Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Saving money at the grocery store doesn’t necessarily mean making drastic life changes or eating different foods. Sometimes the first step is as simple as just being aware of the true cost of what you’re buying. Many of us are under the mistaken assumption that we save so much time in our busy lives by buying products that are ready to eat. Pre-washed, pre-chopped, and serving size packages are all the rage with our busy lifestyles but are they really worth the extra cost? A lot of what we pay for isn’t just the product, it’s the expense of someone taking an extra step in the preparation of the food. It’s usually a step that we could easily take ourselves with just a few extra minutes. So let’s take a look at a few examples so you can decide for yourself if it’s really worth it.
You know those handy pre washed bags of lettuce setting in the produce aisles? Most people still take the extra precaution of washing them before eating because of the e-coli scares in the past. So really, the only convenience in that bag of lettuce is that someone has already chopped it up for you. How hard or time consuming would that be to do yourself? Maybe this piece of information will help you decide. A 15 ounce bag of pre-chopped Romaine lettuce costs approximately $2.68. The equivalent bought in it’s original form costs approximately $1.26, less than half the price. I’d be willing to take 60 seconds to cut my own bite size chunks if I could save over 50%.
Aren’t those little baby carrots cute? Those were the idea of California farmer MikeYurosek who was tired of seeing the carrots that were too knobby, twisted, bent or broken, get wasted. Instead he cut them into 2-inch sections, pumped them through water-filled pipes into whirling cement-mixer-size peelers and whittled them down to the bite size bits Americans love to eat. So in essence we are paying someone else to peel our carrots and make them look pretty and uniform all for a jacked up price. A one pound bag of baby carrots costs $1.38. A one pound bag of regular size carrots costs 49 cents. I’m willing to take 5 extra minutes to peel them, chop them and keep them in the fridge for a quick snack during the week at a nearly 2/3 savings.
A 2 pound block of medium cheddar cheese costs $4.48 . The equivalent of pre-grated medium cheddar costs $7.00, a mark up more than $2.50. If you have a food processor with a grating attachment this is a matter of 60 seconds to grate it yourself. If you’re using an old fashioned hand grater it might cost 5 minutes of your time. If you’re afraid that much cheese might go bad before you use it, it can easily be frozen. Place the grated cheese in freezer bags and store up to 6 months. Thaw in the refrigerator when ready to use. The freezing might slightly change the texture of your cheese but the flavor is still there and if you’re using it in cooking you won’t notice the difference.
These are just a few examples of simple ways that you can save at the grocery store. My hope is that next time you’re filling your grocery cart you’ll take a second look at the package your tossing in and ask yourself, “Could I have done that myself?” When that becomes second nature you’ll be well on your way to a slimmer grocery bill and some extra cash in your pocket.