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Larry's Macaroni Salad

Readers' Recipes (featured column)
submitted by Larry Wiener

"Larry, would you be able to make your macaroni salad for... ?" That’s something I hear at work, church, with the family – so many times when there’s a get-together with food. It’s an easy, tasty recipe to make (don’t worry – I’ve included it here), and I’m glad to do it. And how I do it will show you a principle of black belt shopping put to use.

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The three main non-perishable ingredients in the salad are macaroni, mayonnaise, and relish. I know I am going to be using these ingredients regularly, so I buy them when I can at the lowest price and keep them around. That way all I have to go out and buy are the perishables.

In my area, mayonnaise goes for about $3.25 a quart at the supermarket. Quite regularly, however, with a sale and a coupon I can get it at the store I use (for my coupon runs), for about $1.00. I do that whenever I can.

The macaroni usually goes for about $1.08 a pound at the local full service supermarket, but I can pick it up for 50 cents a pound at a dollar store. Sometimes the supermarket has it on sale for less than that. Trader Joe’s carries it for about 69 cents a pound if neither of those sources is available. I buy that in bulk. The relish I use is about $1.40 to $1.80 for a 1 lb. jar. I pick that up at the dollar store for $1.00

I figured it out that to make the salad would cost $4.45 for those ingredients if I bought them at my local store with no sales our coupons. The way I buy them, they cost $2.55. All it takes is a little planning ahead.

Of course I do this with much more than the ingredients for macaroni salad. In my area, I know of many of the items I need that go on sale on a regular pattern. I just use a coupon then and pocket the savings. Certain items are best bought at dollar stores and I know what those are. In other cases the combination of the coupon and sale gets me a better deal than the dollar store.

All this sounds very time-consuming, but it really isn’t, especially since it saves emergency trips to the store because I always have a lot of non-perishables around.

Here are some tips that allow me to work this system on a regular basis. Details may differ for your area, but these work for me:

Do a dollar store run every now and then. Buy a few weeks’ worth of the items that are best bought there (for me, those include pasta, relish, dishwasher detergent, lentils, juices and sometimes soups).

Figure out how to work the coupons in your area. In my case, I know that one certain chain doubles coupons and often has items on sale the same week the coupon comes out in the paper. This saves me all the filing and sorting of coupons that otherwise might keep me from doing the system (I do save a few coupons for items that don’t go on sale that same week, but not many).

Consider warehouse stores for items you buy in bulk. Make regular runs if you have one in your area (this is not a big part of my plan because the coupons are so good here).

Buy perishables only in the amount that you will use before they go bad.
This system probably saves me about $100 a month as a single person who eats out a time or two a week. A family of four could easily save $300 a month.

Last but not least, here’s how to make the macaroni salad:


3-4 stalks celery
2-3 green onions
1 ½ - 2 lbs. macaroni
About 2 cups mayo
About ½ cup sweet relish
1 green pepper
Mustard (to taste)
Seasoning to taste

Chop up celery, green onions, and green pepper in a food processor if you have one. Cook macaroni. Mix all the ingredients together. Vary proportions, sizes, etc. to size or group and taste. Season with pepper, dry onion soup, or whatever you like. Chill and enjoy.

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Copyright © 2002 by Larry Wiener. All rights reserved.

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