After spending a lovely afternoon chat at a cafe with a friend – where I devoured my chicken sandwich and honey-glazed doughnut (please no judgement, I was hungry), then chugged (haha…) my third cup of coffee for that day, my crazy friend decided to let me accompany her on her grocery shopping (errrr… right…fun). And, since my (ahem!) “important” self was not needed anywhere, I obliged.
Ergo, we headed to her favorite market – Shopwise (see… even stores tell you to be wise). I noticed she was piling all sorts of items on her cart, and I looked from behind her, she wasn’t holding any paper or a gadget (others use their phones) for her grocery list. I shrugged and thought that maybe she had it all listed in her head.
So where did she go wrong other than the fact that she did not make a list?
I’m pretty much like her a few years back when I was on my own in the city. I was guilty of overspending. I just did those, “grab this, grab that” while walking between fridge and shelves of tempting items. Unfortunately, it was upsetting to spend more compared to what you only earn. Sometimes you end up in debts, or in my case, borrowing money from my parents. (Ah! Those where the stupidly, impulsive days of my youth). However, when I moved out of the city and had my three crazy young cousins live with me, who by the way have big appetite that sometimes I wonder where they keep the food they eat (they probably have Anaconda on their bellies), take-outs are no longer an option. I had to really cook and store healthy snacks or goods that I would really use for cooking for them and not those “just-in-case-I-get-hungry” I had on the pantry back then.
Unfortunately, not like in the U.S., here in the Philippines, we don’t have grocery vouchers on magazines (else I’d have hundreds of them cut and ready to use). So, how do Filipino women avoid overspending when they do their grocery shopping?
Here’s my shopping commandments that I always follow:
THOU SHALT NOT BE LAZY. Always, always make a list. This is the utmost commandment in the history of grocery shopping one must always adhere.
THOU SHALT NOT CHEAT. But if you must cheat, cheat on items that are “really” necessary and that you just forgot to include on your list. (Be honest though, remember, God is always watching….)
DO NOT COVET THY NEIGHBORS FOODS! Load up! Fill up that stomach of yours and make sure you’re not hungry while you do your shopping, because if you are, you’ll likely grab more items than you normally do or maybe end up dining out instead.
THOU SHALL PRACTICE A ROUTINE. If you are just a few blocks or just a drive away from the market, buy fresh products (especially vegetables) on a daily basis if you just walk, or on a weekly basis if it’s just a drive away instead of storing up on a monthly basis. That way fresh items won’t spoil on your fridge (who would want a sad-looking, soggy vegetable anyway). You can also drop by the market on your way home to save up on gas.
THOU SHALT NOT BE HASTY. Whoa! Slow down. Do not shop in a hurry. Do not just grab and go. Choose your items well.
THOU BE LOYAL. There’s nothing wrong in sticking to the brands you trust and love. If it’s necessary to switch, only make the right choices.
THOU SHALT NOT BRING KIDS. It’s wiser not to bring your kids. It just not saves you time, it also saves you from having them point their fingers on foods they want which could be risky for the health (oh! saves you the embarrassing tantrums too).
BE CANNY. THOU SHALL EXCUSE SHREWDNESS. Compare prices (I always bring a handy calculator). I always keep last week or last month’s grocery tabs and check for prices while I do my list. Also, on the store, look for discounts or choose those “buy 1 take 1 items” (a lot of stores offer this nowadays). If you have a big family, go bulk – some products are cheaper by the bulk than a single purchase.
THOU SHALT NOT HEAR EVIL. Do not… I repeat, do not let that Salesperson tempt you into buying unnecessary products. Hey! It’s their job to make the product sound good and tempting to buy. If you believe you don’t need it, or that its way too expensive for your taste, say NO. But if it peaked your interest because of discounts or promos, if you’re still undecided just smile, walk past them, and check the item again when the Salesperson is no longer there. That way, you’ll be able to decide later without the pressure of buying (besides you can still avail of the promos even without the Salesperson). It’s also time to remind yourself to stick to your list.
REMEMBER TO KEEP USEFUL THE FREEZER. Frozen vegetables are less expensive (healthier and tastes better too) than those from the can.
REMEMBER TO KEEP HOLY YOUR HEALTH. You’ll never go wrong in making your own “ready-to-cook” foods (cheaper too) than those “expensive-cholesterol-induced-ready-to-eat-frozen” products. (If you work, you can do this on your day off).
REMEMBER TO SWIPE IT. No. I don’t mean credit cards. Use your store’s membership cards and check for freebies (my older cousin gets free bread). If you don’t have one… What the heck are you thinking? Go get one!
And not to forget, THY ALWAYS STICK TO A BUDGET!!!
Wouldn’t you want to look at your receipt and smile with satisfaction rather than slap your forehead (like I did back then) and wonder “what the heck did you buy anyway”? I guess it’s never too late to change some ways especially if it’s for the benefit of your family. And, you’ll never go wrong in creating a plan to make life at home a little more stable. So stop overspending! Make a plan, and stick to it!
[Some photos downloaded via Google Search Engine. ]