How to Save on Beverages

by Pam Hutzler

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    How to Save on Beverages

    If you spend any time in the grocery store, you'll quickly find that prices are on the rise. In fact, if you're like most families, you're finding it increasingly more challenging to keep your grocery budget in check. The good news is that there are simple things you can do to cut your grocery bill down to size. The first step is to know what you are spending your money on. If you find that you're spending a significant amount on beverages, you are in luck! In the next few slides, we'll address some common beverage choices and what you can do to whittle away at their costs.

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    You are probably wondering why water is included here. After all, isn't water the least expensive beverage? Well, the answer is a solid maybe. What's your water source? If you're consuming bottled water, then you're spending much more than necessary. estimates that bottled water costs over 1,000+ times more than tap water. But if you can't stand the taste of chlorinated city water or you have well water that makes you cringe, then invest in a purification system. There's no need to invest in an expensive whole-house system. Check into tap attachments or pitchers. Yes, it will mean spending a little initially, but in the long run, you'll save money by not buying case after case of bottled water. If your kids are used to bottled water in their lunchboxes, it may be time to take them to your local Target to pick out a cool new refillable water bottle. A favorite of both of my daughters is their Camelbak®.

    Related: Stop Draining Dollars

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    There's something very comforting about starting each day with a big glass of OJ. If you're buying that OJ (or any juice) ready-made, you're spending more than necessary. Instead, consider making juice from concentrate. Concentrate is almost always cheaper. Sure, you may occasionally hit a good sale on ready-made juice. For instance, it's possible to find bottles of apple juice for $1, and when you do, it's time to stockpile. But, when your stockpile is gone, go back to buying concentrate.

    Another great money-saving tip is to dilute juice with water. This tip has a double bonus. You'll be saving money, but you will also be cutting sugar intake, which we all know is a healthy choice. Think your family will balk at this option? Then start slow and increase the water to juice ratio over time. Eventually tastes will probably change, and if ever given full-strength juice again, your family will say, "It's just too sweet!" You can dilute the juice a glass at a time or in volumes. Either way, you'll be cutting the sugar and the cost!

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    Milk and Chocolate Milk

    My best advice when it comes to buying milk is to know your prices and shop accordingly. This is a lesson I learned very recently. In my neck of the woods, I paid $2.49 for a gallon of 1% milk at a leading low-price grocer last week. The equivalent sold for $2.89 at another popular grocer in our area. Upon doing a little research, much to my chagrin, I found that I could have bought the same thing from my favorite convenience store for $2.19 and used the savings to top off my gas tank. Now, milk is not always at that low price at my convenience store. It just happens to be on special for the next several weeks. If you go through just a small amount of milk per week, then it may not be wise to drive for a lower price. However, if you have a five- to six-gallon-a-week family, the savings could be substantial and well worth the drive.

    This chocolate milk tip relates to the earlier juice tip. Save money and cut sugar by mixing it in equal parts with the white milk you just bought at a great low price. You can continue to enjoy your palate-pleasing treat at a lower price and with less sugar.

    Related: A Dairy at Your Doorstep

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    Flavored Tea

    One of my daughter's favorite beverages is a tall, cold glass of Arnold Palmer by Arizona iced tea. (If you're not familiar, it's a mixture of iced tea and lemonade.) And she's downright serious about her beverage of choice. If allowed, she can easily down a 128 oz. container in a couple days. Needing to cut this cost and still allow her treat, I began looking for options. I found the best option is to make my own version at home at a fraction of the cost.

    After steeping 10 black tea bags in three quarts of boiling water, I added in a can of lemonade concentrate and a very small amount of sugar. After some tweaking and adjusting to taste, she has now declared it as good as her beloved favorite. I realize it seems simple. But, you really can save a bunch of money if you look for ways to make acceptable versions of pricey favorites at home. Don't be afraid to experiment and be sure to go online for help. With a little patience, you'll at least find a good starting point.

    Related: Enjoyably Frugal Loose Leaf Tea

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    No list would be complete without touching on an adult favorite, namely wine. When you're experiencing a budget crunch, it's good to know that wine is not necessarily something that has to be crossed off the list. Instead, you just have to know how to buy it.

    First, set your preconceived notions aside and give boxed wine a chance. Boxed wine has come a long way and, at the very least, deserves a try. There are many varieties and options, so you'll need to experiment. But, once you find a favorite boxed wine, you can start saving big bucks as compared to bottled wine. As an added bonus, boxed wine doesn't allow air to touch the wine. Air is the enemy of wine flavor and precisely why bottled wine needs to be finished within a day or two after opening. However, boxed wines stay fresh for about six weeks, making it less likely to be wasted.

    As with most things, buying wine in bulk is generally cheaper. If you have a favorite bottled wine you're not willing to give up and that you drink regularly, consider buying by the case. Most places will give you a nice discount when you do so.

    Finally, take some time to visit a winery to discover new wines. It's great fun! The prices will probably be comparable to what you'll find in the store, but you might save with an extra discount if you buy a case. You're also likely to find special promotions and deals at a local winery. In example, a friend told me recently that he was able to get six bottles of wine from a local winery for free after buying six bottles, saving him half the cost. Half! If you are not familiar with the wineries in your area, visit for a list of 7590 US Wineries across 47 states.

    Related: 5 Ways to Save on Craft Beer

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    Get Creative!

    These are just a few ways to save on just a few beverage choices. There are way too many saving strategies and beverage options to list here, but hopefully this will get your frugal juices flowing (pun intended!). As with so many things on our grocery lists today, there are many ways to cut costs if we are willing to keep an open mind and try new ways of doing things.

    Related Articles:
    Creative Stretching in the Kitchen
    Mix Your Own Beverages

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