Why Do You Buy What You Buy?

I bought a crock pot. Jo is clapping right now.

We had a crock pot back in Canada. It was a gift, something I had asked for. I only had it for a few months before we moved overseas but I liked using it. I liked the ease of putting a meal on in the morning and having it ready at dinner.

Instead of buying one when we moved to the Isle of Man I improvised. I slow cooked roasts, soups and stews on our stove. The results were okay.

This is where I confess that I’ve been a dangerous cook. I would occasionally leave something simmering while I was out. This became a more dangerous habit when we moved to a home with a gas range.

I discussed the crock pot purchase at length with my husband. While my life isn’t that busy I still have demands and I still fill my days with work, housework, errands and activities with my son.

One thing that I spend quite a bit of time on is cooking. With our new little one arriving in January I know I’ll have a lot less time and energy to cook quality meals. My husband is already pitching in more on that front but he’ll only be off of work for two weeks once the baby is here. And there are 21 meals a week to get on the table.

I’ve yet to really buy anything for the new baby but I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how we’ll adjust to being a family of four. How we’ll manage feeding ourselves in the manner we’re used to and like: home cooked, mostly no grains, fresh vegetables and fruit and lean meats. Dark chocolate, thankfully, needs no preparation.

While no kitchen gadget can change your life, I think owning a crock pot can make life a bit easier and simplify meal preparation. Particularly when you have a reverse cycling newborn. And when your spouse has found a few meals everyone likes that he can easily prepare before heading to work.

So we bought a crock pot. It’s already made a very good Chicken Tortilla Soup. Our version was made without the tortillas, beans, corn or cheese. Instead we topped it with avocado and served with veggies and dip. Really good and really easy.

Why do you buy the things you buy?

How do you decide if a purchase is a want or a need? And if it’s a want how do you decide if it’s really worth it?

I made this hand dandy flow chart on how we decide on purchases in our household.

There is a whole other side to this on deciding what is a need and what is a want of course. And as you can see, we have some general cash savings that we access if it’s a need item like an emergency flight to Canada or a repair bill for our property in Vancouver. I know a lot of families don’t have that kind of cushion and have to rely on credit or loans for emergencies. We’re lucky to be in this position now that we are out of consumer debt.

Apologies for the huge picture.

 

 

How do you make purchasing decisions? Do you discuss it with a spouse, make a list and wait or do you generally just buy things as you need or want them?

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Comments

  1. Shayna says

    I’ll bet if you ask your readers, you will get a ton of crock pot recipe suggestions :)

    In the meantime, now less than 6 weeks away from when our baby is due, we’re on month 2 of a monthly dinner menu (lunches are usually leftovers from dinners and breakfasts are cereals/milk, leftovers, or I’ll make eggs/pancakes/waffles once or twice a week). It has saved us a ton of time and money–we still shop about once a week to keep our produce fresh and to restock on basics, but we have more time to plan to use up pantry, freezer and fridge items. We even have a template in place on how to adjust the menu if we have too many leftovers!

    I love cooking, so I do it most nights. But, like you said, with baby on the way this isn’t a realistic set-up. My hubby has started cooking 1-2x/week, and my eldest daughter, almost 13, has also taken over 1 night a week. She still often needs assistance, but when we menu plan she helps choose what she wants to learn to make or what she already knows how to make. It’s a relief now that I’m at the end and often exhausted by the end of the day!

    • theminimalistmom says

      We meal plan too and have a similar set-up with usual breakfast items (fruit, eggs, sauteed veggies) and then leftovers for lunch from the previous night’s meal. We also batch cook a few meals on Sunday and make things like mayonnaise and ghee. I like this because it gives me a bit of a break early in the week. I usually only have to get some vegetables steamed/roasted to complete the meal. Later in the week I try and get some dinner prep done early in the morning, either put the crock pot on or chop veggies, to make the evening cooking time easier.
      It’s all worth it for us. Healthy tasty meals cooked from scratch. But we’ll be taking some shortcuts when the new baby arrives.
      So nice to have a teenager to help in the kitchen :) Excited for that day. I cooked a lot for my family in my teens. Such a good skill to have.
      Good luck with the new baby. Wishing you good health! – Rachel

  2. Cheryl says

    I just read an article from Shannon Hayes on this topic and I really liked her line of reason and have started applying it to our purchases. First question: Can we make it ourselves? If the answer is no there are three questions: What is the environmental impact? Is it good for my neighbors (locally made/sold by a small locally owned business)? Is it important? If you can answer yet to at least two out of three the next question is: Can I afford it? Good stuff…

  3. Bridget says

    I like that e card!

    I typically cook a lot of quick meals. That’s a good thing because once I leave the kitchen, it’s completely out of mind. Anything on the stove would burn up for sure!

    I’ve tried to use the crock pot, but for some reason the long timeframe is counterintuitive for me. It’s much easier to whip up something at the last minute. I’ve developed what I like to call “Quick Fixes” — healthy food on the fly, using things I have on hand.

    For purchases, I pretty much follow your chart. Good one. Especially with larger purchases. I also have a wait period after purchasing. I keep the receipt and don’t take off the tags, in case I decide to return it.

  4. Amy says

    I love crockpot meals. When I had a ton of outside the home commitments I used it often. Ours died R months ago, but I haven’t replaced it yet. I am waiting until who knows what. I just don’t want to give it space in my kitchen yet.

  5. Megyn @MinimalistMommi says

    Since The Hubs generally tells me just to buy something if I want it, I tend to fly solo on the decision making process. If an item is over $10, I generally mull it over for awhile, even things we consider a “need”. For example, I really need to get mattress covers for the boys’ beds that cover the entire mattress (right now we just have small pads). In my mind, it’s not a true need, like food or shelter. However, they would definitely make my life MUCH easier since it would keep me from washing our 2 year old’s mattress every other week or so. Plus, it would save me clean up for the pukey moments (which I find the grossest/worst). I *almost* bought some off of Amazon for $30/per, but I told myself I should shop around at stores and check out Goodwill. None of that has happened, so I’m still trying to decide if I should just go with the well-reviewed, PVC-free, good ones on Amazon or still find time to head to 5 different stores. When it comes to situations like these, I tend to wait long enough that we go without. So I guess that’s my system: research, wait, research some more, and eventually decide you just don’t need it.

    • Jessica @ One Shiny Star says

      Just an FYI, some stores will do a price check for you if you call on the phone. When I am shopping for one specific item and my daughter is having a bad week I will just call around and find the store with the best price. Especially if you look up the item on the website – so you already have the item number. 30 minutes to hit up 5 different stores instead of an entire day!

  6. Deb says

    I didn’t do any research about a crock pot. I just wanted one, and my father, who is super generous, bought one for me. Unfortunately, it was a giant family size one that I just couldn’t use for my single self. I ended up gifting that big crock pot to my friend, who has a family and could make better use of the big pot, and then last week, my aunt gifted me a small crock pot she only used for holiday parties. I’m still learning to pare down the recipes to fit the smaller pot, but I made an inaugural batch of taco soup, which freezes really well.

  7. Laura says

    I have found a great blog and she does freezer cooking. mamaandbabylove.com she has an ecookbook out that gives the grocery list and the recipes. You just freeze them in one gallon freezer bags and when you need a quick solution for dinner you just pull it out and pop it in the crock pot. Easy.

  8. Michelle says

    Hi Rachel! I love your blog – your posts have given me pause on many occasions. My favourite kitchen gadget, by far, is the crockpot. After receiving one as a gift, I’m also a fan of my rice cooker, but it does take up cupboard space and could easily be replaced with a stove-top method.

    Also wanted to share the EASIEST crockpot recipe ever (I made it last night). Two (or more) chicken breasts, plus one jar of salsa. Set the crockpot on low for the day. Before eating, use a pair of forks to pull the chicken apart. So yummy! I’ve used it on top of quinoa and it’s awesome.

  9. Jo@simplybeingmum says

    I wouldn’t say ‘clapping’, rather a highland fling around the kitchen is a more apt description! :-)
    Boy slow cooking revolutionised my life – seriously, apart from having braces, one of the best decisions I ever made.
    Just yesterday I wrote the title to a planned post ‘Simply the best thing about Autumn’… which is… I can now legitably slow cook daily, without thinking ‘It’s Summer, is this strange?’…
    I’ve just rustled up part slow cooked pasties for dinner, and there’s a rogan josh planned for tomorrow. There’s soooo much you can do with one, it’s not just for slow cooking….but as you know I am a bit of a fan, I’ll stop there before I get carried away.

  10. Jill Foley says

    I know this post isn’t really about the crock pot, but it reminds me that each person’s necessary possessions will look different. When I first started de-cluttering I read many examples, suggestions if you will, of items people have but don’t use. The crock pot was always on that list. I use my crock pot. I love my crock pot. I can’t imagine life without it.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go get dinner ready in my crock pot : )

  11. EcoCatLady says

    My, that is quite the flow chart! I’m impressed at your organization.

    I’ve been at this frugal living thing for most of my life, so for me, it’s more of a process of having to talk myself into it if there’s something I think I might want to buy. I think the fact that I find both the shopping for and owing of most things to be such a massive pain in the rear helps. I learned ages ago that you can’t really buy your way out of problems, and whenever you bring a new thing into your life you run the risk of creating at least as many problems as you solve.

    I also find that need vs. want is not really the most helpful distinction for me. Because there are needs, then there are things you need to provide for your needs, and there are investments like tools that won’t necessarily pay off immediately but will in the long run. Plus when it comes to “wants” there are things that are true luxuries that really do give you enjoyment or make your life better, and then there’s just stupid stuff that we buy to pump up our mental pictures of ourselves. I try to avoid the stupid stuff altogether, and that seems to solve 90% of the problem!

    Congrats on the crock pot. I just cooked up a big batch of soup in mine overnight!

  12. Beth says

    I’m new to the simple living movement. I’m still in the selling and donating my stuff phase. I really use my crockpot to cook for my family. We all arrive home about 5 pm and starting dinner from scratch at that hour is too overwhelming.
    As for the message of delayed gratification, I need to work on it. I bookmarked your flow chart. Thank you!

  13. Maria says

    Want vs. Need…there are times when my emotions consider them one and the same thing. So before I make a big purchase – I study why do I think I “want” it, my emotional neediness at the time will often provide that answer. Being able to pay for it does not equate to being able to afford it, so I measure that too.
    I am a discerning shopper overall, but sometimes time is money. I will often buy a slightly more expensive item if it means I can have it faster, it’s better quality, and it saves me the time and trouble of racing around searching thinking I’ll find it cheaper elsewhere.
    If it’s not really a “need” – but will be something that I find useful (a pretty scarf to jazz up my neutral wardrobe); something pretty to look at for my home to feel / look more like a home; to save me time getting ready (a crock pot!), a high end pair of shoes that I was looking for but not planning to buy just yet and ended up finding the last pair in my hard to fit size and a stye I like; is it on my “list” of items I would like to have and haven’t found the version in person for the quality / brand / size I hope for; etc.
    To avoid impulse buying, or if the item is not a one-off – see if the item can be put on hold without a deposit, or if a deposit is required – make sure it is fully refundable if you change your mind. Putting a time frame to actually buy it – if you are still feeling it’s a good buy within that time, if you can truly afford it without risk, it will be used / functional, saves time / money, or if you honestly need a little treat that isn’t going to turn into clutter straight away – then why not?

  14. Nicola B says

    Unfortunately all of these glowing reviews of crockpots make me want to totally ignore the amazing flow chart and get a crock pot! (I think rather than PMS I have ‘wanting to buy stuff syndrome’ at the moment…)

  15. Jane says

    Whoa I can’t do crock pots. I fret incessantly while I’m away just knowing that the crock pot has erupted into violent flames & is consuming my house & pets. The last time I used a crock pot was the day I was coming home from work & was passed by no less than 3 fire trucks in my OWN neighborhood. I just knew my house had succombed to the crock pot & I immediately burst out in uncontrollable crying & hysteria. When I turned down my street, there were no fire trucks & my house was fine (the firetrucks were responding to a brushfire beyond my neighborhood but accessed thru my neighborhood).
    After that though, I still donated my crock pot & sighed a sigh of relief. I realize I am a world class 100% worrywort & there’s nothing I can do to change that (aside from ditching the crock pot). I don’t miss it….well it was handy yes…but giving me a near death experience is just not worth it.
    Otherwise…enjoy yours! ;)

    • Nicola B says

      Hmmm actually I would definitely worry about that. I have to go on fire courses with work sometimes and I end up worrying that I am going to get home to a fire and dead pets.

      I’m normally fairly chilled out, but not about that!!

  16. Jessica in Canada says

    I’m not sure why I can’t comment…maybe because I included a website. Anyway, google “crockpot 365″; it is the best crockpot recipe site ever! Our favourites are fajitas, black bean soup, and tamale pie.

  17. rachel says

    Love the flow chart. My problem is not big items, but those little things 10 dollars or under that I pick up. Things that helps me clean, look better, makes life easier. Funny how these things really do none of this and get wasted. I have to really stop buying little purchases, because before you know it, it has added up to $100s of dollars in a month.

  18. Katie says

    Love my crockpot. We use it several times per week! I tend to mull over purchases. Also, I satisfy my “wants” with the needs-ie if I need shoes I’ll spend weeks or months considering what type I want.

  19. Jasi says

    Slow cookers are aaaamazing. You can prepare a lot of meals by chopping veggies, mixing sauces and trimming meat all in advance and then freeze in zip bags. Some recipes are sketchy, imho, and require lots of “cream” of somethinges. Pass on these and go for simple, rich flavorings (soy, balsamic, tomato paste, red wine) that go well with a basic starch. Good luck.

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