Before You Leave The Grocery Store, Take Coco Chanel's Advice

You may not have ever imagined that any of French fashion designer Coco Chanel's chic adages would be suited to a grocery store context. However, there is one famous piece of advice she gave for fashion that applies surprisingly well to food shopping — especially if you're trying to stick to a budget. As Vogue Australia documents, Chanel famously advised: "Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off." This simple move was supposed to help ensure you didn't look too overdone — simplicity is chic, especially to the French fashionista. 

Budget-conscious grocery shoppers would be well served by applying the same general approach in the grocery store. Instead of eyeing yourself in the mirror and debating which accessory to remove, though, you want to evaluate your cart before checking out and put one or two items back that don't really need to come home with you. This may not work if you strictly stick to your list every trip; but, if you're prone to tossing a few tasty-looking items in your cart as you browse, you could save a decent chunk of change. And, given that food prices skyrocketed 9.5% over the course of a single year from February 2022 to February 2023 (per U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service), just about every shopper is more mindful of how they spend their dollars at the grocery store these days.

Further tips to curb impulse shopping

If you truly struggle with impulse buying, frequently blowing your budget because you spot things that look appealing while wandering the aisles, there are a few other approaches to try out.

One trick is to consider either getting your groceries delivered or doing a curbside pickup at the store — if those are available at one of the grocery stores near you. It may not seem like much savings at first, since you may have to pay a few dollars for the convenience, either for pickup fees or to tip the delivery person. However, when you have to select each item online, you're far less likely to impulse buy than if you're confronted with all the tempting treats in person. Plus, when tossing items into your virtual cart, you'll be able to see the total increase on your screen, making excessive spending a bit more immediately recognizable than when you're mentally calculating things while you wander through the store.

Finally, if you're the type of person who walks into a grocery store without a list, you need to start compiling one (bonus points if you check the store's flyer for sales). You may still want the flexibility of leaving room for a few impulse buys — that's fine. However, if you have a general plan for what you intend to buy and largely stick with your list, not only will you stay much closer to your budget but you'll also hopefully avoid food waste.