.....based partly on the entry below.
I don't know why it is, that no matter how inexpensive I think the week's groceries will turn out to be, I actually end up spending about the same amount of money each week.
Well, take that back. I do know, at least in part, why. When I spy a 50% off sale on ground meat (as I did today), it is necessary, at least in my mind, to buy a few packages to throw into the freezer. And the weeks that I have to buy both batteries and laundry detergent are never going to figure into "cheap weeks" at the grocery store.
We're lucky. We no longer have to watch our food budget as closely as we once did. When Zman was small, it was a WAY different story. And even today, the food budget is the one place in our household expenses that seems to spring leaks or something. When there's no money left at the end of the "half" (we budget for each 1/2 month, since that's they way we get paid), a quick review of expenditures almost always finds trouble in food-world. Too many unbudgeted trips to eat out. Too many "extras" at the grocery store.
But do you know what has been the best trick to lowering my grocery bill? And, really, ALL my bills? A little piece of advice that I learned from a frugal living book I read a zillion years ago. Here it is. Wisdom for today.
DON'T GO SHOPPING.
Don't laugh. It's true. The more often I walk into a store, the more I spend. I am, apparently, congenitally incapable of simply buying the one thing I walked in for. If I go for milk, I end up with milk, a crate of clementines, and a bagel. Nope, I'm not as bad as the people in the Costco article below, but I get it. Oh, yeah, I get it.
I grocery shop (to a list, with an eye to the meat bargains as extras) ONE TIME A WEEK. Then, if I run out of something, I call PapaC at work and tell him: Stop at the store and bring me xyz. He walks into store, buys xyz and walks out. Hobby-shopping is not part of his nature.
It's the same reason I often shop for Christmas on the internet and through catalogs. Even though I have to pay shipping costs, it is often cheaper for me because I don't see all the little extras that I could also throw in. I buy what I'm getting, and that's it. Plus I don't buy myself a little lunch at the mall or whatever. It's a bargain.
I've been doing this for years now, and it helps. I know there are people who can shop and look and enjoy it and not buy it. The only person I can do that with is my sisterfriend M. We can go and laugh and have a good time. By myself? I get either freaked out that there is so much stuff around me or I get depressed that I can't get a new pair of $150 jeans, which, until I got there, I didn't even know that I wanted. (Sanity returns in the car--whew! Saved from the $150 jeans!)
I'm not a good shopper. I do better when I don't. I think the stores are doing exactly what they're set up to do: entice people to buy. Why wouldn't they be? And I think the study of marketing is fascinating.
But I can't shop.