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The True Secret of Grocery Savings

What is the true secret of grocery savings is managing your own kitchen. To paraphrase the late cartoon character, Pogo, �We�ve met the enemy and he is us. That is why I�ve made a strong emphasis in the book about menu planning, recipes, and the price book.

I want to first look at chocolate chip cookies. I�ll give you a recipe for scratch chocolate chip (see recipe section). Then there are the refrigerated cookie dough, the store-bought cookies, and bakery cookies. The prices, to insure some standardization, I�ve used regular prices.

First lets look at scratch chocolate chip cookies. Making the five-dozen cookies, it will cost you around $5, which comes to $0.083 a cookie. (Again, I figured the ingredients at regular store prices.) Next, I want to check the refrigerator cookie dough products. I�m looking at $0.185 per cookies. So the scratch cookies saves us about 10 cents a cookie. Package cookies are about $0.208 per cookie and bakery cookies are $0.33 to $0.50 a cookie.

Time is an issue; I don�t have time to bake scratch cookies. This is a very legitimate issue. Prep time is about 10 minutes. With baking time, I�m looking at 10 minutes. This makes my total cooking time 20 minutes. However, to be fair, this is usually only cooking two dozen at a time. (Two cookie baking pans making a dozen on each. We may be looking at about a half hour to 45 minutes.

With purchased cookie dough, we save the prep time of 10 minutes. If you made two batches of cookie dough, you�d be at the same cooking time. However, we still have to preheat oven and that�s at time same time you�d get the batter ready for scratch cookies.

Here�s another example, I�m writing this and sipping a cup of tea. I�m a big time tea drinker. Instead of making a 4-cup pot of tea and using 2 (2-cup) tea bags, I just pop a cup of hot water into the microwave and use a fresh tea bag each time. A tea bag is about $0.10 per bag. My normal 4 cups cost me $0.40 instead of $0.20 for a pot of tea.

When I was the district manager for a major ice cream chain, we preached ice cream tub inventory. However, to many franchisees didn�t care about the issue. Go into one of the stores and see how clean the ice cream tubs are. If no ice cream is clinging to the side, they care about control their costs.

Ice cream management includes when taking inventory you measure the tubs. Each store had a measuring stick to know how much volume they had in stock of opened tubs.

We know of one worldwide restaurant change that makes a mantra with knowing their food and paper cost to the penny. It is almost their obsession.

We are well aware of the popularity of many recipes that use many ready-made products. One of the principle reasons is we can make �great� meals quickly. One of the questions I�ve always had, do they really save time over a scratch recipe. But, what about food cost?

Let�s look at vegetable dips. Regular store price is $2.99 for a 12 oz. tub. However, if you make it yourself, the price is $1.50 and takes you around 10 minutes to make. I�ve figured that a �scratch� roast beef crock pot recipe is $17.50 for 8 servings or $2.19 per serving. (A family of 4 costs is $8.75.) Remember it is a one-dish meal.

Even if we take a famous all-American meal like hamburgers. Lets say our ground beef is $1.99 per pound. We are going to make 4 hamburgers at 4 oz. each, which comes to a total of 1 pound. The California Cheeseburger recipe (see page) costs $1.10 to make at home. If you go and buy a quarter pound cheeseburger at most fast food restaurants, you�d spend $1.99. Really, if you use the time factor as the reason for getting a fast food hamburger, how long does it really take you to make a home hamburger? It takes me that long to drive there, wait in line (drive-thru or walk-up), and drive home.

The important thing we�d like for you to take home is grocery savings is in your hand. What your budget is and how you spend it is your way. We hope we have inspired you to grocery shop and have fun with it. Cooking is fun. It�s something I�ve enjoyed doing ever since I was 11 or 12 years old. Make it fun. Enjoy.

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