Ever heard of this adage: “Slim women always shop with a list.” Is this an overgeneralization? Perhaps, but the idea that planning meals and shopping trips leads to a reduced waist size – and an increased wallet size – is nothing new.
While most people who have embraced couponing understand the immense benefits of planning a shopping trip before stepping out the door (how else are you going to make sure you have the right deals loaded on your phone and coupons printed out?), many also fail to realize that the “cost” benefits of shopping with a list go way beyond the couponing philosophy.
In addition to literal dollars and cents, planning each shopping trip carefully and generating a list based not only on deals, but the foods you actually plan to eat, offers several benefits.
Cost Benefits of Shopping with a List
But this is a couponing site, right? So, first things first, and this is no minor thing: there are many, very real and very quantifiable benefits to shopping with a list.
By carefully reviewing the weekly circular for your local store(s) and planning meals based on what is on sale, you maximize your buying power while ensuring that everyone is fed.
This is an obvious one, but it bears repeating. Thinking you want to take advantage of that free orange juice offer, and remembering to bring the printable coupons and put the carton in your basket takes planning and reminders (i.e. a list).
According to a U.S. News and World Report study, the average American household throws away 25% of the food and beverage purchases it makes in any given year. That amounts to between $1,400 and $2,300 worth of food.
Eliminating Impulse Purchases
Making a list (and sticking to it!) is a natural insulation against impulse purchases – which are often the most expensive items in your cart. Those end-of-the-aisle displays are designed to entice you, they are also not the best deals in the building.
Only Going to the Store Once
By making a list based on what you plan to eat and what you already have on hand, you eliminate multiple trips to the grocery store…and multiple opportunities to make those aforementioned impulse buys.
What Else You “Save” by Shopping with a List
The immediate cost savings of shopping with a list only scratches the surface of why this is a habit you need to embrace. Whether you were raised as a list shopper or have taken up the practice in order to try and save money, there is more than one reason that lists are beneficial to your health, financial and otherwise:
When you walk into a store with a plan, you eliminate wandering and reduce the opportunity to buy impulsively. A good list should be arranged according to department (produce, dairy, meat, household goods, etc.) and read like a map of your store.
When you evaluate food before you purchase it, rather than buying something because it “looks good,” you control what comes into your home. Ultimately, this helps control what you and those you love eat. One of the first lines of defense for weight loss is reducing access to bad foods.
Writing a list at home allows other members of the household to contribute ideas, make requests, and help plan meals. This reduces your burden and makes the whole “what’s for dinner” question more pleasant to answer.
A good list is like a blue print, a map of sorts that makes the “journey” through the supermarket easier and less stressful each week. There is no need to worry about what you “need,” since it’s all written right there.