Buying more food than you need is a common practice in American households. Our supermarkets are set up to entice you to buy, even when the items on display are not on the shopping list. It is all about marketing strategy and presentation.
Other factors that influence the quantity purchased might be the weather, who we are feeding, and our own issues with food.
* Marketing strategies
The stores send out weekly mailers of specials and sale items. Those low-priced bargains are then interspersed throughout the store amongst the regular-priced and more costly items. As you wander through the store in search of the bargains on your list, you will spy other in-store specials of the day that are difficult to resist. The next thing you know, your grocery cart is laden with food items not on your list.
The supermarket also plans to cash in on your desire for something for nothing. When an item is offered with a, “buy one, get one free,” tag, your purchase is almost guaranteed, even when the food is something you don’t ordinarily buy.
You are especially vulnerable to these marketing ploys if you don’t shop with a list. You are apt to purchase the two for one item and then attempt to build a meal around it, and end up with many more items in your cart at the expensive full price.
Even the ambiance in the grocery store encourages wasteful spending. The overhead music is upbeat and fast-paced. There are gaudy arrows and colorful sale signs distracting you from your focus. The check-out lanes are limited, in hopes you will peruse the items in front of you while you wait and make a few impulse purchases.
Holiday items and supplies are usually displayed at the end of the aisles, encouraging you to stock up as you pass by, whether you have made plans to invite others to dinner or not.
* How the weather encourages overbuying
If the weather is about to change, with predictions of snow or storms, you are emotionally triggered to “stock up.” No matter that there is a grocery store on almost every corner – the thought of being homebound is impetus to overbuy, especially in the area of comfort foods.
* When you are having guests
When you are planning to have more than your usual group at the table, whether it is a holiday, a special dinner or houseguests, there is a tendency to go overboard when grocery shopping. There is an innate fear in most of us of “running out of food,” or “not having enough,” and the grocery stores benefit from out feelings of insecurity.
* Emotional connection with food
If you have an unhealthy emotion connection with food, you will overbuy. People who grew up in a humble or impoverished environment will compensate by keeping their own larder overflowing. No matter that they end up having to throw away food items that have become stale or inedible.
If you find yourself overbuying at the grocery store, analyze the reasons and take steps to combat the problem. The best line of defense is to make a list, determine to stick to it, and never shop hungry, for that is when you are emotionally vulnerable as well.
When you do fall into the trap of overbuying, share your bounty with someone else, rather than allowing it to spoil. After you have paid a high tab at the grocery store, and given some of your purchases away a few times, you will be less tempted to buy more food than you need when you go to the supermarket.