October 11, 2008

What is in Your Child’s Lunchbox?

Are you spending too much money on your child's school lunch? Many parents will have to change their food-buying habits to reduce their costs, according to The Associated Press.

Rising costs of food and smaller packaging are forcing many parents to stretch their food budgets.

As companies deal with higher costs for key ingredients - corn, wheat, soybeans and other products - they're passing on these extra costs to consumers.

In the United States, retail food prices rose about 6 percent this year. The Associated Press reports that Kraft Foods Inc., Sara Lee Corp. and Hormel Foods Corp. are among the companies that have increased their prices as production costs reduce their profits.

As consumers struggle to cut costs, they must face shrinking products in the supermarket.

Some companies are reducing the size of jars of peanut butter or packages of deli meat - but the prices aren't decreasing.

Some stores, such as Save-A-Lot, are advising parents about low- cost meals that parents can make for school lunches, such as deli slices wrapped in tortillas that cost about $1 per serving, AP reports.

Here are some tips for saving money on your child's lunch

1. Prepare home-packed snacks, such as chips or crackers, rather than buying packaged ones.

2. If your child eats light, anyway, prepare half a sandwich instead of a whole sandwich. This reduces the amount of wasted food.

3. Reduce the number of treats, such as cookies, and replace them with lower-cost, more healthful options.

4. Pack milk from home in your child's lunch box, rather than paying for it at school.

5. If you're running low on meal ideas, find inexpensive ideas on the Internet or from grocery stores or magazines.


In case you missed The Pinch last week, here are some highlights:

ALDI is Coming: ALDI, a discount grocery store with 900 stores in 28 states, is opening a store in Aiken.

This store sells mostly private label brands, which are sold only at ALDI stores.

The store's relationship with suppliers allows the chain to negotiate prices and provide savings to customers, according to its Web site.

ALDI occasionally sells national brands as "special purchases" or limited-time offers, which are available only while supplies last.

To cut costs, ALDI requires customers to pay 25 cents to use a shopping cart. The system reduces the labor of collecting carts left in parking lots and allows the store to pass on savings to consumers, the store reports.

ALDI asks customers to bring their own bags or buy the store's paper, plastic or insulated bags. \

More Savings for Seniors: If you're a senior citizen, several fast-food restaurants want to offer you a discount. Don't pass up these extra savings at the cash register:

* McDonald's, at 2902 Washington Road, offers a senior coffee or a small soft drink for 60 cents every day.

* At Burger King, seniors can buy a soft drink or coffee for 50 cents with the purchase of a sandwich.

* Senior citizens receive a 10 percent discount every day at Checkers. Customers must be 62 or older to receive the discount.

* Taco Bell gives senior citizens a 10 percent discount every day. Seniors at this restaurant are 55 years or older.

\ Trade in Old Furniture at La-Z-Boy: Tired of looking at that same sofa?

You can trade in your old, gently used furniture for store credit at La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries.

The items will also help a charity - the Augusta Urban Ministries.

La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries is holding its annual Trade-in Sale, which ends Nov. 3.

With their furniture trade-in, customers will gain credit toward new furniture at La-Z-Boy.

They will receive a trade-in value of $150 for any new chair and $250 for a new sofa.

Augusta Urban Ministries will receive the furniture as a donation from La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries.

During the trade-in sale, La-Z-Boy will offer this furniture discount in return for a donation of a check of $25 or more, written to the charity of the customer's choice.

La-Z-Boy will collect the donations and forward them directly to the charities.

Reach LaTina Emerson at (706) 823-3227

or [email protected]

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