Even $5 a week savings on a grocery bill is $260 a year. And you can pretty much bet that there are many examples of how we waste that amount of money each week without even realizing it or thinking about it.
So the totals for unnecessary spending can be many hundreds or even thousands of dollars over the course of a year, and certainly over several years.
In other words, it pays to sweat the small stuff when it comes to our budgets.
So, here’s a money-saving tip on one food item most families buy regularly that has the potential to put quite a lot of money back in your pocket. And in the bargain, it can also help you maintain your waistline.
As I’ve also written about before, cold cuts are somewhat of a luxury and not really a healthy choice for your regular menus. But you can at least reduce their impact on your budget by avoiding the section of the store where they are typically most expensive.
Now I want to talk a little about getting the most bang for your buck when it comes to cheese. If you're at all like my household, you use quite a bit of it in your regular weekly menus. So over the course of a year, it's a significant part of our grocery bill.
By the way, when I mention cheese, I mean real cheese, not the processed American type that passes for cheese in many U.S. households, but actually contains only 51% actual cheese – or even less.
When I was growing up, Mom used to buy American cheese by the 3-pound package for our big family, but if I were to hazard a guess, I’d say that in those days it was actually 100% cheese.
While that kind of cheese food won’t kill you, I recommend sticking to the real thing as much as possible. And it’s also a good idea to accustom our children to the taste of authentic food, rather than the processed variety, since it will help set them up for a healthier life.
So there’s also that to consider if you have offspring.
Buying it like this can typically offer significant savings over any sliced options of real cheese, as in the examples in the pictures above. (This is not 100% the case, since you’ll sometimes catch a sale for sliced, real cheese that makes it a better buy. That’s why you should always check the store flyers and the unit price when you shop.)
Of course, when you buy cheese in brick form, it has to be sliced or grated for use in our meals. That’s an easy thing to do and well worth the typical savings of $2-3 per pound for doing this tiny bit of labor for yourself.
That means extra expense and larger-than-necessary servings that are more than a portion size. A portion of cheese is actually quite small, after all.
On top of that, there's the fact that a thick slice of this type of cheese takes much longer to melt on a burger or in a grilled sandwich, too.
The solution is to use a cheese plane instead, such as those pictured below.
These handy little gadgets slice the cheese much more thinly, so you get the flavor and nutrition of the cheese without unneeded calories or extra expense. As I've mentioned in at least one previous blog, portion control is a necessary part of any healthy diet and weight control.
But as you can see in the photographs, portion control and the cheese plane method of slicing cheese also pay dividends by getting you much more mileage out of a pound of cheese.
Little, frugal habits like this one help us to economize since they are often painless and easy to follow. As with most habits of thrift, it’s a small thing by itself, but the savings in calories and money all add up over time, particularly if you have a family, or eat a lot of cheese.
So give it a try the next time you make yourself a burger or a cheese sandwich. Take care of the pennies, and the dollars will take care of themselves.