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Everyone knows it's a bad idea to go grocery shopping when you're hungry, but we all do it occasionally!
Going to the supermarket on an empty stomach not only causes you to spend more, but it weakens your resolve to avoid foods with empty calories and unhealthy ingredients. When hunger pangs undermine your self discipline, you may also be more likely to buy a jumbo bag of potato chips, pick up a block of cheese and some crackers along the way, and maybe order a pound of Genoa salami while at the deli counter.
Then, of course, there are all those chocolatey temptations at the checkout counter -- peanut butter cups, for example! Maybe you're stronger willed than that, but I know plenty of people who are not!
Although I haven't read any scientific studies on the topic, I'd make an educated guess that when you go grocery shopping hungry, there's a tendency to buy more food than you ordinarily would -- probably to compensate for your hunger. So perhaps having a healthy snack first or going grocery shopping after breakfast or lunch would be a good strategy for avoiding the pitfalls of food shopping on an empty stomach.
Here are a few more ideas for saving money and limiting junk food purchases:
- Create a grocery list and stick to it! That's often easier said than done, but it can make a big difference in the quantity and quality of food you buy. Impulse purchases may provide immediate gratification, but they can wreak havoc on your waistline and your budget.
- Avoid bringing your children grocery shopping, whenever possible. When childcare is not available, there's no way around it. However, with kids in tow, expect to be buying "a few" additional items that you hadn't planned on. Try as we might to resist the requests, suggestions, and demands our kids make at the grocery store, it's not unusual for a parent's resolve to weaken -- especially if they happen to be tired or stressed out. A lot depends on the age of your children, how persistent they are, and whether they're hungry when you're out food shopping. Many factors come into play!
- Using coupons and taking advantage of discounts, special promotions, and two-for-one sales can noticeably reduce your grocery bill and, consequently, leave more money in your wallet. It may require that you pore over weekly newspaper inserts, clip coupons, and keep them organized, but getting in that habit can help reduce the strain on your household budget. It also pays to shop at supermarkets that offer double coupons. They're often the ones that are the most competitive and willing to help you stretch your dollar.
So if you've been noticing more junk food appearing in your kitchen cabinets, and your grocery bill seems to be taking on a life of its own, consider some of these economical ideas to help reign things in.