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Saturday, July 16

Eating Well On A Dime: Tips from Coco

Of all the things we come across in life, money, or the lack of money proves to be the most stressful. The cliché is that “money is the root of all evil”, but for many, not having money leaves them stressed, frustrated, and sometimes miserable. Marriages and relationships succumb to battles over money management and spending. I have witnessed instances where spouses maintain “secret” bank accounts, others have their lawyers craft detailed and complex prenuptial agreements, and I have joked with many sista-friends about waiting for our significant others to be occupied, or ideally not home, so that we may smuggle our shopping bags out of the car trunk and into the house.

While the Obama administration is trying to grapple with a post-Bush American economy, the populace is forced to deal with the daily pressures of the recession. Unemployment is steadily increasing and under-employment is commonplace. Individuals with Master’s degrees are forced to work entry-level clerical positions, and they do so simply because, $1 an hour, is better than $0 an hour. Sadly, it is an Employer’s Market. It is common to see job descriptions posted on career sites and job boards that list requirements such as:

• Bachelor’s degree required
• A number of years of experience required
• Proficiency of an array of computer programs and software – MAC Office Suite, MS Office, FMP, QuickBooks, Raiser Edge, MAS 90, ACT!, Lotus Notes, Bentos, and the list goes on.
• Other certifications and licenses required
• Bilingual required (Spanish, Mandarin, etc.) despite the fact that the official language of this country is English

After all these requirements and an extensive description of expected job duties are made, these employer’s have the audacity to list a salary, that would hardly allow this qualified & educated applicant the ability to afford shelter, to feed themselves, as well as pay their student loans. The entire situation is deplorable, and for more and more Americans, it is difficult and depressing.

Unfortunately, many have foolishly bought into the idea of the “American Dream”, and now they are finding themselves shut out; even after they did the “right things” in life, that they were told would guarantee success.

Still, one of the most basic human needs that must be fulfilled is food consumption. Without food and the nutrients that we obtain from eating, our bodies will be unable to sustain themselves. The need to feed is innate. A baby doesn’t have to be taught to want to suckle on its mother’s breast.

This action is performed instinctively. Times are hard and learning the tools of discount dining or eating on a budget is essential. Spending a little time planning menus prior to a trip to the market can result in savings. Having a menu in mind, makes it easier to utilize coupons. Also, there are a plethora of websites that one may access to print coupons. Just goggle the terms “printable coupons” or “coupons”. Flip over your old receipts – Ta Da!! – there are often coupons on the back. Before discarding “junk mail”, check the local flyers to see if there is a sale on any goods that you may need. I encourage you to take advantage of farmer’s markets, as well as supermarket sales; such as Winn Dixie’s BOGO (Buy One Get One Free), which I recently discovered and absolutely love!

Buying items on a BOGO promotion may lead you to have to select a different brand than you regularly use, but make the sacrifice, experiment, and collect the savings. The best items to pick up during a BOGO promotion are those that have a longer shelf life, and may be used at a later time. Those on the West Coast should certainly pick up items at the 99C Store chain before they visit the supermarket. This chain often carries name brand items, as well as many basic pantry items, breads, spices, and produce all for 99 cents!

I would suggest that those who want to dine-on-a-discount, to expand their horizons and select generic items at the supermarket. Of course, some items should be viewed with skepticism, especially certain generic cereals, but most generic items are exactly the same taste and quality as the name brand. So why pay for more? My cabinet is filled with Wal-Mart’s “Great Choice” products. With an average savings of $0.50 to $2.00 an item, selecting these products is really a great choice.

Last, to truly dine-on-a-discount one must be willing to cook. Fast food expenses add up quickly and microwavable and frozen entrees can become costly. Be sure to stock you kitchen with the basics – flour, rice, seasonings, pasts, and potatoes. Add to the basics depending on your personal and cultural cuisine choices. These basic items should be feasible to use in a variety of dishes.

For instance, I can transform a bag of potatoes into several dishes:

Scalloped potatoes
Mashed potatoes
Baked potatoes
Potato salad
French fried potatoes
Potato stuffing – a traditional Virgin Islands dish
Or use them in a stew

The same strategy may be applied to other food items. Discount dining is simple, taking a small amount of consideration and planning. The current economy has made the strategy very important, and any family or individual who drastically needs to save money and create a spending budget, should adopt the methods of discount dining.

Here’s to Good & Affordable Eating!
(copyright) Eclectic Life Books


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing my article Goddess Zuri! I hope that is inspires to come up with their own money-saving ideas, and to hopefully share them with us.


Candace Avont said...

thank you for sharing your article with us!