Shredded, sliced, or string cheese: Which one is a better buy?

Last week I wrote about our new video on unit pricing and how the unit price calculator on our app can help save you money. This week I want to share how I use the unit price calculator to help me determine the best buy on different forms of cheese.

My family loves cheese. Shredded cheese, sliced cheese, string cheese. We like it all. Cheese can be one of the higher priced items on my grocery list so I always try to buy it when it’s on sale. This week I decided to use the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. unit price calculator on my phone to determine the unit price for each of the different forms of cheese I usually buy. This is what I found.

 

Form Total Price Size Unit Price (price per ounce)
Shredded 1.99 (on sale) 8 ounces 25 cents
Slices 2.89 8 ounces 36 cents
String 3.79 10 ounces 38 cents

Shredded cheese is what we use the most, so I was glad to see that it had the best unit price. Since shredded cheese freezes well and it was a good price, I bought a few extra bags for later use. Often, the whole block of cheese has a lower unit price, but for my needs, I prefer the convenience of the pre-shredded cheese and I am willing to pay a bit more for it. We use sliced cheese for sandwiches and snacks. I planned ham and cheese sandwiches for a quick supper on one of our busy nights this week, so I did buy a packet of the sliced cheese as well. We use string cheese for snacks, but this week I decided to not buy any since we had the sliced cheese that could be used for a snack as well.

Next week Christine will share with you how she uses unit pricing to help her determine the best buy based on package size.

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood is a Registered Dietitian who enjoys spending time in the kitchen baking and preparing meals for her family. She does lots of meal planning to stay organized and feed her family nutritious meals.

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Cheesy Chicken Casserole

Our February recipe of the month is Cheesy Chicken Casserole.  This recipe is an easy, tasty, and nutritious one dish meal.

Some of my favorite dinners to make are one dish meals.  All the ingredients come together in one pot, skillet, baking dish, or slow cooker.  Homemade one dish meals are my favorites because: 

  • They are often nutritious.  One dish meals typically contain three or four food groups (vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy).
  • They are often flexible allowing you to use different types of veggies, proteins or grain foods based on what you enjoy and what you have on hand.
  • They are easy to clean up.  One dish meals do not dirty a lot of dishes.
  • They are easy to prepare.
  • They are less expensive than boxed or frozen one dish meals.

Make Cheesy Chicken Casserole your own by changing up the protein and the vegetables.  You can adjust this recipe based on the foods you have on hand.

Enjoy!

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

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Sausage and Vegetable Skillet

Sausage and Vegetable SkilletOur July recipe of the month is Sausage and Vegetable Skillet. This is a delicious way to use all of your fresh summer vegetables. Whether you get your vegetables from the grocery store, produce stand, farmers market, or garden they will taste great in this recipe. Some summer vegetables that would work well in this recipe are tomatoes, zucchini, corn, and peppers.

Start by cooking brown rice according to the package directions. While that is going, you can cook your sausage. After the sausage is cooked, set it aside on a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Then the vegetables! Cut them up into bite sized pieces and sauté them until they are tender. Add in the rice, sausage, and some cheese and you have a meal.

My family likes to eat this skillet as is, but I like to take it up a notch. I cut the top off a couple of tomatoes, scoop out the seeds, and re-fill the tomato with the cooked skillet ingredients. Then I bake it in the oven for 10 minutes for a delicious stuffed tomato.

Enjoy!

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

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Potato Recipes: Healthy, Cheap and Tasty

Do not forget about potatoes when you are looking for a healthy and cheap meal that will fill you up.  I especially like baked and roasted potatoes and try to cook extra so I have a good start for another meal later in the week.

This month’s featured recipe is Loaded Potato Soup.  When you use already-cooked potatoes, you can have this soup on the table in less than 15 minutes.  The recipe calls for peas, but you can substitute other frozen vegetables such as corn, broccoli or mixed vegetables.

The key to this soup and other great potatoes is to BAKE them.  Do not steam them by wrapping them in foil to bake in the oven or paper towels in the microwave.  Check out our video for step by step directions for the Best Baked Potatoes.

Loaded Potato Soup

Ingredients

  • 4 Best Baked Potatoes or 1 1/2 pounds potatoes, cooked
  • 1 tablespoon tub margarine
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper (optional)
  • 2 cups Homemade Chicken Broth, or one 14.5-ounce can low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup nonfat milk
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 slices (3 ounces) American cheese
  • Optional garnishes: Sliced green onion, bacon bits, and/or shredded cheese

Instructions

  1. Remove skins and mash potatoes into small pieces to make about 3 cups; set aside.
  2. Melt margarine in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in onion and green pepper, if desired. Cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the broth and heat to a boil. Stir in milk, potatoes, peas, and pepper; heat through, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the cheese slices, cooking and stirring about 2 minutes until cheese melts. Add more milk if soup is thicker than you prefer.
  5. Add garnishes, if desired, and serve immediately.

 

Shopping Myths Busted

I recently went grocery shopping with my daughter. She needed shredded cheddar cheese and planned to buy the brick of cheddar cheese and shred it herself. As we looked at cheese prices, we discovered that the shredded cheese was not any more expensive than the brick cheese. Here are the cheese prices we found for a store brand cheese:

8 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese = $1.78 = $.222 per ounce
16 ounces (1 pound)  of shredded cheddar = $3.94 = $.246 per ounce

16 ounce (1 pound) brick of cheddar = $4.18 = $.261 per ounce
32 ounce (2 pounds) brick of cheddar = $7.18 = $.224 per ounce

We were surprised to discover that the smallest package (8 ounces) of shredded cheese was actually the cheapest when you looked at the unit price. I guess you might say we “busted two shopping myths.”

Myth 1: Pre-shredded cheese is more expensive. You can save money by shredding it yourself.

BUSTED! My daughter saved time and money by buying the pre-shredded.

Myth 2: Buying in bulk is less expensive.

BUSTED! In this case, the larger quantity of the pre-shredded cheese was more expensive. The larger quantity of the brick cheese was less…but still not quite as cheap as the 8-ounce package of shredded (which was the quantity my daughter wanted).

Bottom line: Don’t make assumptions! Check the unit prices to really find the best deal!

Find more dairy shopping tips on the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. Web site.

-contributed by Renee Sweers

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