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November 11, 2010 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Finding food that’s healthful, appetizing and budget-friendly is hard, especially for those picky eaters in the family. Because the best food often comes with a steeper price tag, many Columbians — college students, single parents, the unemployed and those with large families — bust out those coupons as they’re perusing the grocery store aisles or deciding where to eat out.
Luckily for Columbia’s penny pinchers and money-conscious shoppers, there are a number of ways to save money on food when the budget has little wiggle room: coupons, specials in restaurants and grocery stores and buying in bulk.
Every Wednesday morning, 25,000 copies of The Add Sheet, a publication packed full of offers from local businesses, can be found in bright yellow stacks around campus, at local businesses and in the mail, co-owner Jake Sheafer says. Ads in The Add Sheet range from tanning salons and fitness centers to automotive services and restaurants. The “Big Deal” is a web-based coupon that changes almost daily.
The mass circulation of this booklet isn’t just for show; the Circulation Verification Council, which audits publications, recently showed that 48.3 percent of consumers who pick up the The Add Sheet use its coupons regularly.
One of the most satisfying feelings in the world is heading to a favorite restaurant with a filled-out punch card and the anticipation of a free meal. Many CoMo restaurants, including Pickleman’s and HoneyBaked Ham Co. and Cafe, take advantage of the punch-card frenzy by offering their own incentives for customers.
Which Wich? is also one of those options. General manager Karen See says the restaurant uses a punch card with which every nine sandwiches a customer buys, they get the next sandwich for free. That might seem like a lot of sandwiches, but they see at least 30 coupons or punch cards redeemed each week, See says.
For those with a large family or maybe just a large appetite, buying in bulk provides some financial relief. Some grocery stores offer good-sized food portions, but Sam’s Club is the king of large quantities. By going in with a friend on the Advantage Membership for $40 per year, which means $20 per person, members can fill their carts to the brim with cheaply priced goodies. With items including cereal, alcohol, frozen foods and fresh fruits and vegetables, it can appease every appetite and keep customers happy (and fed) for weeks.