Grocery Lists

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21 Apr Grocery Lists

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Yesterday, I broke not one but two cardinal rules of grocery shopping.

I shopped without a list. And I shopped hungry.

In my defense, I didn’t think I needed a list for five items. I was wrong. Very wrong. I left with 11 items. Put another way, I bought 220% more than I intended. On the upside, I didn’t forget anything.

And I shopped hungry because I was running errands. My plan was to hit the library before it closed, then swing by the supermarket for a couple of items I needed to round out dinner. I honestly thought my will power could withstand a 5-minute dash through the produce and dairy section. Instead, my resolve collapsed faster than the economy my wallet was about to bolster. While red grapefruit juice and whole wheat naan weren’t on my original list, they’re reasonably healthy. I can forgive myself these impulse purchases. However, I cannot nutritionally justify the carton of “Loads of Cashews, Caramel and Toffee” ice cream. They had me at “50% more cashews”.

The Never Shop Hungry rule is a common mantra in health, budget and diet articles, so I know I’m not the only one who’s fallen victim to stomach rumblings. Other than a list and a full belly, what strategies do you employ to stay on budget and keep junk out of the freezer?

Photo © jreed. Published under a Creative Commons License.

No Comments
  • danamccauley
    Posted at 11:02h, 21 April Reply

    Don’t feel badly Char. I wrote a whole chapter in my book Pantry Raid about grocery shopping and list making strategies and I still end up doing exactly what you did on a frequent basis.

    We’re just human!

    Here’s a link to info about how we shop for a test kitchen. I think it has good tips for home cooks, too.

    http://danamccauley.wordpress.com/2008/01/31/grocery-shop-like-a-pro/

  • Divawrites
    Posted at 15:23h, 21 April Reply

    I try to do the grocery shopping without my husband…or God forbid…let him do it alone. I usually shop with a list…Dave fills the cart with “sales”…and usually forgets things like vegetables, milk and eggs. The crackers and ice cream corner is covered, though.

  • mina
    Posted at 16:26h, 21 April Reply

    i always shop full and equipped with a list… yet i still manage to buy things on a whim. mainly things that have at least 70% cacao. >_>

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 16:40h, 21 April Reply

    Dana, you make me feel soooo much better. Great post, too. Thanks for the link.

    Diva, when Andrew shops alone he comes back with The Meatballs of shame and bottle upon bottle of fizzy, flavoured water. I give him bonus points for never forgetting the milk. I can’t imagine the mischief they’d get into if they shopped together!

    Mina, I think we are going to be very good friends. You said the magic words, “70% cocoa…”

  • cheryl
    Posted at 18:34h, 21 April Reply

    Another mindmeld/coincidence! I posted today over at Accidental Hedonist on a related topic.

    According to a researcher who studies consumer behavior, you may have broken two rules (shopping without a list and shopping hungry) but you DO get points for the 5 minute dash. Had you had more time, you may have picked up even more than you’d intended.

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 19:43h, 21 April Reply

    Cheryl, I swear we are psychically connected. Must be our shared love of coconut and cilantro.

    Very interesting post you did at AH. I will make a note to shop at a brisk rate. I must admit, I do love to meander the aisle to see what’s new.

  • Creativecook
    Posted at 20:23h, 21 April Reply

    LOL! Thank god you posted this! Before I had kids I always did this, coz, I had more time and yes, since I did not have breakfast in the mornings, I always shopped hungry!!!!

    I end up doing things so much quicker and cheaper with a list! Still have not fixed the hungry part!

  • Elyse
    Posted at 23:35h, 21 April Reply

    Hey, I’m just impressed that you remembered everything on your list–when I go hungry and without a list, I always forget what I actually need. So, I’d say: maybe you broke some cardinal rules, but you still walked away with everything you needed. You get points for that!

  • Debbie
    Posted at 15:38h, 22 April Reply

    Cheryl & Charmian, I could also be psychically connected to the two of you! I also love coconut and cilantro!

    I rarely bring a list to the store. I usually by the same things every week, plus what ever is on sale.

    It's not a good idea for me to go hungry though. I always come home with junk food, if I do that. Not a good idea!

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 17:42h, 22 April Reply

    Creativecook, I don’t have kids so will have to eat before I shop and stick to that list. Too bad. The ice cream was very good.

    Debbie, I admire your memory. I have been known to forget to buy items even when they were on the list because I got distracted. Believe me, you don’t want to be psychically connected to my scatterbrained tendencies.

  • savour-fare.com
    Posted at 21:56h, 22 April Reply

    Haha! There’s never room in my freezer (meaning I’ve gone over budget at some other time, of course!)

    I’m a terrible impulse buyer actually, but it’s usually for the nonspecific items on my list (like “lunches”). The more detailed I am, the better I am about sticking to the list. I also was keeping my grocery list on the computer for a while, which was convenient because I have so many repeat purchases.

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 09:58h, 23 April Reply

    Savour-fare, nice to know I’m not alone on this. Love the computer list idea. I’ve learned not to be vague with the grocery list since ice cream fits under the “lunches” category in my books.

  • The Diva on a Diet
    Posted at 17:07h, 23 April Reply

    I’m giggling because just now I made a trip to the store, list in hand, for a total of 7 items. I got my stuff, double checked my list while waiting to check out … and halfway through my walk home realized I’d forgotten the eggs. Eggs being the chief ingredient in tonight’s dinner – and the first item on my list! Duh. Fortunately I remembered them before I got all the way home.

    I’m living proof that sometimes a list is only as good as its reader. (Or writer for that matter.)

  • The Diva on a Diet
    Posted at 17:07h, 23 April Reply

    I’m giggling because just now I made a trip to the store, list in hand, for a total of 7 items. I got my stuff, double checked my list while waiting to check out … and halfway through my walk home realized I’d forgotten the eggs. Eggs being the chief ingredient in tonight’s dinner – and the first item on my list! Duh. Fortunately I remembered them before I got all the way home.

    I’m living proof that sometimes a list is only as good as its reader. (Or writer for that matter.)

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 09:37h, 24 April Reply

    Diva, that’s hilarious! Sounds like something I’d do. Thanks for sharing.

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