How I Stopped Saving Money at the Grocery Store


It happened one week after we moved to New Mexico.  It happened on my husband’s birthday.  It happened…out of nowhere.  We were hit by an uninsured driver.
What does this have to do with Zero Waste?  Our new driving philosophy now meshes quite nicely with our desire to use less energy.
Being a stay-at-home-mom I take pride in my ability to save money at the grocery store.  I try to treat it like my J-O-B.  The hubs is good at saving money on big-ticket items, like, “No, we can’t get a $30,000 minivan.”  Sad face.  But I rock at saving money on the little things like apples, chicken thighs and toilet paper.  Buy dry goods here, diapers from there and produce and meat over at this other place that happens to be near the doughnut shop.
So it took a long, late night, kids in bed, “sit down with Jesus” at the kitchen table, AND a serious tweak to habitual thinking to come to our present day arrangement.

We now limit our grocery shopping to a mile and a half radius from our home.  

Some initial findings:

  • It is quite painful to pay 20% more for hippie diapers at Sprouts because that’s the only kind they sell.
  • The pinch is tangible when bulk, generic M&Ms cost $4 dollars more at Whole Foods than Smiths.
  • And sometimes I just have to shake my head and hand over the card when bananas at the Co-op run over a dollar pound.
But here’s where we are saving:  gas, wear and tear and exposure.  We calculated the cost per mile of using our car at something like 50 cents/mile.  But the real cost comes from exposure to drivers whether it be in busy parking lots or frustrated commuters on the highway coming home.  I’ve also started relying on my cloth diapers more which is nice since I’ve got a blog called Zero Waste Mommy.  And guess what – I don’t let those $1.29/lb bananas go to waste anymore.  Dark spots just mean muffins/bread/smoothies are imminent.
And an added bonus is I can walk to the store like millions of other humans across the globe.  One less gym membership in the world.  Which we all know is a definite Zero Waste victory.

February 28, 2014

About Me

About Me

I’ve been passionate about combatting blind consumerism since 2008 and joined the Zero Waste movement by starting this blog in 2013, soon after my second child was born. I think it might have been trying to unwrap a toy or someone’s attempt to sell me a butt-wipe warmer that put me over the edge… read more



  1. IronMike

    How about the commissary? Does "the hubbs" work on base?

  2. KD Fincher

    Nope. Although if we're headed that direction, I will stock up on (pantry) staples. It's definitely outside the mile and a half range though.

  3. Flounder

    my car gets .08 cents a mile with gas @ $3.50 a gallon*. My truck gets over .22 cents a mile. I think your calculations are off a bit even for city driving. I would think the tax savings of going to the commissary alone would be worth the drive (assuming NM has sales tax).

    *Of note the $/mile calculation is strictly gas and nothing else. I figure the cost of everything else is just the cost of having a car even if you drive it or not. My car, for example, gets better than twice the millage of my truck but I had to recently put about $1000.00 into the car (tho I bought it for $200.00). If I only had the car (like you guys) for short city driving I still have to insure and register it every year whether I drive it or not. I also don't see cars as Capital because they do depreciate so quickly….hence why I bought a 200.00 beater that have excellent gas millage. The only caveat being I needed to "fix" it to be able to last a decent amount of time. In the end I save money by not blowing money on a new or newer car.

  4. KD Fincher

    You're right – the number is high. We recalculated to at least half that. But at the time we were paying a lot of mx on the car and so far this year has been kind (knock on wood). But again, here's what we are gaining: we aren't driving as much so we aren't using as much gas. We aren't driving it that much closer to it's next mx issue. And around here, we aren't exposing ourselves to another accident. The base trip requires a trip through some sketchy areas. I hope that comment doesn't get me in trouble… 🙂 And being able to walk is good for me and great for the oldest who NEEDS to burn off some energy.

  5. Flounder

    I get the exercise part of it, but even with biking you're exposing yourself to more risk of an even greater injury or death by walking or riding right?? I hate to think that you feel like you'd "get in trouble" for mentioning that cities have @#3$y parts where people may more may not be citizens or may or may not be insured. That's just life and I think you might be slightly overly afraid or the ultra PC crowd. If I could safely ride my road bike within a ten mile radius of my house without A. any fear of death or B. fear of it being stolen, I'd ride it everyday. It's just not in the cards. In a car, IMHO, is obviously safer, and i think a fear of getting banged up in a car is a bit over conservative. Just me tho.


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