Cost is a very important limiting factor in food purchasing. According to Agriculture calculations for food stamps, the “thrifty” cost of food at home for each person over 12 years of age averages $110 per month. Cost helps determine the types of foods and brands that are bought and the frequency of restaurant patronage. People who are feeling financial strain may still eat beef, but they may choose ground beef over prime rib. “Can I afford this?” is a question that also applies to time, which can make convenience foods effectively more economical, even if the dollar price is higher.
Budget limitations determine both the types of food to be purchased and the amounts. A further consideration in food service establishments is that the food itself accounts for only about half the cost of food preparation, with the majority of the other half incurred by labor. These two costs are primary concerns to any food service manager who must face the fact that the focus has switched from the traditional standard of service to outcome measurement, especially in terms of the bottom line.
Food Stores and Vendors/Suppliers
The cost of anything, including food, depends in part on where it is purchased. Understanding the differences among the types of retail and wholesale food supply sources allows individuals to select the ones that will give them the most for their money. The variety of food stores available to consumers includes supermarkets, warehouse stores, co-ops, farmers’ markets, and convenience, specialty, and health food stores. Food service establishments rely on large food distribution centers to obtain their supplies.
Economical Food Purchasing
While the budget is certainly not the only consideration in making a purchase, it is a vital factor, and there are several methods for reducing food bills.
Comparing prices saves money. The once-common price tag on the most packaged foods has been largely replaced by the strip of black and white lines that identifies the manufacturer and product called as barcode label. As a result, any price comparison must be made by comparing the prices listed on the shelf below the food item. Calculating the cost per serving is easily done when the price per unit is given. It pays to check this prices and not be deceived by a product’s packaging, shape or size. Shopped whishing to save money should avoid non-essential foods. One six-pack of soft drink can exceed the price of 2 pounds of ground beef, three dozen eggs, or a gallon of milk. Prices differ not only among brands, but among forms – fresh, dried, canned, or frozen. Convenience foods are almost guaranteed to be more costly.