Frugal Food: Fast and Free?

If we're going to talk about frugal food, then we have to have a shopping list and the first thing on that list has to be a good calculator.

There is a perception out there in the real world, and here on the net, too, that bigger is better. Sometimes that's true, sometimes it's not.

So that means that you need to do the math to find out what the best buy is, and it isn't always the cheapest per ounce. Cheap food may not be the best buy for your family.

The easiest way to compare prices is to read the price label on the shelf in front of the products. It will almost always have the 'per ounce/unit' price, which makes it easy to compare sizes and brands.

If the price label does not show a per unit price, then get out your calculator and simply divide the price by the size. This will give you a cost per ounce. Or maybe you can be a real frugal food shopper and compare the price per serving or use.

If you compare a 1 pound package of Keller's salted butter at $5.99 (37 cents/ounce) to Land O'Lakes Sweet Cream Butter at $6.75 (42 cents/ounce) it looks like the Keller's wins.

But what if you have a 50 cent coupon for the Land O'Lakes? Then we can calculate $6.75 -.50= $6.25 divided by 16 ounces or 39 cents an ounce. So the Keller's is still the best buy, so set that coupon aside for now.

In another example let's say that a 28 ounce bottle of Dawn dishwashing liquid costs $5.99. That works out to 21.4 cents an ounce. But wait, you have a 25 cent coupon for that product, so it really only costs 20.5 cents an ounce.

Of course, you could be shopping for the new Dawn foam liquid dish soap. They run $4.99 per 13.5 ounces or 36.9 cents/ounce. But...they claim that there are 250 pumps in a container, so the price per pump would be 1.9 cents each.

Now it's time to make a decision: should you buy the product that has lowest price per ounce or the one with the lowest price per use. You will have to use some common sense to figure out how many uses you get out of a 28 ounce bottle. (Hint: how often do you have to buy dish soap?)

Of course, until you try the foam and see if it will do the job you want it to on your dishes, you really can't judge.

A lot of what goes into being a frugal food shopper and consumer is common sense. It does not make good sense to buy a 50 pound bag of potatoes if you don't have someplace to store them. It also doesn't make sense to pay 75 cents a pound for Idaho #1 bakers when you're making stew. Buy a 3, 5 or 10 lb bag for 25-35 cents a pond.

Another area that requires some common sense is in

counting calories and exercise. It's not as easy to walk off that second helping of desert as you might think.

The next thing on your list is a string to tie to your finger to remind you to take the list with you when you go shopping.

You can decorate your fridge with a printable food pyramid to remind you of the portions of food that you need to be serving. This can act as a guide to your shopping list.

You also might want to explore the world of free grocery food coupons . If you end up with coupons that you don't need, such as the Land O'Lakes one above, maybe you can sell them on eBay.

Now that you've got your free coupons, and you know the amount needed from each food group, you can make up your list.

After you have your list made up and your coupons sorted, but before you go shopping, sit down and eat. If you go shopping on an empty stomach, you will spend more money.

Now you can be a penny-pinching food shopper, with your calculator, your list and your coupons. Sneak out of the house early in the morning, leaving everyone else home in bed. You will get your shopping done faster and cheaper by going alone and early in the morning.

If you would like to know when I update this site or add some more content, email me and I'll add you to my notification list.

One of my recommendations for being a frugal food shopper is that you subscribe to my free, weekly newsletter, which always contains a dozen or so of my various tips. (I do put in one ad at the bottom for you to ignore.)

There are several volumes of Non-Consumer tips and How To articles available here.
They contain many more frugal food hints.

Return from Frugal Food to The Frugal Non-Consumer