Going Grocery Shopping Without a List - Live Like a Mensch
Welcome to Dollar Stretcher Community Sign in | Join | Help
in Search

Live Like a Mensch

Going Grocery Shopping Without a List

"Mom, I don't think this is going to end well..."


Yesterday, for the first time in years, I went grocery shopping without having made a meal plan or a list.


You see, I usually do my meal planning on Sunday and my grocery shopping on Monday. But I had Grandma Mensch (my mother), Auntie and Uncle Mensch (my sister and brother-in-law) and Little Cousin (my niece) in town for Passover this past weekend. It's much more fun to take a passel of Menschkins to the park and the zoo than it is to make meal plans, so I decided to wait on my routine.

And, of course, I couldn't really go grocery shopping until after Passover was over Tuesday night.

So I found myself staring down an empty cupboard on Wednesday with very little time available to do my usual planning and list-making. 

Which is why LO, BB and I headed to Target yesterday afternoon sans list or specific meal plan. It mostly helped me remember why I ALWAYS have a list. Here's a breakdown of how it went:

What I Did Right

There are certain items that I know we always need, like crackers, apple juice, applesauce, peanuts, and turkey bacon. I was able to get all of those without feeling the need to check a list.

I also was able to ask J what he needed before we left, so I was able to procure the 24-pack of the beer he wanted to celebrate the end of Passover with.

And some things that I buy are kind of dependent on what's there. Things like produce. I felt perfectly comfortable restocking our fruits and veggies without a list, even though I didn't have anything specifically planned for veggies for dinner.

What I Forgot

I manage to forget something every single time I go shopping, even when I have a list, so it's natural that shopping without one would lead to even more forgotten items. In particular, I forgot:

  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Veggie burgers (we're hosting some friends for a cookout this weekend, and one family member is a vegetarian, which I totally forgot as I was purchasing the ground beef and hot dogs).
  • Syrup (we ate a lot of matza brei with syrup during Passover, and now that LO can enjoy pancakes and waffles again, he is requesting them all the time. I'm hoping he won't notice when I water down the maple syrup).
  • Tomatoes (for the burgers)
  • New shoes for LO (not a grocery staple, I know, but we were at Target and the poor kid's shoes are getting threadbare.)

Impulse Buys

I'm generally able to keep these to a minimum, since I feel that if it's not on the list, it doesn't go in the cart. Yesterday, the following items made it into our cart:

  • A bag of popcorn (I missed it during Passover, even though I don't really eat popcorn that much normally. Forbidden fruit, I guess.)
  • Ritz crackers (We buy the Target brand wheat thin type crackers, but LO saw the big red Ritz box and asked for it. Normally, I'd tell him no, but the kid was such an angel about having to eat matza all week, I figured why the heck not?)
  • Letter bath toys (I had to get something in the baby aisle for BB, and LO saw the bath toys and wanted them with a fierce passion of a million burning suns. I was going to tell him no when I realized that the child was asking for an educational toy, rather than having an attack of Iwantititis over some branded plastic monstrosity. Also, it was only $2.50. I still can't decide if I made the right call or not). 

Bottom Line

I ended up spending almost $175 at the grocery store, which is $25 more than I normally spend. I would feel good about this, except that I still only have enough "dinner food" for four meals (rather than the six I normally meal plan for) and I'm going to head back to the store in the next couple of days for both the items I forgot and for the meals I plan for next week. (Although I'm going to try to meal plan out of my larder this week to minimize my purchases.)

Basically, there's a reason why I felt naked yesterday while shopping.

I really need a list!



bobi said:

Wow, Target must love you. I'm curious about why you shop there. I don't have a super Target near me so I'm not sure about the prices, but I find regular grocery stores to be cheaper than Wal-Mart and Target in my area and I'm not overly fond of the selection at the big box stores either. I know you've mentioned before how often you visit Target and I just don't get the attraction. Is it super close to you and really convenient? Or are the prices and selection in your area just really good? Don't misunderstand, I like Target, but I don't remember you mentioning stores other than Target or Trader Joe's, so do you shop regular grocery stores or just Target? Again, just curious. Thanks!

April 28, 2014 5:49 PM

Emily Guy Birken said:

Hi bobi,

That's a great question! I shop at Target for a few reasons:

1. It's really really convenient. It's literally next door to LO's Montessori school, across the street from J's office, and five minutes down the road from our house in the direction of the highway. It is also right next to our local Goodwill, so I can lump a couple of errands together easily when I go there (as I ALWAYS have donations to drop off at Goodwill.)

2. The prices of groceries are fairly competitive with our local grocery stores. Our local groceries do have better and more consistent sales, but I'm not in the habit of checking out the circulars. If I were in a different place in my life when convenience didn't trump frugality (which it definitely does with two very little kids), I'd be cherry picking sales among the "regular" grocery stores.

3. Even though the groceries can be somewhat more expensive than those at the other supermarkets, the sundries tend to be cheaper at Target--things like diapers, wet wipes, paper goods, and the like. Add in the regular coupons that Target offers me for baby goods, and I'd be there anyway, and I feel like I come out slightly ahead this way than if I were doing all of my shopping at a regular grocery store.

4. All the baby things I need are there. That's not the case at Marsh and Pay-Less.

When we first moved to Lafayette, I actually felt guilty for doing my grocery shopping at Target. I knew I wasn't getting the very best deal for my money. But I was super preggo with LO, and then he arrived, and it became very clear to me that I needed to prioritize time over money for a time.

April 29, 2014 10:41 AM

Live Like a Mensch said:

This past summer, J and I were visiting some family when our hostess washed out a virtually empty bottle

April 29, 2014 1:13 PM

Live Like a Mensch said:

Regular reader Bobi asked this question on my post last week about going grocery shopping without a net

May 1, 2014 1:11 PM

Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Log in here.

If you do not have a log in, please register here. It's easy and quick. All that is required is your email address and a sign-in name and password that you create. Your email address is kept private.

The Dollar Stretcher has a new community! Click here to check it out and create your new account.

Share this Post

This Blog


About Us    Privacy Policy    Writers' Guidelines     Sponsorship     Media    Contact Us

Powered by Community Server (Commercial Edition), by Telligent Systems