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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Monday, August 09, 2010

Frugal Kitchens 101 - Frugal Packaging

Frugal Kitchens 101

Packaging is a necessary evil of getting foods home from the grocery store.  Have you ever noticed that certain foods are available in a variety of packaging?  Some forms of packaging are more eco-friendly than others and the great news is the eco-friendly packaging tends to be cheaper!  This week's Frugal Kitchens 101 discusses frugal packaging in the grocery store.

  • juices - Quite often juices can be found in cans, glass bottles, plastic bottles, tetra packs and cardboard containers in the freezer section.  By far the cheapest and most eco-friendly choice is frozen juice.  You aren't paying for extra water and you don't have  jars or cans to recycle.  In this case you are reducing packaging coming into your home.  At the same time frozen juices tend to be considerably cheaper than any other form of commercial juice.  One of the most eco-unfriendly juice packaging is the tetra pack so avoid that at all costs.
  • produce - Produce can be found in bulk, in plastic or mesh bags, plastic/pressed paper containers, boxes or in plastic clam shell containers.  By far produce in the bulk section is cheaper but some fragile fruits mainly berries only come in plastic/pressed paper containers or clam shell container.  I really dislike clam shell containers because they can't go in the recycle bin and they don't stand up to reusing.  These are the containers I avoid like the plague if at all possible.
  • milk - In Canada we can get milk in plastic bags, cartons and in some areas plastic jugs.  All of this packaging is reusable and there are a wide range of wonderful ways of recycling these materials.  Milk in plastic bags tends to be slightly cheaper because shipping costs are lower due the weight.
  • eggs - Eggs in the grocery store come in clam shell style packaging ranging from pressed paper, to clear plastic lids to styrofoam.  Eggs packaged in the old fashioned pressed paper cartons tend to be the cheapest.  The pressed paper can be recycled into containers for seed starting.  The eggs packaged in clear plastic are usually most expensive and those in styrofoam somewhere in between.  
  • fish - Fish tends to come in cans, vacuum packed plastic bags, foil pouches, fresh or in frozen boxes.  Fish is vacuum packed plastic bags is usually cheaper.  Fish in cans introduces the Bisphenol-A (BPA) an suspected carcinogen issue so is best avoided.  Foil pouches are not recycleable in all areas.  Boxed frozen fish can suffer from freezer burn so the frugal choice is vacuum seal fish.
  • dried foods including cookies - A lot of dried foods come packaged in bags inside boxes that may include plastic trays.  More and more grocery stores are offering these very same items in bulk where you purchase the quantity you want not what pre-packaged says to buy.  Buying in bulk saves money because packaging is not included so the price per unit is cheaper and you buy what you want.  So if you want a certain product that only comes in a 1 pound package but you only want 8 oz then you only buy and pay for the 8 oz.  
  • institutional sized - Some foods like pickles, ketchup, mustard, beans and so much more comes in institutionalized sized containers ranging from cartons to glass, plastic and metal yet smaller sizes may only be available packaged in one type of container.  In general institutional sized containers are less expensive per unit than smaller sized containers.  The institutional sized containers with the exception of cartons are great recycled for dry storage in your pantry.  In general institutional sizes plastic are less expensive than those in glass
  • lunch meats - Lunch meats are usually packaged in plastic pouches or wrapped in butcher's wrap if purchased in the deli section of the grocery store.  Recently lunch meats a coming packaged in reusable plastic containers.  In this case the plastic container lunch meat is a bit more frugal choice because you have the container to reuse however this really is a case where you need to do unit pricing.

3 food lovers commented:

LindaG said...

And the reusable containers are limited in use, though they are good for small leftovers. :)

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Linda :) A reusable container is always preferable over disposable food containers though.

LindaG said...

Very true. :)