The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

On The Table

August 29, 2012

Cheryle Finley: Convenience may not always be worth the cost

JOPLIN, Mo. — My silk flowers are looking pretty darn good nowadays. Had they been real, I would have stopped watering them some time ago as a conservation measure and they would be long gone.

Will all this dry, hot weather affect grocery store prices? The effect on corn and soy is by far the biggest deciding factor because of the many uses of these commodities, from food to feed to fuel. Forecasters are predicting a 3 to 4 percent price increase by spring.

Here’s some ways to take the bite out of food prices right now.

First idea is to avoid packaged food. The fruits and veggies already sliced or chopped are marked up 40 percent more than their whole counterparts. Is half-again the price worth it? Sometimes, it sure is. If you make your own hamburger patties, you can save as much as 60 percent over already pressed patties. Again, you are paying for convenience and sometimes it’s worth the extra cost. Be sure to read the fine print on the price label on the front of the shelf. The price per unit or ounce may surprise the heck out of you. It’s easy to think that the price listed in big numbers above the item is the price it will cost you, but it may just be the price per pound, and the item may be more packaging than product. I once thought I could get a big brisket for $9.98 and found out at the check-out that was the price per pound and the brisket ended up being over $32, which it was well worth.

I should have known they wouldn’t sell a nice brisket for that price but was excited when I thought I was getting the deal of the century. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. If you are shopping organic, be organic savvy. Those foods with tough peels like a pineapple or an avacodo are just as good without being organic. Be sure to look for the organic seal certified by the USDA for truly organic items. Tap the web for great deals. If you like some company’s sites on Facebook, you can get some super deals. Along those same lines, be sure to use coupons whenever you can, but be sure it’s for something you need and will use, which leads us to buying only what we need. Ten items for $10 isn’t a bargain if you will never use all 10 and sometimes you can get less items at the same sale price.

Some sales are good only “while supplies last” but if not, ask for a raincheck so you can enjoy the savings later. We can get many fresh vegetables and fruits year round but they are less expensive if they are in season, so be familiar with what’s in now and buy that. Start saving now before prices go up.

Thursday, Friday or Saturday evening is the time to visit The Diamond CafŽ. The Finleys and Saferites enjoyed dinner there last Friday. I ordered the ham steak and ended up with three meals out of my one huge serving of ham. Leftovers were perfect for breakfast and a ham sandwich. They always take such good care of you when you dine with them.

My mother had raved about a salad my sister, Sue, had served recently, so I was extra excited when I saw it in my newest cookbook, “Tried and True Recipes from Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks Ð Jasper and Newton County.” Plus, the recipe is from my friend Keri Kirby so that makes it even better. Yes, this recipe calls for a bag of ready cut coleslaw mix but you can chop your own cabbage if you want. Either way, you will fall in love with this salad. The second recipe is from another friend, Arlene Crouch. It’s a nice side dish and the water chestnuts add some great crunch. I think you could add cooked chicken to this dish and have a one dish meal.

The chocolate covered cherry cake is perfect for potluck or family dinners. It’s also from the Big Brothers Big Sisters cookbook, which you can get for only $5. Stop by 3510 E 3rd in Joplin, just east of the mall and you will find them in the basement of the United Way building. An unheard of price for a cookbook full of family recipes.

I will be with Carol Parker on KSN at noon on Sept. 4 and we will be talking about school lunches and after school snacks. Stay tuned.

Enjoy your week and happy eating!  


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