My Story: Why I Buy Convenience Foods

contributed by Jora

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I recently read a blog entry on grocery shopping for the lowest prices. I agree that it takes a lot of effort to get the lowest price, and that it's often not worth the money.

I think that a balanced approach to grocery shopping is critical. In fact, even convenience foods have a place in the frugal freezer. Here's a recent example.

Yesterday, we were at a Scout event. Unfortunately, our brown bag lunches were forgotten, left in their canvas bag on the kitchen table, which was 12 miles from the event. The event ran late. Instead of noon, we finished at 3. We had, however, brought snacks to share. The snacks took the edge off our hunger until it was time to leave.

A few people had brought their lunch and ate in the quiet moments. A few people left by lunchtime. One family mentioned that they'd get fast food on the way home. Two families decided that they'd meet up at a sit-down restaurant. For us, a restaurant wasn't an option that we wanted. So, at 3:30, we made it back home. We made sandwiches from Redi-Crisp bacon and pre-grilled, frozen burgers.

We were exhausted, but we had an evening commitment to help at church services, so even supper was convenience foods. We had Boston Market frozen dinners that we put into the oven on "timed bake" before church.

As you see, there are times when convenience foods save a bunch of money. We probably spent $2 on the hamburgers, $2.50 on the Redi-Crisp, and $2 on bread and condiments. The four frozen dinners that we bought on sale cost $6. So, our family of four spent a total of $12.50 for lunch and supper. Fast food for one meal would have cost us $20. Dinner at a restaurant would have cost us $40 to $50. Giving into temptation for both meals would have cost us $60-$70. So, the convenience foods helped us resist temptation. And saved us a bunch of cash.

Now, these weren't the healthiest choice, but how healthy is the chimichanga, rice and beans plate at the sit-down restaurant? Ideally, I would have remembered our lunches on the table. And I would have had the slow cooker going for dinner. But, knowing how the hustle of activities often preempts good intentions, I was glad I had those Boston Market dinners in the freezer.

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it by email to MyStory

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  • You can also make your own "convenience foods" and store them in your freezer for those times you can't cook a full meal. Read Frozen Assets: Introduction to Freezer Meals to help you get started.

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