Time vs. money, that is the age old question when saving money. I sit here on Wednesday nights and watch Extreme Couponing and get the strong urge to have a shopping trip that totals over one thousand dollars and only costs me $0.35, however, when I sit down with my coupons, I realize that I have no desire to spend the amount of time it will take to do that. I have three kids at home, 9, 5 and 3 and babysit another 3 year old, so I am always looking to save money, while making the most of my time. There are, however, some things that take a small amount of time, but really save money!
One staple in my household is cheese, any kind of cheese, sandwich cheese, taco cheese, string cheese, you get the picture. However, cheese is pretty expensive, on a good deal we can get it for around $2 a pound, on a great deal, we can get it for $1.50 a pound, but not very often. When it comes to string cheese, something my kids love and I like them to snack on, the price is outrageous. Most of the time it is around $4 for a 12oz bag, not even a whole pound!!! Thankfully, I have found a solution that requires me to spend a small amount of time, but I can have string cheese for $1.50 per pound anytime I want.
I shop at Costco, but only for a very few things. This is because almost everything else I can get cheaper with coupons. One thing I have found is a 6 pound block of mozzarella. Sounds disgusting, I know. However, it is only $9, making it $1.50 per pound, and with all these kids and hubby who loves string cheese, I decided it would be worth a try to slice my own cheese sticks and shred some of the cheese to use for salads, pasta dishes, wraps and pizzas. Well, my first attempt was a little comical. A block of softer cheese that large is hard to cut up. I also did not know really what shape we would use it all before it got moldy.
So, for my cheese loving family of five (and 1 sweet one I babysit), this is what I do. I cut a third into one inch sticks (not exact but getting better), I slice a small amount for sandwiches and I grate the rest. Grated cheese does really well when you freeze it, so I put one bag in the fridge and 3 in the freezer. This time I am trying to freeze a small bag of the cheese sticks and will see how well they do once thawed. I know all of you may not have a big enough family to buy 6 lbs of cheese at one time, but can you split it with someone? Could you freeze more?
All the cutting takes me about 30 minutes and it saves me $6-$9 on average, that is $216 per year! I firmly believe that the key to surviving this economy is not about saving hundreds on one thing (some of us have cut all there is to cut), but finding all the little things...they add up fast. Just take a look at your checking account for the last month and add up all those coffees on the way to work!