The Real “Cost” of Convenience Foods
As a frugal homeschool mom, I’m not supposed to use any convenience foods. I should be growing most of my own food, right? Or I could be some sort of extreme couponer and then it would be OK to buy convenience foods since I’d have purchased them for essentially nothing.
I’m afraid that’s not the case here. I try to do most of my cooking from scratch because it is cheaper that way. But I realized something this week.
Even though a convenience food may cost more than the equivalent from scratch, it still may cost less than what you actually end up eating.
This is what I mean.
On Sunday a friend gave me a box of instant oatmeal that she wasn’t going to use. I normally don’t buy instant oatmeal because old fashioned oats are cheaper (and better for you to add your own sweetener, but I’m not talking about health benefits here.)
Guess what my kids ate for breakfast several times this week.
Guess about how many times per week I usually make oatmeal.
Guess what they often eat instead.
Guess which is more expensive (especially when you consider the price of the milk that my biggest kids drown their cereal in).
The cold cereal!
So here’s my point. By not buying “convenient” instant oatmeal because it was more expensive than old fashioned oats, I have actually been spending more money on breakfast food!
Here’s another example. (Before you read this, promise you won’t think less of me when you read what else I put in my shopping cart.)
Soft drinks are expensive. Many people save money by never buying soda. It makes sense. I’ve “quit” buying Dr. Pepper for this very reason on many different occasions.
Do you know what happens?
After about a week, I start walking slowly past vending machines and digging for loose change. When I go to the gas station, I suddenly find myself inside purchasing an ice cold Dr. Pepper for $1.59. I’ve even been know to stop at convenience stores when I didn’t need gas! That’s way more expensive than just having Dr. Pepper at home. And then there is not a temptation for me to purchase them for even higher prices when I’m out.
My friend Debra at Footprints in the Butter has mentioned that when you’re trying to live on an extremely low food budget, you need to allow yourself to purchase that one item that helps you to not feel deprived. For her I think it is coffee creamer. For me, it’s Dr. Pepper.
What convenience foods do you buy? What one food keeps you from feeling deprived?
By Kristen H.