Physical Food Budgeting

I stink at the sort of budgets which are a bunch of numbers on a spreadsheet somewhere. I especially stink at grocery budgets.

You see, grocery budgets never exist alone. They always exist in columns (or envelopes, or whatever) right next to another column. And that means you can take money from the other column to spend on groceries. Yay! More groceries! Less gas and laundry detergent!

Ehem. Anyway, what I was trying to say is that traditional grocery budgets are a challenge for me.

So I use a more, um, physical budget. I only buy what I can carry.

Rather than having Josh carry groceries I make him take pictures of me holding my grocery box. Smart, right?

You know my second-favorite grocery store in the whole world, Aldi? That purveyor of fine savings where they cut costs by charging for grocery bags? Well, I learned as a child that one should never, never pay for grocery bags.

Of course this is sort of a joke since half the stores we visit are in DC where they “tax” rather than “charge” for grocery bags, but still. All eco-friendly feelings aside, one must not pay for grocery bags. It is simply a rule. Sure, it is a rule which everyone else seems to ignore, but it is a rule nonetheless.

So when I go to Aldi I grab a large box and then carry all chosen items around in it. Of course I could technically put the box into a grocery cart (if I wanted to give Aldi the use of a $0.25 interest free loan for the course of my shopping adventure!) but that would cause problems. You see, if I have a cart, then suddenly my box overflows and becomes to heavy for me to lug around after I return the cart.

Josh claims that I could take the fully laden cart to the car, move the items in the box to the car, drive home, walk empty-handed into the apartment and announce to him that he must bring in the groceries. But that is silly. I couldn’t do that.

Besides, if I did? I’d spend at least twice as much on groceries.

So I convince myself that limiting myself to what I can carry is my form of budgeting. Others might look at the larger issue of choosing cheaper grocery stores in order to save, but I know that is almost as silly as Josh’s idea of making him carry groceries. After all, when I go to the organic market I am limited to a shopping-basket even smaller than the boxes at Aldi, and then I have to fit everything into one tiny cloth bag.

It doesn’t matter where I shop for groceries, all that matters is that I can carry the weight of my purchases rather than the guilt of buying too much food.

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7 thoughts on “Physical Food Budgeting

  1. Christine

    I think that’s a perfectly reasonable form of budgeting! I live across the street from the grocery store and when I wasn’t working and did all the shopping myself during the day, I would do the carrying thing, too. Except that I would all test to see how much I could carry. I know the first time I did it, I could barely walk because I had way too many groceries. The cashier thought I was crazy!

  2. Kacie

    Now wait, I think I’ve heard this a few times. You don’t pay for your cart at Aldi. You put a deposit down when you take the cart, and if you plug it back in at the end, you get your quarter back. All good!

    We got two massive Aldi’s bags when we visited our Aldi’s on opening day, and we use those bags alllll the time. At every store.

    1. Rae Post author

      I was just joking about the quarter being an interest-free loan. I’m not really concerned about whether the quarter spends the shopping trip in the cart or in my pocket (though most of the time I probably don’t even have a quarter on me). This whole post is mostly just poking fun at myself for odd shopping habits.

  3. Michelle

    I tried to just buy what I could carry today at Aldi and my reusable bag got so heavy that I had to keep setting it down. I think your idea is great if it works for you then stick with it!

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