Wine and Other Luxuries On Your Grocery List

Wine and Other Luxuries On Your Grocery List“Wine is a grocery, not a luxury.” No, Richard Betts, you’re wrong. Last week, I was in the midst of catching up on my favorite podcasts, when I stumbled across that sound bite courtesy of Richard Betts on the Tim Ferriss Show.* While I most certainly understood his point — in his experience, the table wasn’t set until there was wine on it — this comment got me thinking about how many different luxuries are on our grocery lists that we pass off as necessities each week. 


One of the most frequent comments people make when they watch me eat what amounts to essentially the same breakfast and lunch every day is, “How can you do that?” It’s simple. I get hungry, and then I eat. I can certainly appreciate the concept of variety. It’s wonderful to try new things. But it’s also a luxury to which people enslave themselves. Meal planning to prevent food waste, to ensure nutritional guidelines are met, and to save time make sense to me. Meal planning to avoid eating the same type of regional cuisine more than once a week does not. Still, I’m not against it. I just think we’re kidding ourselves by calling it anything other than a luxury.


Water is a necessity. For the sake of argument, milk is probably a necessity. Anything else? It’s a luxury. Let’s be clear here. I’m not suggesting that all anyone ever drink again is tap water. But what I am suggesting is that if you’re looking to reduce your grocery budget and possibly improve your overall health, examining the amount of things like sodas and fruit punch that you consume is a good place to start.


As much as it pains to me admit that I could function in a world without chocolate, I can and I have. In fact, I’m pretty sure the food pyramid* is predicated on the notion that dessert is optional. Still, it is so easy to let sweets become a staple on grocery lists. When we first got married, I was buying cookies, ice cream, and pudding mix weekly, since I knew Mr. P loved them. It quickly got to the point that even Mr. P and his six stomachs couldn’t keep up. But buying dessert had become so automatic for me, that I really had to make a conscious effort to purchase desserts as an occasional treat, not a weekly staple.

Processed Snack Foods

Any food item that is based largely on convenience is a want, not a need. We all need more time. But I would argue it takes me the same amount of effort to bag up a handful of chips as it does to toss an extra apple in my bag. Again, I’m not anti-snacking. In fact, I’d be one cranky lady without a snack break. I do think that the snack food industry has to have somebody fooled in order to cross the hundred billion dollar threshold each year.

Final Thoughts

After stripping our grocery budget down to $200 a month for two people, it became abundantly clear to me that just as we have been conditioned to live to work, we are also taught to live to eat. Grocery stores are rife with luxuries that are packaged as necessities. While I do not think avoiding these extras altogether is a path that Mr. P and I are ready to pursue, I do think that being aware of them as I allocate funds towards our grocery budget makes me a much smarter shopper. It also helps me appreciate–instead of take for granted–life’s little luxuries when we do indulge in them.

*This episode is actually one of my very favorites, and Richard Betts seems like a crazy cool guy. I mean, he created a scratch and sniff book about wine and whiskey? Does it get any better? But, yeah. Wine = luxury, just like scratch and sniff books.

**Or at least the old one was. The vertically sliced one still seems awkward to me.

So Tell Me…Do you have any luxuries that are staples on your shopping list? How do you appreciate life’s little luxuries?

Wine and Other Luxuries On Your Grocery List

11 thoughts on “Wine and Other Luxuries On Your Grocery List

  1. Completely agree on the overall sentiment of your post. To me it sums up as another example of “balance” in life and our decisions. Goals of efficiency and needs vs wants can lead to what I view as extremes. Where we draw the line is the interested part.

    What’s your thoughts on something like Soylent? Link – I view Soylent as an example of the logical extreme for food.

    1. You’re always the sweetest, Kay! It’s OK to indulge in luxuries, but it’s important to recognize them for what they are. There are definitely other categories in our budget that I know I could pare back on or even eliminate if push came to shove.

  2. Controlling food costs is a definite struggle for us, because so much of what we buy does fall into the luxury category. Even with us trying to pare down to the minimum and eat through our freezer/pantry stock, we bought 3(!) gallons of milk last week, a half gallon of half-and-half, a large bag of coffee, 2 big blocks of cheese, and 1 bottle of juice for the kiddo, among other things.

    1. Oh, cheese, how I love thee! I can only imagine it gets more challenging with kids, but I also wrestle with buying treats for my husband. He loves cheese (I do, too!) and sweets, so I’d always go overboard when we first got married.

  3. You are so right. Wine is a luxury. As are chocolate and coffee. All of which Mr. FI and I try to keep in our house at all times. Although we’re aware that these are luxuries, they are/have become “staples” on our grocery lists, but they are not necessities. If we HAD to give them up, we would (okay, maybe not the coffee…that would just be mean), but we choose to have them as part of our lists each month (or every other month depending on how quickly we go through them) because we like having a little luxury in our lives!

    In regards to variety being a luxury, I also agree. And I wish I could be like you and eat the same thing every day. Really, I do! That not only would be awesome for our budget but a time-saver too. But alas, I have enslaved myself to this luxury and can’t see myself changing that particular indulgent while still enjoying life. It probably sounds silly, but food and cooking bring a good deal of satisfaction into my every day. I enjoy experimenting and even the process of making new meals from buying the ingredients to watching Mr. FI enjoy his first bite. But I see how this luxury could get out of hand if say, someone was to go buy different ingredients every day to make something new when they already had plenty of meal options at home. We try to find different meal opportunities within our staple-food scope as well as make a conscious effort not to waste food or buy ingredients we’ll only use once. And we are always pursuing ways to make meals stretch (gotta keep that budget in line somehow!). So while this is, technically, a luxury, we try not to get too out of hand with how much we spend on said luxury.

    That being said, like you, if we had not made a budget we would not have been able to see these items for the luxuries that they are, or learn to appreciate them as luxuries in the first place. So now, when we have a different meal every night or a glass of wine with said meal, it’s something that we see as a treat. Which makes meal-times seem so much more enjoyable. 🙂

  4. I can tell you now that Diet Coke is my “wine”. It is a luxury, but one I wouldn’t be without. I’ll forgo alcohol, chocolate and other things to have it. The way I see it, I would rather buy them at 25p per can in the supermarket than have a massive craving and spend £1.20 in the shop across the road because I really want some coke!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *