Saturday, March 15, 2008

Never Shop on an Empty Stomach

I learned never to shop for groceries on an empty stomach.

Recently, my wife, 4-year-old son and I came home to find our kitchen was lacking food. It had been a long, tiring day for all of us, and we were hungry for dinner. Instead of going out to eat, we decided we’d go shopping for our dinner and for our weekly groceries as well.

At the store, I grabbed the smaller shopping cart (my wife and I rarely use the large cart), and my son grabbed one of those mini “little shopper” carts that he could push around behind us. We set out to shop quickly so we could go home, prepare dinner and feed our monstrous appetites.

Everything on the shelves looked very tasty -- we were craving it all. We loaded up on the usual groceries, and we made sure to include snacks we didn’t need.

“We haven’t had chocolate chip cookies in a while,” I said to my wife. “They look really good. Let’s throw a few packages into the cart. And some of these snack pastries, too.”

“Can’t we get a healthier snack?” my wife asked.

“Sure,” I said. Then I threw in a few packages of healthier snacks -- in addition to the cookies and pastries.

The store employees offering samples of food at the end of the aisles aren’t really helpful when you’re hungry. Each sample we tried made us crave more, and we, in turn, bought two and three of whatever they were selling.

At the seafood counter, my son spotted the live lobsters. He and I watched the lobsters crawl and play inside the tank. And then we put a couple of those hard-shelled crustaceans into the cart. My wife and I don’t even know how to prepare lobster. And I don’t even like seafood. But we were so hungry at the time that it sounded good.

Down one of the aisles I spotted a DVD rack. I threw at least two movies into the cart because it had been about half an aisle since I’d grabbed something. Why break pattern? The movies I picked up weren’t fit for kids, and I let my son know he couldn’t watch. But then he wanted a DVD of his own. So I found a movie for him because he’d done such a good job helping Mommy and Daddy with the shopping.

We still had half a list of groceries to pick up when I had to upgrade from the smaller shopping cart to two large carts. My wife and I even filled our son’s little cart. At one point in the shopping experience, our boy couldn’t push his cart an inch. He pushed with all his might, all the while his sneakers sliding out on the slick grocery store floor.

Checkout at the register took much longer than usual. Our bill was three times more costly than what we typically pay for weekly groceries. And that was with coupons and other club card deals.

At home, we didn’t have room in the cupboards and refrigerator for everything. We had so much stuff that much of it spoiled throughout the next couple of weeks because we couldn’t finish it before the expiration date.

And so my wife and I vowed to never again go shopping on empty stomachs. Our appetites made our eyes much too big.

Before the next trip to the grocery store, my family ate a feast comparable to what you might have at Thanksgiving. And we did great at the store. We didn’t even come close to filling up our small shopping cart. In fact, the grocery bill for the week was three times less than ever before.

We also didn’t have enough groceries to last two days. We had to head back to the store mid-week.

-February 2008


mmorales said...

oh this is so true... i end up buying so much more junk food when I shop on an empty stomach not to mention way more items than are on my list!!!

jrollins said...

It is good to see there are others learning the same lessons I've learned. I NEVER go to the store without eating a healthy meal first. Your article validated me.