How to Stay on Budget with Your Groceries: Change Your Scarcity Mentality

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As I continue to pursue a lifestyle of living full out and worrying less about my weight, I am working hard to change my scarcity mentality.  A scarcity mentality implies that you think first and foremost from a starting point of “I don’t have enough; there isn’t enough to go around; I need more of something.”

FoodLove Girl - "It's Never Enough Food!"

FoodLove Girl – “It’s Never Enough Food!”

Change Your Scarcity Mentality

The opposite of this type of thinking would the abundance mentality.  With an abundance mentality, you start from a place of “I have everything I need”; “There is enough for everyone”; “If I run out, there is always more”.

I’ve noticed that I have this scarcity mentality in a lot of areas of my life and food is just one of them.  All of this stems from an internal belief of whether or not you believe that YOU ARE ENOUGH.   You must work to believe that you are enough and that you don’t need anyone or anything to validate your existence and your worth.  Once you do that, the rest falls into place

In my work to remind myself that I am enough and to shed my life of this scarcity mentality, I practiced this mentality at the grocery store last week and a miraculous thing happened.  My grocery bill was less.

For years, since I got married in 2010, I have been appalled by my grocery bill.  This is one of the bills that I take care of in our household. Because groceries are not a set bill, it is one of the few places where I could decrease the cost and save us some money – if only I could figure out how.  Our grocery bill has plagued me for years.  I’ve tried meal planning and writing a shopping list before I go.  I’ve tried couponing.  I’ve tried only buying what’s in season and on sale.  I’ve tried going to big box stores (Costco’s) versus Whole Paycheck (Whole Foods).  I’ve tried planning my meals first off of what’s in the freezer and pantry to minimize what we need from the store.  You name it, I’ve tried it.  And while all of these tactics work a little, they didn’t make the huge dent I was aiming for

And then last week it finally hit me.  Every time I go to the store, I shop like it’s the last time I can shop that week.  And somehow I exaggerate in my head how long a week is.  (It’s 7 days long in case you forgot too.)

This is how I think at the grocery store.

This is how I think at the grocery store.

I start a small panic at the back of my brain that causes me to add more to my basket than I truly need.  I get 8 bananas instead of 4 b/c somehow I think I’ll run out.  Even though I know that the bananas are only for smoothies and I know I eat a half a banana in each smoothie and I’m only making 4 smoothies that week.  It’s simple math, and yet……….. I put 8 bananas in the basket.  I get two bags of Pop chips instead of one because I know I overate last week and I needed more. (Do I need more or do I need to eat less this week? Hmmm).   I get way more of everything in my quest to feed the burning question:  Will there be enough?

But here’s the question I never allowed myself to answer: What if it’s not enough? What if you run out? And if I had allowed myself to answer that I would have realized the answer isn’t so scary.   Here’s the answer:  Nothing will happen!!!!  I’ll go back to the store or I’ll see what else I already have in the house or I’ll go get take-out.  Whatever.  Who cares.  It won’t be the end of the world.  I am blessed to have 5 grocery stores literally five minutes from my house in every direction.  It’s crazy.  I also have over a dozen take-out restaurants within the same distance.  AND – I have a car.  So honestly, what’s the  big deal.  CALM DOWN.  I’m talking to myself here, not you.  It’s no big deal.  There is always more where that came from.


So last week, I went through this process at each point in the grocery store.  I headed to the produce section and I stood there and I asked myself, seriously, how many apples are you going to eat this week? I thought about last week and I said, “well, I had a plan to eat 1 1/2 -2 apples  a day as an afternoon snack so I bought 8 but there were 3 days that I just skipped the snack.  So I probably could get by with 6.”   And then I purposely got 5.  Just to prove to myself that the world would not end if I got less apples than I needed.   And then I repeated this process with the meat, then the snacks items, etc.

And you know what?

Usually my bill is around $150.  Last Sunday it was at $100!  Without coupons, without a list, without throwing things back at the last minute at the cash register, without a meal plan.  M bill was less simply by shopping with an abundance mentality and believing that I didn’t need to stock up for a storm every time I do weekly grocery shopping.  By thinking from a place of abundance instead of scarcity I was able to naturally buy less.

[I would also like to point out that when I go to the store my husband usually goes his separate way and joins up with me at the counter (he finds me very stressful in this activity – gee, I wonder why?)  and so his groceries did not change during this exercise.  It was all me. #bethechange]

So, to my fellow overeaters striving to lose weight and live a fuller life,   I implore you to ask yourself this question:  Do you live more with an abundance mentality or a scarcity mentality?  Do you believe that there is enough in the world to go around or do you believe that everything is tenuous and we could run out at any moment?  And most importantly, do you believe that you are enough?

I’ll answer that for you.  You are.  You are enough.  And no more food or clothes or stuff is going to make you into more.  You are exactly who you need to be at this point in your life. As you are right now, You Are Enough.

I promise you that if you think about this and work to shed your life of the scarcity mentality and shift to an abundance mentality, things in your life will change everywhere for the good.  You will lose weight, you will save money, you will find peace.  The franticness in your brain that makes you overeat because you don’t think you’ve had enough will go away.  The noise will silence.  And what’s left, is you.  Just you.  And you’ll find that’s all you ever needed anyway.


2 thoughts on “How to Stay on Budget with Your Groceries: Change Your Scarcity Mentality

  1. Taaj Abdur-Rahman says:

    Awesome post! I really love the “Winter is Coming” image, super cute and illustrative of the point. I used to live across the street from the grocery store and as a result never made a list. I would run to the store every other day and grab items. I was spending too much due to no planning. Now I do the opposite, over plan and over shop as if I’m preparing for hibernation. This article is a good reminder to take it easy. Wasting produce because I purchased too much is the worst. Thanks for a great post!

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