Never Met a Budget I Couldn’t Make Wonder Why I Bothered to Make a Budget

Know what I love? I love grocery shopping. I love wandering the grocery store as much as I love aimlessly walking around Target, touching stuff I like but won’t buy because either I don’t have the money, it’s cute but matches nothing, or forcing myself to realize that no, we don’t need another flashlight.

Part of it is I love to cook, so grocery shopping for ingredients makes me happy. Having snacks makes me happy. I could be a professional grocery shopper because I enjoy it that much. There’s just the issue of my inability to remain on budget. It would work out fine if you were in the market for someone to buy you groceries and you had an endless stream of money and didn’t care about the price of bok choy. This doesn’t mean I can’t run in for four things and come out with just those four (though it will almost always be five. OK, six). I can go in for just what I need in an emergency (like pasta sauce when I’ve started cooking spaghetti and browning meat and realize something’s missing). It’s just that while I’ll use coupons, I won’t get a different brand of something just because it’s on sale.

Random: A friend and I have made Target and grocery verbs. “What’ve you got to do this weekend?” “I need to Target.” Judge your mom.

Our grocery store of choice, Shoppers, often has a weekly $10 off $50 deal. My husband can go in and have to add a candy bar to get to the $50. I go in and realize I’m already at $50 and there’re still 10 things left to be rung up. I can give him a list of meals for the week and a suggested budget (not the $50) and he’ll come back with change. I, on the other hand, can go in with that same week’s list, same budget goal, and wind up with food for four days instead of seven.

I try, I do. I try to pay attention to deals and I swear I try to add as I go. Once, I had my calculator app open and I put in the price for every item I added to the cart. In trying to reach only $50 so that I could really spend only $40 with the $10 deal, I still miscalculated. In one instance, I was at $78 after the $10 was taken off. I only had $70 with me in cash. What was I supposed to put back? Toilet paper? Detergent? Oh, who am I kidding? I didn’t have either of those. I had to choose between the $24 fresh Alaskan salmon and the $17 (on sale) oysters. I decided on the oysters because they were indeed an indulgence I didn’t need. I’m giving myself a bad name. Let me clear this up.

Clear: I am not as frugal as Mr. Herndon.

See, if I give him a week’s list that includes, say, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and asparagus for Monday, he’ll come back with chicken, rice, and broccoli. My list would have included chicken, oil, flour, potatoes, sour cream, and asparagus. He’d come back and say that the chicken should be baked (he got a marinade (one item) instead of the two of flour and oil to fry), rice is easier, and broccoli was on sale. When I make a list, I stick to the list. When I make a list and give it to him, it’s apparently only an idea guide. However, he successfully saves us money by reconsidering some of my requests (but also pisses me off sometimes by not getting mushrooms when I actually needed mushrooms) and baked chicken, rice, and broccoli isn’t a bad meal. I just had my mouth set for fried. We need to fry less. He’s fixing more than he knows, look at that.

He also wouldn’t have gotten ingredients for lettuce wraps for lunch a few weeks ago.


The amount of ingredients for that one meal would’ve had him come up in here with pizza and fries and a look on his face like you didn’t seriously think I was going to get all that, did you? That one midday meal would’ve cost more than tonight’s dinner and tomorrow’s breakfast. I do give him credit, though. If we’re grocerying together he won’t always try to get me to adhere to his version of what’s being bought. If I pick up avocado and they’re high as a giraffe’s ass, he might suggest I substitute something or he might say nothing at all. The oysters won’t ever make it to the cart if we’re together though because is it your birthday? It is not, so there’s no justification for buying that right now. But if I’m alone? I have sat in the parking lot an additional eight minutes writing out a meticulous list because if the recipe calls for almond milk, I’m buying almond milk FOR THAT ONE RECIPE. Seriously, nobody’s gonna drink/use it after, so why don’t I substitute something? Why are you asking me, it’s not like I was anywhere near the budget anyway.

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