Here we are with the next step at spending less at the grocery store! See previous posts:
Building Block 3: Buy what you need and only what you need
Once you have your menu plan, you should be able to tell what you need to buy to make those meals. That’s what we call a grocery list.
Buy what you need
That list is important! It’s what makes sure you don’t forget the chicken for the enchiladas. It’s how you’ll be able to have a root beer float instead of just root beer. Your pizza won’t have to be cheese only when you remember to get pepperoni. Saturday morning pancakes with dad are much better when served with syrup and butter.
Because if you don’t have what you need, you’ll either have to do without or head back to the store. And stores love it when you visit them! How often do we go to the store and only buy the one item that we need? It’s possible, but stores know that it isn’t likely. Especially since grocery stores put the chocolate between you and that one item. Grocery stores know what they’re doing; they’re not dumb.
Buy only what you need
Don’t get distracted! There’s a reason that candy bars are at the check-out lane at a child’s eye-level. There’s a reason there’s a big flashy neon sign by the front door advertising soda. They’re trying to convince you to buy that soda. But your list doesn’t have soda on it, so keep walking! It might be a stellar deal (but probably not). Either way, if you don’t need it, don’t buy it. Every dollar that you spend on food you don’t need or won’t use is a dollar you can’t spend on something else.
Because you know what happens when you pick up the soda at the front of the store? You start thinking about how you’ll use it. “Oh, maybe a picnic would be nice” you think. And so now, you’ll pick up some hamburger patties, hot dogs, hamburger buns, hot dog buns, chips and potato salad for your picnic. Or maybe even “Hey, it’s been a while since we’ve had the neighbors over”, so you plan a party. And buy Chex Mix, beer, and candy to go along with the pop. Picnics are awesome. And parties are great. But if they aren’t in your budget to do things like that on a whim, you just have to plan for them. Try it for the next week.
Don’t get sucked into Fuel programs if they don’t make sense for you
I’m about to get controversial, but let’s get real: grocery stores are profitable. Even the ones that have Discount fuel programs. Those programs were created (and stay around) because stores make money on them. Maybe they don’t make money on every single person every single time, but they do make the stores money! They make money because people buy items that they normally wouldn’t and in quantities they otherwise wouldn’t.
The programs definitely work for some people; I’m just not one of them. I fill up my car about every other week, putting in about 12 gallons. If I earned 20 cents off per gallon, then I’d save $2.40. That’s nice, but not worth buying a $10 take-n-bake pizza that I wouldn’t have bought otherwise. I can save more than that just by making the pizza myself! It’s also not worth it (to me) because it forces me to shop at that 1 particular store just to rack up discounts where maybe the prices are higher.
Now, if your family’s grocery habits just naturally cause you to get $1.50 off each gallon and you have a 40-gallon tank, so that you save $60, then that’s some serious cash!
It hasn’t been worth it for me, but maybe it’s worth it for you. If Fuel Saver programs are for you, you can check out Nicole’s tutorial on the Hy-Vee Fuel Saver program and how it works for her family.
What are you tempted to overbuy?
Author: Jayme is a wife to 1 and, so far, a mother to two little boys. She coupons, but isn’t super extreme about it. She price matches and loves it! While she likes to cook, she’s in the stage of life where simple is usually better! She never knows how many hands she’ll have free at dinner time! You can find her at No Regrets Living.
Hurrah for you. I have been trying to convince many of my friends and some relatives that sometimes those gas giveaways are not so good. (they are the same ones who will drive 2 miles to save 2cents on a gallon of gas). Anyway I enjoy your site, get tons of good information from it and practice what you preach. Keep up the good work.