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 your own carrots to save money.
Bag your own carrots to save money. | Source

Carrots

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 (whole or packaged yourself, like with the grapes) is much cheaper than the prepackaged fresh fruit from the store.
Fresh Fruit (whole or packaged yourself, like with the grapes) is much cheaper than the prepackaged fresh fruit from the store. | Source

Fresh Fruit

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

Fill small cups with applesauce, which is half the cost of pre-packaged applesauce.
Fill small cups with applesauce, which is half the cost of pre-packaged applesauce. | Source

Applesauce

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

Bag up your own crackers.
Bag up your own crackers. | Source

Crackers

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

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

Save big money making your own salads.
Save big money making your own salads. | Source

Salad

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

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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