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Went In The Grocery Store For One Item, But….

women in grocery storeAs my work day came to an end, my beautiful wife sent me a text to pick up a few bell peppers from the grocery store on my way home.  I asked how many she needed and I was on my way.  Simple grocery store trip, in and out.  I am not a fan of shopping in any grocery store, especially the one near our home.  It takes the longest time to get through the checkout line.  I can get in, pick up a whole week’s worth of groceries and it will still take longer to checkout then it does to pick up all of the items.  It is frustrating.

As I entered the grocery store, I was a simple mission to pick up some bell peppers.  Check a few and see if they are ripe, yep!  Check the price, yep!  Stuff them in the bag, yep!  Wait, wait a minute.  What is that…..

Stomach, are you talking to me?  You want what to snack on?  Ok, let me try and find it…..

DANG IT!  My stomach started talking to me and wanted me to walk through the store and find some tasty things in order to have a nice snack later in the night.  My simple one item shopping trip ended with me purchasing about 12 items and all of them were unnecessary.  There goes the grocery budget for the week.

The funny thing is that I didn’t buy things that were crazy.  I bought sour cream for the meal to go with the peppers, string cheese (a family favorite), peanut butter, celery, peanuts, and popcorn kernels.  I mean, it is really not a bad “splurge” food purchase.  The last time this happened to me I had purchased all junk food.  Whoops!

Why does this happen?

This just goes to show that you should never go grocery shopping when you are hungry.  Nothing good can come from it.  No matter what time of day, if you are hungry, you WILL spend more at the grocery store.  I had a list of just one item, just one, and I still overspent on the trip.  I should have spent $3.50, but ended up over $20.  Oops.

When your stomach takes over your rational mind, you will always lose out.  You will spend more money in the grocery store, order more in a restaurant, or stop over to your favorite fast food restaurant to get a quick bite to eat.

I would say that I have learned my lesson, but I have done this more than I want to admit.  I know it is bad, but I don’t have food in my car.  I can’t eat on the way to the grocery store, but I will have to work on my timing.  Life happens and I just have to eat a piece of it before I go into the grocery store ;).

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About Grayson Bell

I am an average Joe, who built up over $50,000 worth of credit card debt and had to learn how to break it back down. It took 4 years of learning budgets, secrets, and many other personal finance tricks in order to cut the debt to $0. Now, I push to teach others not only how to get out of debt, but how to use credit wisely and how to start growing their wealth. You can view my other site, Sprout Wealth for ways to grow your money. I am also a freelance personal finance writer who provides staff writing and ghost writing services.


  1. Haha so true! I always spend more at the grocery store when I’m hungry.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted..Bora York “Dreaming Free” Album Giveaway (5 Winners)My Profile

  2. I hate when this happens! Our closest grocery store is within walking distance, though we tend to drive for some reason. Anyway, it never fails that if one of us goes to get something when the other is making dinner that we always walk away with more…especially if one of the kids is with us.
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..What’s Your Definition of Insanity?My Profile

    • I would say ours is within walking distance, but the road has a lot of cars on it that drive excessively fast with no sidewalks, so we drive there. No need to get killed over wanting some snacks.

  3. This happens to me pretty much every time. I always try and grab a basket instead of a cart so that I REALLY think about what I’m buying and whether I want to hold it.
    Michelle recently posted..Buying a House TipsMy Profile

    • Our local grocery store did away with baskets in favor of smaller carts. I just want the basket, but have to push around the small cart. Maybe they did that one on purpose.

  4. You bought some peanuts? Keep them in your car from now on. When you know you’re hungry (especially when you’re going to the grocery store) snack on them a little. Curbing you hunger, as you said is super important to keeping your grocery bill low. I’m pretty bad with ice cream, no matter how much food I’ve eaten before going into the store haha.

    • Quality point Johnny M. I did have a granola bar on the way to the store yesterday, but it didn’t seem to help. In fact, I think it made me crave more things. Oh well.

  5. I’m far more likely to get a chocolate bar at the checkout if i’m hungry :(
    Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank recently posted..Game of Thrones Season 3 – Piracy is Coming to AustraliaMy Profile

  6. Don’t feel too bad, it happens to the best of us ;)

    P.S. I’m 29 years old but I still LOVE string cheese hehe!
    Girl Meets Debt recently posted..Observations from My Previous JobsMy Profile

  7. I agree Grayson going to the grocery store hungry is a bad idea. I would also add that bringing kids along is also a bad idea because every time we go the kids will ask if they can have this or that and somehow they always seem to win that battle.
    Chris @ Stumble Forward recently posted..How To Build A Niche Site Series Part 1: Accepting The ChallengeMy Profile

  8. It doesn’t even matter if I’m hungry, I will still buy more than one thing if I go to the store. I am trying really hard not to go at all unless it is a planned shopping trip. If I only had a cow to provide milk that would work almost all the time!
    Kim@Eyesonthedollar recently posted..Are Graduate Degrees Worth the Money?My Profile

    • I hate going to the store and don’t want to go for only one item, but we were missing it for dinner, so I needed to get it handled. Look where that got me.

  9. I used to go walking to the supermarket and that limited what I could carry back home. The empty stomach is tricky. My BF is shameless and usually eats grapes while he shops, although I don’t think it prevents him from buying stuff we don’t need :)
    Pauline recently posted..What is your survival budget?My Profile

  10. That happens to me almost every time! I try to have a list…it works sometimes =)
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..So, You’ve Received a Windfall…Now What?My Profile

  11. Grayson, I couldn’t help but chuckle when I read this post. I had to start going to the grocery after work(usually around 3 a.m.) to avoid buying way more than I needed. During normal hours the local grocery is so full I would stop comparison shopping, grab the first thing I saw, just to get out of the crowd.
    Jerry recently posted..Finding The Best Prepaid CardMy Profile

    • Haha, that is funny. I am always hungry after work, though I don’t get off at 3 a.m., so if I have to go to the grocery store, I will be in trouble.

  12. LOL, we have all been there! I think it is mathmatecially impossible to buy just one thing at the store when hungry :)
    Mackenzie recently posted..Dear College Newbie…My Profile

  13. You are not alone! There have certainly been times when one or four items got added to my cart because I was hungry too. They make it too easy!!
    Shannon @ The Heavy Purse recently posted..Money Conversations: Shopping with TaylorMy Profile

  14. Yup never go grocery shopping hungry, it’s the worst!
    Mo’ Money Mo’ Houses recently posted..Thailand Trip Days 14, 15, & 16 – Phuket and the Horror That is Patong BeachMy Profile

  15. I’m guilty of this when I only need one or two things. If I’m shopping with a list of five or more items, I don’t seem to deviate as much. Not sure why that is — maybe psychologically I need to buy more than one item to justify a trip to the store!? If I shop when I’m hungry, it’s game over. Nutella always ends up in my basket. I prefer hand baskets but the store I frequent suddenly doesn’t offer them anymore — what’s up with that??
    Kendal @ HassleFreeSaver recently posted..Savings Tips for Family TripsMy Profile

    • That sounds about right and the store near our house did away with their baskets in favor of small shopping carts. I don’t like the change, but apparently it works!

  16. One time in college my roommate and I went grocery shopping hungry. We bought so much food! Basically everything we saw sounded and looked good so we threw it in the cart. Surprisingly, the bill didn’t deter us. We didn’t realize what we did until we had to take multiple trips back to the car to get all of the bags! Never again.
    Jon @ MoneySmartGuides recently posted..Announcing My eBook GiveawayMy Profile

  17. Oh man hubby and I have been so bad for this! I ALWAYS eat before going to the grocery store, It’s a huge budget (and waistline) saver!
    Catherine recently posted..Annoyed With Sugar Coated AdvertisingMy Profile

  18. That sounds like a trip to Wal-Mart for me. Go in for a loaf of bread and spend $60. That’s gotten a lot better since my wife started the coupon project. Now we pretty much shop with “intent” :)
    Jose recently posted..The Axeman Cometh – Dealing with the Loss of a JobMy Profile

  19. I don’t get get a basket or cart when I am only going in for one or two things. If my hands are full then I have to stop shopping.

    If I am hungry then I am usually tired as well and tempted to get a cart so I don’t have to carry the bag of milk. That is when I get in trouble.
    Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle recently posted..My Parents And MoneyMy Profile

  20. I do this too often. I wait until there isn’t any good food left in the house before I decide to make a trip to the grocery store. I am hungry by this point and way overspend. The good thing though is I make sure all the usual food is gone before making the trip back to the store so it usually evens out. I rarely make a trip just to grab a couple things.
    Alexa recently posted..When Less Is More: Adopting a Minimalist ViewMy Profile

  21. Justin@TheFrugalPath

    This is something that I am definitely guilty of. I’ll stop at a store on the way home from work to pick up something for lunch and…what’s that candy. Sure I’ll eat a candy bar on the way home. Oh wait ice cream, that sounds good too.
    Justin@TheFrugalPath recently posted..Money Lessons That I’ve Learned from my GrandfatherMy Profile

  22. Grayson, this is so easy to do, isn’t it? When I went back over our 2012 spending I learned that we spent an average of $300 a month doing this!!!! No wonder we were (are) in debt up to our eyeballs! Great post!
    Laurie @thefrugalfarmer recently posted..Ways to Handle Unexpected Family ExpensesMy Profile

  23. Ahh…this is totally me. Every single time I go by the cheese counter, I succumb. I’m hopeless in a grocery store–usually I’m paying for empty bags/bottles at checkout because I’ve already consumed their contents. :)
    The Happy Homeowner recently posted..How Happiness Saves You MoneyMy Profile

  24. I think that I do ok when I go to the store hungry. Sometimes I think I let my hunger dictate as to what may be for dinner but I typically stick to my list. Where I run into problems is when I see specials going on for items we use. I may go in with a list for $20 worth of groceries and come out with $40. But most times that additional $20 this trip will save us a few dollars over the next several.
    Alan @escapingmydebt recently posted..Where We Are TodayMy Profile

  25. Grayson, I used to be SO guilty of this. Too funny. I’ve recently taken on a new strategy: our closest Harris Teeter has an Express Lane. I’ve been ordering all of the groceries online, and then simply driving through and picking them up. You’d be amazed how much you can save this way, even while paying the $5 pickup fee. I’ll be doing a post on this soon.
    Taylor @ recently posted..Does It Make Sense To Lump Credit Card Debt Into A Refi?My Profile

    • That is cool. We have a store that does that relatively near us, but we don’t shop there anymore because they are way overpriced compared to the competition.

  26. bf can be pretty bad about impulse spending. I typically have a snack in my purse that I offer him, but it’s never what he wants and then we end up with a weird impulse purchase. I’ve come to expect this though, and just tell him to buy whatever the one thing is that he wants and we call it even.
    KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted..My Spending Life StagesMy Profile

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