Southern Cents: Investing in Your Pantry

by Tina Shake

Did you know that the average shopper spends an extra 50 cents a minute on grocery store shopping after the initial 30 minutes? Yikes! That means we must get a plan of attack because dropping your cash at the grocery store is not the best investment decision that could be made. I know that most days when I visit the supermarket I haven't a clue what I am looking for, I wonder around looking for something that would "taste delicious" that evening for supper and before I get to the main course I have picked up cookies, chips, ice cream, magazines and every impulse buy in between. A run to the store for a loaf of bread ended up setting my dining room table with autumn colored candles and a nifty matching tablecloth complete with those cheap looking salt and pepper shakers, that for the life of me, I can't figure out why I would have even thought of purchasing them. I should have just paid the neighbor to go to the store for me, I could have saved a buck or two by calling 1-800-COLLECT and had my mom overnight mailed a loaf of Wonder Bread and come out ahead!

Everyone knows, make a list before you go into the store and stick to it. Yes this is good advice, but how do you start that list. Does your list start out like this? "Honey, what are you hankerin' for this week?" My list ideas always start with that sentence, I get a few main course ideas from my husband, veto half of them and then plan a few meals with the expected leftovers. One thing I have learned is that there are a few food items that are versatile enough that you should always have them on hand.

Two products that you need to keep on hand are refrigerated biscuits and biscuit baking mix. The tube biscuits can be used for many different dishes, my children like to flatten them out and fill them halfway with a taco flavored hamburger mixture. Fold over the other half of the biscuit mixture and seal the moistened edges. Reminds you of a half moon shaped pizza roll, the kids go crazy over them.

Biscuits can be used to make quick donuts, a savory covering for casseroles, mini bread sticks. You can split the baked biscuits and use them for mini buns for small sandwiches of egg and ham or mold the biscuits into a muffin pan and bake for edible food cups. Biscuit baking mixes can be used in so many instances that I couldn't begin to list them all.

I love to use them to make a soft pizza crust base; vegetable pizza is good on this type of crust. My family loves to have this mixture baked and then topped with taco fixins. Check on the back of the box for the yum trummy desert recipes as well.

One thing that I love to do is save money over the long term, is to buy in bulk. When an item goes on sale, I make a decision based on past buying habits. If this product is as low in price as it normally gets I will make an estimate on my yearly use (or for perishables I estimate how long the product will last and how many I will use in that time), I then buy ahead and store it. One more purchase out of the way.

There is one drawback on this method, and I am ashamed to admit it. You know how some people will ask you to take off your shoes when you enter their homes? When I have a visitor, I pass out complimentary hard hats to wear during your visit because of the excess grocery product storage problem. Every cabinet, every closet and every cubby hole is stuffed with extra toilet paper, deodorant, shampoo and various can goods. Once in awhile the areas seem to burp out consumer products and if you have ever witnessed a snow avalanche on those "disaster caught on tape" television shows, you are witnessing a frequent occurrence of unstable grocery problems in my home.

One time a neighbor child was missing for two hours before we figured out that she was lying beneath the Charmin 24 packs, happily coloring on the "Bounty paper towel strips" with the excess Crayola crayons that I had bought up at last years "Back to School Sale." has some great shopping information to help you keep up with the latest trends and product reviews. You might want to check them out.

Please leave your hardhats at the door. Thank you.

Take the Next Step

  • Better than coupons. Shop smart with great cash back offers on your favorite brands at your favorite grocers. Join Ibotta today.
  • Once you trim the grocery budget, don't waste that extra money! Consider opening a savings account to start an emergency fund or save for some other financial goal.
  • Continue to trim food costs by visiting our food & groceries section to get tips and tools for keeping more of your hard-earned dollars in your pocket.

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