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Secrets of a reluctant grocery shopper

She hates grocery shopping. The day when online shopping with delivery arrives in her town can't come soon enough.

By MSN Money Partner Aug 10, 2012 11:00AM

This guest post comes from Andrea Whitmer at So Over This.

 

Image: Potato chips (© Image Source/Getty Images)My name is Andrea, and I hate grocery shopping. Like really hate it.

 

If you go back through the 18 months of blog posts I've written, I'm pretty sure I've mentioned my uneasy relationship with food shopping about 6 billion times.

 

For those who might not want to spend hours reading my old posts (that is, all of you), here are the facts:

  • I live in a tiny, rural town where Wal-Mart is pretty much the only option for buying groceries.
  • At one point in the not-so-distant past, I was almost too poor to shop at Wal-Mart. That's no longer the case.
  • You cannot visit a small-town Wal-Mart without seeing 50 people you know. This number increases in direct proportion to how awful you look at the time.
  • I suck at cooking, though I'm getting better.
  • I have a history of poor spending habits, and even grocery shopping can be a trigger.
  • I refuse to use coupons.
  • As a former psychotherapist, I have an uncanny knack for attracting crazy people in Wal-Mart. Like the woman who was dressed in a full pirate costume (this was just a few weeks ago) and buying nothing but cat food. Or the lady who I'm pretty sure was schizophrenic, because she followed me around telling me about the pending apocalypse for an hour, with detailed evidence that made no sense. Oh yeah.

With all that in mind, I finally broke down and bought groceries yesterday. My son started that annoying "OMG, we have nothing to eat in this house" thing again. I guess it's a teenage boy's job to eat 14.2 times per day. But I wanted to be nice since it was his birthday, so I forced myself to drive to Wal-Mart.

 

While I was there, I started thinking about all the so-called wisdom I've read and heard about grocery shopping, and how I, for the most part, don't follow any of it. (Post continues below.)

My grocery shopping confessions

 

1. I don't use coupons.

I already mentioned this, but I thought I'd bring it up again. Every personal finance blog in the universe will tell you about the virtues of coupons and how you can save money or even get a bunch of stuff for free. (Someone should have mentioned this to the pirate lady with all the cat food.) For me, though, the hassle of finding, clipping, storing, remembering carrying and using the coupons is just more energy than I'm willing to expend. I don't get angry when other people use coupons; I just don't want to do it myself.

 

2. I shop when I'm hungry.

Everyone in the world says it: Don't shop when you're hungry! Well, you know what happens if I shop when I'm not hungry? I go home with two grocery bags, one of which contains toilet paper, and I have to go back to buy more stuff the next day. Since I hate going to Wal-Mart, it makes far more sense for me to get enough stuff to last a while. Shopping from a list is a new concept I've discovered, and it helps me buy the stuff I actually need instead of 15 bags of potato chips.

 

3. I don't buy stuff just because it's on sale.

Some of my friends dutifully check the sale items each week and plan their meals around discounted meats and veggies. Um, I don't do that. First of all, I'm too lazy to keep up. Second, I don't buy the newspaper because ours comes out once a week and is about four pages of nonsense. Third -- and this is the most important -- I want to cook the things that:

  • I actually know how to cook.
  • My son, Jayden, will eat.
  • Sound good to me at the time. You know, when I'm shopping on an empty stomach.

I totally understand that sometimes it's necessary to shop sales for financial reasons, and I feel very lucky that I don't have to do that right now. That doesn't mean I haven't in the past or that I might not again in the future. But for now, I'm enjoying the fact that I can mostly buy what I want.

 

4. I buy processed foods.

I can hear the sharp intake of breath already. I don't buy all processed food, especially since I started cooking more, but I do buy some things that are quick and easy to make. I also buy snack foods. Sue me. I'm glad there are people who make everything from scratch using organic locally-grown ingredients, but I'm not that person. I'm more mindful of the types and quantities of convenience food I buy these days, but my lifestyle will likely never evolve to the point that I cut out all processed stuff.

5. I would gladly pay a lot of money to have my groceries delivered.

I dream of the day when my tiny town is advanced enough to have online grocery shopping with delivery. I would never set foot in Wal-Mart again. I don't even care what it would cost. Oh, you want $30 a week to bring food to my house? Sold! You need a blood sacrifice? Grab your knife and pull up a chair! I mean, seriously, who wouldn't want to avoid grocery stores (especially Wal-Mart) for the rest of their lives?

 

Those are my grocery shopping confessions. What are yours? Anyone else hate grocery shopping with a passion?

 

More on So Over This and MSN Money:

35Comments
Aug 10, 2012 4:35PM
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You have a teenaged son--guess what?  He has two hands and a brain.  It's about time he learned to use them. Make up a list and send him to the store with the money to buy what is on the list--if he buys something off-list, he pays for it.  Let him add things to the list within reason--but drop him off (if he doesn't drive and can't otherwise get to the WalMart) and let him shop.

 

It is good for teens to take over chores, and it's not a bad idea to let them have their share of the family's disposable income when they do. If you offered him $20 a week to do the shopping, I'll bet he'd do it unless you otherwise spoil him so much that $20 doesn't seem like a lot for an hour's worth of work (and getting to pick up stuff he likes to eat).

 

Cooking is easy--start with steaming and boiling and work up from there. I'd like to point out that teen son should also learn to cook, as soon, he will be on his own.  Point out that if he learns to cook, when he gets a partner, the partner can do the clean-up.  Cooking is always more fun than clean-up.

 

My main point here is when did you become this teen's lackey?  He has two hands and a brain--teach him to use them.

Aug 10, 2012 4:07PM
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I sorta love you for writing this...yea for the TRUTH!!! Other than the Wal-Mart piece (I can't stand them and haven't been in one since Sam died and it was outsourced to China) I completely agree with you. I tried coupons, had some personal gratification, but dang that stuff takes a lot of time and my time is worth WAY more than 30 lousy cents. You go sister!
Aug 10, 2012 9:04PM
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LOVE that article......you go, girl !!!!! Right behind you !!!!
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I love grocery shopping.  What I don't like is unloading the car.   We have Fred Meyer, WalMart, and a Thriftway store.  WalMart is the worst and I may go once every 3 or 4 years.  I love cooking when I have all I need.  My grocery shopping trips aren't frequent but they include many staples so I can cook.   Andrea's experience with WalMart shoppers is not unusual--they really are the worst.

 

Aug 10, 2012 10:12PM
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I hate grocery shopping as well.  I was in heaven when I lived in Seattle and the Safeway delivered groceries for a small fee.  You could go on line and order whatever you wanted, paid with a credit or debit card, they drove up in a refrigerated truck, and you just put it away!  It was terrific.  Totally worth the small fee.
Aug 10, 2012 8:53PM
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LOL!  I would like to ask the author to move in with me.  I'm in total agreement with every point.

Contrary to some comments, she isn't whining.  She's simply not obsessed with food like most of obese America.

Best piece I've read here in quite awhile.
Aug 13, 2012 10:59AM
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To those commenting who feel they need to lay the "you don't have REAL problems, you're a whiner, you should be grateful you can afford groceries" guilt trips, listen up...

* The whole article was about someone who dislikes grocery shopping, and you knew it when you began to read it, so stop acting like you were disgusted by the content.
* Going by the rest of the comments, MANY people dislike grocery shopping (myself included), but it does NOT mean we aren't grateful to be able to afford to do so.
* Yes, it was also meant to be funny as well as stating "I hate grocery shopping"; that was the point.
* Being a woman will NEVER automatically mean you LOVE to cook, shop, sew, and especially not coupon clip and bargain shop. Stop criticizing the writer for not being, well....YOU!

Andrea, you are definitely NOT alone. I had my days of not being able to afford to shop at such luxurious stores as Walmart myself, (spent many years being grateful for Save-A-Lot and the like), but being able to afford to buy pretty much anything you want now doesn't mean it's any more fun. You hit the nail right on the head for many of us. For those who want to criticize, maybe they could use the money enough to go shopping for you. If they do, then send them my way next!
Aug 11, 2012 1:18AM
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Were we separated at birth?  Quite simply, IF I MUST set foot in a grocery store, I want what I want.  I rarely bother to scan various items on shelves to see if there is something new or something on sale - I'm in and I'm out, been accused of speedwalking...coupons and cost be damned. Pretty sure there are aisles that I have not visited for over a decade.  I avoid Walmart like the plague - once every couple of years is plenty enough. There are far greater pleasures in life - grocery shopping ranks right there with the department of motor vehicles - heck even the DMV trumps.
Aug 11, 2012 5:10AM
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Way down on my list of things to complain about although the writer is free to complain about what she doesn't like. I would give some thought about those who would love to be able to skip couponing, pay a fee to have food delivered without chipping a nail and well, complain about the nuisance of going to the store and, oh, the horror, dealing with the public. You know, the people who've lost their homes, their cars(to get to that dreaded store) and have to rely on food pantries and the generosity of others.

If grocery shopping is the very worst experience the writer is enduring....she should consider herself fortunate.

 

Aug 10, 2012 3:32PM
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I Also Hate shopping in person.  Thankfully I do have grocery shopping delivery online, for $5.00 an order.  It actually causes me to cook more often, because I can get everything I want need all at once.

Before the delivery I would constantly forget something, and decide to skip it because it was on the other end of the store.  Or I'd not know where the Item is, and I hate asking people.

The downside to delivery is you can't get a carpet or a Lawn chair, or various non-food items, so inevitably I am still forced out to walmart, but it's not nearly as often.

Aug 10, 2012 3:56PM
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I love grocery shopping.  I like cooking, and it's fun, and when I shop I see new products as soon as they become available at the local stores, so I can try them as soon as posdsible.

 

What I hate is buying a car and spending any money at all on a car.  To me, money spent on a car is all wasted money. 

 

Moiney spent on groceries, even when I buy unplanned items, is money spent wisely, money that got me things I enjoy. 

Aug 10, 2012 3:50PM
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Wow, we have a lot in common, grocery store-wise!  I would definately pay 30 bucks a week for bliss of not having to go to the gstore!  I do get some of my items like paper towels, toilet paper, and dog food sent to me through amazon subscribe and save.  That's a few items, at least I don't have to remember to get.
Aug 13, 2012 12:46PM
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Right up there with you sister....you forgot to metion what a TEADIOUS & emotinally draining choir this is and it is a grueling task that I dread every week...here's the real break down...

getting out of the car & walking into the store...so it begins... grabbing the cart...taking items off the shelves putting them in the cart making sure produce and dairy items are fresh and experation dates are at least 10 days away... continue pushing the cart throughout the store carefully.... you don't want to run into all the display settups that they have angled in aisleway... time to check out... unloading the massive mound of over priced/under quantitiy items on to the conveyor belt ...loading the cart  back up with... yes the plastic bags...which I have read some stores tack on a 10 cent bag fee, pushing the cart out to your car... loading your car...listening to everything you bought slipping out of the plastic bags while you drive home...unloading your car when you get home...putting the items away and hearing from your lovely family you forgot...TP  :)

Aug 13, 2012 7:30AM
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I am the BEST Grocery Shopper of all time in that I have my Grocery List set up on an Excel spreadsheet ( that I bring with me )   BY AISLE.

This saves me a tremendous amount of time!!!

Aug 11, 2012 5:01PM
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Loved the article but disagree re: coupons.  You should have seen me today when I discovered I could get 2 of my favorite ice creams for the price of 1 But I didn't have the required coupon!  Oh, disaster!  So I rushed around, found a clerk who drug me down 2 or 3 check outs til we found the desired coupon. Ran back to join my husband in the ice cream aisle & realized if only I had ANOTHER coupon we could each buy 2 of  the 2'fers.  So, naturally I ran back and helped myself to a coupon for him.  All told, took 10 min. or so & saved $8.  I'm willing to do that.  In fact, it was downright fun.  Damn, I'm good!  And by the way, I sure agree with shopping when I'm not hungry.  Nothing looks good and that's what I go home with!
Aug 13, 2012 11:11AM
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I used to use Fresh Direct for delivery but (1) they only have brand names and sometimes I want the store brand to save money and (2) half of the deliveries had something missing and I ended up going to the supermarket anyway.
Aug 13, 2012 2:04PM
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I WAS  a dedicated coupon shopper for many years... but moved to a small town in So Ore....oh dear no coupons in the local paper .....we do have a wide variety of grocery stores but the prices are outragous when compared to Walmart...but have discovered... that we do Not shop on the 1st or the 15th but do shop late on Thurs because thats when the shelves are usually fully stocked...otherwise I too hate grocery shopping
Aug 13, 2012 1:27PM
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This was one of the few personal finance articles that I actually agreed with 100%. Hallejulah! Even though I live in a big city that doesn't have a Wal-Mart, I still dislike grocery shopping. To the point where I actually get take-out 3 or 4 times a week (I'm a single, childfree woman. It might be different if I had a family). I can't be bothered with taking all that time to clip coupons. Plus, many coupons are for processed crap that I would never buy in the first place, so I would never save any money that way. I don't always buy stuff just because it's on sale either. A lot of people on these boards say they stock up on items on sale, but I can't do that as I live in a small studio. I would have no space to put the extra stuff I bought. Additionally grocery shopping is boring. Also, the staff at one of the supermarkets by my house are extremely rude and nasty. Thank you, thank you for this post. I've finally found a kindred spirit.  
Aug 13, 2012 1:27PM
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This was one of the few personal finance articles that I actually agreed with 100%. Hallejulah! Even though I live in a big city that doesn't have a Wal-Mart, I still dislike grocery shopping. To the point where I actually get take-out 3 or 4 times a week (I'm a single, childfree woman. It might be different if I had a family). I can't be bothered with taking all that time to clip coupons. Plus, many coupons are for processed crap that I would never buy in the first place, so I would never save any money that way. I don't always buy stuff just because it's on sale either. A lot of people on these boards say they stock up on items on sale, but I can't do that as I live in a small studio. I would have no space to put the extra stuff I bought. Additionally grocery shopping is boring. Also, the staff at one of the supermarkets by my house are extremely rude and nasty. Thank you, thank you for this post. I've finally found a kindred spirit.  
Aug 13, 2012 12:43PM
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I used to use "Peapod" when Tom Thumb stores had online shopping and delivery.  Loved it.  Sure miss it.  I never got a bad thing using it.  Even the produce was fresh. 

 

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