Cost Savers

Pennies Add UpWhile at the grocery last night, I made the suggestion to my better half that we get cream cheese in a box versus that in the container and save a little bit in the process by simply using our own container when we get home.  The idea carries over to a few other grocery items.  While I will fully admit none of them are going to amount to huge savings individually, if you add all of them up together it can result in some fairly significant savings, especially over a years time.  And in this current economy, who could not use that?

First, let me be clear.  Some of these ideas we use regularly and with a lot of gusto.  A couple of these ideas are not something that we have practiced recently, but I know they work at some level having used them in the past in some form or another.   Before I get into the specifics though, lets talk about store brand versus the leading national brand.  I agree if there is a difference in the two that you can not abide by then by all means stick with the national brand.  However, give the store brand a try.  A lot of store brands are packaged and made at the same facilities that make some of the national brands (I know of both a sausage place and peanut but place that both ran three product lines in the same equipment).  If you can’t find a discernible difference  in the two why pay extra?  This will lead to several dollars of savings on a typical grocery trip.

Moving along, lets start with cream cheese, as this is the one that got me to thinking.  We had the choice of the national brand in a box, in a plastic tub, the store brand also in a box and in a tub.  The prices were $1.98, $1.58, $.99, and 1.49, respectively – all of which contained the same net weight.  Oh, and we could have went with a national whipped for around the $1.60 mark, but they whip in air, give you a larger container and smaller net weight.  Having had both before, I can not tell a difference, so we opted for the box and putting the cream cheese in our own container – of which we have several.  Savings of somewhere between $.51 and $1.00 – without a coupon.  Additionally I think the cardboard container is better than the plastic from a green living perspective (though both are recyclable, the cardboard is also biodegradable and not made from a petroleum base).

We also purchased some chicken last night.  I will mention that here, both of us realize the frozen chicken breast and such are general cheaper by the pound, especially when on sale.  However, they also have a LOT of added water and cook a lot of that out, especially if grilling or similar.  Additionally, I will give a definite edge to the fresher chicken (even if home frozen later) over the flash frozen water filled stuff in the taste department.  That being said, we got chicken for two meals and split the pack into containers at home.  This tactic is always good on most of the meats as family packs and the like are always a good deal cheaper by the pound.

Not something we practiced last night, but hind site says we should have.  Lately we have been on a bit of a yogurt kick.  We have been purchasing the little individual containers, which are indeed cheap enough – especially in the story brands.  However, I know from past experience buying plain or vanilla yogurt in bulk and adding fruit or especially a grain based cereal is a lot less costly.  Besides a good granola crunch in lightly sweet vanilla yogurt is hard to beat as a snack and if put in much before consumption it will be soggy.  Clearly this is a bit of effort and requires a few dish like containers, but that is something we have.

Last cheaper grocery bill is on water.  We sometime purchase spring or distilled water and sometimes not.  The big issue is I think I must just not like chlorine and our municipal water has a LOT of it.  I can drink it sometimes on ice with a big splash of lemon juice but generally I would prefer not too.  Which is a shame, as I prefer water anyway second only to coffee.  Last week, when heading out for the state fair we decided to get some water.  Instead of buying the case of twelve bottles for almost $3.00 I got the gallon jug for $.78, which had nearly the same volume and actually fit in the cooler better.