Sometimes Convenience Items Save You Money

Posted by Mrs Money on July 13th, 2010

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Yesterday I went grocery shopping with Mr. Money. I am really, really bad about cooking and making meal plans so it’s hard for me to figure out what I need to buy when I go grocery shopping. Of course, I go shop with a list so I don’t go crazy purchasing a ton of items we don’t need. I know I need to work on meal planning but that’s another issue, so I won’t go there today. :)

Vegetable Boat
Creative Commons License photo credit: RLHyde

Mr. Money was in charge of the grocery list, and when he noticed that I had “garlic (in a jar)” on the list, he questioned me on why I would want to purchase a jar of chopped garlic when I could easily buy the fresh garlic cloves and chop them myself. I completely understand that not only is it cheaper to buy the fresh garlic and chop it myself, but it’s healthier too because it’s not processed.

Why would I buy a jar of garlic? There are a couple reasons. First of all, the last time we bought fresh garlic, we bought it in bulk at Costco and it ended up sprouting and grew green shoots. Every single time I went to use it, I had to peel it, remove the shoots from the inside of the garlic (which ended up with a smaller yield), and then I had to chop it to use it. Needless to say, a lot of the garlic is going to be planted in the garden, which doesn’t help now when I need garlic to use.

Secondly, I am lazy and prepping and chopping and mincing garlic. I don’t like to cook, and I’d eat a bowl of cereal every night if I wasn’t so conscious of nutrition. At least I’m honest, right? Buying a jar of garlic will save me time and encourage me to cook more, which will help me save money in the long run. Sometimes you actually do save money by buying convenience items!

What convenience items do you purchase that cost a little more but help you save money in the long run?

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25 Responses to “Sometimes Convenience Items Save You Money”


  1. Joless says:

    I also get garlic in a jar, along with jars of ginger and jars of chillies since I figure that some dishes won’t change whether you use fresh or pre-prepared stuff, like pasta sauces and so on. We also have it all fresh as well since my GF doesn’t like to use the jar stuff, and some dishes really call for fresh ingredients. A compromise!

    We also have mustard powder as well as mustard-in-a-jar for the same reason.

    Quick cook and slow cook pastas for different dishes and timescales.

    Frozen peas and beans are a staple emergency-veg in our freezer.

    Recently we just discovered mixed, chopped frozen peppers which are fabulous for quick pasta sauces, or stir-fries so now we keep those all the time too.

    Not much else, now I come to think about it. I don’t know that we save money since we have both types generally, but it certainly saves a bit of time and effort on occasion.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Joless- I didn’t know ginger came in jars! Duh. ;) I actually have some fresh ginger that is shriveling in the fruit bowl right now… I think the trade off to spend a little money to save some time is worth it to me!

    [Reply]

    Joless Reply:

    You can get ginger in jars in the UK anyway, so I would think you can in the States too – just look at what it’s stored in as vinegar makes things taste so brine is much better.

    You can also freeze fresh ginger I discovered recently, and then grate it straight from the freezer.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Joless- Both are great ideas! Thanks again!

  2. Two things that might make your life easier. Number one, there is no reason why you need to remove the green sprout, I never have. Number two, buy yourself a Zyliss garlic press. You can put the entire clove in there, peel and all and just press. Then remove the peeling from the inside of the press. Let’s see now, what convenience items do I purchase… hmm… I know. Instead of using wash clothes I buy baby wipes for cleaning my goats’ udders for milking. I actually ran out of wipes not too long ago and used wash clothes for a few days and it wasn’t too bad. But then my husband bought more and I thought I would continue to use the wash clothes but nope, went right back to the wipes.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Mrs. A- I don’t have a garlic press and I think that’s a huge part of the problem! Thanks for the tip. I’ll have to look into getting one of those. My hubby said to remove the green sprout for some reason but of course I can’t remember now. ;)

    Do you buy a certain brand of wipes? I’ll bet you could get them at a Dollar Tree if you ever go. :)

    [Reply]

  3. I have to admit that I also buy garlic in a jar for convenience. I don’t always feel like peeling and chopping garlic and, as you mentioned, it always seems to grow sprouts or shrivel up before I use it up.

    I also keep dry packaged cereal on hand for convenience. I buy the non-sugary kinds like cornflakes or rice puffs. I have to be careful though because I am gluten sensitive and have to watch which brands I buy.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Marci- I’m so glad I’m not the only one!

    I have just recently gone gluten free and feel so much better than I used to! I do miss pasta and cereal. My hubby had cream of wheat this morning and I was sad I couldn’t have any :( It’s nice there are more gluten free options out there now, though! Rice Chex is gluten free, too!

    [Reply]

  4. Catherine says:

    I also like to buy garlic in a jar, but I use it a lot so I get the BIG jar which is about $5 in our store and lasts me a whole year (the expiration date is usually about 2 years out). Definitely cheaper and less trouble.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Catherine- I think I’ll have to look into getting a larger jar next time. We got ours from Kroger, which I think is a little expensive, so I’ll have to shop at another store for a larger jar. :)

    [Reply]

  5. Powdered buttermilk. We never use a whole carton before it goes bad and then I don’t have it at the end of the month when I need it.

    Newish reader and LOVE your blog!

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    hyperactivelu- I didn’t know they made powdered buttermilk! That is a great idea.

    Thanks so much for your sweet comment! I appreciate it!
    xoxo

    [Reply]

  6. I think avoiding food waste is a great reason to go for the jarred garlic.

    Admittedly, I purchase some frozen meals pretty often from Trader Joe’s to bring to lunch (everything from scratch would be ideal). While it might be cheaper to make my own, it does save me money. I ate delicious Trader Joe’s black bean and corn enchiladas which cost $2 and change. If I’d purchased lunch at any of the nearby places in Manhattan, I’d spend anywhere between $5 and $10. Bringing your own lunch as often as possible really pays off!

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Catherine- I agree. I HATE wasting food. It makes me feel so bad.

    I’ve bought some Amy’s frozen meals for lunches when I didn’t pack mine. That way, I’m getting ‘better’ food than if I ate some fast food and I know what’s in it. I wish we had a Trader Joe’s where I live.

    I hate taking my lunch to work but I know how much I save, so I continue to do it. :)

    [Reply]

  7. Oh my…we buy a lot of convenience items, especially food-wise. Without them, we wouldn’t cook.

    Ummm…our biggest convenience item on a regular basis is McCormick Seasoning. We must go through 6-8 packets of mild chili seasoning and mild soft taco seasoning every month or two. We wouldn’t be cooking chili or soft tacos or taco salad without it, so I think it’s a good buy (better than fast food anyway).

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    BITFS- I feel better knowing that others do the same thing. :) You guys could make up a big batch of homemade taco seasoning or chili seasoning and put it in bags if you wanted… I wonder how much money you’d save.

    Of course, it probably is easier just to buy the packets! ;)

    [Reply]

  8. I *so* feel you on the garlic thing! We practically have a bushel of garlic ready to be planted thanks to all the sprouts that magically appeared in our pantry.

    Now we buy the frozen cubes of garlic – love those little guys!

    As far as other convenience food, we tend to buy beans in cans rather than the dried beans in bulk…I know that dried beans are way cheaper, but it seems like we never seem to plan far enough ahead to use them, and we don’t always have time to wait for the beans to soak and cook.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Retro Housewife- Isn’t it crazy?! It seems like they sprout so quickly! I haven’t heard of frozen cubes of garlic- do you just get those at the store?

    LOL I am the SAME way with beans! We have bags in the pantry, but when I decide I want to eat beans, it’s that night, and I haven’t soaked any. It’s worth buying a few cans of beans to have dinner! ;)

    [Reply]

  9. I guess pancake batter would be considered a convenience item. It would be easy enough to make from scratch but we I always use the boxed stuff when my kids come asking for pancakes.

    We use garlic a lot in our cooking so we don’t have to worry about it going bad!

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Saving Money Today- Pancake batter is something that I can’t get to turn out correctly when I make it homemade! :(

    I love using garlic too! It is yummy.

    [Reply]

  10. Christina says:

    I get garlic in a jar, in the biggest size I can. I also keep shallots in a jar as well as ginger in a jar. Not only does it mean less waste, but it also means less last minute trips to the grocery store AND that I can make more pantry meals.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Christina- I didn’t know they made shallots in a jar too. Looks like I need to work on my cooking! ;) I like less trips to the grocery store!

    [Reply]

  11. Jennie says:

    I do the frozen ginger! I just buy a big piece peel the skin with a spoon (takes off less than a peeler) and freeze and grate in the amount I need. I love that I always have it on hand and I never have to throw any away. I have heard of people trying to make their own bottled garlic, but there is a huge risk of botulism!! It’s best to purchase it since it has been processed (I think added acid to discourage bacteria growth). I buy it all the time, but am considering using fresh with a press…

    [Reply]

  12. I will never chop onions because the crying thing so I buy frozen chopped onions. I don’t even know if it does work out to cost more than buying whole onions because the bags are pretty inexpensive ($1 or so).

    [Reply]


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