Going broke on groceries

Until recently, I had no idea that my organization offered free menu planners and grocery lists. I really, really need these tools because (while I am frugal in other areas) I am probably the worst grocery shopper on the planet.

For example, It is not uncommon for me to run to the grocery store at 6pm because I suddenly want a hamburger. During one of these recent trips, I picked up: ground beef, buns, bananas, soup, multi vitamins, dishwasher soap, pretzels, butter, sugar snap peas, and a tall decaf coffee from Starbucks. The bill was something like $32 (That is with my 5 cent discount for bringing my own bags!) Would you believe that I repeat a version of this madness most days of the week? $32 x 7 times per week x 52 weeks = $11,648 per year on unplanned, chaotic grocery shopping trips.

In addition to the 100 hours or so I spend on these grocery trips per year, I am spending way too much gas and money. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average American family of four spends $8,513 per year on groceries (could this possibly include stuff like dishwasher soap and vitamins??)

Here’s what the experts at Kiplinger’s have to say about my grocery shopping style:

“Making bigger shopping trips less often will cut down on your impulse buys. In fact, almost half of all shoppers go to the store three or four times per week. Shoppers making a "quick trip" to the store usually purchase 54% more than they planned, according to a study published by the Marketing Science Institute.

If you go to the store three times a week and spend $10 on impulse buys each trip, that adds up to $120 extra per month. But if you go only once a week, you'll spend $40 per month on impulse buys. That saves you $80 per month, or $960 per year.”

I know that this is one area where I can make some immediate, noticeable improvements to our financial situation. In theory, I committed to making a positive change in this area; however, it hasn’t actually happened yet.

Should I keep trying or give up my grocery shopping rights and ask my husband to take over the task?


Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.