Replace soda with these refreshing, cheaper and healthier alternatives
Reducing the Cost of Beverages
I Need a Soda Alternative
I am a full time college student. My husband is disabled. We are on an extremely limited budget. The most expensive thing on our grocery bill is soda pop. I would like to get my family to drink water, tea, lemonade, anything else cheaper. If I don't buy it, my husband just sends my teenagers over to the pop machines or the convenience stores and pays an even higher price. I have finally convinced them that the generic brands are okay, but they are still too expensive. I could use some advice.
Replacing Soda With Fizzy Kool Aid
We are big soda lovers here too. One way we've found to limit our soda intake is to combine it with Kool Aid. Packets of unsweetened Kool Aid are pretty cheap -- you can find them 10 for $1 on sale. We then fill a glass 3/4 or more full of prepared Kool Aid and then top it off with Sprite or 7-UP. You can add orange soda to orange flavors and so on. That gives you a little fizz but greatly cuts down on the amount of soda you use!
Being a single mom with 3 growing and "always hungry and thirsty" older teens, I can understand the dilemma of the "Soda Wars". Some of my tips are these (they work--I tried all of them).
Challenge your family. If they are willing to try alternate drinks such as juice, tea, water etc. the money saved from "soda" can be put aside for a special family time such as ordering a pizza and buying a DVD. Also challenge them to develop their own drink ideas. When my children were younger, they experimented with mixing different flavors of Kool Aid and quite often were very successful. The only rule was it could not be wasted. Flavors not high on the list of drinking were frozen and made into home made popsicles.
Challenge them...they quite often provide very satisfactory and creative solutions on their own.
Water First, Then Soda
It will be hard to believe this could work, but I am one bona fide soda addict and it works for me!
Here's the rule at my house (for me ... the kids, on the other hand, are MUCH more flexible): I can drink as much soda as I want. Yup, that's right. Just one caveat: Before I drink that soda, I have to match it with an 8-oz. or larger glass of water. BEFORE!
If your water doesn't taste so great, invest in one of those filters in a pitcher, like Brita. Seems costly at first, until you do the math. You can get one of these pitchers, with the filter (watch the box! -- they don't all come w/filter) for around $20. This time of year you can probably get two for one in a holiday boxed promotion.
And yes, the replacement filters seem expensive too, at around $15 a crack, but my sister and I both have active families of three who drink a lot of water (I even make my juice, Kool-Aid and coffee with it) and almost never buy more than one replacement in a calendar year (nine months or so, usually).
Beware when buying: That pitcher looks huge, but the water goes fast! Either look for the "2fer" sale or make sure you have another, inexpensive pitcher or two around to hold water while the filter's making more. We often go through three per day without trying very hard!
Okay, that's a $35 investment over the course of nine months, or about $40 per year. Even if it only cuts the family's soda consumption by 25%, well, you do the math on your family because I don't know your particulars, but it's incredible.
Everyone knows all the benefits of drinking more water. But when I do drink it, honestly, I feel better! More energy, and I feel like my metabolism's on full-speed. My weight loss when I have altered nothing but this habit attests to that fact! And it isn't due to a reduction in sugar, because my soda is diet.
Maybe you've already figured out that the one person you'll have the hardest time with is that other adult in the house. This is a tough habit to break, and somehow, starting to drink water when you're not used to it seems sort of unsavory. You might ask him to just give it a try, start off with four oz. before each soda and move him up after a few days. When you see the family begin to slip off the soda wagon, prod with gentle reminders that they need their water! -- I wish someone around here would do that for me, because again, once out of the water habit, re-establishing it is tough.
Oh - and I've TRIED mixing juices with sparkling water and all those other concoctions. When I want a diet cola, darn it, that's what I want! And that's why this little trick works for me. Good luck!
The Juice Mix Alternative
In our efforts to eliminate soda from our lives we have come up with a good substitute. We purchase 2 liter bottles of soda water (carbonated without sugar) and 1/2 gallon cans of Juicy Juice or similar 100% juice drinks. Mix them 50/50 in the soda water bottles. Try different flavor combinations. We like plain soda water and "Cherry" Juicy Juice. Still has carbonation similar to soda without the sugars.
A Family Battle
First you need to convince your family that this is a family problem not just yours, therefore everyone needs to be involved in the solution. Research first, then call a family meeting. Calculate how much per month is being spent on brand name soda, including the vending machine. Then calculate the savings by using generic soda. Offer several alternatives, powdered drink mix mixed with club soda, cutting down on amount of sodas used with their choice of replacement, or totally replacing sodas with water, tea, and lemonade. Show cost savings for each of these alternative methods. Another strategy is letting another item go instead of the sodas. When we were in an economic pinch and my family was not willing to give up brand sodas, what they agreed to was cutting out on other things for a trade-off. If you are down to your last and there is nothing else to give up, then present that to them. Ask them for solutions. All adverse and depressing influences can be overcome, not by fighting, but by rising above them.
I make "Sun tea" and spice it up with fruit juices. Pour about 6 ounces of tea into a container. (I use the Rubbermaid pourables.) I make several at once. Freeze these just like they are. The morning we pack the lunch, I pull out one container, and add about 3 ounces of juice. The thawing iced tea keeps the sandwich cold to boot!
My family and friends LOVE our lemonade. We used to buy soda, etc. but now just orange juice and make homemade lemonade: Guests have choice of milk, water, orange juice, and lemonade all year round. Recipe came from bottle of RealLemon I believe.
6 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 cup lemon juice from bottle - Real Lemon or any store brand is fine. I get my Real Lemon juice at a Sam's Club
Stir well and chill. Cheap and delicious all year long. Doubles fine too. I have had many converts from the more expensive mix and drink lemonade brands.
Make Your Own
Try making your own soda. Many home brew beer stores also carry mixes for making your own soda pop.
Take the Next Step:
- Love soda? Get a Soda-Club soda maker at Sodastream
Discuss "Cost of Beverages" in The Dollar Stretcher Community
Share your thoughts about this article with the editor.
Also in Food & Groceries
- Get creative in the kitchen and save #TDSPantryChallenge
- Easy ways to reduce your grocery bill Video
- Why you should use a pressure cooker
- Easy desserts from your pantry
- Saving on health foods
- January bargains in the supermarket and beyond
- 10 grocery savings secrets from insiders
- 6 tips for frugal grocery shopping
- 3 ways to fight the coupon craze Video