Comparison Shopping

I’ve written before about how I like to grocery shop. It appeals to my organizational nature. I approach the shopping in a very systematic way – I start at the front of the store and work my way to the back (depending on store set-up). I skip aisles if they offer nothing that is on my list, but mostly I traverse every aisle, marking items off as I find them and deposit them in my cart, which I organize into cans and jars, boxed items, produce, cold items, pharmacy/paper and miscellaneous. My coupon organizer is laid out in similar fashion.

I will spend inordinate amounts of time comparing prices, doing math in my head (or with a calculator stashed in my purse) for coupons and other discounts. I must say that shopping with a toddler has severly reduced my enjoyment of the grocery store trip. For some reason whining about suckers and little hands pulling over displays of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee beans are not conducive to complicated (to me) math problems and cart organization.

 My husband finds my habits very irritating. He has a list, goes through the store and randomly picks things up, often moving forward or backward to retrieve items he just thought of or that he missed. I find THAT very irritating. We rarely shop together. 

One thing we do agree on: the Impulse Buy. We’ve agreed that there is no need to get angry about the other person’s impulse buys. It’s going to happen. We fall victim to a marketing scheme or the rumbly tummy or the craving. Or the toddler tantrum. We’ve agreed to try to keep the impulse buys at three items per trip (though the limit has been stretched with creative calculations, such as THREE boxes of brownie mix really only count as ONE item and Sam Adams and Blue Moon are both BEERS, so therefore count only once). 

At Super Target on Saturday morning, I realized that the Impulse Buy was our way of indulging little desires without going crazy. We deprive ourselves of a lot of things so that we can do good things for and with our daughter, that the grocery extravagances are a justifiable and relatively inexpensive way of creating a little decadence in our lives. At least that’s what I told myself as I put the full-fat Frito-Lay potato chips in the cart next to my 12-pack of Diet Coke.

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7 Responses to Comparison Shopping

  1. I used to shop like this – wander the aisles and pick up whatever. But since we stopped watching television? I’m a little overwhelmed by the noise and advertising in the supermarket. Plus I read that on average coupon shoppers spend 30% more than non-coupon shoppers. Add that to the fact that I try to only shop the edges of the store where the non-processed food exists, and… I have a list, get what’s on the list then retreat.

  2. Sarah says:

    Here here to the impulse buy!! I’m horrible about impulse buying at the check-out line, but I typically impulse buy things we need (like Purell minis or batteries) or things I’ve always wanted to try (the one Tide stain-removing pen or the ilk). And the occasional Snickers.

  3. I’m so your husband. I have a list and everything but I can never remember where what is. And the impulse buy? GETS ME EVERY TIME.

  4. Christina says:

    I have my own way as well. I plan out what I am cooking for the week and make the list, in the order of the store layout. It makes it so much easier when you know where everything is and can get everything done in one pass. I use coupons too, I decide which ones I will use before I go but I always bring the others, just in case.
    I try really hard not to get to many impulse items, 90% of the time they are what keeps me from loosing weight that week!

  5. Erin says:

    We totally do the impulse buy at the grocery store. It always makes me feel like I got something fun for me during the week….instead of those shoes I really wanted to buy!

  6. rimarama says:

    I shop the same way you do (very organized, methodically going up and down the aisles crossing stuff off my list), but you are right about toddlers – they do tend to cramp one’s style in this regard! And I like the logic of your impulse buys 😉

  7. Josh says:

    Little gives me more joy than bulk grocery shopping. I wish I were the governor of Costco.

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