who completely learnt cooking after her daughter was born-It was hubby who taught me to how to buy veggies!

    He was working in a different city for 4 years when we got married and was well versed with grocery and veggie shopping..

    The funny thing is just as you mentioned my hubby will end up buying more quantity of veggies sometimes!

    • Sri – Lucky you is all I can say! Occasional excess is not tough to deal with. it is the everyday surplus which can be a headache.. You can’t throw, you can’t cook and you can’t eat. Too many women just donate to anyone who raises a hand :). Thanks for reading

  2. This is not a gender thing. Anyone who has not practiced buying fresh produce in places where one has to pick and choose the produce will go through a learning curve.
    Since I did not grow up buying vegetables – the few times we were sent to buy them, we told the cart vendor our mum’s name and ‘you know she’ll send us back if it’s not good’ – when I moved to another country before I had had a chance to get familiar with the process, I found it hard to choose. One has to know to look out for certain things, it’s not common sense. Well, some things are, and some aren’t. Also, it’s easier to come by this knowledge if you’re the one who cooks because then you know how things which look a certain way taste.
    Because my husband is the one who cooks, he is naturally better at choosing vegetables (and says the same things to me that you do) and my helper who buys the vegetables every day and has been doing so for more than two decades is obviously the champion buyer among us.
    If we’re going to assign someone a chore, then we need to brief them in detail, especially if we have quality explanations. This problem is solved if you shop in a supermarket where quality is even.
    Buying an exotic looking thing is probably natural for someone who is developing an interest in something. Maybe the rule should be, if you buy something unasked for, cook it yourself (I once bought a pile of super expensive pile of organic beetroot). Ditto with extras.

    • Women have typically ruled the “kitchens”, so they generally tend to cook.. though these days there are role reversals and many men end up in the kitchen; or these functions are outsourced. Agree there is a learning curve, but sometimes the veggie basket is full of junk, and you’d wonder if it was bought by a blind man :)… I’m with you on that rule – buy the exotics and extras, cook yourself. but more often than not with that rule enforced, it will be throw it yourself! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment

  3. How I agree with this observation of yours Nischala! After much deliberation with my husband, I have come to the conclusion that the male mind just lacks some basic analytical skills! I can almost feel every male cursing me right now! 😉

  4. It is a given that whatever vegetables my father will buy will make my mother unhappy. And I, who was so determined that my husband would be able to shop, find myself picking out half rotten vegetables and unevenly grown or over-ripe ones from my husband’s haul on a daily basis. My options are either this or the perfect-looking and absolutely tasteless supermarket produce. A woman just can’t win, I tell you!

  5. I don’t know if it is a bong thing or there are other states in India also where men are extremely interested in shopping food items be it vegetables or fish. I have seen generations of men in my family – grand fathers , father, father in law and now my husband who bring very fresh and good quality food items. They all are foodies and also create the menu list in their minds by the time they reach home from shopping. In Bengal most men do daily shopping of fresh food items and it is right that they get coaxed to get out of the house but once they are in market they fully enjoy the chore…talk and engage with several vendors, drink cups of tea and sometimes also gallop few rasogolla while finishing the morning chore of buying vegetable and fish…..
    Most bong women shout at the amount of shopping but they they smile and make good use of vegetables and fish plus they reward the husbands with a cup of tea for finishing the morning chore!

    • Chandrima – Thanks for sharing this. I did not know that it was a “Bong” thing :).. I do know that many men are involved in shopping veggies and cooking and of course, eating. The way you have described the experience sounds like a lot of fun 🙂 Combining so called business with pleasure.. Thanks for reading

    • I always thought Bengali men are kind of effiminists . Happy that their wives appreciate them!

  6. Like the way of observing behavior of men

    Jayashri kulkarni

  7. Well.. I’m not sure about other men, but the men in my family know their vegetables! I never have any issues when the husband goes vegetable shopping. and it was my dad who taught me the in and outs of vegetable shopping 🙂

  8. Men in my family knows their veggie shopping… my dad was living aboard for almost 10 years so he had to shop to survive. But I have seen men who shop without even giving a glance at what they are paying for…

  9. 🙂 Yes, I’ve heard women grumble over this. But I also know lots of men who do a great job of it, sometimes far better than the women and in much less time! 😀

  10. I am a man and I have read the article and yes it is true as per Nischala and it is false in some occasions. In few cases I am the man who Nischala is pointig to…buying more or unnecessary by seeing some offers. But, I am quite good at bargaining compared to mywife. This is very simple topic but if we want to debate then its more complicated than the most common topic ‘arranged marriage vs. love marriage’.

    There is nothing like good wife / bad wife / good husband / bad husband in terms of cooking. it all depends upon how they are grown-up and how is their learning capacity. My wife was never into kitchen before marriage but now whatever she prepares is through recipes from internet and the most important is she is good at learning so even it is the first time she cooks it well.

    Ii think its good if the readers/writers does not make the article/topic more serious. These type of topics are interesting until there is fun.

  11. Well ! I too agree -the so often incident in our life is described in graphic detail. Add to this the fact that the chosen moment to go and buy veggies is usually the most inconvenient time for the wife to accompany him- why so? I deduce this to the fact that often we end up buying too much too,he thinks –
    of the good things we find in the market at the first opportunity-to put pickles, to cook that dish we always wanted to cook etc!!!

  12. Two questions:

    1. Do the men in your survey cook?
    2. Does the man with the PhD have a PhD in vegetable shopping?

    : )

  13. I have no problems when women conclude that we men are basically mentally challenged. My only grouse is that we never get any sympathy for that.

Share your thoughts! [Be civil. No personal attacks. Longer comment policy in our footer!]

NOVEMBER's Best New Books by Women Authors!

Get our weekly mailer and never miss out on the best reads by and about women!

Recognising Women Role Models