Monday, January 31, 2011

Small Changes

Thinking back over what I've bought in the last two months, I realize that I've made a couple of tweaks that have likely saved me money. Let's see if they actually did and see how much.

Half & half--I have two cups of coffee every morning. While I drink my coffee, I blog or read blogs, play online scrabble and have my soothing morning "me" time. I love this ritual. I've already switched my coffee brand to Trader Joes, which is significantly cheaper, and I've started making slightly less coffee. Previously, I would end up throwing away about 1/2 cup, or in the summer using it for iced coffee, since I don't drink iced coffee in the winter, I've actively made less *pat on the back for ingenuity*

I also switched to the 1/2 gallon size of half & half. Now, you may say something like "That's horrifying! 1/2 Gallon of fattening half & half! Who needs that much?!?!?" You would be right to think this. It is truly daunting to pick up that giant container, though I'm sure no one is judging me (like I imagine they are), but it's a better value!

Half & half has an extremely long shelf life, and I use a little each day. Before, I was buying two quart cartons per shopping trip for $2.25-$2.50 each, now I buy the same amount, just in a freakishly large container, for $4.19. Less packaging, less money, same half & half. As an added bonus, I've been using slightly less and I think it's because hefting around such a container gives me a bit of pause in the morning. Savings $.30-$.80 e/o week. Over the course of a year (average it to $.50)--$26

Tea-- I did switch brands after all. After finishing my trial box of Tetley's, I did come to enjoy it quite a bit. I've got two more boxes waiting in the wings--purchased with $1 off coupon each! That's 80 tea bags for $2.38! It doesn't get much better than that. I've already done the math on this one, and this switch will save me $39--more with coupons! Plus, I've signed up for email deals from Tetley. I have no idea if that will pay off, but I'll find out.

Eggs-- Since getting my pie plate, I've become a bit of a fritatta nut. Eggs these days aren't super cheap, about $2.19/dozen where I live but most of the fritattas that I've made have broken down to about $.33/serving. That's not bad at all, and those servings are delicious, nutritious, portable (i.e. can bring to work with minimal fuss) and filling. I've got a new recipe to share soon, as well...

Grains-- I've mentioned my plan to start eating more barley, but it takes so long and so much effort to prepare. Same goes for the quinoa. Well, I've made an effort to take the excuses out of using these inexpensive and healthy grains by making them ahead and freezing them. I made a ton of barley in the slow cooker, and ended up freezing about half--I used 1/2 immediately to make veggie burgers. Then when I had other ingredients that I wanted to mix with the barley, I just had to thaw it out.

Same goes for the quinoa, I finally bought a very small mesh sieve for about $2 at Target, so now I won't have to use my french press to rinse the quinoa. The french press works very well, but is a huge pain to clean, which put me off ever making quinoa. Now, I just line the mesh sieve with a paper towel (the quinoa is so tiny it can still slip through), and rinse away. It takes half as long and cleanup is a snap.

Yogurt-- I've already mentioned my kick-ass reuseable, single-serving yogurt containers, but I'm going to mention them again because it's working out fantastically well. Even though they're disposable, they are holding up very well through my washings. Even if they don't hold up, it was only $.54 for the container and the yogurt it came with--I will not weep if I have to throw one out. I brought one to work the other day with some quinoa pudding that might have otherwise gone uneaten. I'm going to Trader Joe's to stock up on quart-sized yogurt, and then it's on to savings!

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