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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Grayson Bell

Grayson Bell

I'm a business owner, blogger, father, and husband. I used credit cards too much and found myself in over $50,000 in debt. I paid it off, started this blog, and my financial life has changed. I now talk about fighting debt and growing wealth here. I run a blog management company, along with another blog. It is Empowered Shopper, which helps people get information about products they want to buy. You can also check out Eyes on the Dollar, which is a great blog that I co-own.


  1. March 13, 2013 at 7:23 am — Reply

    Haha so true! I always spend more at the grocery store when I’m hungry.

    • Grayson
      March 13, 2013 at 9:07 am — Reply

      It is a bad thing, but you just want everything you lay your eyes one.

  2. March 13, 2013 at 8:07 am — Reply

    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.

    • Grayson
      March 13, 2013 at 9:08 am — Reply

      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. March 13, 2013 at 8:29 am — Reply

    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.

    • Grayson
      March 13, 2013 at 9:09 am — Reply

      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. March 13, 2013 at 8:44 am — Reply

    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.

    • Grayson
      March 13, 2013 at 9:09 am — Reply

      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. March 13, 2013 at 8:48 am — Reply

    I’m far more likely to get a chocolate bar at the checkout if i’m hungry :(

    • Grayson
      March 13, 2013 at 9:10 am — Reply

      Been there and done that Glen.

  6. Girl Meets Debt
    March 13, 2013 at 9:43 am — Reply

    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!

    • Grayson
      March 13, 2013 at 9:53 am — Reply

      I am 29 and will love string cheese for many years to come. My wife is the same way. Can’t get enough mozzarella.

  7. March 13, 2013 at 10:01 am — Reply

    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.

    • Grayson
      March 13, 2013 at 10:09 am — Reply

      Luckily, my son is only two months old, so I don’t have to worry about that just yet, but I know it is coming.

  8. March 13, 2013 at 11:04 am — Reply

    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!

    • Grayson
      March 13, 2013 at 11:25 am — Reply

      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. March 13, 2013 at 11:08 am — Reply

    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 :)

    • Grayson
      March 13, 2013 at 11:26 am — Reply

      That is harder to do in most places in the US, plus we love to drive everywhere, so why not just pick up a few more things, right?

  10. March 13, 2013 at 12:11 pm — Reply

    That happens to me almost every time! I try to have a list…it works sometimes =)

    • Grayson
      March 13, 2013 at 1:58 pm — Reply

      List or not, when you are hungry, you are going to shop!

  11. March 13, 2013 at 12:42 pm — Reply

    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.

    • Grayson
      March 13, 2013 at 1:59 pm — Reply

      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. March 13, 2013 at 1:02 pm — Reply

    LOL, we have all been there! I think it is mathmatecially impossible to buy just one thing at the store when hungry :)

    • Grayson
      March 13, 2013 at 2:00 pm — Reply

      Well, it’s not mathematically impossible, but it does work on the mental faculties.

  13. March 13, 2013 at 1:57 pm — Reply

    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!!

    • Grayson
      March 13, 2013 at 2:00 pm — Reply

      They do, I mean it is a whole store of food! You are going to find something that you want.

  14. March 13, 2013 at 5:19 pm — Reply

    Yup never go grocery shopping hungry, it’s the worst!

    • Grayson
      March 13, 2013 at 7:38 pm — Reply

      No good can come of it.

  15. March 13, 2013 at 5:56 pm — Reply

    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??

    • Grayson
      March 13, 2013 at 8:45 pm — Reply

      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. March 13, 2013 at 6:45 pm — Reply

    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.

    • Grayson
      March 13, 2013 at 8:45 pm — Reply

      Oh, I have done that as well Jon. It never ended well, but we were definitely well fed for sure.

  17. March 13, 2013 at 8:10 pm — Reply

    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!

    • Grayson
      March 13, 2013 at 8:46 pm — Reply

      Usually we go grocery shopping after breakfast, so I am not hungry and don’t really want to be at the store. That is the best way to shop.

  18. March 13, 2013 at 8:41 pm — Reply

    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” :)

  19. March 13, 2013 at 10:32 pm — Reply

    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.

    • Grayson
      March 13, 2013 at 11:02 pm — Reply

      I should have done that, but didn’t even think of it. I am paying the price for it.

  20. March 13, 2013 at 10:39 pm — Reply

    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.

    • Grayson
      March 13, 2013 at 11:02 pm — Reply

      When I go if there is no good food in the house, then it ends poorly for me. I purchase food that I shouldn’t eat, but I love.

  21. Justin@TheFrugalPath
    March 13, 2013 at 11:01 pm — Reply

    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.

    • Grayson
      March 13, 2013 at 11:03 pm — Reply

      Haha, you and I are very similar Justin. Candy is a trouble spot for me and so is ice cream. I think I am getting hungry again!

  22. March 14, 2013 at 10:03 am — Reply

    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!

    • Grayson
      March 14, 2013 at 10:08 am — Reply

      It is way too easy. The stores make it so easy to overspend. Just need to get a handle on my hunger.

  23. March 14, 2013 at 11:18 am — Reply

    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. :)

  24. March 14, 2013 at 1:59 pm — Reply

    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.

  25. March 14, 2013 at 2:29 pm — Reply

    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.

    • Grayson
      March 14, 2013 at 3:02 pm — Reply

      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. March 16, 2013 at 2:57 pm — Reply

    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.

    • Grayson
      March 17, 2013 at 12:55 am — Reply

      There are just too many temptations in the store and a purse snack is just not going to cut it!

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