ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Make Ingredients Count: Get Your Money's Worth for Your Groceries

Updated on September 4, 2011

For most Americans, food is second only to housing on their list of expenses. Many Americans spend much more than they need to on groceries. Just making a commitment to cooking will save you a bundle versus eating out and relying on expensive packaged prepared foods like frozen meals and pizza.

One of the most expensive components of most grocery bills isn't even edible; it's the packaging. If you replace glass spice jars every time you run out of oregano or parsley and purchase a new colorfully rustic sack every time you pick up basmati rice you're wasting your money.

Overbuying and throwing out spoiled, unconsumed food is clearly wasteful, but few consumers ask themselves whether they will actually use everything they buy. If you commit to cooking (even occasionally), you can avoid getting nickeled and dimed by paying attention to a few simple pieces of shopping advice:

  1. Packaging frequently costs as much or more than the food contents. Buying just the amount you need of spices, nuts, beans and many grains in bulk can save you a bundle – your re-sealable containers quickly pay for themselves. Find your local food coops, they cater to selling in bulk.
  2. Products shelved at eye level may have paid extra for that privilege, an expense manufacturers will certainly pass on to you.
  3. Generic or store brand products often come from the same facilities as brand names. You may need to experiment.
  4. Buy fruits and vegetables that are in season. With globalization this is getting harder to know. When there’s snow where you live, fruit will be expensive and/or of low quality. Most people know when gas prices are high; this has a big impact on producer and shipping costs, so local is good.
  5. Large or “Economy size” quantities are no bargain if you end up throwing out spoiled or unwanted food.
  6. The more the butcher does, the more the meat costs, but butchers are professionals. If you try to save by buying a whole chicken versus a skinless, boneless breast, you will not only get more meat, but more waste, and you won’t save anything if you hack it up so badly that you throw a lot of meat away.
  7. Most discounted produce or meat has reached its “sell-by” date. If you know it will be consumed immediately, it may be worthwhile otherwise you’ll probably waste your money.
  8. Beans in cans are heavy and expensive. If you cook with beans, learn the quick soak/cook method. It’s not that quick, but if you start a batch before heading to the store, you won’t have to drag back a can that costs four times what dried beans cost. A rice cooker can safely cook beans and use little energy.
  9. Buy spices in bulk from neighborhood food cooperatives or ethnic groceries. If you don’t know where to find a local coop, check out http://www.coopdirectory.org/

Source

Meat & Produce Shopping Hints

When buying certain types of meat and produce here are some things to look for:

  • Onions and garlic should be firm. If there are more layers of paper-like skin, there is more waste.
  • Consider buying one or two ripe bananas and one or two green bananas for later – don’t be afraid to separate bunches in the store to mix and match for your own needs.
  • Large carrots tend to be “woody” and undesirable, very small carrots have a high ratio of peel to useful vegetable. Aim for medium size or pay for “baby” carrots.
  • Check the dates on all dairy products and don’t be embarrassed to hunt for the furthest out.
  • Tomatoes and pears are rarely seen in stores perfectly ripe. You’ll probably need to bring them home and allow them to ripen in a window. Neither should be refrigerated whole.
  • Smell, texture, and weight indicate ripeness of fruits: cantelope buttons and tomatoes’ skin should give. Tomatoes should have an earthy smell.
  • Americans strongly prefer the white meat of chicken and turkey despite the fact that their low fat content makes them quite bland. Because of that strong preference, chicken and turkey breasts are priced at a premium. Try replacing expensive breastmeat with more flavorful thighs, drumsticks or even wings whenever possible.
  • The most tender cuts of beef are the most expensive. Any "prime" grade cut will cost you dearly, and "choice" grade cuts are not much cheaper. Even if you buy exclusively "select", you aren't necessarily relegated to tough meats. You should still look closely for marbling (the white flecks of fat), and there is much you can do in preparation to ensure a delightfully tender dish, e.g. slow and moist cooking for chuck roasts, manually tenderizing flank steaks and thinly slicing sirloin steaks.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)