Saving Strategy: Eat Before You Go Out

I haven't posted about a money saving strategy since I posted about 25 ways to save money, but I came up a tip to write about while shopping over the weekend. 

On a typical Saturday morning, my wife and I will get up, have breakfast, relax for a bit, then head out on our adventure for the day.  This adventure usually involves shopping for household essentials or groceries at the local big box store (exciting hey?).

As the title suggests, one saving strategy that we try to implement whenever we can is to leave the house on a full stomach.  Why?  Lets take a look at a couple of scenarios.

When we go out shopping, we usually spend a couple hours picking up a few odds and ends.  If we don't have some food in our stomach during the shopping trip, we'll inevitably get hungry (especially my pregnant wife).  When this happens, we'll usually stop by a Subway or a Tim Hortons to grab a quick bite.  Even though these fast food joints are reasonable in price, it can cost around $15-$20 for the both of us for lunch.  If we were to do this every weekend, this would be an extra $80/month bill or $1000/yr

When grocery shopping, people are more inclined to buy more (junk) on an empty stomach.  We've experimented with this phenomenon, and it's right on the money.  Not only do we spend around 10%-15% more when grocery shopping hungry, we tend to load up on unhealthy items.

Eating before you go shopping can not only save you a few dollars, but it can also be the healthier alternative.

Of course, this strategy may not work that well if you plan on going out to eat.

Photo credit: DanieVDM

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FT is the founder and editor of Million Dollar Journey (est. 2006). Through various financial strategies outlined on this site, he grew his net worth from $200,000 in 2006 to $1,000,000 by 2014. You can read more about him here.
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Colourful Money
11 years ago

Aye, eating until you have a full stomach may not be the best idea for those trying to lose weight. As the addage goes about eating small meals every 3-4 hours, stuffing yourself may be counterproductive.

However, if you care not about losing weight, this is fine. Back when I was a student, I’d stuff myself at the Chinese buffet and won’t have to eat again until the next day!

Matt Ellsworth
13 years ago

I haven’t tried this before going to the mall, but I have for grocery shopping and it is definately better to eat something before going to the grocery store. I grew up 1 block away from the market – so we frequently would go get things as needed. We also got a lot of non needed junk.

13 years ago

I don’t do this as a rule (although I probably should) but Sunday evening brought some great bargains during a grocery store visit.

Near where I live there is a 24 hour Dominion store. It sometimes happens that Sunday evening rolls around and we’ve run out of a critical item (e.g. milk). I end up picking up whatever is critical or unique to Dominion (we usually shop at RCSS). I then go over to the meat department where I discover a large assortment of quality meat that has been marked down because it is a day or 2 from its ‘Best by date’. I can usually pick up really top notch steaks and even seasoned chicken and pork that I wouldn’t normally purchase. By the time I leave, there is little left as I can frequently find 6-10 steaks.

Saving anywhere from 30% to 50% has proved to be a very good move. The meat has been exceptional and we end up spending less to feed 3 than we would to feed 1 at a restaurant. And, typically, the restaurant dinner steaks aren’t as good as the ones we cook at home.

Weekend Reading - Feb 29, 2008 | Million Dollar Journey
13 years ago

[…] No Credit Needed has hosted this weeks Festival of Frugality.  MDJ submitted the article "Eating in Before Eating Out". […]

NCN Blog’s Festival of Frugality
13 years ago

[…] Saving Strategy: Eat Before You Go Out – This sounds like a good idea, why haven’t I thought of it?  hehe  I know when I have a day of errands planned, especially if I have two children in tow, it is easy to just stop off for a ‘bite to eat.’  Eating at home, before the errands, is not only going to save money but I’ll have less cranky kids – hungry kids are not conducive to productive errand-running.  Thanks for the great tip from the Million Dollar Journey blog. […]

Festival Of Frugality #114
13 years ago

[…] Million Dollar Journey writes about eating in before you eat out. […]

Personal Finance Bloggers Share Their Very Best Money Saving Tips
13 years ago

[…] Million Dollar Journey suggests eating at home before you eat out. […]

Fabulously Broke
13 years ago

I do that too. Plus I bring snacks when I’m out for the whole day, like a granola bar, or something to chew on. Or a huge cup of tea in my Starbucks mug :)

13 years ago

Good idea, eating out can become so expensive. I used to hate brining a lunch and I would get snacks at the office until I realized just how much this was costing me. Even at $10 a day for lunch (which is pretty decent) adds up to thousands per year. Now since you mentioned food its time to put some in my stomach.

13 years ago

Good advice. Whenever we are heading out my wife will inevitably ask where we are going for lunch. I tell her I’ll make something for her at home before we leave. Most days that’s fine, but some days this answer gets a lukewarm reception. If the response is too chilly I end up taking her out for lunch instead. Gotta know when to hold em, know when to fold em :)