Have you taken a look at how much you spend on food lately? Many people who create a budget and look at how much they’re spending each month are surprised by their food bill. In financial counseling, it’s often the first area that someone tags as wanting to reduce.
The Tale of Two carrots is a story of cost vs. convenience. You can use it to see if your food spending is overburdened by convenience items.
If you’re like me, you probably enjoy those super cute, tiny, baby carrots. They are so perfectly tiny that there is no need to break out a knife to chop them into bite sized pieces. However, that perfectly tiny cuteness and convenience comes at a cost. At my grocery store, I can buy a 16 oz bag of giant carrots (you know the kind with the leafy green tops) for $1.00 OR I can by a 12 oz perfectly tiny carrot bag for $2.50. Reducing those to cost per ounce, I can pay 6 cents for the big carrots, or the perfectly tiny for 21 cents an ounce. I pay 350% more for convenience.
Just a small part of a bigger story. As you likely know, this isn’t just a tale of two carrots. It’s also a tale of block cheese vs pre-shredded cheese. In exchange for the time savers of not shredding it ourselves and having one less dish to wash, we pay 165% more per ounce. Same for those fancy pre-made zucchini zoodles, packaged soups, to go salad, pre-cooked chicken breast, pre-packed kids lunches, etc. In all these areas, we are trading off an increased cost for increased convenience.
Looking to trim those grocery store expenses, start here. What convenience items are you buying? How often? How much are they costing you each month? What are some alternatives?
Don’t forget the benefits: If you decide to do more prep work yourself to save some money, don’t forget there are some side benefits. You’ll work those arm muscles as you shred those blocks of Cheddar or Monterey Jack and slice, dice or julienne those large carrots into perfectly tiny pieces.
Marjorie McLean, MBA, AFC