Impulse Buying


All my life — nearly 24 years, mind you — my mom has instructed/reminded me not to go grocery shopping when I’m hungry to avoid impulse buying. She also knows that my eyes have a tendency to be bigger than my stomach.


I try really, really hard not to grocery shop before or too long after meals in the name of said impulse buying, but I’m weird in that regard. I’m typically fantastic about sticking to my list, but I’m not great at budgeting pre-store. My dollars are well spent, though.

See, my impulse buys are rarely ever junk. I don’t typically try to sneak Doritos past myself, or justify to myself why I need a carton of Triple Chocolate Caramel Fudge Cone ice cream. Actually, I’m more likely to arrive home with unnecessary items like an organic gluten-free margherita pizza “to try,” or a $6 carton of vegan soup stock… what?

I guess you could say I’m more of an “experimental” impulse-buyer —
“Hey, these cookie dough protein bars look pretty tasty…”
“You know, I have been saying I want to try chocolate granola…”
“Well… frozen spinach is on sale, and I might need it for some future recipe I haven’t even discovered yet…”

Yesterday, I unloaded sea salt sweet potato chips and Asian pears that I hadn’t planned to buy.

I see no reason to be upset when I spend a few unanticipated bucks on fresh fruit or organic vegetables. Why be pissed about healthy impulse buys? Sometimes, when certain items on my list aren’t available (e.g. blueberries yesterday) I find myself needing to replace those items. I try to find comparable substitutes, though. For example, I might replace the fresh blueberries that were unavailable with frozen fruit; I wouldn’t replace blueberries with candy bars. Occasionally when the item I specifically want isn’t available, I don’t try to replace it with anything — I just mark it down as a “next time” buy.

Here’s how I (generally) avoid impulse buys:
– I eat at least 30 minutes before I go grocery shopping.
– I bring a snack if I think my blood sugar will drop while shopping, to avoid buying a quick-fix.
– I write out a specific, detailed list.
– I jot down menu options for the week and which grocery items I need to purchase to make them happen.
– I put question marks beside items I want as opposed to need, and I evaluate my cart before picking those items up last.
– I avoid going down aisles on which I don’t specifically need something.

Do you buy things on impulse? How do you avoid impulse buys?


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