How Much Are Americans Spending on Bacon Each Year?

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If you’re like most Americans, you’re hog wild about bacon. There’s bacon-flavored bourbon, bacon-flavored vodka, chocolate-covered bacon, chicken-fried bacon, bacon-flavored toothpaste, bacon-flavored gumballs and cupcakes, chocolate bars and donuts and … you know this list is infinite, right?

Yes, Americans love bacon so much that they’ll even continue reading an article about bacon that starts out with the phrase “hog wild.” In fact, when asked if they’d support a petition declaring bacon the national food, 65% of Americans surveyed told pork supplier Smithfield they would indeed. And Americans’ love of bacon hasn’t declined. The amount of bacon sold in the U.S. increased 5.4% year-over-year in 2015, with sales totaling $4.21 billion, according to data from the North American Meat Institute. At more than 908 million pounds sold, and a U.S. population of roughly 321 million people, that’s closing in on an average of three pounds of bacon for every American.

And, of course, it’s not just Americans who love their bacon. Canadians apparently have quite the, um, appetite for “meat candy” as well. When asked to choose between bacon and sex, 43% of Canadians chose bacon, according to a light-hearted survey conducted by Maple Leaf Foods back in 2010.

Bacon, it seems, is beloved in many parts of the world, so it just makes sense that the Saturday before Labor Day was declared International Bacon Day back in 2009 (that’s Saturday, Sept. 3 this year).

If that sounds like a reason to celebrate to you, on International Bacon Day or any other day, the folks over at BaconToday.com, a site dedicated to “bacony goodness,” have put together some recipes to help you get your bacon on, including this bacon-infused Bloody Mary recipe.

The Bloody Mary Sue-eee

1 oz. Vodka
3 oz. Tomato Juice
2 oz. Bacon Hot Sauce
A couple dashes of peppered bacon salt
A couple dashes of lemon juice
Garnish with a couple of strips (or more if you’d like!) of Coastal Caliente Jalapeno Bacon (cooked)

Grab a cocktail shaker and add ice. Combine ingredients into the shaker. Shake and pour into a glass. Add the bacon in place of a celery stick. You can add olives if you wish.

BaconToday suggests pairing this drink “with some bacon-wrapped hot dogs and you’re good to go! For an appetizer, wrap up some garlic stuffed olives with a half slice of bacon, place a toothpick in the center to hold the bacon and olive together, and bake until crisp.”

Remember, it’s great to enjoy your food, but if you pig out too much, your spending could take you straight from hog heaven to wallowing in the mud (yes, more ridiculous pork-related metaphors). It’s easy to keep your credit scores in good shape by paying your bills on time, keeping your credit card balances low and watching for signs of identity theft and unauthorized transactions on your accounts. You can keep track of your credit by getting your two free credit scores, updated monthly, at Credit.com.

Image: Izabela Habur

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9 Foods to Buy in Bulk if You’re Looking to Save Money

I’ve been a frugal mom for the past 19 years.  At first, it was out of necessity and now it is out of habit. Throughout the years, I have figured out the best ways to save money on groceries for my large family of nine.

Why Buy Food in Bulk

  1. To save money: When you buy food in quantity, you can save some serious money. I’ve found that I can save as much as 50% on an item by buying more of it at once. 
  2. To start a food storage system: By starting a food storage system full of shelf-stable foods, if a natural disaster or any other emergency happens, you will be able to eat.
  3. To shop less often: If you’re like me, you don’t have time to go grocery shopping all the time. If you have a bulk supply of foods, you won’t have to go as often.

What Foods to Buy in Bulk

1. Apples

Apples can last several months in a cool, dry place.  Of course, you could also process them into applesauce, apple butter, etc., but in general, if you buy several bags of apples, or better yet, pick several buckets of them, they’ll be fine for a long time, as long as you don’t wash them right away.

2. Strawberries

I love to buy lots of strawberries when they’re on sale because they’re so easy to freeze. Did you know that you can even freeze them with their greens still attached? If you freeze strawberries for smoothies, you can easily throw the whole strawberry with the greens still attached, into the blender. It is edible.

3. Onions & Peppers

If you find a great sale on onions and peppers, you can totally stock your freezer with pre-chopped vegetables. Recently I found bags of red, yellow and orange peppers for only $1.50. I bought several and chopped them up to save for future meals. If you’ll be cooking with them, you’ll never notice that they were frozen first.

4. Cheese

This is probably my favorite grocery item to buy in bulk. At our local grocery store, shredded cheese costs nearly $5 per pound. But, when I go to a membership store, I can get it for around $2.75 per pound. This is a huge savings! We make so many recipes that call for cheese, I always keep a 5-pound bag of it in my refrigerator and two more in the freezer.

5. Spices

I prefer to buy my spices by the pound, rather than by the bottle. Spices last for years! Typically, if you buy them by the pound, you’ll spend less than you do on some of those little bottles.

6. Dry Pasta

This is another food that has a very long shelf life.  You’ll need to do your due diligence to be sure that it is not in an extremely humid environment, but pasta will last for months, if not years, as well.

7. Canned Goods

I like to buy these in bulk when we go to Aldi, because they’re the cheapest there. Typically, I buy a case of canned goods at a time, so that I always keep a well-stocked pantry. If you choose to do this, be sure that the items you’re buying are things you use up on a regular basis.

8. Oats

I like to keep a food-safe bucket in my kitchen full of oats.This has helped me save so much money on breakfasts through the years. By buying it in bulk, I save about $1 per pound, when compared to typical grocery store pricing.

9. Meat 

When I see a sale on meat, I always grab it, if the price is low enough. Meat is usually the most expensive grocery item in your meal, so this is a great area to do some bulk shopping. In the past, we’ve found ground beef on sale for $2 a pound and we loaded our freezer up with as much as we thought we could eat in the next several months. We also buy a side of beef from our local farmer, which can save several dollars per pound, depending on the cut of meat that we are talking about.

5 Things You Should Think About Before Buying in Bulk

Now that we’ve talked about all the amazing foods that you can buy in quantity, I want to be sure you think through whether it’s right for you. Before you make your bulk-food-buying decisions, go through these questions one by one and make sure buying that food is right for you and your family.

  • Do you have enough freezer space?
  • Do you have enough pantry space?
  • Will you truly be saving money?
  • Are you likely to waste any foods by purchasing this much?
  • Do you eat this food often enough to warrant buying it in quantity?

[Editor’s Note: No matter how you buy your groceries, you don’t want to throw too much on your credit card and fall into debt. The interest rate on the card might just eat up your savings and the balance can hurt your credit score. You can view two of your credit scores for free each month on Credit.com.].

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Somebody Just Bought a Watermelon for $4,700

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Some people can’t resist the temptation to splurge on a fancy dinner. Then there are others who can’t resist the temptation to splurge ¥500,000, or about $4,700, on a rare black watermelon.

According to Mental Floss, that’s exactly what happened Tuesday, when a lucky bidder took home a rare melon after an auction in Asahikawa, Japan, at a fresh produce market.

Densuke watermelons are known for their “black and shiny skin as well as their crunchy texture,” according to The Japan Times. They’re also considered a primo gift in Japan, notorious for fetching high prices, especially when they’re part of the country’s first harvest of the season. Peak season is usually in July, so this Densuke was prime for the picking.

Many consumers couldn’t afford such an extravagance. For instance, the average American, at least, doesn’t have thousands gathering dust in their savings account and can hardly afford to cover an unexpected expense or emergency. In fact, a survey conducted by the Federal Reserve in 2014 found 47% of Americans said they wouldn’t be able to cover a $400 emergency expense. (You can learn how to retrain your brain to cut debt and build savings here.)

And even people with some savings can benefit from carefully considering any splurges they’re inclined to make — particularly if they plan to charge the purchase to a credit card. High levels of debt, related to pricey watermelons or otherwise, could wind up hurting your wallet and your credit score.

Before you consider running up any big bills, make sure you know where your credit stands, as it’s a huge indicator of your financial standing that can affect your ability to secure a home loan, rental agreement and so much more. You can view two of your credit scores, updated each month, for free on Credit.com. And, if your credit is in lackluster shape, you may be able to improve your score by paying down high credit card balances, disputing any errors with the credit reporting agencies and limiting new credit inquiries.

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5 Tricks That Could Fool Your Kids Into Eating More Veggies

If you have young kids, you’ve probably been ’round and ’round with them multiple times about eating a balanced diet. The “good eater” is a rare thing, after all, with most kids preferring french fries to broccoli any day.

You’ve probably also read all of the tips on how to be a “good example” by eating your own vegetables, enforcing the “one-bite rule,” “making food fun” and getting kids to choose their own vegetables at the grocery store (is this something super moms have time to do?). Instead of tips on how to make vegetables more exciting, what you really need are some recipe ideas that will make your kids crave the cauliflower, beg for the beans and ask when you’re going to make that pasta with all the pretty colors again.

So, if you’re tired of the cajoling, the whining and wasting money on food your kids refuse to eat, here are five menu ideas that will have your kids coming back for seconds.

1. Spinach & Artichoke Lasagna

This smooth and cheesy recipe is perfect paired with a simple salad and also makes for great leftovers. Try doubling up on the spinach for a greener and more healthful meal. It’s so delicious, your kids won’t even notice the vegetables inside.

2. Cauliflower Bechamel

This recipe is great because you can get an entire head of cauliflower into a highly versatile sauce and no one is the wiser. Your kids like mac & cheese? Slowly melt cheese into this sauce, mix with macaroni, top with more cheese and bake. Want to add some extra veggies into the mix? Add some finely chopped broccoli, spinach or peas so your kids can pick out the green stuff if they want, without realizing they’re getting vegetables anyway. This sauce freezes well and can be used anywhere you’d use a cream sauce. (Pro tip: For a richer sauce, use milk instead of broth or water.)

3. Pot Pies

They’re easy, comforting and so, so yummy. Whether you use chicken, turkey, tofu or some other protein, be sure to throw in lots of healthy veggies. By chopping the vegetables very small, kids will be less likely to notice they’re eating something good for them.

4. Fruit & Veggie Popsicles

Here’s an easy way to get more vegetables in your kids’ diets. Combine kale, spinach, peas or even sweet potatoes with fruits and a bit of sweetener, and then run it all through a quick blend. Take that concoction and freeze it and you’ve got a wholesome summer snack your kids will love and you’ll feel good about.

5. Bacon!

As the saying goes, everything’s better with bacon, so if you and your kid eat it, try adding bacon to vegetable recipes to coax them into eating. One example are these zucchini boats with bacon gremolata.

If grocery costs are a concern for you, try these tips on how to eat for less than $6 a day. Saving money on food can help you stick to a budget plan, pay down billsconsolidate debt and reach your financial goals. A sound management plan can also efficiently subsidize your food budget plan for alleviating debt.

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