Cut up your own veggies and save $1,000 a year
In the kitchen, convenience usually means extra cost. A couple of minutes of prep work can bring substantial savings over time.
This post comes from Heidi McIndoo at partner site Living on the Cheap.
How many times have you grabbed a bag of baby carrots at the store instead of buying and cutting up full-sized ones? Or picked up a package of pre-shaped burgers instead of a pound of ground beef? While these pre-prepared foods may save you a few minutes here and there, the convenience may not be worth the expense.
Consider lettuce, as it’s so readily available in a variety of mixes in bags and pouches. Where I live, iceberg lettuce costs roughly $1 to $1.79 a head. One head makes five to six cups of chopped lettuce. The bags run about $2 each and provide roughly three cups of chopped lettuce, or the amount of half of one head.
If you eat the equivalent of a head per week, over the course of a year, buying and chopping up a head will cost you $50-$90, while the bagged stuff will run you more than $200.
Is the few minutes you save with the bags really worth it?
Perhaps you buy the bags because a whole head is too much for your household. You may want to consider investing in a vacuum food sealer, which can prolong the life of lettuce by several days if not a week or more.
If the lettuce savings aren’t worth your time, let’s talk about carrots. Baby carrots are great to snack on or throw in kids’ lunch boxes, but all that processing to turn big carrots into little ones has a price. A two-pound (32-ounce) bag of carrots is about $2.29 a bag while a 12-ounce bag of baby carrots is about $3.50. Peeling and cutting a few carrots really takes only a few minutes — five at the most. Let’s say you use two pounds of carrots per week. If you choose baby carrots, you’ll spend an extra $480 a year.
Kids, and many adults too, prefer to eat cut-up apples rather than whole. Those little bags of pre-cut apples are so convenient, right? And they’re less than $5 for a 12-ounce bag. I can get a pound of apples for $1 to $2. Buying two pounds a week and cutting them myself, which also takes just a couple of minutes, will cost between $50 and $100 a year. But buying the same amount of the pre-cut bags of apples gives the grocery store $620 in a year’s time.
The savings aren’t limited to the produce department. Those pre-made burgers are easy to throw on the grill, but a pound a week of them over a year will run you about $260. Buying a pound of ground beef each week to make your own burgers will cost just $150 over the same time. Plus, forming your own burgers also lets you add seasonings, cheese or any other ingredient you like.
If your family eats these foods regularly, buying them whole and taking a few minutes to prep them yourself will cost about $380 a year. But, if you choose to buy the pre-cut/pre-shaped foods, plan to spend about $1,190 over the year. Do it yourself and save a ton.
More from Living on the Cheap:
- 18 tips to save big on winter utility bills
- Make your own shampoo, plus other cheap natural solutions
- 6 ways to watch college football without cable
....while a 12-ounce bag of baby carrots is about $3.50
huh? Lady where do you shop for carrots, Neiman Marcus? A lb of baby carrots at Aldi's is 99 cents.
Another advantage of the frozen veggies is that they don''t go bad if you don't use them up in a short period.
Prepare everything from scratch, including the prep work (like peeling carrots, chopping apples, etc.) and you will save even more money.
When you're low on funds you shouldn't be thinking of convenience.
Use your time to save money.
Stop watching television and start preparing your own food from scratch.
Even a food savings of $20 a week x 52 weeks = $1,040 a year.
Problem is, I can't eat the 5# bag fast enough before they get all rubbery.
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