Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Big Battle: Wants Versus Needs

Paprika asked me tonight if I would consider being a good mom and buying her children ice cream in the near future.  I had to smile.  That's exactly what I was going to write about tonight.  No, not ice cream.  Wants versus needs. 

How many times in the past have I gone to the grocery store with a list of needs only to spend a considerable amount more on wants and impulses.  When I shop for other things like clothes or house hold goods I am very good at shopping and releasing.  I wander around the store with things in my hand only to put them back after deciding I really don't need them.  Unfortunately, I don't approach the grocery store in the same manner.  Once in the cart, its going home!

I do make a list.  A detailed list.  A list I often times forget at home and then struggle to mentally recreate in the store.  This is obviously not a good method.  With this new challenge I know I need to be more organized.  First, I need to make a list and then bring it with me.  Oh, it sounds so simple.

 I know lists help us to avoid those impulse buys.  So, second, I need to be better at sticking with only the items on my list.  That seems a bit tougher to me.  How many times have I been to the store, wandering up the aisle, only to notice that one item; the one not on the list, but the one that should be.  My cart ends up being full of those items!  How do I combat that?  Well, I need to put back into practice an inventory of my pantry and freezer before I make my monthly menu.  This allows me to accurately assess what I need.  It also helps me to avoid spending money on duplicate items or more food than I need.  There is nothing worse than being on a tight budget and pulling out moldy produce because you forgot you bought it. 

When I make I new menu, I need to go shopping in my own home first!

During the month I keep track of items I run out of or will need to purchase at the store on a white board I have hanging on my refrigerator.  I used Vis-a-Vis markers (water soluble)  to create a grid.  I have different lists for different stores.  The store where I buy most of my groceries I separate into categories like produce, frozen, dairy and meat, etc.  This helps me when making my final grocery list and keeps it organized.  I use a dry erase marker to add items to the lists.  After shopping, I simply erase the items.  The grid is still there ready for new lists.

Another idea to help cut my budget is to prioritize my grocery list.  I pay specific attention to need.  If the item is needed it is simply put on the list.  If the item is a want, however, it goes on the list and is circled.  This helps me once I am in the store to decide if I still really want it based on the cost of the items in my basket. 

I also plan a little wiggle room for two things.  One, gluten free sale items.  Sometimes, it is not until you are in the middle of shopping do you realize that your favorite gf flour is on sale.  Planning wiggle room makes it ok to add a few of these items to the cart without breaking your budget.  A little note here about stockpiling.  Sometimes less is more.  I have found that if I have an abundance of a particular item, we use more of it.  When I have a limited amount, I am more apt to stop and think whether or not I really want to add this item to my menu just because it is there or wait for a meal when I specifically need to use that same item.

Finally, when sticking so closely to a budget, let alone being gluten free, we can often times become overwhelmed in the middle of the store with feelings of deprivation.  We become so hyper-focused on what we can't have.  I have admittedly left the grocery store, more than once, feeling utterly depressed.  Deprivation make us miserable.  In reality, we are incredibly blessed, but our minds tell us differently.  A way to combat this is to plan an indulgence into your budget.  A simple, planned, splurge on a special kind of chocolate treat, or as Paprika suggested, ice cream, can make a difference and a more pleasant shopping and gf lifestyle experience.

So, cream is on the list!


  1. I think I need to get a bigger whiteboard, so mine looks more like yours! I like how you've broken it down- it looks much "tidier" than my current method.

    My problem with your post: does this mean that a big bag of caramels, a bulk pkg of Snickers bars, and two cartons of pumpkin ice cream would be categorized as WANTS? Because baby disagrees considerably. ;)

  2. Of course, those are definitely NEEDS! Baby NEEDS them! For can just count it as that little planned indulgence. Either way, you are good to go!


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