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Confessions of a Reluctant Grocery Shopper

My name is Andrea, and I hate grocery shopping. Like really hate it.

If you go back through the 18 months of blog posts I’ve written here, I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned my crappy relationship with food shopping about 6 billion times. For those who might not want to spend hours reading my old posts (AKA all of you), here are the facts:

  • I live in a tiny rural town where Walmart is basically the only option for buying groceries.
  • At one point in the not-so-distant past, I was almost too poor to shop at Walmart. Unfortunately that’s no longer the case.
  • You cannot visit a small town Walmart without seeing 50 people you know. This number increases in direct proportion to how awful you look at the time.
  • I suck at cooking (though I’m getting better!)
  • I have a history of poor spending habits and even grocery shopping can be a trigger.
  • I refuse to use coupons.
  • As a former psychotherapist, I have an uncanny knack for attracting crazy people in Walmart. Like the woman who was dressed in a full pirate costume (this was just a few weeks ago) and buying nothing but cat food. Or the lady who I’m pretty sure was schizophrenic because she followed me around telling me about the pending apocalypse for an hour, with detailed evidence that made no sense. Oh yeah.

With all that in mind, I finally broke down and bought groceries yesterday (because my son started that annoying OMG WE HAVE NOTHING TO EAT IN THIS HOUSE thing again). I guess it’s a teenage boy’s job to eat 14.2 times per day; I don’t know. But I wanted to be nice since it was his birthday, so I forced myself to drive to Walmart. While I was there, I started thinking about all the so-called wisdom I’ve read and heard about grocery shopping, and how I pretty much don’t follow any of it.

My Grocery Shopping Confessions

1. I don’t use coupons.

I already mentioned this, but I thought I’d bring it up again. Every finance blog in the universe will tell you about the virtues of coupons and how you can save money or even get a bunch of stuff for free. (Someone should have mentioned this to the pirate lady with all the cat food. Also, this is a good example of why my blog is no longer purely finance.) For me, though, the hassle of finding, clipping, storing, remembering, carrying, and using the coupons is just more energy than I’m willing to expend. I don’t get mad when other people use coupons; I just don’t want to do it myself.

2. I shop when I’m hungry.

Everyone in the world says it. “OMG DON’T SHOP WHEN YOU’RE HUNGRY!” Well, you know what happens if I shop when I’m not hungry? I go home with two grocery bags, one of which contains toilet paper, and I have to go back to buy more stuff the next day. Since I hate going to Walmart, it makes far more sense for me to get enough stuff to last awhile. Shopping from a list is a new concept I’ve discovered, and it helps me buy the stuff I actually need instead of 15 bags of potato chips.

3. I don’t buy stuff just because it’s on sale. 

Some of my friends dutifully check the sale items each week and plan their meals around the discounted meats and veggies. Um, I don’t do that. First of all, I’m too lazy to keep up. Second, I don’t buy the newspaper because ours comes out once a week and is about 4 pages of nonsense. Third (and this is the most important), I want to cook the things that (1) I actually know how to cook, (2) Jayden will eat, and (3) sound good to me at the time. You know, when I’m shopping on an empty stomach. I totally understand that sometimes it’s necessary to shop sales for financial reasons, and I feel very lucky that I don’t have to do that right now. That doesn’t mean I haven’t in the past or that I might not again in the future. But for now I’m enjoying the fact that I can pretty much buy what I want.

4. I buy processed foods.

I can hear the sharp intake of breath already! I don’t buy all processed food, especially since I started cooking more, but I do buy some things that are quick and easy to make. I also buy snack foods. Sue me. I’m glad there are people who make everything from scratch using organic locally-grown ingredients, but I’m not that person. I’m more mindful of the types and quantities of convenience food I buy these days, but my lifestyle will likely never evolve to the point that I cut out all processed stuff.

5. I would gladly pay a lot of money to have my groceries delivered.

I dream of the day when my tiny little town is advanced enough to have online grocery shopping with delivery. I would literally never set foot in Walmart again. I don’t even care what it would cost. Oh, you want $30 a week to bring food to my house? SOLD! You need a blood sacrifice? GRAB YOUR KNIFE AND PULL UP A CHAIR! I mean seriously, who wouldn’t want to avoid grocery stores (especially Walmart) for the rest of their lives?

Those are my grocery shopping confessions – what are yours? Anyone else HATE grocery shopping with a passion?

About Andrea Whitmer

Andrea is a freelance web designer and single mom trying to maintain a sense of humor in an otherwise chaotic world. She blogs in hopes of helping others avoid the same mistakes she made in the past. Join in the discussion here on So Over This, or connect on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or Google Plus. You can also subscribe to new posts via RSS so you never miss out!

Comments

  1. I hear you, me and the wife usually go shopping together but my job is to push the cart around and let her do her thing haha. I hate it when I have to be there for more than 20 minutes though

  2. No coupons? Processed foods? Paying extra for delivery? Good thing you're not strictly finance, because the tightassed, closed-minded, holier-than-though would have kicked you out of their group with the quickness after reading this post. :-D

    I'll simply say "to each their own". You have to do what works best for you and your situation. Others be damned, and to hell with their snide remarks or whispers of judgement.

    Personally, I do like to shop for food. I like cooking, and experimenting with different twists on recipes I like to see just how good I can make them. Of course it makes sense since I'm a foodie and love everything about good stuff. Now PAYING for my food purchases is something I don't love.

  3. "Well, you know what happens if I shop when I’m not hungry? I go home with two grocery bags, one of which contains toilet paper, and I have to go back to buy more stuff the next day."

    AMEN! :D

    That is so true. Sometimes I've shopped with my bf after having lunch and only afterwards we realized we didn't buy enough food. Yes, if you're hungry and shop you might buy something more than needed, but if you're not you might be totally uninspired about food.

  4. queenlbee says:

    Walmart is the WORST.My parents live in a "one horse town" where the only place to go is WalMart, and it sucks. I don't use coupons either but we do try to center our meals around whats on sale that week. We end up freezing most of it so in the future when we run out of the money at the end of the month or we feel like pork instead of chicken we have that option. My shopping confession? I always buy something sweet. Always. The sweeter and more processed the better.

  5. This post was hilarious. I am with you. I HATE Walmart with such a passion that I refuse to go there ever again unless literally my very life existence depends on it. They are a terrible compnay. Luckily, I have more store choices and can be picky of where I shop.

  6. I don't mind grocery shopping and I don't use coupons either. I shop at Walmart and they don't really have sales so no point in looking for a sale flyer for me. Overall we get as much non processed food as we can but I always have backup meals that can be made quick which are normally processed… oh well!

  7. I'm the same way if I shop when I'm not hungry – nothing looks good and I end up not getting anything. (I do use a list, but a lot of times I'll put something like "lunch stuff" on the list, instead of actual foods.) I started buying pre-cooked/cut-up chicken for salads because I'm trying really hard to eat healthy but hate taking the time to cook it. I know it's processed and not ideal, but I figure it's still cheaper and probably healthier than fast food.

    Also, does anyone else have the problem of forgetting what they actually eat when they get to the store? I know I eat 3x a day, usually at home, but if I haven't shopped in a while, I'll get to the store and enter some weird Grocery Twilight Zone where I can't remember what kinds of foods I usually eat, so I have no idea what to buy.

  8. thefrugaltoad says:

    Funny! I hate the fact that I have to walk completely through the entire store to get bread and milk!

  9. I hate going grocery shopping too. But I actually hate going to Walmart even more! When my small town (about 100k people) finally got a Whole Foods type store, I was thrilled! I haven't set foot in a Walmart in over a year and I actually enjoy going to the grocery store now – well at least enjoy it a little more.

    I should check to see if there's a grocery delivery service near me, I'd totally pay for that!

  10. I totally feel you, especially about coupons! I've tried to use them before and they are just too much work for me…I forget them most of the time too. I know that meal planning is a great way to save money at the store too, but it just never works out quite that way for me!

  11. hahahahaha

    Ok I really did a sharp intake of breath when you said you buy processed foods… that just hurts me.

    Is there anything in your town that DOES do grocery delivery or meal delivery? My city has a small produce delivery service (but I don't subscribe because I live in an apartment so they can exactly leave a cooler full of food on my doorstep) and there's also a place you can go to prepare meals for the whole week.. like they provide all the ingredients and instruction and you walk out with 5-6 days worth of food. It's pretty cool.

  12. I love grocery shopping because I could technically buy whatever I want — which reminds me of how far I've come. When I was a single mom with zero child support I would buy a pound of Great Northern beans, milk, a jug of generic apple juice (which I cut with water), and if needed things like neck bones, carrots, an onion, cornmeal and oatmeal. Fruits and veg came from street vendors (cheaper than Philly supermarkets); every Wednesday when GNC had its ad in the paper I would clip the "9-cent yogurt" coupon and that plus a banana would be the baby's lunch in day care.
    You can see why I like shopping now: because I'm no longer limited. Generally, though, I stick to the sales and use coupons because I see no reason to pay more.
    Do what works for you — but remember the opportunity cost of refusing to use coupons, shop for sales, dragging your feet about learning to cook, etc. It means you have fewer dollars to use for things that matter, like your kid's new shoes or his eventual college tuition.
    Every choice has a consequence, which you of course know from your former counseling practice. If you decide not to do things that save money (and our grocery bills, unlike rent or car payments, have the most wiggle room) then you are de facto accepting that you will have less money.
    If not having to cook, clip, etc., is worth it, then go for it.

  13. I buy most of my processed foods at the different drugstores in my neighborhood — I visit the grocery store as infrequently as possible. I call it the drugstore diet.

    Side note: have you visited peopleofwalmart.com? best. blog. ever.

  14. I love grocery shopping – but not at grocery stores. I'm that annoying organic-local-from-scratch person you were talking about. As such, grocery stores, with their brightly coloured packages and the sad, slightly wrinkled produce, is not my idea of a great place to buy stuff that is supposed to nourish your body and mind.

    That said, I love chips, so no one's perfect. :)

  15. I don't really like to grocery shop, but I hate going to Walmart! Could it be that you are more of a Walmart hater than a grocery shopping hater? :)

    "I can hear the sharp intake of breath already! I don’t buy all processed food, especially since I started cooking more, but I do buy some things that are quick and easy to make. I also buy snack foods. Sue me. " Thank you for making me laugh today! Loved this post. I'd also like to second GirlNDGuideTF on the peopleofwalmart.com. If you ever need a laugh, it is a great place to go!

  16. HA we are not the same — I LOVE grocery shopping, it's my favorite time of the week. But my grocery store is little, and locally owned. I don't like big stores, either. The idea of going to Walmart or Target for groceries stresses me out because the stores are too big. When I told my boyfriend that we should get ice cream at the gas station because Target was too big, he laughed at me for twenty minutes. We all have our things.

  17. Jesort415 says:

    I am luke warm on grocery shopping. If I have to do it I like to go during odd hours like super early in the morning or late at night. It's less crowded then and I hate crowds. When hubby goes it's mid-morning with all 3 kids now that it's summer (yes he is my hero, I don't take the kids). Because hubby is a great cook he likes to do the shopping since I can't even prononuce some of the ingredients he needs and will probably come back with glazed donuts instead of what ever it was I was supposed to get.

    Before hubby came along me and my (now almost 13 so I feel your mini-freak out) daughter had a very limited menu. I would get chicken, steak and pork chops and those packets of pasta (you know just add milk or water) and either bake the chicken or broil the steak or chops (seasoned with mrs dash, sazon, and adobe). My cousin gave me a recipe for her "easy & lazy" meatloaf so when I wanted to get fancy that was my go to recipe with box mashed potatos :-)

  18. Also, it's better to shop when you're hungry — otherwise, nothing looks good!

  19. I thought I was the only one. Though I enjoy coupons, and enjoy cooking with limited success, I'd rather not go grocery shopping. Ever. That's maybe how I manage to get 25+ no-spend days in a month. If Walmart was my only option, however, I think I'd truly starve off and die. I've set foot at Walmart twice this year, and both times, I was picking up an online order. Perhaps you could make a shopping list and give it to Jay? Drop him off, give him some money, come back later. Hey, one can always dream, right?

  20. I do enjoy grocery shopping most of the time. That being said, when I tried to visualize only being able to shop at Walmart, I seriously got the chills. No wonder you hate grocery shopping! I'd lose it!

    I'm snickering a little at the combination of the "I don't use coupons" and "I buy processed foods" statements. I don't very often use coupons either, but that's because it seems like they're only ever for processed food! Ah well, to each their own, lol.

  21. bogofdebt says:

    I've been taking your advice (I think it was you) and making my grocery list/meal plan when I'm hungry but I still usually go when I'm "hungry". I don't like to eat breakfast on the weekends (don't ask why because I have no idea) or at leat not until it's considered brunch. However, in order to shop with less people I need to go in the early morning area (Wal-Mart is the store I shop at because it's one of the cheapest grcoery stores here that has everything I need) so I'm typically on an empty stomach. And I don't coupon either–too much hassle. And I do some things from scratch and some things from processed food-it's all yummy in the end.

  22. By far my favorite place to grocery shop is Trader Joe's and the farmers market. So many less decisions and healthier options too. I wish you had taken a picture of pirate lady!
    Chase

  23. Oh, you're gonna think I'm really annoying — I LOVE grocery shopping. SO much more than clothes shopping. :)

    Things that I love (that may sometimes or someday make it more pleasant for you):
    -making a list based on the weekly ad (I don't have to think! I just look at the items listed and ask, "Do I want/need that?")
    -crossing things off the list
    -only buying things on sale
    -getting extra for later, when they're not on sale but I still want them
    -using the same main ingredient (chicken, or pasta, or canned tomatoes) in different meals
    -feeling good about dollar amount or percentage saved (I don't coupon extensively, but if something I'd normally buy has a coupon in the weekly ad, I'll get it then rather than pay full price.)

    You don't have to stress the pennies of price difference between brands, or clip coupons, but why pay more than you have to unless it's REALLY important? You don't need to have a newspaper (we don't get one either) when the ads are online. http://localad.walmart.com Takes ten minutes to make a list, and you just have to do it sometime during the same week you're shopping. Think about meals you like that you can make from an ingredient on sale, and fill in the blanks to start. Eventually you'll have built up your staples and you can only buy loss leaders and staples on sale if you want to.

  24. Now, I know why you're a reluctant grocery shopper. You know what you need to do, but you don't like doing it. Isn't that why many people get into financial issues in the first place?

    Unfortunately, I'm also forced, due mostly to prices, to shop at Walmart. I miss my great local store in LA. :(

  25. Maybe we could start an I hate Walmart but by living in a small town am forced to shop there club? I have made a huge effort to cook more meals without processed foods, but last night, we did eat Hot Pockets for dinner, and I don't feel guilty at all!

  26. Andrea, it’s not even that expensive. Out in Phoenix, Safeway is the grocery store that does delivery. Granted, it’s the most expensive national chain, but they will deliver groceries for a fee that ranges from $7-14 depending on time slot. The delivery people don’t accept tips, and they give you the same prices as they have on the weekly ads. I can buy 5 cartons of cat litter and they’ll carry it up to the 2nd floor with a smile. It is awesome.

  27. I'm with you on hating grocery shopping, although I volunteer EVERY TIME. We have 2 great kids but they are super high energy. So my wife sends me to the grocer store and she stays home with the kids. She gets to relax a little bit at home where the kids can play, etc. I get a couple of hours of me time to listen to a few podcasts. So to me, even though I can't stand trying to find the organic chicken bites (which apparently are in a different place every week…), in our situation it works out to a win win for me to go. Glass half full. :)

  28. Andrea,
    Fortunately I enjoy grocery shopping, but I'm in and out.
    And you should def. check out the blog "peopleofwalmart.com." Too funny!

  29. I will say that I don't always like to shop at Walmart and that is because of the long line, pack parking lots, and, yes, sometimes I do see a few eccentric people.

  30. teinegurl says:

    hi drea! hope you don't mind the nickname. I just had to LOL" OMG WE HAVE NOTHING TO EAT IN THIS HOUSE thing again). I guess it’s a teenage boy’s job to eat 14.2 times per day; I don’t know. But I wanted to be nice since it was his birthday," lol aren't we lucky 14 year old boy?? i like go grocery shopping when i limit it to like less than 4 times a month one of those times being Costco && when i DONT have my two kids with me who are asking mom can we get ______ fill in the blank with unnurtious , expensive, snack hyper inducing item here to which i reply NO! for the millionth time. I also think you have some kind of crazy magnet that attracts them to you. LOL

  31. I do coupon, but that's only becuase the grocery store I shop at (HEB, a Texas-Oklahoma Chain) has bright yellow internal coupons they pile up next to the items. It's nice, becuase I dont have to clip coupons to take to the store with me.

  32. Budget & the Beach says:

    I hate grocery shopping too, but I think I already mentioned this, but I buy small amounts quite often, because like you I don't cook well and my tastes change. I never meal plan. I envy those who can and stick to it. I don't know what I'm going to want 4 days from now. I'm a picky eater. I do try not to buy snack/processed food, and will occasionally use coupons only if it's for something I'll already buy. Like $1 off my hair color-SURE! But $.50 off fruit loops-no way.

  33. SavvyFinancialLatina says:

    I hate grocery shopping as well. Even when I have a list a forget stuff, there's too many options, lanes, eghh I get lost. I'm a little ADD…

  34. My confession is that I can totally be tempted by a deal, even if I wasn't thinking of buying the item.

    For example (just one of many), I walked out of the grocery store with "golden" raspberries recently. I hadn't planned to buy raspberries, much less these exotic golden varietals. But I saw a great deal, and picked it up. I rationalize such purchases by thinking that there are worse impulse buys than healthy items.

  35. I hate grocery shopping because I live in an apartment. I can only buy so much at a time without dislocating my shoulders from carrying the heavy bags from my car to the building, in the elevator and to my actual apartment. Sometimes I'll be on one side of the grocery store and forget something on my list that's all the way on the other side of the grocery store. Or sometimes I can't find what I'm looking for and there's no stockperson in sight to help me find that one item.

    While my ex was in university, he used GroceryGateway.com, a Canadian online grocery shopping service that enables you to select your groceries online and delivers them to your door for a fee. It definitely came in handy for students because the majority of them don't have cars.

  36. Hey, Does anyone ever consider shopping at the dollar store? I do occasionally, bt check the dates/codes and still stick to scott tp because it really does last longer!

  37. I hate supermarkets. Despite what all of the adverts on TV lead us to believe they are not easy, they are not stress free, and I don't recall ever seeing a single person smiling whilst inside one. Unfortunately, biology has dictated to us that we have to eat therefore the occasional supermarket visit is unavoidable.

    Read full rant here http://irkitated.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/supermar

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