Stay-At-Home Dad: Hunters turn gatherers
I have keen grocery shopping skills.
I get great deals, avoid impulse buys and am able to build meals around sale-priced items. I’ve even exchanged Christmas cards with bakers and deli workers.
Shopping for groceries and other household staples has traditionally fallen to stay-at-home moms. But new research has found the increasing number of stay-at-home dads in the aisles approach the task differently.
The study of at-home dads made headlines last month when the Wall Street Journal pointed to its findings and stated, “Mr. Mom is dead.” But one of the finer points — on how stay-at-home dads have become savvy shoppers — was lost.
The study, published in the Chicago-based Journal of Consumer Research, found stay-at-home dads pride themselves as thrifty shoppers, more so than their female counterparts. To at-home dads, getting a good deal on bread, toys or lunchmeat somehow offsets the loss of their salary, according to the study.
Stay-at-home moms had a different take on the task. For women, shopping is considered part of the duty of motherhood, like cooking or showing signs of devotion. They still look for deals, but there wasn’t any connection to a previous career for the female shoppers in the study.
“This is what my life has somehow become — chasing food sales with a vengeance. I am the Van Helsing of grocery shopping,” said one stay-at-home dad in the study.
I can relate. Snatching up a good deal feels great, but I also get upset when The Wife overpays at the grocery store. It’s not her fault. She rarely shops for groceries. Still, my blood boils when she comes home with a $4 loaf of bread or buys barbecue sauce when I’ve got four bottles stashed in the pantry.
Such neurosis seems unique to stay-at-home dads. A survey conducted several years ago in Australia compared 280 male and female grocery shoppers. It found that men valued speed, while women tended to focus more on price and store cleanliness.
The Australian survey didn’t break out stay-at-home dads. With this new information, it appears stay-at-home dads take on many of the characteristics of Aussie female grocery shoppers. In other words, price becomes a priority when dad stays home.
Working dads seem to be less concerned with price. Maybe stay-at-home dads just have more time to comparison shop. Or maybe we’re trying to justify our missing paycheck. Or maybe it’s something else entirely. Regardless, I’ll pit my grocery store prowess against anyone — male or female.
Now, I’ve got to go to the store to get a few things for dinner. You might recognize me. I’ll be the guy with his reusable grocery bags underneath the cart and a basket full of good deals above.
Howard A. Ludwig is a former SouthtownStar business reporter who traded his reporter’s notebook for a diaper bag, becoming a stay-at-home dad.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.