Deployment Savings Guide
Tips to Stretch your Grocery Budget
Meri Rettinger, CinCHouse.com
With long pay periods drawing near many are taking notice of
their budget. While military families may not be able to cut
back on car payments and other “fixed” bills, more than
likely $10, $20 or even more can be saved on a weekly grocery
bill. Below are ten tips to stretch your grocery dollar.
a Grocery Budget
Decide on an amount out of every pay check for groceries. For
example; budget $200 out of every pay check for groceries. Then
think of it as a challenge and see how little is really spent.
With whatever is left over use it for something fun such as a
pizza night with the kids or dinner out with your spouse.
Setting a limit and then adhering to it or even staying under
it, makes shoppers think harder about their list and what is
The worst thing that can be done is walking into a grocery store
without a list. Every payday count how many days it is until the
next payday. If it is fifteen days then there will have to be
fifteen meals so plan them accordingly. For instance making
spaghetti for meal number one will add noodles and spaghetti
sauce to the list. A person may also like some garlic bread and
a salad so they will add French bread and lettuce to the meal.
If there is a menu for the next two weeks a shopper can go
through the cupboards before they leave and avoid buying tomato
sauce or salad dressing that may already be on hand. Having a
menu also avoids mid week runs to the store. We all know running
in for “one thing” usually means walking out with five.
the Local Commissary
This is one of the many benefits to service members and their
families. Take advantage of it! DECA and CinCHouse have both
conducted independent studies and have found the average
consumer saves 30% on their grocery bill when utilizing the
commissary. Independent studies have found this figure to be as
high as 40% in some areas. That is quite a savings and you do
not have to do anything for it but shop at the commissary! Think
how much your coupons will help on top of the special prices
already being given.
Monday or Tuesday
Monday and Tuesday are the least busy days of the week to
grocery shop. We all know what it can be like on payday weekend
in the commissary. The choices are to go with the flow or risk
being run over by a frustrated mom and her 3 kids! Without the
crowd dictating your pace the opportunity is given to take time,
compare prices and benefit from any specials they may be
running. Most commissaries get there “fresh” products like
fruits, vegetables and fish on Tuesdays.
While the commissary is the best over all deal for fruits,
vegetables, package and canned goods some may want to look into
buying bulk for paper goods, meats and cleaners such as laundry
detergent. Take a Monday and compare prices between the
commissary and warehouse stores such as Costco or Sam’s Club.
As a shopper it may be surprising at how much money can be
saved. I personally have found meat and diapers to be cheaper at
Costco than the commissary.
A great way to save money is eating healthy. By eating more
vegetables and cutting out red meats and average of $2.00 per
evening meal can be saved. Load up on foods such as fresh fruits
and vegetables, beans and rice. Try to eat smaller portions of
foods like cheese and red meat. Try switching from whole milk to
skim milk. There is up to a $.40 cent difference in price
between these two varieties of milk.
We all love chips, cookies and pop but going overboard with them
is not only unhealthy but expensive. By cutting out one bag of
chips per week $2.00 can be saved or $8.00 in a month. Not
having pop in the house helps children choose healthy drinks
such as apple juice, orange juice and even water instead of an
“empty” soda. The same goes for fruits and vegetables as
snacks instead of candy. Keeping junk food out of the house not
only saves money but keeps off unwanted weight by compelling mom
and dad to eat healthy snacks as well! Turn junk food into an
occasional treat when eating out or going to the movies.
This is by far the easiest way to save money. Convenience meals
are expensive. A prime example is kid’s foods. The average Kid
Cuisine costs $2.00. An alternative is purchasing 20 chicken
nuggets for $1.50, a bag of French fries for $1.00, a jar of
applesauce for $.89 and making a pan of brownies for $1.50.
Total cost of your scratch meal is $4.89 and this feeds a
toddler for 5 days compared to $10.00. That is a savings of
$5.11 per week. While $5.11 does not seem like enough savings to
bother with, add it to money saved on making suppers and
desserts from scratch and it could be a savings over $100.00 per
Meals in One.
I often throw a roast in the oven along with carrots and
potatoes and with the leftovers make soup the next day. If the
only thing left is roast and no vegetables use the meat to make
stroganoff. There are a lot of meals that can be made into two
with the leftovers. Using them up provides a “free” meal and
cuts back on waste, saving you money.
Most parents do not realize how much money they are throwing
away on their child’s unfinished dinner plate every night. The
unfinished pieces of chicken or scoop of vegetables can always
be saved for lunch the next day. A good rule for toddler
children is to give them a 1/4th cup of everything and then give
them seconds when they finish their plate. This eliminates food
waste and can save you a pretty penny.
these tips in mind will definitely “pay off” in the grocery
low fat, low cost recipe is sure to be a healthy hit. Don’t
let the name mislead, there is no crab in this patty. The name
makes kids more apt to eat it though as it is Sponge Bob’s
can tuna in water
egg or equivalent off egg beater
a pack of crushed saltines
all ingredients together. Form 4 to 5 mid sized “patties”.
Fry in pan coated with cooking spray until golden brown on both
sides. Served with cream corn and a dinner salad this meal costs
approximately $3.75 to make. Serves a family of four.
is always a hit! When made with ground Turkey Sausage it keeps
it healthy and low cost. A pound of lean hamburger can cost
$3.50 while a pound of good Turkey Sausage costs $1.50. This
saves the family $2.00 alone on supper.
lb Turkey Sausage
powder or chopped onions to taste
seasoning to taste
pinch of ground Cayenne pepper
cans tomato sauce
can pinto beans
can kidney beans
can pork n beans
Combine first four ingredients and cook until turkey sausage is
browned entirely. Add tomato sauce and beans and heat on medium,
15 minutes, stirring occasionally. This dinner costs
approximately $5.00 to make and for around $.50 more a grilled
cheese sandwich can be added to the meal. Serves a family of
Meri Rettinger is an advisory board member and columnist for
CinCHouse.com, which recently released Married to the
Military: A Survival Guide for Military Wives, Girlfriends, and
Women in Uniform (Simon & Schuster 2003). Please
email your questions to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
provides service and savings during deployments
By Carole Young
service members make many sacrifices to defend our country,
among them: personal, professional and financial. All three seem
to coincide when a service member is deployed or a Guard or
Reserve member is activated, sometimes facing a reduction in
Commissary Agency (DeCA) can help by providing significant
grocery savings of 30 percent or more to service members and
their families – when they use their commissary benefit
regularly. Shoppers can expect to save even more on meat and
produce purchases and frequent case lot sales help shoppers
realize even bigger savings.
In addition to working hard to ensure exceptional savings for
the military community, DeCA is committed to providing excellent
name brand products, produce and meats, and efficient service
that’s second to none. Grab-and-Go sections, early bird and
assisted shopping and 30-minute parking spaces are conveniences
you’ll find at many commissaries. Cooking demonstrations,
“Meat Made Easy” preparation instructions and recipes are
all part of DeCA’s commitment to service.
note of some of these tips to help make deployments easier –
and make the most of commissary shopping.
Arm yourself with information. Before deploying, make sure
family members are provided with the correct information and
documentation needed for commissary shopping. Tips for preparing
for deployment can be found on http://deploymentlink.osd.mil/deploy/prep/deploy_checklist.shtml.
Obtain ID cards. All family members (spouse and children
10 years of age and older) should have ID cards. An ID card is
required to make commissary purchases and may also be required
at the gate if the commissary is located on an installation with
increased security precautions.
and Reserve members should have a commissary privilege card
(CPC). Unless activated, Guard or Reserve members and
authorized family need to show a CPC along with a military
ID card to take advantage of their 24 shopping days at the
commissary. Service members should go to their local unit to
get information concerning the CPC. DeCA does not issue the
CPC; the unit does. For more information on Guard and
Reserve shopping privileges visit http://www.commissaries.com/guard_reserve.htm.
the commissary every day. When serving on active duty or
in a training status, deployed service members and activated
Guard or Reserve members and authorized family members have
unlimited usage of the commissary. Guard and Reserve do not
need to use their CPC: Active duty ID or copies of active
duty orders are all you need.
your homework. Know the location and gate entry
procedures for the military facility nearest you. Check
installation entry requirements and directions before
traveling to the commissary. Approaching an installation
security checkpoint occupied by armed and uniformed
personnel can be intimidating to the uninitiated. Reduce
anxiety by being familiar with the gate entry process.
Besides the commissary, there are numerous services
available on installations for use by families of deployed
service members; know where they are located and their hours
a little shopping homework. Find out what’s on sale at
the commissary before you even walk in the door. Visit DeCA
online at http://www.commissaries.com
and click on the “Locations” button to find a listing of
commissaries. Each store has its own Web page with location,
hours of operation, store management and special events.
Click on the “Shopping” button to find out what’s on
sale. Use coupons to save even more!
money with Manager’s Specials. Commissaries feature
hundreds of unadvertised specials providing additional
savings to customers. Commissaries also receive price
reductions on locally delivered items such as beverages and
snacks. Shopping more frequently, not just payday, often
nets additional savings.
Louise visiting from Boise doesn’t have to sit in the car.
Depending on installation entry policies (do check ahead),
visitors may accompany you when you shop the commissary, but
only the ID card holder may make purchases.
a special commissary care package for your loved one.
Special “deployment centers” can be found at 31
commissaries on key installations. These centers offer a
varied assortment of items available for assembling “care
packages” and are located at the front of the store.
Nonperishable food items such as nuts, instant soup, jerky,
dried fruits and sport drinks are some of the items
available. Health and personal care items such as wipes, lip
balm, insect repellent and dental floss along with batteries
are additional items that can be found in the deployment
the gift of commissary savings. That’s the “Gift of
Groceries.” It’s a commissary gift certificate anyone
can purchase over the Internet or by a toll free call, but
only authorized shoppers can redeem them at the commissary.
Good at any commissary, they can be purchased most easily
www.commissaries.com to help families of deployed
service members. They can even be donated through the USO,
the Fisher House Foundation Inc. or the Air Force Aid
Society to military families in need.
smart. Families of deployed service members often eat
less “big meals” at home, but eating out at the local
pizza parlor or fast food restaurant is not the way to save
money. Skip the “desperate” dinner out and pick up fast
and convenient meals at the commissary instead. Bring home
popular and inexpensive meals such pizza, hot dogs and
frozen entrees for the family. Stock your pantry shelves
with a classic budget-friendly (and universally
kid-approved) food: macaroni and cheese. Bagged salad prices
at the commissary can’t be beat and Grab-and-Go or deli
sections have freshly prepared sandwiches and side dishes.
nothing beats preparation for saving money and being ready
for deployment. That and shopping in your commissary!
Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of nearly
280 commissaries providing groceries to military personnel,
retirees and their families. Authorized patrons purchase items
at cost plus a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of
building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones.
Shoppers save an average of more than 30 percent on their
purchases compared to commercial prices – savings worth more
than $2,400 annually for a family of four. A core military
family support element, and a valued part of military pay and
benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance
the quality of life for America’s military and their families,
and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women
to serve their country.
Sam's Kids in When Duty Calls is the first of a brand new series
of children's books for the
that helps parents to help children understand often complicated
what is deployment?
where is Mommy or Daddy going?
When will they return?
Will we still be a family?
Wives Flock to Internet for Help with Mass Deployments
VIRTUAL REALITY – As tens of thousands and active duty, Guard
and Reserve servicemembers deploy to the
, their wives are turning to CinCHouse.com
for help in coping with marital separation, single-parenting and
to Help Military Families
Homefront brings peace of mind to servicemembers deployed to
SAN DIEGO, CA – As tens of thousands of troops deploy from
this and other military towns across the United States, their
friends and neighbors down the street are joining together to
help the families left
behind by deployed servicemembers.