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I'm a writer and library worker who wears many hats. I believe a good book and a good piece of chocolate are the keys to a happy life.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Beating the High Cost of Eating by Barbara Salsbury

Given the state of the economy, and my personal checkbook for that matter, I thought I might read up on one area that can really be a problem for many families. Beating the High Cost of Eating by Barabara Salsbury with Sandi Simmons touts itself as being an “Essential Guide to Supermarket Survival”. I read it looking for ways to cut my own family’s grocery bill. But, really, I’m not sure if that’s what I found or not.

I really enjoyed the book. Ms. Salsbury has some very interesting information hidden in its chapters, but I’m not sure that I found much in the way of new specific information on how to cut my food bill. She does a lot to help you understand grocery store tactics to get your money and what causes you to hand it over so readily. That was very interesting to consider. Mostly, it seemed to be all stuff I already knew about neatly compiled and laid out with all the right reasons and arguments on why it works. Her suggestions included shopping at multiple stores, making menus based on sales not cravings or traditions, tweaking recipes to get rid of expensive ingredients, only using coupons for items you’d buy anyway, exploring all the brands not assuming name brand is best, stocking your pantry so you shop on your own terms not immediate needs, that kind of thing.

I will say that she has a good point about price recognition, though. If you don’t know what the items you always buy should be priced, you don’t really know when you’re getting a great deal. I used to be great at this. I could walk into a store and automatically know “Okay, this is much more expensive here than if I wait and purchase it at the other store.” Now my brain has become sufficiently addled that I’m lucky if I remember the average cost of a gallon of milk much less the other 50 foods that consistently show up on my grocery lists. I tried to be all sophisticated about making my price list as Ms. Salsbury suggested, but it didn’t really work. I should have done it her way. She suggests taking a notebook with you to the store and jotting down the prices and sizes etc of the foods you buy so it’s all there together. I thought I’d upgrade and type it up in an excel sheet when I got home. Wrong. It was an extra step to take that receipt to the computer and remember exactly what the little abbreviations meant and what sizes all the containers were. I haven’t tried again since, but I really should.

She’s also not a big fan of coupons. She explains why. I agree with her as well, but I coupon because I like the game of it and the extra time it gives me out of the house (it takes a lot of time to clip, sort, and then price compare with those little pieces of paper to make sure you’re really getting the best deal). Mostly, I like any method that can give me those little internal grins and giggles when the cashier sighs at my stack of coupons then tells me I saved more than I spent—oh yeah, it’s the little things in life.

On the whole Barbara Salsbury’s book Beating the High Cost of Eating was a good refresher course for me and a self-check system. My biggest problem now? Time and self-discipline. Anybody know a good book for convincing me to take care of those things? If I could, taking care of my food budget would be a breeze!

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Tristi Pinkston said...

Time and self-discipline? I'm clueless ...

Alison Palmer said...

Exactly. I almost had to look them up and make sure they were real words in order to include them in the blog! lol! So nice to know I'm not the only one who is floundering here. :)