Don’t Go to The Grocery Store Hungry

Do you ever do that to yourself? Go grocery shopping when you’re starving? I fall for it ALL the time and I always want to buy everything! It really is the worst… every aisle just seems to jump out at ya and tries to wiggle out all that money in your pocket. But what are you to do? You’re hungry!  You want to eat everything your eyes can see!

I wonder if it’s anything like showing up to the mall with a full pay check? Like, you have this huge appetite for shopping and all the food is now clothes or electronics, or books, etc etc. You’re there ready to shop, and you just so happen to have the most cash on you as possible ;) What do you think? Do you know people who do that? I dunno…

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s important to understand HOW we’re putting ourselves into such vulnerable positions. When you tempt yourself at your peak weakness, you’re gonna be tons more likely to act on it. Makes sense, right? And in this case, it means spending a lot more money than you really intended to in the first place.

If you don’t go to the grocery store hungry, chances are you’ll make smarter decisions.  Just like if you don’t go to Target with a wad of cash you’ll probably walk away with a lot fewer goods. At least in theory. Obviously I’m not a perfect example of this ;)

But really, you can’t go wrong with giving this stuff a little thought before walking out that door. If you know you’re gonna spend a lot more than you care for, turn back around and plan to go out a bit later. Or if you have to, just hit up some Taco Hell on your way out!  I’ve been told that squashes your appetite real quick ;)

(Photo by iboy_daniel)

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  1. Greg June 18, 2010 at 8:25 AM

    This is 100% true! Many times we’ll grab something at the cafe/bakery and a pop for a couple bucks before actually doing our shopping.

    Costs a little bit of money and 5-10 minutes of time, but taking the edge off the hunger saves $10-20 in frivolous spending every time.

  2. Caitlin June 18, 2010 at 8:33 AM

    Meal planning can also help TONS with overspending at the grocery store. After planning two weeks of meals, I can get out of the grocery store for around $70 every time. That’s breakfast, five lunches per week, and dinner every night to feed me and my husband. The trick is to stick to your list–no matter what looks delicious while you’re shopping! (And yes, never EVER go grocery shopping while you’re hungry!)

  3. Khaleef @ KNS Financial June 18, 2010 at 10:14 AM

    I used to always laugh at this tip, but I found it to be true for me! I always buy more junk and prepared foods when I’m hungry. It’s as if I’m buying everything that I want to eat at that moment!

  4. J. Money June 18, 2010 at 1:14 PM

    @Greg – Yep! Exactly. And for me it usually means an extra $20-$30 cuz I keep on plopping things into that cart. It’s a good thing the Mrs. does most of our shopping ;) And watches over me when we’re together doing it! Haha…
    @Caitlin – WOW we spend way over that each week! That’s impressive… we don’t plan our meals really but I know we should. Although I prefer to have it be a surprise every night ;)
    @Khaleef @ KNS Financial – Haha me too. Although I should also say that if I’m shopping around for other stuff (like, not food) and I’m starving I just wanna hurry up and get out of there to eat! Which is why places like Target & Walmart are smart in having food RIGHT THERE for you. Cuz they know once you eat you’ll be much happier and get right back to it ;) Plus, that Pizza Hut pizza is freakin’ tasty!

  5. Molly On Money June 18, 2010 at 3:32 PM

    We went from spending $110 per week to $60 per week for a family of four and it has changed the entire experience of grocery shopping. For one I don’t go unless I’m full!
    A few other benefits is that our food waste is way down and we hardly buy processed foods.

  6. Ace June 18, 2010 at 4:06 PM

    I find what helps me is shopping with my GF. That way we can apply checks and balances on each other. If she notices that I’m running around like a headless chicken throwing things in the cart that she’ll put a stop to it.

  7. Nunzio Bruno June 18, 2010 at 8:57 PM

    Ha! This happens to me ALL the time and most of that ALL the time is right after a work out because its on the way home from the gym I really do know better heck most of my Master’s Degree in Financial Planning was about behavior! I know I shouldn’t do that and the some low blood sugar and a desperate yearning for carbs gets the best of me everytime. I do have to say this planning meals for the week and pre-cooking them makes it sting a little less but sometimes I can’t help but reach for something that’s not chicken or sweet potatoes – and that usually costs me! Great post and way to make me hold myself accountable!

  8. June 19, 2010 at 3:28 PM

    I go to the grocery when i am most tired and cranky, then nothing looks good. I just want out of there as fast as possible and be heading home. I work my list and i work it fast and diligently, no time for hanging around. Works for me!

  9. Caitlin June 19, 2010 at 3:43 PM

    We used to just buy whatever struck our fancy, but that was KILLING our budget. So I started planning out our meals for a two week period and making the list from that. And I have to stick exactly to the list when I go shopping–which is difficult when my husband comes along. He is always trying to sneak in the box of twinkies. :) We also cut out snack foods (besides fruits, vegetables & yogurts) and I can’t remember the last time I bought something like a taco kit or hamburger helper. Making things from scratch can save so much money! It’s a lot of work, but right now with both of us working on our masters and working probationary student positions, it’s a must!

  10. Everyday Tips June 20, 2010 at 9:21 AM

    You are so right on this one. I try to hit the grocery store right after a big, filling meal from Panera. :)

    I know if we get a bonus or something, it is easy to say ‘hey, lets just go out to dinner’. That’s fine if you do it once if you are going to celebrate. But, it has to stop there. I think part of why athletes and such go broke is because they just see a lump of money and have no self control. I try to preallocate any ‘extra’ money so I don’t feel like there actually is any extra.

  11. Suzanne June 21, 2010 at 4:09 PM

    I never go to the grocery store hungry; and I try at all costs to leave my family at home! My kids and hubby are the worst shoppers and totally throw off my coupon, sale, and bargain shopping mojo! They throw items in the cart that are not on the list, not on sale, and without a coupon!

  12. J. Money June 21, 2010 at 5:04 PM

    @Molly On Money – That’s pretty good! Makes my $110 a week look bad considering there are just TWO of us ;)
    @Ace – Haha….I hear ya brotha. My wife will stop me too…but if I’m really hungry I’ll buy it anyways!
    @Nunzio Bruno – We’re like doctors who smoke ;) We KNOW what’s best but we don’t always follow our advice. At least we’re aware of it though! – Hah! That makes a lot of sense actually. I take it you don’t open up food and eat it there while shopping then, eh? Every now and then I’ll do that (and pay for it of course) to help sooth me.
    @Caitlin – Good for you guys!! I’m hoping/thinking we’ll change our ways once we start producing bebes ;) It’ll at least get us on a regular eating schedule again, we’ve been eating dinner at 11pm lately – crazy.
    @Everyday Tips – Mmmmmmm…I can go for some Panera right now! Love that place :)
    @Suzanne – Blasphemy! Haha…it’s true though. Us husbands & kids shop with our eyes!

  13. Donna Freedman June 22, 2010 at 4:40 PM

    I always have at least one granola bar in my backpack, in case I get low blood sugar when I’m a long way from home. Any time I find myself near a market with good prices, I eat the granola bar before I go in. A quick snack goes straight to my ears: I can’t hear the siren songs of potato chips, cookies, etc. (And believe me: All junk food knows my name.)

  14. Khaleef @ KNS Financial June 22, 2010 at 4:45 PM

    @ Donna, that’s a great tip! I do that in general to avoid buying fast food on the road, but I never thought about carrying a snack just in case you need to stop by the market.

  15. James June 22, 2010 at 5:04 PM

    i think we have all be subjected to this rookie move. what gets me is when i go and buy a bunch of stuff i would typically not eat then on the drive home decided to pop in and just get something in the drive thru. this always makes me scratch my head.

  16. Donna Freedman June 22, 2010 at 5:05 PM

    @Khaleef: Well, that’s not the *only* reason I carry it. I got into the habit when I was a student and sometimes wound up on campus longer than I’d planned. I didn’t want to have to buy a snack, especially since I’m an avid couponer and have bought granola bars for as little as one penny each.
    Now I think it’s a good idea to have something to eat just in case, say, my bus breaks down and it takes me an extra hour to get home when I’m already pretty hungry. I’ve also given away a couple: Once to a panhandler and once on the bus on Halloween, as I walked past a costumed preschooler carrying a plastic pumpkin half-full of sugary loot. He looked surprised. His mother smiled and said “Gracias.”

  17. J. Money June 23, 2010 at 12:52 AM

    @Donna – You just reminded me – I have pop tarts in my glove compartment ;)
    @James – I do that too!!!! But I blame it on all the fast food joints so freakin’ close to the grocer store ;) Wendy’s and Taco Bell just tease me like no other.