Best Ways to Save Money on Food
Fight the Food Mafia!
by Stephanie Relfe B.Sc. (Sydney)
Dec 4 2008
Several years ago I worked out how much my family was spending on groceries, and I was concerned then about the amount. Recently, I began to wonder where all our money was going. I had become concerned that almost everything that was in a packet seemed to be $5.00 or close to it. I took the plunge and confronted what I was spending every month on food and other items from the supermarket. When I did this, I nearly fainted.
You need to do this right now if you haven’t already done so. If you have been using a credit or debit card, that is easy as it’s on your statements.
I got to work and applied the methods that I will give you below and within two weeks I am down to 40% of my original spending. I am spending 60% LESS than I was before, and we are still eating as healthy and as well as ever. And I’m looking to reduce it even further. But I share these secrets with you, we need to analyze how we got ourselves in this ridiculous situation in the first place and see how we have been scammed.
I looked at the supermarket with new eyes. I suddenly realized that there is a subconscious feeling when you enter a supermarket, that you are not entering a place that will supply you with what you need to survive. Instead, you are entering a buffet or a party! The problem with food and all the other great stuff that they sell at supermarkets is that it is loaded with emotional attachments. I was working hard for my money, but giving way too much money to the supermarkets. I became furious as I got to “see” how I had become a slave to the supermarkets.
And as long as you use a credit or debit card, or don’t set yourself a limit on how much cash to use each week, that feeling will stay with you. This is important to realize even if you have plenty of money. You need to change your habits and keep that money for the important things in life, like financial security and even financial independence, home schooling, your children or educational travel. Not just to satisfy some temporary whim. It is as though we have become food addicts – addicted to certain tastes and conveniences, and are just as hooked on them as a drug addict is to their drugs.
Cash has energy to it. Credit cards do not. Only cash will give you the feedback as to what you have to do to spend less. And only seeing the cash you saved mount up each week in your special hiding place will give you the satisfaction of knowing that it is worth it to keep improving your habits.
TO GET RICH – ADD VALUE
How do you get rich? You ADD VALUE to something. For example, you take a 30c cucumber and a bit of vinegar and pickle it and sell it for $7.00 a jar.
TO SAVE – DON’T BUY ‘ADDED VALUE’ PRODUCTS
To save yourself a ton of money, you need to do the opposite of that. Don’t buy anything that anyone has “added value” to. That will help you to get a whole lot healthier as well, because every time that a human and a factory do something to what nature grew, it gets less healthy, or even toxic. For example, raw sugar cane is good for you. Processed sugar is very, very bad for you.
This means that you are going to cook and prepare food a whole lot more than you have been doing, just like they did in the ‘old days’, even if you have not done much of that before. I’ll give some tips below. If you think you don’t have the time, work out where you can get an extra hour a week from:
Surfing the net
Speaking to friends
Reading the ‘news’
Have you noticed how nearly everything seems to cost $4.00 or $5.00 now? THAT is where your money is going. It gets worse. Because you have to pay taxes on what you earn, you might have to earn $8.00 to pay for that $5.00 item.
But what’s really infuriating is that that $4-$5 item has only a fraction of real food value in it. For example, a box of cereal, whether it costs $3 or $5, has only about 5 cents of REAL FOOD in it. Maybe less. Wheat is now currently ‘high’ at around $24 a bushel. I found out that the weight of a bushel changes depending on what grain it is. A bushel of wheat is 60 lbs. That means that ONE LB of wheat costs 60 CENTS. But is that the ‘real’ price? In Dec 2008, I saw 50lb bags of corn for only $8 from the feedstore. That’s 16 cents a lb. AND THE STORE IS MAKING A PROFIT ON THAT. So, the real price that the farmer gets is obviously a whole lot less than the quoted price. And cereal is made of a lot of sugar (which hurts your health) and is even cheaper. See if you can buy a 50 lb bag of grain direct from a farmer!
The difference between now and in earlier times is that we now have amazing machines which do so much more with less. For example:
Using a tractor and drill, one farmer can seed an area the size of 100 football fields in ONE DAY.
A combine can harvest an area the size of a football field in FIVE MINUTES!
A combine can harvest enough wheat in ONE HOUR to make 73,000 loaves of bread!!! (Ref: Machines at Work, DK Publishing)
The prices are not high in the supermarket because farmers are getting rich from high prices. The prices are high because the manufacturers are adding value to the product and keeping the profit. And the distributors add on their 30%. And then the supermarket adds on whatever it feels like adding on. So long as people keep buying at the ridiculous prices they are at now, the prices stay high.
So, to keep people buying, the supermarket and food manufacturers do whatever they can to make you WANT to buy that box of cereal that has maybe 5 cents of food in it, for $5.00, which you have to earn $8.00 to pay for. If there was 5 cents worth of food in the box, and you earned $8 to pay for it, you have paid 10,000% more than it is worth as pure food value. And you might have had to earn 16,000% more to pay for it, because of taxes.
I am reminded of a news piece I saw on TV. It was a News item on how many poor people in the US just couldn’t get enough for food. This was way back around 1999! But the message of that piece is the same. The reporter interviewed a woman living in the country, somewhere around Alabama I think. The woman was saying how poor she was and how she couldn’t afford to pay for food. Then she went to her cupboards in the kitchen and opened them up and there was one small packet of, maybe, cereal there. RIGHT THERE IS THE PROBLEM. She should never, ever have paid for a box of anything. She should have led the reporter to her 5-20 lb bag of beans, lentils, rice and potatoes. Hundreds of millions of people around the world have never SEEN a box of processed food. Food to them is something that grows in the ground, not something that comes from a factory. In addition, this woman’s house had a large, fertile looking lawn all around it. Poor people would dream of having such land. And yet no attempt to grow a vegetable garden could be seen anywhere. This article portrays how some part of poverty is in the mind, rather than total lack of resources.
Think the supermarkets can’t sell a WHOLE LOT cheaper? Here’s evidence that they can. The website, www.naturalgrocers.com sells, for example, Annie’s salad dressings for $2.49 – when they are $4.09 – at the supermarket. NOT that I am recommending that you buy these! Again, this is an added value product. If you want a dressing, pour cold pressed oil (sesame or sunflower), lemon juice and small dash of maple syrup over your salad, and it will be MUCH better for you.
ALWAYS USE CASH – NO MATTER HOW RICH YOU ARE
There is a very, very important reason why you MUST use cash to buy all your groceries, and it has nothing to do with getting into debt. It’s to give you a real, solid feeling and understanding of what things are worth. When you just hand over a credit or debit card, you are handing your power away. You are getting zero feedback on what you spent and you will end up with a feeling of powerlessness.
Here is what you MUST do. Work out what you intend to spend every week on groceries. Take that out in cash and put it in a separate envelope or purse from your other money. When it’s gone, you do not buy anything more.
When the end of the week comes, and you feel yourself handing over those dollar bills, you will FEEL how you really didn’t need all those added value items. Or when the end of the week comes and you still have cash left that you can put away for a worthy cause – you will feel a sense of achievement that you won’t feel if you had just used a plastic card.
IT’S WHAT YOU KEEP, NOT HOW MUCH YOU MAKE, THAT IS IMPORTANT
How much money do you make each year? It doesn’t matter whether you earn $15,000 a year, or $600,000 a year. There is only one thing that matters. HOW MUCH DID YOU HAVE TO KEEP AT THE END OF THE YEAR?
That can be in the terms of cash or assets. If at the end of the year you have zero savings, and zero investments, then you worked for nothing. You were a slave to the people you gave money to. Since a large amount of that money went to the supermarkets, you were a virtual slave for the supermarket, working every day so THEY could keep the riches but at the end of the year you end up with NOTHING.
By the way, this is why it can often pay to have some jobs which may pay less but which cost less to maintain. For example, if you have a general laboring job, but you don’t have to spend extra on clothes, fancy car and other things to maintain an image, you may find it much easier to have money saved at the end of the year than a ‘professional’ making MUCH more money but who has to spend a lot to maintain their image (clothes, car, club fees, fancy dinners….). Don’t believe it? A lot of the people who own all those beautiful yachts on Sydney Harbour are plumbers.
Also, what is important is how much are you being paid PER HOUR. Sure, some managers earn $150,000+ a year, but then they have to pay more taxes. But the worst of it is that they usually have to work 60-80 hours a week. And this doesn’t happen just to managers. It happens to many people in ‘glamorous’ jobs. A friend of ours had a job as a leading DJ in the capital city in her state. But the radio station also gave her other work to do as well. Her salary was quite low (which may shock some people – but the glamorous jobs usually are lower paid) – but it was worse than that. After finding out how many hours she worked, we worked out that she was being paid $5.00 an hour! (in 2007). Now, if she was gaining knowledge and working towards becoming top of her profession, and eventually making a whole lot more, maybe that would have been worth it. But she pretty much HAD got to the top of her profession, and she was still making less than a checkout person in Walmart!
FAMILY DINNER FOR $2.00
When I first decided to go vegetarian I learned that to get enough protein, vegetarians must “eat lentils or beans every day”. Who on earth would do that? – I wondered, since I didn’t care for beans or lentils at that time. But many years later I learned that hundreds of millions of people do this. I stayed in an ashram in India for a week, and even though I ate at the “Western” canteen, breakfast was mostly oatmeal, and lunch and dinner were “dahl” (a dish made from lentils), rice and a few vegetables. To save money, commit to making 3-4 dishes every week of just lentils or beans and brown rice. It’s good to have something raw at every meal, so just add some slices of cucumber.
If you think that this is ‘too boring”, please ask yourself:
Do you eat to live, or do you live to eat?
Remember, beans must be soaked for 8 hours before using. I finally realized one day, when I was on a fully raw, vegetarian diet, why one must do this. You are not SOAKING the beans, so much as SPROUTING them. While they look the same on the outside, inside the proteins and carbohydrates are being broken down into much smaller molecules, which makes digestion a whole lot easier.
Soaking brown rice for 22 hours can turn it from an acidic to an alkaline food. You can always strain it and put it in the fridge if you aren’t ready to use it right away.
It’s a lot easier than you might realize, You just have to start. Fortunately, you can now get every kind of recipe for free from the internet.
IMPORTANT!! DO NOT USE ANY WHEAT! It’s very toxic. Read “You’re not fat, You’re Toxic” to find out why. Instead, use millet or amaranth.
In the brilliant book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, a dentist shows with many photos how people used to have few diseases, and wide mouths and noses, and taller heights, when they ate only whole foods.
For example, the Swiss used to eat virtually only whole grain rye bread and cheese. But once sugar and white flour were introduced, all kinds of diseases came. Plus people’s jaws became noticeably narrower. And people in Scotland grew several inches shorter, just due to sugar and white flour. Today, we have added even more worse things to our diet which are full of toxins and devoid of nutrition – such as hydrogenated oils. soy oil, margarine, microwaved food, aspartame, colorings, soy flour and caffeine.
There was a time when I thought I could never make pie or pizza pastry, and now I do it in seconds. What helped a lot was going on a 100% raw, vegetarian diet for 3 weeks, which is something I recommend to everyone. During that time I learned that flour is FOOD. That’s why children love to eat cookie dough! To prepare it, all you have to do is mix it up and dehydrate it. So, if you are not doing raw food, it’s kind of the same – you just mix it up with some oil, water and a touch of celtic sea salt, and push it onto a pan, and cook it at 350 degrees. So long as you don’t burn it, you can eat it. It doesn’t have to be fluffy to be nutritious. In fact, it’s more nutritious if it’s not fluffy.
Make a time for baking. Make whole grain muffins, and tortillas, and freeze them. That will save on time and electricity. And make some dinners to freeze later for TV dinners when you are in a hurry.
WHAT TO DRINK
Right now, please add up the cost of everything that you drink for one week. Then work out what that is worth over a 5 year period. Then work out how much you have to make, before tax, to pay for that. The total may shock you. Then work out what you could do with that money after 20 years, which will go by a lot faster than you may realize
Most drinks do not add to survival. On the contrary, most of them hurt your health. Even fruit juice, because it is heated, has gone from being a highly nutritious food (not liquid) to being just sugar and water. The only fruit juice you should drink, except for the occasional treat, should be fresh-squeezed. The easiest way to begin your savings is to break your addiction to all drinks other than reverse osmosis water.
Every now and again, I meet people who are stunned to find out that almost the only thing that we ever drink is water. That saves a ton of money, and is essential for maximum health. But, the water must be reverse osmosis water. Town water has way too many chemicals in it, besides tasting ghastly. R.O. water tastes great! (Distilled water is bad to drink, because it affects your mineral content).
It costs hardly anything to make Reverse Osmosis water. Buy a Reverse Osmosis filter from Sam’s Club or www.ebay.com. Get new filters later on from www.ebay.com. And get a water cooler with 5 gallon jugs to put it in.
BUY IN BULK
Every time, do whatever it takes to buy in bulk – if you save. Be careful! Sometimes tricky resellers actually charge you MORE per pound when you buy the bigger containers. Keep a calculator with you. Often something that is $5 for one pound will be only $1.50 a pound if you buy more – say with flours.
CREATE A PRICE SHEET
Start a list for the prices of the items you buy, at the different places you buy them for. Type it up on your computer. Learn that list so you can recognize real bargains. Then get creative on how you can buy something else or somewhere else, or in bulk, to save, save, save.
TISSUES AND PAPER TOWELS
With paper towels costing $8 or so for a bunch of them, which cost you about $12 before taxes, the time has come to get some rags and just wash them out.
Same with tissues. When a box of 3 Kleenex costs $5.80 ($8 before taxes), it’s time to buy some cotton handkerchiefs. Just throw them in the wash with everything else, and they will come out fine. They may even reduce sneezing, since there’s no fiber to come out of them.
ZIP LOCK BAGS
I thought my mother-in-law was going a bit too far with saving money when she showed me that she washes, rinses and air-dries her zip lock bags. She learned to save money in her childhood when growing up on a farm with 11 brothers and sisters. In those days, sometimes they would shoot squirrels for food. Anyway, now I think that re-using zip lock bags is a great idea! After all, that just saved me another $4.20 purchase. ($6 before taxes).
When I first visited a farmers market, I incorrectly thought it wasn’t worth the extra effort to go, because the prices are not too different for most things from the supermarket. However, recently I discovered something important. First of all, there ARE bargains, if you are looking just for cheap food. For example, I recently bought a whole lot of huge cucumbers for 30c each when they were 80c at the supermarket.
But price is not the main reason to go. The main reason to go is that I found that produce bought from the farmer’s market lasts over 10 days longer in good condition than it does from the supermarket. You no longer have to throw out rotten vegetables or potatoes with green tentacles on them. My husband even wondered if the supermarkets KNOW this, and plan to have their vegetables go mouldy within a few days – so that you have to go back to the supermarket for more? Now you only have to visit the supermarket once a week.
If you have a large family, make the effort to get to a REGIONAL farmer’s market, because that’s where the farmers market people get THEIR stuff from. Phone the agriculture people from the county to find out where it is.
For more information on how to be healthy & happy while saving money, read:
“The Best Book I have ever Read…
“The Book of the Century”
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