Last week we had a game night with a few friends. At the last minute we realized we didn’t have any non alcoholic beverages in the house, except for water and milk. I’m not sure what that says about us, but to solve the problem, Jeff went to the store to buy some iced tea. Now we usually buy this stuff when we’re on the road and one at a time, so we know we’re over paying. This must have been the first time we bought a six pack, and we definitely got sticker shock. A six pack of Pure Leaf Tea costs $9.89 at Safeway! A six pack of decent beer costs less.
When we’re at home, we usually make our own iced tea. If you set a pitcher outside in the sun on a warm day with a few bags in it, you get a lovely slow brewed batch. Using this method, we get as much iced tea as you would get with a Pure Leaf six pack for about $1.00. Whence our sticker shock. Now our method is even a little cheaper than you might think, because we buy our tea from the bulk bins. A box of Stash tea with 20 bags costs $3.59, or $0.18 per bag. We buy the same tea without the box for ten cents a bag from the bulk bins. In the case of Pure Leaf, we’re paying $8.89 for packaging, and maybe a little caché, and in the case of Stash tea, we’re paying $1.59 for packaging.
Tea is not the only place where you pay for packaging and/or processing. Recently I went to the store to pick up some Feta cheese and found that to buy it already crumbled was more than double the cost of an uncrumbled block. For that difference, I’m certainly capable of crumbling my own. Steel cut oatmeal, a staple at our house, costs $3.00 for a 24 oz package but less than a dollar for the same amount from the bulk bins. For really big savings, consider buying your spices from the bulk bins. They are a fraction of the cost of the name brand spices, and the best part is you can buy any amount that you want. If you are trying a new recipe with a spice you don’t have on hand, no need to commit money or space to a standard container. You can actually just buy a tablespoon or whatever it is you need.
American’s spend about ten percent of their disposable income on food, with two thirds of that spending at the grocery store. With the three specific examples I gave, ice tea, tea bags and oatmeal, I saved 75 percent. Actually Jeff saved 75 percent. He does most of the grocery shopping in our house. There are a wide variety of ways to save on groceries without clipping coupons (we never clip coupons), running around to different stores, or giving up your favorite foods. Sometimes, its as simple as looking for less packaging. Take a stroll through the bulk food isle at your favorite grocery store, and see what you can save.