Let the Buyer Beware

Breaded Chicken Breast on a plateGrocery and discount stores like to promote groups of different products for the same price (i.e. mix and match for a $1.00).  Some are good buys, some are the regular price, and sometimes they are more.

Last week this picture and ad caught my attention. It looked good.  I wondered how they did the breading and if the chicken was baked or fried.

A closer look told me that the store is really selling raw chicken breast that has been marinated.  The chicken will not be cut in strips and it will not have breading. It will have some marinade on it. The cost is $2.67 a pound.  Here is how I figured the cost. 

10-6 ounce breasts = 60 ounces or 3.75 pounds (60 ounces ÷ 16 ounces in a pound = 3.75 pounds) $10.00 ÷ 3.75 pounds = $2.67 a pound.

Another store has boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $1.79 a pound.   I think I will buy them and save about $0.90 a pound.  I will use a little Italian dressing for the marinade. 

–pointers from Peggy

Online calculator estimates food cost for your family

Every January I spend some time reviewing my finances and getting things organized. I figure my net worth and see how much I have spent for food, clothes, recreation, etc. and develop a budget. One of the items I watch is how much I am spending on food both at home and eating out.

Are you setting up a spending plan for your family or wondering if what you spend on food is reasonable for a family your size? If so, you can find out what the USDA’s Low-cost Food Plan would estimate for your family on the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. web page. Our online calculator will do the math for you. You will need the age, gender, and number of meals eaten away from home for each person. When you get your results, remember that this is just the cost of food. It doesn’t include pet food, personal care, paper goods, etc. that you buy at the grocery store.

If you would like to lower what you spend on food, there are hundreds of tips on how to provide nutritious meals for your family and spend less on the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. site. If you have specific questions, just leave a comment and we will get back to you.

-pointers by Peggy

Top 3 Tips to Spend Less Time in the Grocery Store

My objective when going to the grocery store is to spend the least amount of time possible in the store, yet get everything I need, eliminating the need for a special trip later. (Research shows that the more time you spend in the grocery store, the more money you spend.) I usually end up going every week to 10 days, depending on how many meals I am cooking at home. My tips are below:      

  1. Go when it is not crowded. It takes less time and the shelves are usually well stocked. Five o’clock at the end of the week is the worst time. Saturdays are also bad. Early morning and late at night are usually good times. My sister goes after line dancing which gets over at 7:30 p.m. The other sister sends her husband with a list at 7:00 a.m. on Sunday morning.
  2. Shop at the same stores. This way you don’t spend time searching. I regularly shop at two different chain stores. One store is less expensive, but doesn’t have everything I buy. I shop there when my other store doesn’t have many items I want on sale.
  3. Make your list according to the layout of the store. That way you just go down the list in order and don’t have to crisscross the store (taking more time, more chance to forget something, and more temptation  to buy things you don’t need). I make my list on an envelope and stick any coupons I want to use inside. I write both the item and the price on the list.  If it is on sale, I write S. If I have a coupon, I write C. Sometimes I don’t buy the brand on sale or use the coupon because I check the other brands and compare prices on the spot, looking at my list with the price.
    coupons

If you have tips that work for you, I would love to hear about them. Just hit the comment section and send a note.

-pointers by Peggy

Am I spending too much on groceries? Part II

As I mentioned earlier, my sister asked me if she was spending too much at the grocery store, and I offered to take a look at her grocery receipts. 

The first thing I did was use the figure your food dollar calculator to come up with an estimate for her family: $150.53 a week or $653.26 per month. My sister and her husband take their lunches to work, and other than school lunches for the kids, they only eat out about 2 meals a week. This makes their cost of food at home a little higher, but saves on the overall budget.

Next, I added up the food and non-food items on all the receipts. Sometimes the receipts listed the amount spent on non-food items; for others, I had to figure the amount of non-food purchases by dividing the tax charged by the tax rate. (If the tax charged was $2.33 and the tax rate was 6%, the math is $2.33/.06 = $38.83 of taxable items.)

Surprisingly, over 30% of the money spent at the store was for non-food items. This included soft drinks, cleaning products, personal items such as shampoo and rinse, paper towels, toilet tissue, wine, etc. Just looking at the total spent at the grocery store gives you a false reading on grocery costs. My first suggestion is to compare prices of non-food items at warehouse type stores (like Sam’s or Costco) and discount stores (like Target, Kmart, Walmart, etc.) and stock up on items instead of buying them at the grocery store.

DATE
STORE
TAXABLE+TAX
FOOD
2
HyVee
$22.95
$85.92
2
Target
$38.04
$39.64
5
Fareway
$21.67
$69.78
8
HyVee
$27.07
$50.95
13
Dahls
$59.89
$151.90
17
HyVee
$43.62
$114.25
18
HyVee
$12.48
$27.48
24
Target
$60.97
$111.38
Total
$937.99
$286.69
$651.30
Percentage
31%
69%

Next time, I will share four other suggestions I gave my sister.  Feel free to share your tips with us.

-pointers from Peggy

Am I spending too much at the grocery store?

Last fall my sister asked me how much I thought she should be spending on groceries (it turns out her husband thought she was spending too much).

That’s a really hard one to answer; and, I sure didn’t want to get in the middle of an argument. Spending on food varies because of many factors including values and resources (time, money and skills).

I recommended my sister get on the Internet and Google “Cost of Food at Home.” I told her to check out the USDA Food Plans and see how what she was spending compared. I also agreed to look at her grocery receipts to see if I could suggest ways to save (more on that in a later posting).

If you would like to get an estimate of USDA’s Low-cost Plan, we have an online calculator that will do the math for you. Check out figure your food dollar on our Spend Smart. Eat Smart. web page. You will need the age, gender and number of meals eaten away from home for each person.

– pointers by Peggy

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