July 14, 2008

Freeze Out Higher Costs of Grocery Items


Buying in bulk is another way to stretch food dollars

With gasoline about 20 cents shy of $4 a gallon, we can't afford to drive to the grocery store -- let alone shop there after we arrive.

But you can still eat healthy and cheap, especially if you have a freezer and an eye for bulk-buying bargains, says Volume 1, Issue 1 of the Oklahoma State University Extension Service's new monthly bulletin, "Consumer Sense." See "Consumer Sense" at www.tulsaworld.com/consumersense and click on "consumer sense."

Bulk buying: Charlotte Richert, OSU Extension family and consumer sciences educator, writes about stretching the grocery budget by stocking up on staples such as beans, brown rice, oatmeal and barley. Avoid paying for individual-portion, prepackaged foods that are high in cost, starch and sugar but low in nutrients. You pay extra for manufacturers to package single servings for you -- buy in bulk and cook in bulk to cut out the middleman.

Grocery ads: Check the grocery sale ads when preparing the week's menu and build your shopping list around it. Resist the urge to "just get pizza" and force yourself to save money by doing your own cooking and saving the leftovers for other meals. Suggested menus are also available within the bulletin's site through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's MyPyramid Plan Web site.

Daily bread: "The Dietary Guidelines for Americans," published every five years by the USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services, features a daily maintenance diet for adults of 2,400 calories; including 8 ounces of grains, 3 cups of vegetables, 2 cups of fruits, 3 cups of milk or milk products and 6.5 ounces of meat and beans. The "healthy diet" is one that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products. It also includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts and is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium) and added sugars.

Meat: Watch for meat sales to get your family's daily protein requirement for 15 cents per ounce or less. Early in May, Reasor's Food Stores had a "USDA Choice" bulk meat sale: top sirloin in 14- pound chunks was $3.27 per pound ($1.32 for a 6.5-ounce serving); whole boneless beef chuck in 30-pound bundles at $2.27 per pound (92 cents per serving); boneless brisket in 11-pound chunks for $1.39 per pound (56 cents per serving) and 15 pounds of ground chuck for $1.87 per pound (76 cents per serving). Other good protein sources that are occasionally on sale are eggs and cottage cheese.

Fruits and vegetables: OSU Extension's Sue Gray suggests buying in-season produce: bright and crisp greens, firm shiny apples and pears, cantaloupe that is slightly firm and smells like cantaloupe, dark green cucumbers, etc. Watch the ads and stock up on one-pound bags of frozen vegetables -- these last for a year in the freezer and are of better quality than trucked-in vegetables. Great sources of potassium are sweet potatoes, white potatoes, white beans, tomato products, beet greens, soybeans, lima beans, winter squash, spinach, lentils, kidney beans and split peas -- all cheap to buy in bulk.Freezer: A quick Internet search turned up a 16.7-cubic-foot upright Frigidaire freezer for $495 and a 7.2-cubic-foot chest-type Frigidaire freezer for $180.

Consumer Page topics:Tulsa World consumer writer Phil Mulkins wants to know which topics interest you most. Call 699-8888 or e- mail your interest to [email protected] or mail it to Tulsa World Consumer, PO Box 1770, Tulsa OK 74102-1770.


Originally published by PHIL MULKINS World Staff Writer.

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