Saving Money by Packaging Your Own Single-Serving Foods
In recent years a new snack trend has emerged: the 100-calorie snack bags. While convenient, these and other single serving snacks are not a good use of your money because what you’re paying for is much more convenience than it is the actual food. For the same price, you can often get two or three (and sometimes even more) times as much food and package it yourself. This is a great strategy for saving money on most all food, whether it’s snacks like cookies, crackers, fruits or vegetables, or more filling dishes, like meat and salads.
Buy a full-size package of your desired snack. Measure or count out your desired serving size, and put it in a bag, tupperware, or other container.
If you use coupons, you can save even more.
Get Big Savings Over the Course of the Week: Typical Lunch Savings
Below are some common products you might see in a typical lunch. I've included a typical price for the product on sale (I never try to never pay full price). I probably pay even less for these products, as I use coupons whenever possible, but for the sake of accessibility to someone just starting to save, I kept the prices to sales. (If you're interested in saving more using coupons, see my other hubs.)
Bag of Carrots: $1 or less per pound, or 25-33¢ per bag
Pre-packaged Individual Servings from the Store: 75¢ - $1
Savings: at least 42¢ per bag, at least $2.10/week
Fresh Fruit: 47¢-99¢ per pound, 16¢ to 75¢ per serving, depending on the fruit
Pre-packaged Individual Fresh Fruit Servings from the Store: $1.50-$3 per serving
Savings: at least 75¢ per serving, at least $3.75/week
Applesauce: $2.50 per jar, 21¢ per serving
Pre-Packaged Individual Applesauce Cups from the store: 42¢ per serving
Savings: at least 21¢ per serving, at least $1.05/week
Crackers: $3.00 per box, 25¢ per serving
Pre-Packaged Individual Servings (usually come in boxes of 6) from the store: at least 50¢ per serving
Savings: at least 25¢ per serving, at least $1.25/week
Chips: $3/bag, 20¢-30¢ per serving
Pre-Packaged Bags of Chips from the Store: 60¢ to $1 per serving
Savings: at least 30¢ per bag, at least $1.50/week
Lettuce: $1-$1.99/lb, 17¢-34¢ per serving
Pre-Prepared Bags of Lettuce at the Grocery Store: $2.50-$3.00 per bag, 83¢-$1 per serving
Pre-Made Salad from a Fast Food Restaurant: $5-$6 per serving
Savings: at least 49¢ per serving, at least $2.45/week
Chicken: $1.60/lb for frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts, 53¢to 80¢ per serving
Pre-Packaged, Pre-Cooked, Pre-Cut Chicken from the Grocery Store: $2.50-$3 per serving
Savings: at least $1.70 per serving, at least $8.50 per week
The Savings Adds Up
While each item only saves a bit each week, but it quickly adds up. If you use even three of these items each week, assuming even the cheapest ones, you save at least $3.80 each week. This doesn't sound like much, but if you consider the savings for an entire year, assuming the average 50-week work week, you would save $190! And that's just for the three cheapest items listed here. Assuming you were to enact this change with all items listed for you and/or other members of your family, you'd save $20.60 each week, which is $1030 per year! Little changes really do add up!
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