Wednesday, October 17, 2012
31 Days:: 8 Ways To Save Money on Beverages
Water is the cheapest ~ and healthiest ~ beverage available. However, most of us drink more than just water. Here are a few ways to save money on drinks:
1. Drink tap water, not bottled. In addition to being better for the environment, it's cheaper! If you can't stand the taste of chlorinated city water or you have terrible-tasting well water, invest in a purification system. There are a wide variety available, from tap attachments to pitchers to whole-house systems. You'll have the initial investment into whatever system you choose, but in the long run, you'll save money by not buying case after case of bottled water.
My favorite trick to make water more appealing? Add ice and a slice of lemon, and drink it from a cute cup with a straw. You may laugh, but there's something about that cute cup that makes me want to reach for my water rather than a can of pop.
2. Make juice from concentrate rather than buying it ready-made. Concentrate is almost always cheaper. I say "almost", because occasionally you'll hit a really good sale on regular juice (bottles of apple juice for $1 anyone? OK, so the sale was in Iowa, but I have connections!) When my stockpile of $1 apple juice ran out, I went back to buying concentrates. As far as orange juice goes, even the rock-bottom sale prices on ready-made are more expensive than than the concentrate.
3. Dilute juice (whether ready-to-serve or made-from-concentrate) with water. I started doing this for health reasons when my oldest child started drinking juice. She didn't need all that sugar, and she never knew the difference. I continued diluting for all my kids, and then suddenly I wasn't doing it just for health reasons anymore, but for budget reasons as well! My kids are old enough to know they are drinking diluted juice, but they're so used to it that they don't really even like full-strength apple juice. You can dilute the juice one glass at a time, or you can pour a 2 quart bottle of juice into a gallon pitcher and top it off with water.
4. Buy your milk elsewhere. When milk is on sale at Meijer, I buy it there...but if there's no milk in the sale ad, I'll pick it up at Aldi or Costco. I'm there anyway, and it saves me a dollar or more each week. I'm not sure I would make a special stop just for milk, but Meijer's milk price varies...sometimes, it's really high, and when that happens, it's worth making an extra stop. If you have a smaller family and/or you don't go through very much milk, it might not be worth it for you to buy your milk elsewhere. But for a family that goes through 5-6 gallons each week, it's definitely worth the extra stop. If you don't have a nearby Aldi or Costco, check milk prices at a nearby gas station. Sometimes gas station milk is cheaper than what you'll find in the grocery store.
5. Dilute your chocolate milk. Chocolate milk is a huge treat around here, but it's hard to stomach the price! It's easier on the pocketbook (and the waistline) if you mix it with equal parts white milk. Again, our kids know we do this, but full-strength chocolate milk is almost too rich for their tastes. Not to mention the amount of sugar they are "missing out on"!
6. Mix your own iced tea, lemonade, and punch. We love flavored, sweetened iced tea. I've been purchasing the canisters of Crystal Light for years. One canister contains 6 packets of drink mix, each of which will make 2 quarts of beverage. I only buy the canisters on sale, which is usually around $1-$2 per canister (and recently, using a combination of sales and coupons, I scored 8 canisters for FREE). This means that each pitcher of iced tea (8 servings) costs us between 16 and 33 cents to make. Compare that to buying 8 bottles of Diet Snapple at $4.99. Or compare that to buying 8 - 16.9 oz bottles (so, 16 servings) of Lipton Green Tea for $3.00. Or compare that to buying a jug of Arnold Palmer (a mixture of iced tea & lemonade). The Arnold Palmer was on sale for $3/gallon and is equivalent to two pitchers of my "homemade" Crystal Light. $3 vs. maximum of 66 cents? Wow. Hopefully you're following my math, but my point is, it's much, much cheaper to mix your own beverage than to buy it in a bottle or a jug.
7. Don't dump the leftover beverage down the drain! If your kids can't/don't want to finish what's left in their cup, put it in the fridge. When they're thirsty later, offer the beverage you saved. We used to have a problem with "that's not mine! I'm not drinking his/her backwash!" until I found this simple solution in a parenting magazine:
Super simple and economical. Use a Sharpie to write your kids names on clothespins. Keep the clothespins in a convenient drawer in your kitchen, and when supper is over, clip the appropriate clothespin to the cup and put the cup in the fridge. Voila...no more questions about whose leftover beverage is whose, and no more throwing-it-down-the-drain-after-it-sat-in-the-fridge-for-3-days-because-we-never-figured-out-whose-it-was!
8. Buy 2-liter bottles of soda/pop instead of cans...when it makes sense. (OK, you'll save even more money if you just don't buy pop at all. It's bad for your health, and bad for your teeth. But some of us still buy it anyway...ahem, guilty! I love my Diet Pepsi!) One 2-liters of pop (which you can usually find on sale for $1 or less) equals 6 cans. When is the last time you were able to get a 12 pack of cans for $2? Unless you're buying store brand, probably never. I keep cans and 2-liters on hand, because if it's just me having a drink, it doesn't make sense to break open a 2-liter. We probably won't be able to finish it before it goes flat. But if you're hosting any sort of gathering, 2-liters are always more economical.
What are your ideas for saving money on beverages? Do you make an extra stop for milk?
Looking for more ways to Save Money in the Kitchen? Check out the rest of the articles in this series, here.