Portion Control for Your Pocketbook

vegWhen you’re on a budget, you may need to practice portion control for your pocketbook. For the past 25 years, I had very healthy cash flow. I hardly ever looked at prices in the grocery store. I just threw whatever I wanted in the basket. I ate in the best restaurants often and didn’t hesitate to accept an invitation to happy hour. While I have always shopped vintage, I never hesitated to purchase a new pair of shoes.

Once I sold my business, my cash flow situation changed. Now I carefully consider a new pair of shoes. I eat at home most days (I’m creating and testing recipes after all) and I rarely go out for happy hour. On the other hand, I go to the grocery store…a lot!

One reason for all the shopping is my job, but much of it is because I love fresh ingredients and I like to experiment in the kitchen. That means I’m happiest when I’m shopping in smaller specialty markets that have really fresh produce or interestingly odd offerings. The problem is that many smaller markets have very steep pricing.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone into one of these markets to grab one or two items and left having spent over $100. While that’s always bothered me, now I need to make sure I just don’t do it. I have to practice portion control.

Using the smaller double-decker baskets wasn’t working for me. I always choose those because I like them better, but I can still fit in way more than I want to pay for. I could use a small reusable grocery bag to limit my items to what I can carry, but then I’ll look suspiciously like I’m trying to avoid paying, not to mention, I never have one of those bags handy when I need it. You could tell me I just need to stick with my shopping list, but that would be like talking to a brick wall.
So, how am I solving this problem? I don’t carry a bag OR use a basket. I limit my shopping to what I can carry in my hands. Just like using a smaller plate to eat your lunch, this technique will cut out the excess fast. After a couple of lemon dropping incidents, I learned I’d rather avoid the embarrassment of overloading. Now I rarely spend more than $20 in one of these stores.

Developing portion control for your pocketbook is much like making any other needed change. The better you know yourself, the easier it is to develop techniques that will make the change easier rather than harder. And who says it’s better to do things the hard way?