Saying No at the Grocery Store: The 31 Days of Living Well and Spending Zero Challenge, Part 2

And on the 4th Day, I said No.

We made it through the first 4 days of the 31 of Days Living Well and Spending Zero Challenge. Challenge is definitely the right term, at least according to my family.  My daughter is having a particular issue with the No Spending rule, as she got No Treats at the grocery store. I had no problem saying no at the grocery store: No Pringles, no cookies, no new yogurt. But Little Bit is not used to me saying no to what she thinks of as reasonable requests, and 31 Days of No will be a big adjustment.

Read about my reasons for embarking on the challenge and the results of day 1.

Saying No, A Lot

“No” started Saturday, when Little Bit made the perfectly reasonable request to go out somewhere. We’ve had a ton of rain this week in North Carolina, and she’s going a little stir crazy. Unfortunately her timing was off. I have caught a rotten cold, and got no sleep Friday night. Jon got only slightly more sleep than I did. So Little Bit’s tired cranky parents said no to the park, no to the museum, even no to the library.

No to the Library? The world must be ending.

She did get to go to her grandparent’s house for dinner.

Today we went on our first grocery trip under the challenge, and I had to bend a little on my list of spending exceptions. Said cold necessitated a bottle of Nyquil, and would have added Kleenex if I hadn’t found a mostly full box stuffed into a closet behind a stack of towels. I also had to pick up some soap, shampoo, and conditioner, as all of those items were going to be out before the end of the week. Come hell or high water, we’re going to be clean! So, we added about $15 worth of stuff to our trip that wasn’t part of my initial plan.

If we can make it through the month with $25 worth of unplanned exceptions, I’ll count it as a win.

All of our other purchases stuck to the plan. We spent $8 on produce, and bought cheese, 2 gallons of milk, half and half and juice. (Juice was on my list of necessities, but got left off the last article. If we get our coffee, she gets her juice. I did let Little Bit pick out her favorite flavor.)

We definitely did not buy Pringles, despite a meltdown by Little Bit.

My daughter is used to hearing me say no at the grocery store. During most trips, however, I’ve usually justified the no by pointing out that I’ve said yes to something else, or by pointing out that we have some at home.

“No, you can’t have popsicles. You got to pick out cookies.”

“No, you can’t have chips. We have pretzels at home.”

Explain No and Justify Yes

I’m realizing how I say No may be a bad habit. Explaining my “no” is one thing, but feeling I have to justify saying no to a 5 year old is a problem. If I have to justify my no, I say yes way too much, especially at the grocery store. One of the reasons I think we waste too much food is that we buy too much food. Jon gets what Jon wants. I get what I want. Little Bit gets what she wants.

If everybody gets what they want, we spend too much on stuff we don’t use. We need to be saying no more often.

Saying no to groceries we don’t need.

Saying no to more stuff.

I need to work at having to justify saying yes to spending instead of having to justify saying no. “No” may need an explanation, but it shouldn’t need a justification.

That’s why we’re attempting this challenge.

Even with the extra expense I still got out of the grocery store for about half of what I used to spend on groceries for a week when I lived alone, and about a third of what I spend on a regular basis.  Jon joked it was my least expensive grocery trip ever. While that’s an exaggeration, it was true I probably haven’t had a weekly shopping trip at $45 since I was a college kid. If we keep to this plan, we’ll save almost $300 on groceries alone this month.

31 Days of Living Well and Spending Zero: Other Thoughts from Days 2-4.

Maybe the lack of sleep was the problem Saturday, but I had a hard time getting to grips with the task for the day: Planning Meals.  Organizing my freezer and pantry on Day 2 was easy, since I had just cleaned them out a couple of weeks ago. Making a list of everything generated some amusing comments from Jon, but we have a lot of food to work with. We probably won’t eat everything between now and the end of the month. We have an abundance of meat and grains, but we’ll need our $10 a week produce allowance to round out our fruits and veggies.

I have plenty of meal ideas, but somehow I couldn’t get more than a week’s worth written down.  It’s a task I’ll have to go back to today.

I also don’t see my family working in the meal swaps that are the focus of Day 4, although I will happily let my in-laws invite us to dinner as they did Saturday. We’ll definitely be changing up our regular menu, though.  We usually have pizza at least once a week. If that’s going to continue, I’m going to have to experiment with making my own pizza dough.

I’d also like to stretch my cooking skills with some of the other things I found in my inventory. We have sundried tomatoes. We have buffalo steak. We have an entire ham. We even have a duck in the freezer. I have no idea what we are going to do with all of this stuff, but it should make the next month interesting.

4 days into the challenge, we’re already seeing some results in rethinking our spending habits. I’m sure, come November, Little Bit will get her Pringles, she just may not get them as often.

4 days down, 27 to go.

What challenges does your family pose for reducing your spending? What’s the best way of saying No to your kids?

(Any hints or tips for meal planning are also appreciated!)

Image courtesy of hyena reality at

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