Sooo…We’re not proud of it, but Brian and I have been guilty of overbuying groceries before. Lifestyle inflation gradually worked its way into our spending habits. The more our spending increased, however, the more evident it became that we were unnecessarily splurging on groceries and dining out.
Our preference for convenient and indulgent grocery grabs led to food waste and wasteful spending. When we realized that the cost outweighed the value received, we decided to make some changes.
Curbing the Habit of Overbuying Groceries
I honestly felt an awful sense of disappointment when I discovered how wasteful our spending had become. It was a bit of a shock to my system, considering how disciplined I had been with my finances. Rather than wallow in negative feelings, I shared my thoughts with Brian. We moved forward with a plan to rein in our budget.
Overbuying groceries is most definitely a first-world problem. Our history and awareness humbled us really quickly. Not only did we reflect on our own beginnings, but we also read through some key facts:
- 34 million people face hunger in the United States
- 130 billion meals are discarded each year
- More than $408 billion in food is thrown away annually
- Almost 40% of all food in America is wasted
Knowledge is power, right? Though there was no way to revolutionize the entire country’s approach to food waste, we could take responsibility for our own actions. Brian and I grew determined to save strategically and consume consciously.
Seven Simple Strategies
Though it took some practice, we have successfully changed our ways and are happy to share that we are much more intentional with our grocery shopping. Our mindsets and wallets are grateful!
Are you wondering how you can save yourself from overbuying groceries? Here are the seven simple strategies that have helped us:
Stick to a Straight-Forward Diet
Simplifying our diets made grocery shopping a breeze. I distinctly recall seemingly endless months of celery soup, simple proteins, and lots of water. At the time, most of our attention was focused on the P90X program and clean eating. It took the guesswork out of meal planning and substantially reduced the temptation to overindulge.
Don’t worry if celery soup doesn’t make it on your shopping list! There are plenty of other ways you can simplify your diet. Shop with intention; specifically seek out whole foods to create nutritious, filling, and streamlined weekly meals. A straight-forward diet and a little discipline go a long way toward saving you from wasteful spending.
Meal planning saves time and money at the grocery store. It makes a huge difference in the way we shop. Before grocery shopping, take note of what you currently have in your refrigerator and pantry.
Then, consider the following to help you further plan your meals:
- Review weekly ads for sales
- Cross-check prices online if available
- Look for in-store clearance items
- Access loyalty programs for member-only discounts and digital coupons
Pre-planning takes some effort, but the payoff is worth it. Plan your meals around sales for the best bang for your buck. Not only will this save you money, but it can also help save you from overbuying unnecessary extras.
Skip the Shopping Cart
It’s amazing how many people we pass in Costco and Sam’s Club with shopping carts filled to the brim. Sure, sometimes a shopping cart is necessary, like when you’re shopping for a large family or you have oversized items you’re purchasing. But I wonder how many people truly need the shopping cart they’re pushing around the crowded aisles.
Unless Brian and I are preparing for a big event, you can find us carrying groceries by hand or using a handbasket. Skipping the shopping cart keeps us on task. We move around faster, grab what we need, and are on our way.
Practice Portion Control
If you’re feeling peckish, you might find yourself snacking on your groceries more than you originally planned. Before you know it, you’ve eaten through a week’s worth of food on a Tuesday. Oops. Regardless of whether you are planning for snacks or meals, remember to consider portion sizes.
Portion control helps promote conscious consumption and reduce overspending.
Experiment with Food Fusions
Brian and I can eat leftovers for days. We are pretty easy-going when we cook at home. In fact, we often create food fusions, or mash-ups, of ingredients we have on hand. Rice bowls, cauliflower rice, eggs, beans, spinach, tofu, and toast can all be dressed up with different herbs or spices. In order to get the most out of our meals, we gravitate towards foods that complement each other for an easy mix of flavor and texture. Lately, we’ve been adding romaine lettuce wraps, different salsas, and sweet potatoes to the mix.
If you’re not a huge fan of straight leftovers, then experiment with your own food fusions. Put on a big ol’ pot of soup, mix up a tasty hash, or throw together a quick scramble. There’s no need to keep buying groceries if you have plenty of food to experiment with at home.
Shop More Often
While some people aren’t keen on running to the store more than once a week, Brian and I find that it helps us save money and cut down on waste. If your grocery store is close by, then consider making more frequent, smaller shopping trips.
This strategy serves as a great starting point when attempting to gauge your actual food consumption. Brian and I realized that the “staples” we picked up each week could actually sustain us for more than two weeks at a time, if not longer. We also discovered that some items we were accustomed to buying were more out of habit and convenience than need.
In light of the last statement, it’s important to ask: Are your staples actually staples anymore? Take inventory of your diet needs, preferences, and even interests. Humans are creatures of habit, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t experience change.
Overbuying groceries can happen simply due to absent-mindedness or routine. You’re used to picking up a specific item because you’ve been doing it every two weeks for the last year. But the question is, how often are you actually consuming it? Take a moment to evaluate the relevance of the items on your grocery list.
When Brian and I started taking inventory of our shopping list, we recognized a few items we could do without right away. Over time, paring down to the essentials became second nature.
Celebrate the Savings
If you’re working on breaking the habit of overbuying groceries, then I hope you find some of our strategies useful. They certainly helped us get back on track! We love how straightforward our grocery shopping experience is now. Simple, inexpensive, and efficient.
As you consume more consciously, take a moment to celebrate the savings in your bank account, on food waste, and on mindless spending. And, if you find yourself in a position to overbuy groceries, perhaps you might consider sharing a meal with your neighbors or donating to a community fridge. After all, even though we can’t control how our country overconsumes or wastes food, we can make small changes in our own lives to support conscious consumption.
Do you have any other tips on how to avoid overbuying groceries?