Empirical support for the food budget management strategies in the consumer education curriculum

Material Information

Empirical support for the food budget management strategies in the consumer education curriculum
Guttinger, Donald Gordon ( Dissertant )
Lawrence, Gordon D. ( Thesis advisor )
Taylor, Barbara E. ( Reviewer )
Parkay, Forrest W. ( Reviewer )
Smith, David C. ( Degree grantor )
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
University of Florida
Publication Date:
Copyright Date:
Physical Description:
ix, 207 leaves ; 28 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Consumer education ( jstor )
Consumer spending ( jstor )
Coupons ( jstor )
Economics ( jstor )
Food ( jstor )
Meats ( jstor )
Prices ( jstor )
Recommendations ( jstor )
Shopping ( jstor )
Textbooks ( jstor )
Consumer education ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Educational Leadership -- UF
Educational Leadership thesis Ph. D
bibliography ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Consumer education textbooks offer food budget management suggestions, usually presented as recommended strategies and tips. The items on these lists seldom have more than face validity. The purpose of this study was to determine which of the various food purchasing strategies recommended in textbooks are used significantly more by price-efficient shoppers than by shoppers defined as non- price -efficient. Food budget management recommendations were extracted from curriculum materials and submitted to a panel of consumer educators for validation, a process that pared the recommendations to 53 items. Questionnaires for use with food shoppers were then developed. Data on food expenditures and the demographics of household makeup were compiled in 106 telephone interviews. A representative group of 47 shoppers was administered a second questionnaire to determine use of the recommended strategies Contrasting individual shoppers' expenditures with United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regional averages for like households provided a measure of relative price-efficiency in food buying. Frequency crosstabulations of shoppers scoring high and low on this measure with a dichotomized representation of strategy usage provided phi correlations, indicating relative strategy importance. Eight respondents were selected for 2-week follow-ups, during which documented logs of food expenditures were reviewed. This qualitative assessment was designed to check respondent's recall of food expenditures and the accuracy of self-assignment into one of three USDA-defined food budget levels Nine specific consumer practices were supported: (a) comparing unit prices, (b) stocking ahead when prices are low, (c) analyzing recipe costs, (d) being one's own butcher, (e) trying new recipes, (f) making shopping lists, (g) considering time and fuel costs of shopping trips, (h) avoidance of shopping when rushed, and (i) attentiveness to USDA grades. Another strategy, alertness during the checkout process, was shown to be significant when an ex post facto analysis was performed on component variables. The results of this study provide empirical support for specific strategies which significantly impact household food budgets and provide objective considerations for curriculum designers and consumer educators.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1986.
Bibliography: leaves 199-205.
General Note:
General Note:
Statement of Responsibility:
by Donald Gordon Guttinger.

Record Information

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University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
Copyright [name of dissertation author]. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Resource Identifier:
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AEN5928 ( NOTIS )
015987372 ( OCLC )


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Copyright 1986


Donald Gordon Guttinger


Sincere appreciation is expressed to the many people

who provided assistance to me in the preparation of this

dissertation. Without their efforts, this endeavor would

not have been possible.

I am indebted to friend and scholar Dr. Gordon

Lawrence, whose sound reasoning, patience, and positive

spirit as chair of my committee provided the guidance I

needed. Committee members Dr. Forrest Parkay of Educational

Leadership and Dr. Barbara Taylor of IFAS Extension Home

Economics are due extraordinary accolades for their

valuable assistance and continued interest and support.

Much help has come from outside my committee.

Professors Emeritus Margaret Morgan and Dora Hicks assisted

with the manuscript. Dr. James Hensel, Dr. John Nickens,

Dr. Janet Larsen, Dr. Betty Gridley, and Dr. Wilson Guertin

of the College of Education gave advice and encouragement,

as did Dr. Kurt Kent and Dr. Kenneth Christiansen of the

College of Journalism. Mr. Sean Boyle helped with the

microcomputer program, and Mr. Abdel Fattah assisted with

SAS programming and data interpretation.

Members of the local panel of consumer educators as

well as over a hundred respondents in the community took

time from busy personal schedules to cooperate--often

without advance notice. Their consent to be interviewed

made the data gathering a pleasurable and interesting


Walt, Greg, Carla, and Dad gave up beach time,

vacation trips, neighborhood walks, and many Scrabble games

while the research was being conducted and reported. I

thank them for their patience and understanding.

Especially, I give my deepest love and appreciation to

Hellen, whose encouragement, commitment, and belief in me

made my postgraduate education a reality.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS . . . ... .. . . . iii

ABSTRACT . . . . . . . . ... . . viii


I. INTRODUCTION. . . . . . . . . 1
Statement of the Problem. . . . . . 2
Nature of the Study . . . . . . . 2
Research Tasks . . . . . . . 2
Hypotheses . . . . . .... .. .. 5
Need for the Study. . . . . . . . 5
Background of the Study ........... 8
The Consumer Education Curriculum. . . 8
Life Management Skills . . . . . 9
Consumer Information and Teaching Aids . 10
Pricewatching Efficiency . . . . .. 11
Significance of the Study . . . . ... 12
Assumptions Underlying the Study. . . .. 14
Source Selection . . . . . ... 14
Panel of Experts . . . . . ... 15
Gathering Consumer Data. . . . . ... 15
Definition of Terms ............. 16
Delimitations and Limitations ........ 18
Organization of the
Remainder of This Study .... . ....... 21

Consumer Education. ............ . 23
The Consumer Education Curriculum. ... 25
Curriculum Materials . . . . ... 26
Wise Shopping Strategies. . . . . ... 28
Federally Recommended Strategies . . .. 28
State Home Economics Extension
Service Recommendations . . ... 28
Florida-Approved Textbooks . . . ... 29
Strategy Compilation . . . . ... 31
Planning Strategies. . . . . . ... 31
In-store Strategies ........... 39
Life Style/Preference Strategies . . .. 48
Food Shopper Surveying. . . . . . ... 53
Weekly Food Dollars Spent . . . . .. 55
Summary . . . . . . . .... . 59


Research Design . . . . . . ... 60
Panel Review. . . . . . . . ... 62
The Phase 1 Survey. . . . . . . . 64
Phase 2 Instrumentation . . . . ... 66
Collecting Demographic Data. . . . ... 67
How the Strategy Usage was Determined. . 68
Telephone Survey Methodology . . ... 69
Conducting the Telephone Interviews. ... . 78
Data Analysis . . . . . . ... 80
Index of Pricewatching Efficiency. ... . 80
Phi Analysis of Categorical Variables. . 81
Phase 3: The Follow-Up Interview. . . .. 82
Methodology. . . . . . . . 83
Topics Covered . . . . . ... 83
Summary of Methodology. . . . . . ... 85

IV. RESEARCH FINDINGS . . . . . . ... 87
Results of Phase 1. . . . . . . ... 88
Results from Phase 2 Interviews . . ... 90
Crosstabulation of the Data . . . ... 96
Dichotomization of the Variables . . .. 97
Phase 2 Statistical Analysis . . ... 98
Decile Representation of the Respondents . 99
Correlations . . . . . . ... 99
Strategy Recommendations Examined. ... 100
Demographic Characterization . . . .. 113
Phase 3 In-Home Interviews. . . ... ... 115
Narratives of Eight Households . . ... 116
Phase 3 Contributions to this Study. .. .. 123
Summary of the Data Analysis. . . . ... 124

V. DISCUSSION . . . . . . . . .. 126
Findings and Ex Post Facto Analysis. ... . 126
Strategy Use Data Findings. . . . ... 127
Demographic Findings. . . . . ... 130
Interactions. . . . . . . .. 131
Relating Strategy Use to
Alternate Ranking Methods . . . ... 131
Contrast with Burgoyne Data . . ... 136
Retrospective on the Phase 1 Process. . 139
Phase 3 Reconsidered. . . . . ... 140
Limitations. . . . . .... .. . . 141
Interpretation of Data. . . . . ... 141
Internal Consistency. . . ... . . 144
General Considerations. .. .. . . 145
Data Analysis . . . . . . . 146
Suggestions for Further Study . . . ... 147
Implications for Textbook Writers . . .. 148




APPROVED FOR USE IN FLORIDA 1985-86 . . .. .157

CONTEMPORARY SOURCES. . . . . . ... 160


DEMOGRAPHIC DATA. . . . . . . . 183

STRATEGY USE DATA . . . . . . ... 187


REFERENCES . . . . . . . .... . 199

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. . . . . . . ... 206

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy




December 1986

Chairman: Gordon D. Lawrence
Major Department: Educational Leadership

Consumer education textbooks offer food budget

management suggestions, usually presented as recommended

strategies and tips. The items on these lists seldom have

more than face validity. The purpose of this study was to

determine which of the various food purchasing strategies

recommended in textbooks are used significantly more by

price-efficient shoppers than by shoppers defined as


Food budget management recommendations were extracted

from curriculum materials and submitted to a panel of

consumer educators for validation, a process that pared the

recommendations to 53 items. Questionnaires for use with

food shoppers were then developed.

Data on food expenditures and the demographics of

household makeup were compiled in 106 telephone interviews.

A representative group of 47 shoppers was administered a

second questionnaire to determine use of the recommended


Contrasting individual shoppers' expenditures with

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regional

averages for like households provided a measure of relative

price-efficiency in food buying. Frequency crosstabulations

of shoppers scoring high and low on this measure with a

dichotomized representation of strategy usage provided phi

correlations, indicating relative strategy importance.

Eight respondents were selected for 2-week follow-ups,

during which documented logs of food expenditures were

reviewed. This qualitative assessment was designed to check

respondent's recall of food expenditures and the accuracy of

self-assignment into one of three USDA-defined food budget


Nine specific consumer practices were supported: (a)

comparing unit prices, (b) stocking ahead when prices are

low, (c) analyzing recipe costs, (d) being one's own butcher,

(e) trying new recipes, (f) making shopping lists, (g)

considering time and fuel costs of shopping trips, (h)

avoidance of shopping when rushed, and (i) attentiveness to

USDA grades. Another strategy, alertness during the

checkout process, was shown to be significant when an ex

post facto analysis was performed on component variables.

The results of this study provide empirical support for

specific strategies which significantly impact household food

budgets and provide objective considerations for curriculum

designers and consumer educators.



Consumer education textbooks, when they include the

topic of household food buying, contain a variety of

resource management suggestions. These range from advice

on home gardening, cooperative buying, and menu

selection to strategies for supermarket shopping. Like-

wise, financial counselors and consumer economics

writers frequently offer lists of "dos" and don'tt" for

"wise shopping."

Few empirical findings validate the food budget

recommendations that form the basis of the school

curriculum. In fact, the shopping experiences of the

instructor, combined with suggestions from textbooks and

the popular press, form the major content for

instruction in buying food (Walker & Cude, 1983). State-

ments in these resources seldom have more than face

validity. Engel, Kollat, and Blackwell (1973) called

for "substituting objective criteria, where possible,

for subjective considerations" in consumer education

(p. 263). The need for curriculum validation for price

efficiency is evident in current content that may be

subjective and time worn. The purpose of this study


was to develop an empirical basis for determining which

budget management/price efficiency strategies are appro-

priate to include in curriculum materials related to


Statement of the Problem

The problem was to develop an updated, concise list

of strategies and tips, or food budget management "dos"

and don'tt" that is based on statistical testing and

validated with a measure of price-efficient shopping.

Data for the analyses were obtained from shoppers using

different stores and shopping behavior. Pursuit of this

problem depended upon devising (a) a justifiable

interview technique for gathering shopper data, (b) a

process for deciding which questions were appropriate to

ask, and (c) a measure for determining price efficiency.

Nature of the Study

Research Tasks

Accomplishment of the purpose of this study

involved the following research tasks:

1. Identifying and extracting food budget manage-

ment "do and don't" strategies from textbooks

and other contemporary resources.

2. Condensing the list by sorting and combining

similar recommendations.

3. Asking a local panel of consumer educators to

rate the usefulness of the recommended strate-

gies from the printed sources; eliminating

recommendations not receiving consensus

endorsement from the panel.

4. Using the strategy list that emerged from the

panel review to write questions for an

interview instrument. Most questions were

designed to elicit responses concerning

strategy use. Other questions were related

to behaviors and demographics such as food

expenditures and shopping frequency,

household size, number of meals eaten away

from home, and the sex and ages of persons in

the household.

5. Developing a three-phase shopper interview

scheme. The purpose was to obtain data on

the expenditures and strategy use of food

buyers. The phases were (a) mailout, (b)

telephone interviews, and (c) home visits.

Responses from the first phase were used to

obtain a list of telephone interview

respondents. The second phase, telephone

interviews, was for collecting the necessary

research data. The third phase was a

personal interview during a home visit with

eight selected respondents for observation of

additional factors or behaviors that impact

food shopping, and corroboration of the data

gathered during the telephone interview.

6. Developing a method of quantifying the food

shopping price efficiency of each interviewee

by contrasting his or her reported expend-

itures with published United States Depart-

ment of Agriculture (USDA) averages. This

contrast formed a continuum through the

average behavior to extremities representing

price-efficient food buying behavior and

non-price-efficient behavior.

7. Conducting interviews with food shoppers as

described in step 5.

8. Tabulating, summarizing, and interpreting the

telephone interview data. Correlations

between strategy use or shopper character-

istics and a measure of price-efficient

shopping were tabulated and reported as phi

statistics. Relationships retained in

devising a condensed listing were those that

satisfied requirements for significance by

reducing the chance error to 5%.

The product of this study is a strategy listing

that is more concise, more up-to-date, and potentially

more effective than any single existing resource. The

strategies uncovered during hypothesis testing and

correlational analysis are proposed to consumer

education curriculum planners as most likely to help

young consumers develop wise food shopping habits.

Personal experience, research, and observation of

the retail food scene fostered an hypothesis that some

shoppers regularly employ sets of buying strategies to

provision their households for significantly less money

than other shoppers spend for similar provisioning. Do

people who use certain budget management practices pay

less for similar foods than people who do not use them?

That was the main question to be answered by this study.

Stated in a testable form, the research question was as

follows: Of the various food purchasing strategies

recommended in consumer education textbooks, which ones

(if any) are used significantly more by price-efficient

shoppers than by those shoppers defined as



Data analysis consisted of a series of tests of the

null hypotheses that efficient and inefficient food

shoppers do not differ significantly as to their use of

specific budget management strategies nor do they differ

on specific demographic variables. The budget

management strategies tested were those determined to be

the ones most frequently taught in consumer education

units on food budget management.

Need for the Study

Instruction on food and its use is part of the

curriculum in consumer education and vocational home

economics, and is often included in economics, health,

nutrition, and life management skills courses in high

school and adult education programs. Many of these

courses contain food buying units based on lists of

recommended strategies. In addition, publications from

the popular press, financial counselors, and

agricultural extension service staffs--which disseminate

lists of ways to manage the food budget--contain

essentially the same material as the textbooks.

Despite the fact that many of the suggestions

relate to obtaining the maximum value for food

expenditure, most refer primarily to nutrition ("Include

foods from each of the four food groups in each meal"),

safety in food handling and storage ("Don't store opened

cans in the refrigerator"), or aesthetic meal

preparation ("Make your meals interesting by serving a

variety of food shapes and textures").

Porter (1976) wrote that food is among the most

important items that contribute to the cost of living and

among the most expensive items in the budgets of low and

low-middle income families. Whereas the typical

American consumer buys big-ticket items such as

furniture, automobiles, and appliances only

occasionally, the same consumer purchases food once or

twice every week. According to Porter, food is

virtually the only major cash-and-carry item left in the

typical budget and thus is the one area where house-

holders can "correct costly errors easily and start

saving substantially from the day [they] determine to

concentrate on so doing" (p. 163).

With this emphasis on the importance of food budget

management comes a need to educate consumers concerning

appropriate food consumption patterns. Much of what

young people learn about food they learn at home (Sims,

1983) and the information these future consumers acquire

may relate more to practices of the food industry in

previous decades than to what the citizen of tomorrow

will need to know. Inefficient practices of parents tend

to be perpetuated. Therefore, schools become the most

likely place for young consumers to receive information

on contemporary price-efficient food buying.

Because of the continuing technological develop-

ments in food processing, marketing, and retailing,

consumers should repeatedly determine the relationship

between various shopping strategies and price-efficent

food buying (Langrehr & Robinson, 1979). At the same

time, the changing psychological forces in advertising

and popular culture make rational consumer

interpretations necessary (Leet & Driggers, 1983;

Margolius, 1972; Swagler, 1979).

The near-universality of food buying, the frequency

with which individuals purchase food, the dynamic nature

of the marketplace, and the negative economic impact of

poor food buying decisions create a need for price

efficiency in managing the household food budget. This

study was an effort to develop a method for identifying

relevant content for food budget management instruction

in consumer education courses.

Background of the Study

Inferences about the curricular and instructional

materials contained in the following paragraphs are based

upon perusal of the contents of chapters on food topics

in the textbooks listed in Appendices A and B. Also,

curriculum guidelines such as the one by Metcalf (1984),

the School Board of Alachua County's Course Descriptions

(1985), and interviews with members of a local panel of

consumer educators were drawn upon in determining the

extent of consumer education on food topics. Despite

the wide range of high school courses of study in which

consumer education topics appear, there seems to be

little specific and systematic coverage of how to

participate most effectively in that economic activity

most people engage in most frequently--food buying.

The Consumer Education Curriculum

Consumer educators generally share the goal of

helping people develop economic competence. They have

operated under the assumption that formal education

through the schools is an effective way to achieve that

goal (Remy, 1980). Many consumer education topics

appear in the K-12 curriculum. The rights and

responsibilities of consumers, safety, nutrition,

healthful living, decision making, resource management,

and consumption mathematics and economics are covered

in a general way in numerous courses during one's school

career (Bannister, 1983).

Much early school mathematics relates to buying gro-

ceries. Children can be expected to comprehend everyday

purchases such as food (including candy and

beverages)--purchases they themselves are already

making. At the secondary level, consumer education has

been primarily a home economics or social studies (econ-

omics) offering, but consumer units have also been

incorporated in the areas of health, business, and

general mathematics. Consumer economics textbooks at

the secondary level generally include units on

capitalism, advertising, credit, insurance, investments,

taxation, and the expenses of health care, food, and

clothing. In other texts, the approach to food buying

is through a household budget management perspective, or

is included as an adjunct to nutrition instruction.

Life Management Skills

A widespread perception that many young people

enter adulthood ill-equipped to be fully functioning

citizens was evidenced by the Florida Legislature's

mandate that Life Management Skills (LMS) be added to

requirements for public high school graduation beginning

in 1986. The curriculum, according to the legislation,

is to include consumer education, emotional development,

drug education, and instruction on cancer detection

(General Requirements for High School Graduation, Sec.

10, F.S. 232.246, 1984).

The legislative mandate for LMS is based on the

need for consumer education. Florida's high school

students will, with LMS, have one more opportunity to

receive instruction in consumer education. Nonetheless,

coverage of food buying in existing courses of study is

scant. Teachers trained for teaching in health

education and also those trained for vocational education

(home economics) are teaching the LMS curriculum.

Separate sets of curriculum objectives were prepared at

the state level. Most schools are offering just one

curriculum, with the decision as to health or home

economics based primarily on the availability of teaching

personnel. Neither curriculum adequately addresses the

consumer's need for price efficiency skills in food

budget management.

Consumer Information and Teaching Aids

Regardless of the course of study in high school,

the contents of textbook chapters on food topics

indicate a tendency to focus on nutrition, government

labeling, and safety in cooking and storage (Appendices

A and B). Presumably, curriculum objectives follow

similar patterns. While wise food buying certainly

involves knowledge and application of these concepts, it

should not be limited to these general areas (Swagler,

1979). Consumer help beyond instructional materials is

already available from such sources as the Florida Citrus

Commission, the American Lamb Council, Albertson's

Supermarkets, and the American Egg Board. Each provides

free guides to buying and preparing specific foods.

Because of their own interests, however, these

organizations provide little help for the budget

management considerations of consumers. The material

may be informative and attractively presented, but it

is likely to reflect the bias of the sponsoring industry

group (Harty, 1978).

Lists of recommendations from home economists for

saving money are subject to changes in marketing

technique and consumer educators are left primarily to

their own devices (and biases) in teaching budget

management concepts. Besides presenting the various

wise food buying maxims, consumer educators should be

able to make statements about the relative impact of

specific strategies on household food budgets.

Pricewatching Efficiency

The USDA publishes regional average food cost data

on home meals at different budget levels for people by

gender and age groupings. A comparison of these USDA

regional averages for the cost of feeding households in

a geographic region with the specific individual

households of the study respondents contributed to the

development of an indicator of price efficiency.

One step in the analysis of buying patterns of food

shoppers in the current study was to analyze relative

buying-for-price efficiency by comparing USDA data with

information on the dollar outlay for a specific

household. The index of pricewatching efficiency (IPE)

controls for differences from one household to the next

in food budget levels, meals not eaten at home, and the

gender and age of household members. IPE is a gauge for

measuring relative outlays for similar purchases. Like

intelligence quotients or wind-chill factors, IPE eases

comparison of diverse situations. As a single number,

IPE may be useful for comparing composite food purchase

efficiency among food buyers with diverse household

makeup and menu preferences.

Significance of the Study

Timeliness. This study took place at a time when

the Life Management Skills curriculum was evolving in

Florida. Curriculum developers will have access to these

food buying findings for possible inclusion in revisions

of LMS and other consumer education courses. The

revisions suggested are in the form of a concise listing

of budget management strategies operationally related to

price-efficient food shopping.

Overreliance on advertising. Contemporary food

buyers tend to buy highly advertised convenience foods;

empty-calorie beverages and snacks; and foods containing

health-endangering amounts of sodium, saturated fat, and

sugar. No age or ethnic group has avoided these pit-

falls of the marketplace (Peterkin & Hama, 1983). Even

well-educated people who have bought food regularly over

many years are likely to make irrational grocery sel-

ections (Bassler & Newell, 1982). The poor and the less

well educated seem more likely to accept advertising

claims as fact and are thus more frequently victimized

in the marketplace (Cross, 1976). Nutrition education

is the most important solution to the problems

associated with dietary deficiencies and excesses. In

many cases, food budget savings coincide with better

nutritional choices because the most highly processed

foods (those with high levels of added fats,

preservatives, and sweeteners) tend also to be

more costly and less nutritionally sound (Morgan,

Johnson, & Burt, 1983).

Breadth of audience. Food buying represents the

largest discretionary area in most household budgets

(Porter, 1976). Considering frequency of disbursement

and the fact that, for most people, the activity

continues until death, food buying skills are of major

importance to individuals. Additionally, with more than

22 million Americans participating in the USDA food

stamp program, benefits accruing to individual partici-

pants from price-efficient shopping could become econ-
omic benefits to society as well (Leet & Driggers, 1983).

Changing marketplace. The dynamic nature of the

marketplace can be illustrated by several examples.

Textbooks frequently provide lengthy coverage on the USDA

grading of beef, whereas most markets now sell only one

grade (usually "choice") or ungraded beef. In

packaging, technological advances in plastics and

increases in transportation and labor costs have made

"one-way" 2-liter bottles generally more cost-effective

for use with carbonated beverages than the glass

returnable bottles. Consumer education materials still

report the deposit bottles (Biesdorf, Buris, & Swanson,

1980) as the most economical way of purchasing soda. An

example of a psychological development would be the

increased use of labeling (such as "light," "lite,"

"natural," or "economy size") that has no precise

meaning yet widespread buyer appeal (Stayman & Hagerty,

1985). Teaching out-of-date concepts is a danger that

can be reduced by continuous empirical examination of

subject matter (Remy, 1979).

Assumptions Underlying the Study

Source Selection

The materials from which the currently recommended

food budget management strategies were compiled in this

study (textbooks and extension service materials,

Appendix C) were assumed to be representative of similar

recent sources.

Panel of Experts

The teachers and extension home economists

comprising the local panel of consumer educators were

assumed to represent aggregate teaching philosophies

similar to those of other groups teaching at the

secondary level where food buying skills may be part of

the curriculum.

Gathering Consumer Data

It was assumed that all food is either purchased or

obtained by one of the methods that could be probed in

the interview. An objective throughout the study was to

build checks and safeguards to provide reasonable

assurance that the interview data were accurate and

representative. One assumption was that the interview

process provides data for a diverse range of shopping

behaviors, and the data are appropriate for evaluating

the impact of those strategies on price-efficient food

shopping. Other general assumptions in this study are

that interview respondents are able to recall approx-

imate recent expenditures and report them accurately.

Further, the ability of respondents to characterize their

household food budgets accurately in one of three

categories used by the USDA was important to the study.

(The third shopper interview phase, the in-home inter-

view, was incorporated in the research design for the

purpose of testing the accuracy of this assumption).

Each household member was assumed to eat 21 meals

per week. House guests for meals were assumed to offset

meals eaten in other people's homes by members of the

subject household. Seldom-purchased condiments were

assumed to be consumed at a nearly constant rate, with

replenishment costs spread evenly throughout the year.

Definition of Terms

Consumer education is the development within the

individual of the skills, concepts, and understandings

required for everyday living--skills that help

individuals, within the framework of their own values,

to participate fully and effectively in the marketplace

(Thorelli & Thorelli, (1977).

Curriculum refers to the set of courses offered

within an academic institution, or within a specific

academic program, or across an entire department.

In this study it specifically refers to topics of

coverage within consumer education courses.

Food budget level is one of three USDA categories

of expenditure for food for home consumption used in

this study--a consideration of both quantity and

quality. The budget level is independent of nutritional

value. The low level implies limited portions of foods

which can be purchased at relatively low prices;

moderate implies a consideration of cost, but a wider

selection, larger quantities, but avoidance of luxury

items; while liberal implies unrestricted quantities,

little consideration of cost, and a tendency toward

menus with a flair.

Life Management Skills is a half-credit requirement

for high school graduation in Florida beginning in 1986.

Components of the curriculum include consumer decision

making, consumer rights and responsibilities, positive

emotional development, nutrition, cancer detection,

cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and drug education.

Pricewatching efficiency is a general term

indicating the expenditure of fewer dollars than would

be predicted, using a contrast of actual outlays with

published regional averages for purchases of the same

array of consumer goods. Efficient food shoppers were

operationally defined as those people who spend less for

food than the USDA would predict. The USDA predictions

are based on periodic surveys in different regions of

the country and at different food budget levels, and the

estimates take sex and age of household members into

account. Conversely, non-price-efficient shoppers were

defined as those people who spend more than USDA predic-

tions. The 20% of the interviewed shoppers who spent

closest to the USDA estimates were not labeled as either

price-efficient or non-price-efficient. An index of

pricewatching efficiency (IPE) was calculated for a

respondent by comparing the reported weekly amount spent

for food with the predicted amount. As a measure of

major interest in this study, a positive IPE is an

indication the respondent spent less than would be

predicted using appropriate regional estimates as

reported by the Agricultural Research Service of the


Delimitations and Limitations

The analysis was delimited to the following


1. Interview respondents were drawn wholly from

the community of Gainesville, Florida.

Gainesville data may be atypical of most North

American metropolitan areas because the

proportion of workers in the public sector is

large. The University of Florida (U.F.), U.F.

Medical Center and Shands Hospital, Santa Fe

Community College, Veterans Administration

Medical Center, Sunland Training Center,

Florida Department of Agriculture Division of

Plant Industry, and other governmental offices

are housed in Gainesville. The population is

younger and better educated than the general

population of the country. The community has

a more rapid growth rate and also enjoys a

lower unemployment rate than prevails in most

southeastern communities.

2. Only cable television subscribers were

contacted in the mailout because a local cable

franchise provided an up-to-date mailing list

and facility for return postage. The

computer-generated mailing list included only

subscribers signed on the system six con-

tinuous months or more. Households receiving

cable services may be underrepresentative of

the population as a whole, especially

with regard to the poor and those living in

the rural fringe areas of Gainesville.

3. Only those people who responded to the

postcard and provided a telephone number

(indicating a willingness to participate

further in the study) were contacted for the

telephone interview.

4. Telephone interviews were conducted so that

initial contact took place between the hours

of 11:00 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. Persons not

interviewed may have had different demographic

characteristics or exhibit different shopping

preferences and behaviors from those who

answered their telephones during that time


5. Food budget management strategies used in the

data analysis were those compiled from

contemporary printed materials, posed to a

local panel of consumer educators, and

endorsed by their consensus. The panel members

were asked to suggest still other strategies

but those new strategies were not subjected to

the same scrutiny. Rather, the newly-added

strategies form a list of suggestions for

future empirical evaluation.

The following limitations to external validity are


1. Respondents may not be representative of the

total population because of the delimitations


2. Obtaining generalizable information in

consumer interviews is difficult because the

internal validity of self-reports,

particularly of expenditures, cannot be

controlled. Each step has threats to

statistical validity. For instance,

respondents pressed to recall recent purchases

may struggle to remember specifics. This

difficulty may sometimes be combined with a

resentment of the invasion of privacy.

Consequently, the respondent may guess wildly

or draw a complete blank. Attempts by

researchers to build accurate after-the-fact

profiles of purchase behavior are thus

confounded by respondents' (a) reluctance or

inability to recall, and (b) deliberate de-

ception (Lansing & Blood, 1964; Madow, 1967).

3. Strategies presented to panelists were not, in

any of the sources, represented as being of

equal potential importance.

4. The order in which strategies were presented

to panelists or to telephone subjects may have

had an influence on responses.

Organization of the Remainder of This Study

Chapter II contains a review of the literature,

including supportive interpretations relating to the

compiled strategies that were examined in the study.

Chapter III contains an explanation of the research

methodology, including the research design, respondent

selection process, data collecting procedures, instru-

mentation, and data analysis. The results of validation

by the local panel of consumer educators was incorp-

orated as part of the development of instrumentation.

Chapter IV is a presentation of statistical and

descriptive results and analyses. The final chapter (V)

contains a summary, author's conclusions, and comments

as to the generalizability of the findings.

Appendices A and B include a supplemental listing

of high school text materials, with commentary regarding

the content of food buying information presented in

each. The compilation and condensation from 15 repre-

sentative contemporary sources is summarized in Appen-

dix C. The three instruments used in the study are

reproduced as Appendices D, E, and F. A microcomputer


program (written in Applesoft BASIC) is illustrated and

listed in Appendix G. The program will enable re-

searchers or other interested individuals to calculate

and interpret indices of pricewatching efficiency (IPEs).



Two main arenas of inquiry are examined in this

chapter. One is consumer education, and specifically

the curriculum content of instructional units on food

budget management. The other is the experiential realm

of food budget management--the practices of food buyers

and the gathering of data from them.

This chapter will open with a review of the high

school consumer education course offerings that may

contain units relating to food buying-for-price within

individual household budgets. There will be a review of

high school curricula relating to food and food budget

management, and also commentary on selected teaching

materials currently approved for use in Florida.

The budget management strategies recommended by

contemporary household resource management writers,

especially the writers of high school textbooks, were a

core concern in this study. Strategies drawn from the

textbooks became separate data variables presented to

the local panel of practitioners, and were ultimately

used in the correlation study with food shoppers. The

strategies recommended by the writers and reported in


this chapter will be accompanied by interpretations from the

literature pertaining to each strategy.

This study included food shopper interviews aimed at

determining the strategies used by individual shoppers. The

interviews incorporated inquiries about use or non-use of

specific shopping behaviors, along with data making up the

shopper's household food expenditure pattern. The aim was

to uncover significant correlations between these indicators

and a measure of food budget management efficiency. To aid

in the design of the interviews, some of the types of data

previous researchers have thought relevant to food shopper

interviews were also examined.

This chapter is concluded with a discussion of average

weekly expenditures. These USDA estimates were later

contrasted with actual reported expenditures for the

individual shoppers in the study, providing a measure of

shopping efficiency that took into account such demographics

as expenditures for food, household size, and food budget


Consumer Education

Consumer education (or consumption science, or consumer

affairs) has yet to gain recognition as a separate academic

discipline. Instead, it involves cross-disciplinary

consideration of economics, psychology, sociology,

anthropology, marketing, health, communications, and research

methods. The nature of this study seems to fit what Rader

(1980) proposed as the discipline of consumption science; a

knowledge base for consumer education. As Rader perceived

consumption science, it would

have principles, laws and generalizations drawn
from anthropology, economics, psychology,
sociology, and perhaps some other newly emerging
disciplines. Consumer education may continue to
be oriented to decision-making, valuing, inquiry,
and action concerns, drawing from consumption
science for its knowledge base. (p. 5)

The Consumer Education Curriculum

Consumer education topics already appear throughout the

K-12 curriculum. The rights and responsibilities of

consumers, safety, nutrition, healthful living,

decision-making, resource management, and consumption

mathematics and economics are covered in a general way in

numerous courses in one's school career. Instruction in

nutrition, as well as meal preparation, safety in food

handling, and proper storage of leftovers is central to the

home economics curriculum. The material is also covered in

some business, social studies, life management skills,

science, health, and physical education courses.

In spite of the multitude of consumer education course

offerings, systematic inclusion of specific material on food

budget management is absent. This is because the major

subject heading of systematized money management, in a

typical unit on family/household planning, includes examples

ranging through automobiles, major appliances, health care,

clothing, insurance, restaurant meals, and supermarket food.

In most cases, the coverage is built on the concepts of

income, budgeting, credit and borrowing, advertising, and

consumer shopping and buying techniques. The courses where

consumer affairs are the subject do not, however,

necessarily include food topics (a range of contemporary

consumer texts is annotated as to food buying content in

Appendices A and B).

Curriculum Materials

The amount of influence textbooks have on what is

covered in class varies considerably from one classroom to

the next. To some extent textbooks both form and reflect

the curriculum, even when they are regarded as supplemental

instructional aids. Although the practice is criticized on

a range of theoretical grounds, textbooks (and their

associated workbooks and teacher's guides) form the course

outline, the framework, the basis for testing, and the view

of the discipline for the curriculum in between 75% and 90%

of classrooms (McNeil, 1985).

The texts approved for use in Florida are of particular

interest in this study. Florida Department of Education

1985-86 authorized texts with content related to buying food

are listed, by subject area, in Table 1. The nature of that

food-buying content is discussed for texts keyed "A," in

Appendix A. Other contemporary textbooks which include

coverage of food-related consumer education topics are listed

in Appendix B.

The consumer education materials in schools are not

readily distinguishable from materials from cooperative

extension services, producer-employed home economists, and

Table 1
Middle School and High School Consumer Education

Textbooks Included in
Adopted Instructional

"Catalog of State [of Florida]
Materials 1985-86"

Business Education
Home Economics:
Consumer Education

Exploration of the
Occupation of

Fundamentals of




Social Studies:
Consumer Education




Author(s), Date
Jelley & Herrmann, 1978
Tsumura et al., 1984
Oppenheim, 1977
Maedke et al., 1979
Levy et al., 1976
Linder & Seltzer, 1977
Warmke et al., 1977
Kowtaluk, 1980
Cronan & Atwood, 1976
Riker & Riker, 1977
Dunn & Peeler, 1981
Oppenheim, 1981
Craig, 1982
Kelly & Eubanks, 1981
McGinley, 1980
Parnell, 1981
Foster et al., 1982
Chamberlain et al., 1982
Keedy et al., 1980
Stein, 1978
Clarkson et al., 1980
Olivo & Olivo, 1975
Bradford, 1975
Haines, 1979
Jacobs, 1970
Thompson, 1977
Goe, 1979
Kravitz et al., 1980
Shaw et al., 1979
Wells et al., 1980
Lewis, 1980
Price et al., 1978
Bolster et al., 1981
Bolster & Woodburn, 1981
Bragg et al., 1979
Clawson, 1980
Plunkett, 1979
Miller, 1978
Warmke & Wyllie, 1983
Hodgetts & Smart, 1982
Brown & Warner, 1982
Gordon & Dawson, 1980
Smith et al., 1981
Brown & Wolf, 1979
Wolken & Glocker, 1982

Key: A Reviewed in Appendix A
N Not available for review
X Contains no material on food buying


consumer advocacy organizations. All of these sources

publish materials offering "helpful hints" for

economical food buying. The wire services and popular

magazines give wide circulation to many of the releases

from these groups, as well as to parallel material they

produce themselves.

Wise Shopping Strategies

The listing of "wise shopping strategies" from

which this study was developed is a composite drawn

primarily from Florida-approved textbooks. It also

includes a USDA source and an extension home economics

booklet from the State of New York.

Federally Recommended Strategies

The USDA's Human Nutrition Information Service

gives wide distribution to Your Money's Worth in Foods,

which has been revised many times through the years. The

1982 revision, by Peterkin and Junker, offers 27

specific shopping practice recommendations to "advise

families on how to use their food money wisely" (p. ii).

The strategies are listed in Appendix C.

State Home Economics Extension Service Recommendations

Harrison (1977) prepared a pamphlet for use in

Florida similar in form to those used in many other

states for home economics extension and 4-H activities.

One of the most comprehensive listings of the type

Harrison prepared for Florida is that by Biesdorf,

Burris, and Swanson (1980). They authored Cornell

University's food shopping handbook for the home

economics extension service in New York as part of a

complete teaching kit, "Be a Better Shopper." This

program includes 140 slides designed to help people "save

10-15 percent--probably more at the supermarket"

(undated promotional flyer for the program). The

recommendations, which cover some areas omitted by many

of the other sources, are also enumerated in Appendix C.

Florida-Approved Textbooks

The public school textbooks that were listed in

Table 1 (Florida Department of Education, 1985) are

approved for specific courses as shown. Florida's

current textbook approval cycle ends in 1986, so it is

likely some of the newer texts listed in Appendix B will

be more widely used in Florida classrooms, as will

revised editions of currently-approved texts

(conversation with Ella Mae Huber, Textbook Coordinator,

School Board of Alachua County, January, 1986).

Eighteen of the texts were selected for annotation

in Appendix A based on availability and presence of food

buying content. For example, Dunn and Peeler (1981), in

their junior high text, offer eight shopping suggestions

related to saving money. Another text written for the

middle school audience by Cronan and Atwood (1976)

emphasizes quality/value tradeoffs. Cronan and Atwood

offer only five specific recommendations.

The fifth edition of Teen Guide (Chamberlain,

Budinger, & Jones, 1982) devotes a chapter to shopping

for food, after having given 11 short chapters to

resource management and 9 more to nutrition and meal

preparation. Later chapters cover eating out, safety in

the kitchen, specific food types, and government food

programs. The food buying strategies offered by Craig

(1982) are arranged within several different chapters in

a fundamentals of homemaking text, Thresholds to Adult


Discovering Nutrition, by Helen Kowtaluk (1980)

contains a concise chapter on buying food. In it are

listed 14 money-saving strategies. Food buying tips are

prescribed in Consumer Mathematics, by Goe (1979). Some

of the suggestions are inferred by the narrative

mathematical problems, others are section topics.

Maedke, Lowe, Boardman, and Malouf (1979) mentioned

various strategies in the narrative of their Consumer

Education text, rather than separating them into a list

of recommended shopping practices. In all, 17 were

mentioned. Jelley and Herrmann, in their revised (1978)

consumer economics text, The American Consumer: Issues

and Decisions, cite 11 recommendations. The Consumer in

the Marketplace (Levy, Feldman, & Sasserath, 1976)

contains recommendations for 12 price-efficient

practices for food buyers. Plunkett (1979) offers

nearly two dozen tips, which are combined and presented

as "eleven ways to stretch your food dollar" in The

Consumer in America.

The Hodgetts and Smart (1982) economics text,

Essentials of Economics and Free Enterprise, includes a

chapter on marketing and another on consumer buying.

Seven budget management strategies are covered.

Strategy Compilation

A list of food buying strategies was compiled from

the sources cited above. Because the strategies

suggested in the consumer education textbooks and

pamphlets are central to the present study, each of them

is presented and discussed on the following pages.

Research pertaining to food budget management is cited

in the context of the strategy to which it applies.

The specific strategy recommendations of each cited

source are listed in Appendix C. For purposes of

simplifying the presentation, the 61 strategies which

emerged as a compilation (and are presented in the

latter part of Appendix C) have been classified into

three groups, (a) planning, (b) in-store, and (c) life

style/preference. To facilitate later reference, each

strategy has been assigned a respective identifying

number with the prefix P, IS, or L.

Planning Strategies

Approximately one-fourth of the recommendations

from the compilation can be classified as planning

strategies. They are primarily concerned with home

preparation for the shopping trip.

Plan menus a week at a time (Pl). This time period

is meant to coincide with the shopping frequency. With

the weekly interval, the newspaper listing of specials

can be used to best advantage. One of the considerations

is the idea espoused by some writers (for example,

Kimbrell & Kern, 1984; Linder & Selzer, 1977) that trips

more frequent than weekly are inefficient from a time

and fuel standpoint. By planning the menus carefully,

creative use of leftovers can also be planned.

Preparation time can be efficiently used by bulk-packing

individual and casserole portions ahead and freezing

them (Heisler & Hook, 1984).

Always make a shopping list (P2). This maxim was

mentioned in 10 of the 13 sources reviewed. After

listing all the needs for an entire week and checking

them off against pantry inventory, food buyers maximize

their potential for avoiding impulse buying by making

detailed shopping lists. Also, the practice helps avoid

mid-week or unplanned "pickup" trips (Oumlil, 1983).

This exercise is especially useful for young food buyers

who have yet to establish buying/preparation/storage pat-

terns (Ward, Wackman, & Wartella, 1977). Goe (1979) is

one of the authors who points out the value in retaining

flexibility when using lists (to allow purchase of

unexpected bargains found on shopping trips).

Organize your shopping list (P3). This works best

when the store layout is familiar, but can be useful in

unfamiliar stores as well. Arranging the needed items by

product groupings can help in prioritizing restricted

funds and it saves time in the supermarket aisles

(Biesdorf et al., 1980).

Read ads for at least two competing food stores

before you shop (P4). Promoted "loss leaders" often

represent savings of 30% or more (unpublished survey of

three Gainesville, Florida supermarkets, March, 1985).

An awareness of those specials, as well as favored

products available in one or the other of the stores

being considered, can be useful in deciding which store

to shop in if only one is to be used. Brown and

Oxenfeldt (1972) examined different criteria in

determining that people who "lock in" to a single store

for all their grocery needs spend an average of 8% more

for their food.

Plan menus around seasonable produce (P5). In addi-

tion to aesthetic and nutritional reasons, fresh produce

is nearly always cheaper (in season) than produce that

has been canned, dried, or frozen. Produce that has

been in cold storage generally costs more than

fresh-picked. The exception would be for hothouse crops

or the very first pick of the season crops, which may

have been transported great distances. Also,

cold-storage produce is more likely to have been treated

with preservatives, fungicides, or coloring agents

(Bassler & Newell, 1982).

Plan menus around meat and fish specials (P6). This

recommendation arises from a recognition that the most

expensive item in the meal is generally the meat

(Margolius, 1972). Having a cookbook available as the

newspaper ads are being checked can aid in providing

inexpensive variations as well as occasional luxury cuts

(Chamberlain et al., 1982). Variations between regular

and special prices frequently are in the range of $2 per

pound (unpublished survey of three Gainesville, Florida

supermarkets, June, 1984 and March and November, 1985).

Try new recipes and menus (P7). Hundreds of

cookbooks are available, with many featuring exotic

recipes that contain expensive ingredients. However,

other cookbooks feature preparation variations for

common foods. Homemakers are advised by Bowers, Zell,

Horowitz, Figliulo, Shade, Ryan, and Shames (1984) to

(a) make recipe selections in consideration of other

strategies, such as seasonal availability of produce

(P5) and featured specials (P6); and (b) avoid short-

cycle repetitions. As new methods of packaging and

preparing foods are developed, a continuing array of

different menus becomes available (Peterkin & Hama,


Consider value of time and fuel (P8). Oumlil (1983)

conducted a mail survey in Arkansas and found clear

evidence (p < .02) that the majority of his 465

respondents "are exhibiting adaptive shopping behavior

of various types" (p. 63). He stated that making

shopping a travel-related activity (p < .005) was the

most widely practiced adaptive behavior in the period of

stagnant or reducing real income for the 5-year period

prior to his study. Oumlil found combination and

reduction in number of shopping trips greatest among

unskilled male heads of household, but also with the

other groups he defined. Leet and Driggers (1983)

recommend careful at-home planning to minimize shopping

time and the number of shopping trips. There seems to

be a tendency for shoppers to use the notion of time or

fuel savings as a rationalization for shopping in nearby

expensive stores or using overpriced convenience foods

(Hornik, 1984). Hornik suggests that instead of

separate trips to the store, shoppers arrange to combine

errands with travel to or from the workplace.

Be open to new brands and products (P9). Bowers et

al. (1984) recommend taking advantage of promotional

efforts by manufacturers for their new products--intro-

ductory prices, bonus packaging, and coupons. Sometimes

established brands other than the ones usually purchased

are available at promotional prices. These promotional

alternates offer an opportunity for retrial at minimal

risk. Being open to new products appears to parallel the

recommendations to explore new recipes (P7) and

promotional packaging (IS14).

Join a food cooperative or buying club (P10).

Using this strategy allows purchase at or near wholesale

prices. The potential savings are generally

proportional to the quantity purchased or the amount of

time spent working for the operation. Some cooperatives

operate at the micro level (within a neighborhood or

church group, for example) and operate child care or

central purchasing facilities. Others operate health

care centers or chains of retail stores, allowing

members discounts or rebates. Traditionally, the

affluent and well-educated have established and operated

successful food cooperatives in places like Berkeley,

Palo Alto, Cambridge, and Ann Arbor (Sommer, Becker,

Hohn, & Warholic, 1983). These institutions have been

in the forefront of such broad consumer movements as the

press on manufacturers for improved packaging, standard

package sizes, and full disclosure of product ingredients

(Margolius, 1972). Groups seeking to operate

cooperatives for student, low-income, or elderly groups

have been recipients of grants for the purpose of

establishing "co-ops," but these efforts frequently are

short-lived (Sommer et al., 1983).

Avoid "convenience" stores (P11). Prices in

neighborhood extended-hour stores are generally 10-20%

higher, and there is a limited selection of brands and

package sizes (Levy et al., 1976). In addition,

convenience store shoppers increase their chances of

being bystanders during violent crimes due to the many

armed robberies of convenience stores. [In 1985, 18% of

all armed robberies in Florida took place in convenience

stores. Whereas only slightly more than half of all

robberies were committed with a weapon, those that took

place in convenience stores involved a weapon in 84% of

the incidents (Florida Department of Law Enforcement,


Avoid buying non-foods in groceries (P12). This

recommendation needs many qualifiers because such things

as pet food, toilet paper, and cleaning products

generally are cheaper in food stores than in general

merchandise stores (unpublished survey of three

Gainesville, Florida supermarkets and three discount

general merchandise stores in June, 1984 and November,

1985). On the other hand, health and beauty aids,

stationery, hardware, and housewares are usually priced

at full markup in supermarkets. The relationship

between food and non-food budget management is

considered in the present study because it is not

readily evident how the purchase of non-foods can impact

on the food budget.

Clip and organize coupons (P13). Winter and

DeGeorge (1980) found the majority of all segments of

the population identified themselves as regular coupon

clippers but the use of coupons is positively correlated

with both age and income. Estimates of aggregate coupon

redemption indicate Americans "save" about 5% of total

food expenditures through manufacturer's and retailer's

coupons (Gallo, Hamm, & Zellner, 1982). Uhl (1982)

argues the savings are illusionary to consumers as a

class because "they discriminate against low income and

minority consumers as well as shoppers with high time

costs" (p. 162). Coupon advocates suggest planning to

redeem them on items normally purchased instead of buying

products primarily on the basis of the reduced price

(Bowers et al., 1984). Henderson (1984) illustrated the

advantage of using coupons in conjunction with

promotionally priced products or those offering bonus


Save high value coupons for "double coupon re-

demption promotions" (P14). For example, consumers who

stock ahead on laundry detergent (for which coupons

valued at 50 cents to $1 are common) by buying an

assortment of brands in small-to-medium sized packages

generally find it pays to seek out double redemption

promotions--even if the store's prices are otherwise

slightly higher (Bowers et al., 1984).

Save trading stamps, redeem them for food where

appropriate (P15). Stamps generally represent a 1.5 to

2% rebate. Contrary to widespread perceptions, stores

giving stamps pay for them from their advertising

budgets rather than directly passing on the cost to the

consumer (Antil, 1985; Carsky & McCabe, 1983). Many

stamp-giving stores now provide for stamp redemption on

"stamp price specials" within the store. Florida's

Publix Markets, for example, promote use of stamp price

redemption cards wherein stamps awarded with $30 of past

purchases can be used for a 50 cent credit on specified

promotional items. This type of redemption saves the

consumer having to wait in line at stamp redemption

stores for the traditional household or gift items (upon

which a fixed sales tax is assessed). In-store

redemption thus directly impacts the food budget.

In-Store Strategies

The next 30 strategies are primarily carried out in

the store when shopping for food.

Shop in at least two competing stores (IS1). It is

not necessary to go to two stores on each market

day--the recommendation is to alternate among several

stores and stay alert to the promotions in each, or use

one main market where prices are low but buy fresh meats

and produce in a second store (Hodgetts & Smart, 1982).

Buy only items on your shopping list (IS2). This

would appear to correlate positively with several other

strategies since (by definition) it reduces impulse

buying and stimulates better list-making. Some possible

outgrowths from dedicated list-making are reduced

storage problems and weight control.

Shop alone (IS3). Shopping alone makes it less

likely the food buyer will stray from the organized

list. At the same time, the shopper is more likely to

get the shopping done in a minimum amount of time

(Bowers et al., 1984).

Shop when store is not busy (IS4). The aisles arc

less congested and the checkout lines are probably

shorter even though fewer checkers may be operating

during the off-peak hours. The chances of finding a full

selection of merchandise in a fresh display are greater

in the early part of midweek days (Bowers et al., 1984).

Pay with cash (IS5). Charging or paying with check

slows the checkout process (conversation with Kermit

Couch, Pic 'n Save #28 manager, November, 1985). Check

writing can detract from shopper vigilance during the

checkout process (Plunkett, 1979). Cash management

expenses (interest, fees) associated with credit

logically result in fewer dollars being available for

the food budget.

Compare unit prices (IS6). This is one of the most

basic of recommendations and one of the maxims of price

efficiency. There is a danger, though, in considering

unit cost only. It is important to consider

ingredients, amount of dilution, storing qualities, and

aesthetics as well. In a study of time and money costs

in the supermarket, Walker & Cude, (1983) questioned the

savings of seven strategies in light of the time

required for their implementation. The overall

efficiency varied according to the store used and the

value placed on the shopping time, but the unit price

strategy at a wage rate of $8 per hour was determined to

carry a break-even time of 1 hour, 14 minutes. In other

words, the strategy was cost-effective for persons

assigning $8 value to an hour of their time only if

observing the strategy of comparing unit prices added

less than that amount of time to the shopping trip.

Figure unit cost after coupons (IS7). When coupons

are good on any size package, refiguring unit cost after

crediting the value of the coupon often shows the smaller

size to have the lower unit cost (Bowers et al., 1984,

Cude & Walker, 1984).

Use store brands and generics (IS8). This and a

related recommendation to explore various grades of

foods for different recipe purposes were mentioned in

seven of the sources reviewed. However, Carsky and

McCabe (1983) determined the use of coupons reduced the

price of national brand items to below that of their

private label counterparts. Their research method was

to calculate the price differential and ask whether or

not the published 1980 average coupon value exceeded

that differential. In 10 out of 14 instances, it did.

The researchers concluded coupons were not responsible

for higher prices, as had been charged by Uhl (1982) and

others. Walker and Cude (1983) considered hourly wage

rates of $3.35, $8.00, and $13.00 and determined the

"buy generic" strategy was more cost-effective in

conjunction with the value of shopper's time than the

strategies related to unit pricing, buying largest

sizes, buying sale items, and buying largest sizes of

favored brands.

Buy large sizes for economy (IS9). This was

probably a good rule for many years, but it cannot

substitute for figuring unit cost. Product marketers

frequently consider large sizes as a form of convenience

packaging (coffee, tuna fish) and actually charge more

than they do for the more popular, albeit smaller sizes.

In the Walker and Cude (1983) study described above, the

break-even time of the $8.00-per-hour-earner using this

strategy was found to be 57 minutes.

Watch the checker tally your order (IS10). There

are both careless and dishonest checkers, but the most

frequent danger of complacency at the checkout probably

originates in the shopper's price misperceptions from

improperly read signs or inattention to price increases

since the previous purchase (Plunkett, 1979). Problems

also can arise from improperly programmed software in

stores with electronic scanners (Heisler & Hook, 1984).

Figure cost per serving on meats (IS11). The unit

price can be very deceptive due to fat and bones

(Peterkin & Junker, 1982). This strategy is recognized

in eight of the sources reviewed and is distinct from

unit pricing because of the need to consider the

difference between purchase weight and net serving
weight (Porter, 1976).

Buy meats in primal cuts (IS12). If consumers have

the freezer space, they can cut steaks, chops, and

roasts and wrap them for many meals (Goe, 1979).

Stock ahead when prices are low (IS13). This

assumes adequate storage space and applies to seasonable

goods and promotional merchandise.

Be alert to promotional packaging--bonus content,

cents off, and rebates (IS14). Most merchants do not

change the unit price bin ticket, so it is necessary for

the shopper to refigure the unit price for these

promotional packagings to make accurate price

comparisons. Sometimes the regular and promotional

packs are in the same display. If the store uses

Universal Product Code (UPC) scanners, the shelf pricing

of the regular pack will not reflect the bonus cents-off

and the shopper must select the package with the special

marking in order to benefit from the promotion (Maedke,

Lowe, Boardman, & Malouf, 1979).

Learn how to interpret dating (IS15). This may be

more of a nutrition strategy than a budget management

recommendation, but dairy and bakery products nearing the

end of their intended shelf life (or "freshness

marketing period") should be reduced in price. If the

customer asks for a discount on older merchandise, it is

frequently given (Cross, 1976).

Learn how to interpret USDA grades (IS16). Nearly

all texts and extension service pamphlets annotated in

Appendices A and B mentioned interpreting grades. Even

the presentation by Antell and Harris (1980), which

makes but three food budget recommendations, includes

this as one. The recommendation dates from the days

stores sold different grades (according to government

standards) of eggs, meat, canned vegetables, and dairy

products. In today's food buying arena, homemakers

would appear to be better served by knowing how to

interpret nutrition labeling and cost per serving (IS17

and IS11). This is because most stores do not offer

more than one grade of any particular product

(conversation with Alachua County, Florida Extension

Home Economist Virginia Sundeen, September, 1985).

Read nutritional labels for content (IS17). The

ingredients are listed according to descending volume,

serving size, nutrient analysis, and distributor's ident-

ification and can be useful to the consumer (Johnson &

Russo, 1984). However, consumers are reminded by Bowers

et al. (1984) to remember that the caloric and

Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) tabulations shown on

the Food and Drug Administration-approved food product

labels permit a 20% tolerance.

Avoid impulse buying (IS18). The value of this

recommendation depends upon the shopper's resistance

level for marketing techniques. Generally, unplanned

purchases are unnecessary purchases and lead to

expenditures providing less value than sought-after

merchandise (Biesdorf, et al., 1980).

Don't shop when hungry (IS19). Hungry shoppers are

likely to be more susceptible to the lure of bakery and

delicatessen aromas, appetizing packaging, and

promotional displays of expensive ready-to-eat foods

(Maedke et al., 1979). Porter (1976) reported savings

as high as 17% among shoppers doing their marketing

after meals.

Don't shop when tired (IS20). Because of the

increased likelihood of letting one's guard down when

tired, some of the other recommendations such as

figuring unit price and reading nutritional labels may

be forgotten (Bowers et al., 1984).

Don't shop when hurried (IS21). For the same

reasons as the previous recommendation, food shoppers

are cautioned to allow reasonable time for the task.

Rushed shoppers may overvalue their time at the expense

of health, safety, and economy (Bowers et al., 1984).

Don't buy more than you will use in a short time

period (IS22). Employment of this strategy would appear

to presuppose thievery or an early death, but it may

result from inadequate refrigeration or storage

facilities. The suggestion seems to be diametrically

opposed to the idea of planning creative use of

leftovers (L5), stocking ahead on specials (IS13), and

buying the most economical packaging (IS6, IS9). This

practice is often followed by people who live alone

(Zeithaml & Fuerst, 1983).

Buy small quantities of perishables (IS23). While

this is similar to the previous recommendation, it

implies an emphasis on the expense of waste. Many dairy

and produce items lose nutrients as they age (Bassler &

Newell, 1982). Bacteria multiply, causing changes in

aroma, taste, texture, or safety (Sommer, Stumpf, &

Bennett, 1982).

Check day-old bakeries, close-out counters,

roadside produce stands, etc. (IS24). Volume purchases

can make special trips worthwhile. However, consumers

are cautioned to be wary of concluding that roadside

stands have fresher produce or lower prices; make

comparisons frequently (Sommer, Wing, & Aitkens, 1980).

Some stores discontinue and reduce merchandise only

because they need the shelf space for another line of

merchandise; markdowns do not necessarily reflect

defects or outdatedness (Bowers et al., 1984).

If you use soft drinks, buy them in deposit bottles

and then return those bottles for refunds promptly

(IS25). Prompt return of bottles reduces clutter, major

clean-out trips, the chance of breakage, and tied-up cash

(Kimbrell & Kern, 1984). Selecting soda in cans or

throwaway bottles can double the expenditure, making the

convenience tradeoff an expensive one. Technological

advances, though, make it necessary for the shopper to

check unit prices. For instance, the 2-liter plastic

bottles are now being produced as promotional

price-leaders. Some stores have discontinued deposit

bottles altogether because of the handling costs and

sanitary considerations (conversation with Gary Johnson,

manager of Warehouse Groceries, Ocala, Florida, June,


If your store uses UPC scanners, use a marker to

copy shelf price on to your selection (IS26). The

earliest warehouse stores advertised "do your own price

marking and we'll pass on the savings" (observed in Pic

'n Pay, West Allis, Wisconsin, 1976). It was a gimmick

because the checkers never read the customer's mark

anyhow--the price was electronically scanned by a holo-

graphic device at the checkout. The reason for this

suggestion (and a related one by Cronan & Atwood, 1976,

to mark shelf price directly on the shopping list) may

be to promote consumer awareness of shelf prices and

encourage watching the checkout process rather than

placing a blind trust on the accuracy of software

supporting UPC bar code scanning.

Ask for rain-checks on specials (IS27). Even when

not planning the purchase, shoppers noticing an outage

on an advertised item and asking for rain-checks can

thereby lock in the lower price for up to six weeks,

depending upon the stores' rain-check policy (Linder &

Selzer, 1977).

Ask for refunds on defective goods or return them

for exchange (IS28). This has potential impact on the

food budget because unreturned items would probably be

otherwise disgarded or left unused (McConnell, 1978).

Look for in-store specials (IS29). Some individual

stores within chains have temporary overstocks they

cannot advertise other than with an in-store promotion.

This is because formal advertising requires advanced

planning, usually through a large central office (Engel

& Blackwell, 1982).

Dented cans and split packages can be bargains, but

do not buy them if there is evidence of tampering or

leakage (IS30). When using this strategy, food buyers

are cautioned to consider if the food inside could be

damaged before selecting any damaged package. A dent in

a coffee tin probably cannot harm the merchandise, but

seepage of acidic fruit juices or canned vegetables

could represent a serious health hazard (Peterkin &

Hama, 1983).

Life Style/Preference Strategies

The types of foods purchased often reflect

traditional preferences or the life styles of household

members. These preferences are accompanied by varying

attitudes and behaviors relating to food budget

management. The following list contains the strategies

determined to fall into this category.

Use hot cereals; they're cheaper (LI). Boxed,

ready-to-eat breakfast cereals comprise one of the

highest markup lines in the supermarket, partially

because competing manufacturers traditionally operate on

a strategy of competition for display space, not price

(Bowers et al., 1984). Generally, the less processing

done by the manufacturer, the lower the price. There-

fore, sweeteners, vitamin fortification, and dried fruit

(if desired) should be added at home. Uncooked cereals

are more compact, making them easier to ship and

display, and less costly per serving (Porter, 1976).

Buy juice concentrates; add your own water (L2).

The trucking expense is only part of the reason for the

higher costs of full-strength drinks. Store handling,

display space, and shrinkage from leaks are all

decreased with concentrates, which are probably the best

bargain in the frozen food section. A similar statement

can be made for powdered milk as opposed to fresh whole

milk or dry or condensed soup as opposed to

full-strength soup (Kimbrell & Kern, 1984).

Buy meat substitutes or cheaper cuts (L3).

Harrison (1977) recommends that "homemakers experiment

with vegetable protein entrees." Meats with "bone in"

may be considerably less expensive per edible portion

than boneless cuts, even after considering the waste.

This is because a labor step has been skipped--the

deboning operation (Bowers et al., 1984). Tougher

(cheaper) cuts can be tenderized with pounding or

marinating, or by moist cooking methods (Chamberlain,

Budinger, & Jones, 1982).

Buy whole chickens; cut them for frying or baking

yourself (L4). Some markets feature "mixed fryer

parts," presented in a package containing extra backs and

giblets--an effort to maintain promotional pricing. The

whole bird sells for slightly less per pound but the

value is greater than the price spread due to the

standard ratio of breasts, thighs, and drumsticks--

usually favored by chicken eaters. This principle

extends to the practice of promoting breast or leg

quarters for lower net prices than trays filled with

solid packs of smaller parts (Heisler & Hook, 1984).

Plan ahead to use leftovers creatively. Avoid

waste (L5). If people in households that waste 20% of

their food could cut the waste in half, the savings

would equal two free meals a week (Porter, 1976).

Store perishable foods promptly and appropriately

(L6). Nutrient loss and bacterial proliferation are

fostered by improper storage methods (Kimbrell & Kern,


Review cash register tape when unpacking (L7).

This supplements watching the checker. Did the bagger

load everything? Were the prices in line with

expectations? Perhaps an item dropped behind the

automobile seat as the purchaser's car rounded the

corner on the way home (Porter, 1976).

Keep price records (L8). The "Be a Better Shopper"

program (Biesdorf et al., 1980) is centered on record

keeping as a way to gain insight into where food dollars

are spent. The practice would appear to be a simple way

for young food buyers to acquaint themselves with the

effectiveness of their budget management strategies.

Keeping records may help them avoid frivolous purchases

on subsequent buying trips.

Avoid foods high in sugars, fats, or salt (L9).

This may seem to be a nutritional recommendation rather

than a budget management strategy, but grocery costs are

accelerated by the purchase of "empty calorie" items

such as many of the highly advertised foods (Campbell,


Analyze recipe costs (L10). This strategy

parallels the keeping of price records (L8). However,

many recipes require non-standard packagings, especially

of seldom-purchased condiments (Kowtaluk, 1980).

Analysis of both recipe costs and weekly grocery

expenditures can provide insights into what to buy and

how to serve it (Kimbrell & Kern, 1984).

Be your own butcher; cut steaks and stew meat from

large roasts (Ll1). This recommendation is similar to

those concerning whole chickens (L4) and primal cuts

(IS12); the roast can be considered a sub-primal cut,

and unsectioned poultry makes a familiar roast. Ways to

save through dividing and storing these larger cuts of

meat have been popularized by Merle Ellis, a California

butcher who writes a syndicated column appearing in the

food section in hundreds of newspapers.

Can or freeze fresh fruits and vegetables (L12).

This is a strategy rarely used by urbanites, yet

freezing can be extremely simple--blueberries and

mushrooms, for example, do not even need washing

(Sommer, Wing, & Aitkens, 1980). Storage space, the

value of time, and expense of supplies are important

considerations, and need to be factored in when

analyzing the costs of preserving fresh produce

(Campbell, 1984).

Eat out less frequently (L13). Even at the "family

restaurants," consumers pay about triple the price of

home preparation costs (Porter, 1976). Meals at work or

on automobile trips offer the opportunity for "creative

brown bagging." Preparing these meals at home not only

saves money, it allows custom portion and ingredient

control (Chamberlain, Budinger, & Jones, 1982). The

household budget should be considered globally as well

as the component management accounts of food and

entertainment. Either way, eating in restaurants less

often warrants consideration as a budgeting


Stay slim (L14). Overweight people eat more food.

On the other hand, misguided dieters need to be aware of

the expensive "plans" sold to help them cut their food

intake (Bowers, et al., 1984). Many dieters spend more

for food too, as they seek out "light" products (Ellin-

gton, Addinall, Cooper, Hamilton, & Taggart, 1984).

Serve smaller portions (L15). This is a logical

strategy to aid in the previous recommendation, staying

slim. People observing this suggestion will be able to

extend each food item purchased to a greater number of


Serve water with meals (L16). Most Americans like a

beverage with their meals and water is the best one,

both nutritionally and economically (Kowtaluk, 1980).

Milk or fruit juice can be served in addition to water,

but sweetened beverages and those with caffeine should

be avoided (Wilson & Clark, 1984). Requesting water

instead of ordering a menu beverage with restaurant

meals generally can result in saving 14-22% of the meal's

cost (unpublished survey of four "fast food" and four

full-service family-priced restaurants in Gainesville,

Florida, April, 1985).

Food Shopper Surveying

The portion of the literature review that addresses

the actual practices of food shoppers served to direct

the development of a shopper interview instrument for

this study. Rationale for the demographic and

preference variables was related to previous studies.

The first concern was to obtain respondents who are

regular food buyers, and try and determine if they also

play a role in their respective household budget

management. Axiom (1977) reported 34.9% of adult

respondents are individually responsible for food

shopping, and another 23.1% share the responsibility

with another person in their household. As to who makes

the item and brand selection, the respective responses

shifted to 36.7% and 21.4%. The implication of this is

that, with only 58% of adults buying food regularly,

this study would benefit from a procedure that

unobtrusively screens out the 42% who do not.

Another marketing research firm, Burgoyne, Inc.,

conducts telephone interviews for The National Study of

Supermarket Shoppers. Demographic characteristics for

1980 (gender, age, race, income, family size, and

educational level) are presented for the "South Atlantic

Region" from various Burgoyne tables and are condensed

here in Tables 2 and 3. Much of this same data was

compiled from the shopper interviews in this study, and

a comparison of 1986 Gainesville data with the Burgoyne

figures may be of use in assessing the representative-

ness of the sample in the current study. The columns do

not total 100% because of refused or "don't know"


Table 2
Dollars Spent in Supermarkets
Weekly super- Primary Family Size Age
Amount markets store 1-3 4 up 14-54 55 up
through $30 25.5 34.9 35.6 5.7 19.9 40.6
$31 $50 34.0 35.4 37.9 26.5 33.0 36.8
$51 $70 19.4 14.9 15.2 27.3 22.3 11.6
$71 or more 19.2 11.8 9.0 39.1 23.6 7.3
(Percent of 2430 respondents)
Source: Burgoyne, Inc., 1980

Table 3
Frequency and Methods of Comparison Employed by Shoppers
Comparing Prices Between Supermarkets

Less than Weekly or
Method Never once a week more often

Total 20.0 47.0 33.0

Of the 80% comparing prices, respondents use these methods:
checking newspaper ads 78.4
checking handbills, circulars 57.8
making store visits, checking shelf prices 66.1
conversing with other consumers about prices 43.6

(Percent of 2430 respondents)
Source: Burgoyne, Inc., 1980

Weekly Food Dollars Spent

Another concern in this study was that of household

food budget level. Effective food budget management

strategies may differ by food budget level, so some

means was needed for grouping the study's respondents by

food budget level. The Agricultural Research Service of

the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) uses

such a categorization in preparing and reporting

quarterly in Family Economics Review the average cost of

food consumed at home. The USDA presents the figures

for a marketbasket from specific cities as well as for

four general regions of the United States at three budget

levels--low, moderate, and liberal. (A fourth level,

"thrifty," was added in 1984 in conjunction with food

stamp allotments. Thrifty food budget plans allow for

expenditures about 80% of those allowed for low-cost


For the appropriate household size and food budget

management level, the USDA averages served as the

predicted expenditures for the shoppers in the study.

Average expenditure data were used in referencing

reported household expenditures, providing a measure of

efficiency of food budget management.

Table 4 shows the October, 1983, average food

expenditures at those three budget levels for people in

the "Southern Region" in families of four persons.

(More recently, the USDA has presented the data in a more

complicated format by increasing the number of age

categories. The older figures were retained for this

study to simplify the calculations that underlie IPE.)

Table 5 suggests adjustments for households of other

than four members. Economies of larger purchase

quantities and attendant higher costs of buying small

amounts justify these adjustments by the USDA (Ritzman,1983).

Table 4
Weekly Average Food Expenditure,
United States Southern Region

Budget Level
Age Low Moderate Liberal

7mo through 11 $ 13.64 $ 16.93 $ 20.23
12 through 54
males 21.70 27.20 32.60
females 17.60 21.80 25.90
55 and over
males 19.00 23.50 28.10
females 15.70 19.30 22.90

Note: Adjust for household size as
per factor from Table 5.
(Compiled by the Bureau of Labor
Statistics, presented in Ritzman,

Table 5
USDA Suggested Adjustment for Family Size
Household Adjustment
size percentage

1 + 20
2 + 10
3 + 5
5 or 6 5
7 up 10
(quoted in footnote by Ritzman, 1983)

Morgan, Johnson, and Burt (1983) examined the

stability of the adjustment factors for different sized

households over time. Using data from a 1977-78

nationwide survey of food consumption in low income

households, they calculated adjustments by four different

methods. One was the reported dollar expenditure

adjusted for meals not eaten at home. Two others

considered nutrient requirements and retail costs of

achieving them, and one was a combined measure. Their

conclusion was a reluctance to recommend changes in the

adjustments shown in Table 5 even though some of the

economies for large families were reported as much as

66.1% lower than the recommended adjustment. The

premium paid by households smaller than four was not as

dramatically different from the recommended adjustments.

The "Southern Region" considered in the USDA compil-

ation extends from Alexandria, Virginia to New Orleans,

Louisiana, with the only Florida cities in the survey

being Miami and Orlando. An Associated Press release of

February, 1986 showed a 35-item market basket comparison

ranged 13.1% around a 17-city average in Florida

(Hamilton, 1986).

During the period from October of 1983 to the fall

of 1985, the Consumer Price Index (published by the

Bureau of Labor Statistics and reported in the quarterly

Family Economics Review) increased only 5.7% for food

(calculated from data presented by Ingwersen & Hama,

1985). Americans spent 17% of their income on food in

1985. A decrease of 5% in 20 years and 2% in the most

recent 10 reflects an improvement in living standards,

according to Kimbrell and Kern (1984). The 36th Annual

Consumer Expenditure Study (1983) conducted by

Supermarket Business found that 32% of the total food

budget is spent for food consumed away from home. The

same study noted a shift in household size among

supermarket customers. Singles and two-person households

accounted for more than 40% (7% increase from 1970) and

large families account for 20% (down 10%) of supermarket

purchases in mid-1983.


Two main arenas of inquiry were explored in this

chapter. First was a review of the high school consumer

education course offerings that relate to food

buying-for-price within individual household food

budgets. A list of 61 strategies, compiled from

selected contemporary sources (primarily Florida-approved

high school textbooks) was presented in sub-sections

covering planning, in-store, and life style/preference

strategies. Identifying numbers (with prefixes "P,"

"IS," and "L" respectively) were designated for each

strategy for use in subsequent portions of the study.

The experiential domain of food budget management

was reviewed in conjunction with a review of the

literature concerning the various budget management

strategies. Included was an overview of attempts to

gather information about the experiences of food

shoppers and their households. Sections covering the

literature on importance of food budget management and

household expenditures for food were included.



Research Design

This study was designed to develop an empirical

basis for determining which budget management/price

efficiency strategies are appropriate to include in

curriculum materials related to food. It is essentially

a correlation analysis of the relationship between food

shopping efficiency (or inefficiency) of individual

shoppers and certain of their characteristics, self-

reported grocery shopping practices, and expenditure

patterns. The shopping practices of interest in this

study were those that relate to use or non-use of the

"wise shopping 'dos' and don'tts" recommended in

consumer education. Inferences about the differences

among shoppers and the influence of those differences

relative to high school curricula for food buying are

presented in the Chapter V, after the data are presented

in Chapter IV.

The two arenas of inquiry are the curriculum and

shopper behavior. The curriculum content in the form of

a list of "dos and don't" from contemporary

textbooks--as condensed and described in the previous

chapter--obtains its validation from a panel of local

consumer educators. The second arena of inquiry,

shopper behavior, was established through analysis of

data collected in shopper interviews. Strategy use

interview questions were directly related to the specific

strategies reviewed by the panel. Shoppers' use or

non-use of each strategy was crosstabulated with a

measure of price efficiency, also calculated from

shopper interview responses. In doing this, certain

additional variables reflective of expenditure and house-

hold makeup demographic traits were correlated with the

measure of price efficiency. This is consistent with

the purpose of the study--to develop an empirical basis

for determining which budget management strategies are

appropriate to include in curriculum materials related to

food--because strategy use will vary among demographic

subgroups. Although specific testing of these

interactions requires sufficient sample size for

developing 3-way contingency tables and is beyond the

scope of this study, the information gathered here may

suggest the course of future interaction investigation.

Finally, statistical testing of a series of null

hypotheses provides an empirical basis for assessing

which recommended strategies are indeed price efficient;

which seem not to be; and which, if any, are related to

inefficient budget management.

A follow-up home visit with selected respondents

was made for the purpose of corroborating the accuracy

of responses estimated in the telephone interview.

Since the data generated from home visits was from a

small number of respondents, the findings of this por-

tion of the study were analyzed in a qualitative manner

and reported in Chapter IV in narrative form. This

chapter is a presentation of the panel review process,

the methodology and instrumentation of the data

gathering phases, and the statistical analysis


Panel Review

In preparatory work for this study, the 61

strategies described previously were submitted to a local

panel of 15 consumer educators (3 extension home

economists, 5 high school home economics teachers, a

middle school home economics teacher, a consumer math-

ematics teacher, a business education teacher, and 4

Life Management Skills teachers). A 7-point evaluation

scale was provided, along with instructions to "assess

each strategy for possible inclusion in a teaching

module on food buying from a resource management

perspective" (see Appendix D).

The ratings of the panel were compiled to show the

most favored strategies as well as some that should be

dropped from further consideration. The ranking was

calculated for the 15 panelists and also for three

subgroups: (a) the 3 extension home economists, (b) the 5

high school home economics teachers, and (c) the 7

others. The criterion for retention set by the

researcher was an average rating by the home economists

(subgroups a and b) of at least 5.0. The

differentiation of subgroups resulted from an

interpretation of Ned Flander's (1971) observation that

academic preparation and operating environment influence

teacher's classroom content. Teachers in group "c,"

trained primarily in physical education or business or

mathematics, thus bring to the panel valid though

probably less-informed opinions about content for

instructional units on food budget management.

Eleven strategies received an overall rating below

5.0 from the entire panel but only eight fared that

poorly with the home economists and high school home

economics teachers. The 53 strategies kept on the list

were incorporated into the telephone interview

questionnaire. The highest and lowest-rated strategies,

and the panel's average rating of each, are listed in

Table 6. Ratings for all strategies are listed later

(in Tables 7, 8, and 9), along with the methods

of determining individual shoppers' use of the

strategies investigated.

Some panelists used the spaces provided at the end

of the Appendix D instrument to recommend additional

strategies. This process yielded eight recommendations,

none of which was added to the master list because the

suggested additions paralleled closely those on the

original list.

Table 6
Highest- and Lowest-Rated Strategies According to a Panel
of Consumer Educators (Scale 1-7)
Strategy Mean Rating
P2 Always make a shopping list 6.87
IS18 Avoid impulse buying 6.73
L6 Store perishables appropriately 6.60
P1 Plan menus a week at a time 6.53
IS15 Learn to interpret dating 6.53
IS28 Return defective merchandise for refund 6.53
L5 Use leftovers creatively; avoid waste 6.47

L16 Drink water with meals 4.93
P3 Use meat substitutes; cheaper cuts 4.93
L15 Serve smaller portions 4.87 D
IS25 Buy soft drinks in deposit bottles 4.83
IS12 Buy meats in primal cuts 4.79 D
IS9 Buy large size for economy 4.73 D
P10 Join food cooperative or buying club 4.53 D
IS5 Pay with cash 4.53 D
IS26 Copy shelf price with marker at UPC stores 4.53 D
L8 Keep price records 4.53 D
L1 Use hot cereals, they're cheaper 4.47 D
D Dropped from the subsequent investigation.

The Phase 1 Survey

Food shoppers were contacted in three phases, the

first of which made use of postcards mailed to 3000

people. The purpose of this phase was to obtain

telephone numbers of food buyers willing to participate

in the second phase (telephone) interviews.

The study sample was the total number of Alachua

County, Florida householders subscribing to Cox

Cable/University City Television, Inc. services (N =

36,776, according to a personal conversation with Paul

Bowers of Cox, May 1986). Three thousand mailing labels

for Cox Cable subscribers having had the cable service 6

months or longer were randomly generated by computer.

These labels were purchased and affixed to foldover post-

cards containing an explanatory request and a brief ques-

tionnaire. The six solicited responses included two

media exposure items, three "check all that apply" boxes

on consumer choice, and the request for a telephone

number. Four of the solicited responses served as

foils. The two qualifying criteria were that

respondents indicate (a) they make or share in making the

major food purchase decisions in their households, and

(b) a willingness to participate in the phase 2 study by

supplying a telephone number.

Standard demographic questions were omitted from

this questionnaire in an effort to make it as

non-threatening as possible. Anonymity of subjects was

assured since the researcher did not have direct access

to the mailing list of Cox Cable Service. Completion and

return of the survey form was at the respondent's

option, as was provision of the telephone number.

The intent during phase 1 was to retain researcher

anonymity. Referral was made only to "a University of

Florida researcher" without indicating academic

department or credentials. The specific research

purpose was not revealed in the hope that respondents

would be more likely to reply if they felt their

participation would have an impact on cable programming.

That is an area of concern unrelated to food shopping

behavior, and was thus likely to produce a less-biased

cross section of interviewees.

Cards were mailed under the Cox Cable bulk mailing

permit and returned "postage paid by addressee" to the

Cox office in Gainesville. This expense was borne by the


With little precedent for the prediction, a 10%

return within 10 business days was "about the highest

you can expect" (conversation with Dr. K. Kent,

University of Florida College of Journalism and Mass

Communication, October, 1984). Under this optimal

scenario, and if half of the replies met the criteria for

phase 2, approximately 150 phase 2 telephone interview

candidates would have been obtained.

The Phase 2 Instrumentation

Separate instruments were used for the two data

gathering activities in the phase 2 telephone

interviews: "demographic" and "strategy use." The

"demographic" questionnaire was for gathering data which

could be used in setting up IPE as an indicator of

relative household food buying efficiency. The much

longer, and therefore time intensive, questionnaire

concerning strategy use was completed for about one out

of three "demographic" responses. Representation of

high and low IPE performance was sought in selecting the

respondents who provided information on strategy use.

The "strategy use" phase participants are described in

greater detail with the presentation of data in

Chapter IV.

Collecting Demographic Data

The first interview instrument (Appendix E)

included questions for obtaining data on household demo-

graphics and food expenditures. Respondents were asked

to classify their respective household food budget level

as low, moderate, or liberal. (In case the respondent

had difficulty making a distinction among the three

levels, the researcher was prepared to read definitions

or otherwise give help by way of inquiring about the food

served at a recent meal, and whether such a meal was


A series of questionnaire items was directed toward

gathering the remaining information needed for the IPE

calculation. Variables were established for reporting

(a) respondent's age and sex, (b) the age and sex of

others in the household, (c) total household size, (d)

frequency of major food shopping trips, (e) amount spent

during the major food buying trip, (f) amount spent for

"pick-ups" between major food buying trips, (g) the

value of coupons redeemed, (h) amount spent in

"convenience" stores, (i) value of purchases of

non-foods in food stores, and (j) number and cost of

meals eaten away from home each week. Other demographic

data collected related to household income and

respondent's occupation, education, and number of years

experience as food buyer. A set of opening questions

dealing with media use was also included in the

interview. Those items served to tie the phase 1

responses, which had been mailed back to Cox Cable

Company, to the food budget management and demographic

content needed for this study.

How the Strategy Usage was Determined

The 53 strategies retained after the expert panel

review process was completed were used as the basis for

writing questions for the second telephone interview

instrument. For convenience, the questions were

categorized under the general headings of planning (P),

in-store (IS), and preference/life style (L). Some

strategy questions reflected major orientations of

individuals to their environment while others were

simple tips applicable to buying specific foods. The

interview sought responses for usual practices rather

than knowledge of consumerism.

These questions produced three types of data, (a)

dichotomous, (b) categorical, and (c) continuous. A, B,

and C designations in the tables refer respectively to

these three data types. The dichotomous variables were

simple "yes" or "no" responses to inquiries about use of

a specific strategy.

Categorical data are encodings from open-ended

verbal responses, recorded after analysis of frequency

counts into a dichotomous variable using the "PROC

RECODE" in SAS (Ray, 1982). Most of the continuous data

are 0-9 encodings representative of rounded percentage

estimates or 1-9 Likert preference responses, a practice

supported by Tull and Hawkins (1976) in marketing


Tables 7, 8, and 9 are arranged to present the

identifying number of each strategy, a shortened strategy

name, the panel's ranking of importance (obtained from

ordering the averaged assigned ratings for the original

61 strategies which were presented in Appendix C), and

keyed notation for the category of the decision basis

upon which the researcher recorded the interviewee's

response for determination of strategy use or non-use.

The recodings of these continuous variables to the

yes/no dichotomy did not necessarily involve a split at

the midpoint (5). Upon analysis of the response

frequency distribution, the researcher elected to

dichotomize at some other point in the 1-9 range

(Babbie, 1983) and report that cutoff point, and the

rationale for selecting it, in Chapter IV.

Telephone Survey Methodology

Telephone survey techniques developed by market

research groups generally involve paid interviewers and

random digit dialing (or one of the variations discussed

Table 7
Planning Strategies



(PI) Plan menus a
6.5 week at a

(P2) Always make
1.5 a shopping

(P3) Organize your
15 shopping list

(P4) Read ads for
19.5 more than one
food store

(P5) Plan menus
22.5 around

(P6) Plan menus
38 around meat
and fish

(P7) Try new
48 recipes and

(PS) Consider
22.5 time and
fuel value
when food

Instrumentation/Encoding Key

From the questionnaire item,
"When did or will you decide what
you will serve at the main meal the
next time your family/household
will eat together?" a dichotomous
variable was later formed using
the SAS RECODE procedure (Note B).

"Do you know before you enter
the supermarket the specific
items you will be buying?" (A)

"Do you arrange your shopping lists
according to where the merchandise
is displayed within the store?" (A)

"Do you regularly read food store
advertisements for more
than one store?" (A)

"How closely do you adhere to
planning meals around seasonable
produce?" (C)

"How closely do you adhere to
planning meals around meat and fish
specials?" (C)

Code 0 ("No") if respondent did
not try a new recipe for a meat or
vegetable dish within the past two
weeks. (A)

"How closely do you adhere to
considering the time and fuel
costs when purchasing food?" (C)

Table 7 (continued)


Instrumentation/Encoding Key

(P9) Be open to
37 new brands
and products

(P10) Join coop-
58.5 erative or
buying club

(P11) Avoid "con-
32.5 venience"

(P12) Avoid buying
46.5 non-foods in
food stores.

(P13) Clip and org-
46.5 anize cents-
off coupons

(P14) Save high
34 value coup-
ons for pro-

(P15) Save trading
39.5 stamps, re-
deem for food

Consider "yes" if last purchase
of a new food product or brand was
tried less than two weeks prior. (A)


Code "yes" if less than a mini-
mal amount was spent in conven-
ience stores during the past 2 weeks.

Code "yes" if the ratio of non-foods
to total food store purchases
is less than --%.

Considered "yes" if coupon
redemption ratio exceeds
--% during the reported
shopping period.

Code "yes" if respondent rated the
variable for seeking double
coupon promotions highly, and
coupon redemption exceeds --%
of total food store purchases.

This is split into two questions.
Note A applies to both. The
questions are (P15A) "Do you save
S&H or other trading stamps?" and
(P15B) "Do you redeem your
stamps for Cash Saver Discounts?"

A Dichotomous variable, "yes" = 1, "no" = 0.
B Specific categorical responses; recode 0/1.
C Respondents asked to rate "from 1 to 10,"
researcher later recorded 0/1 based on
frequency distribution of those ratings.


Table 8
In-Store Strategies



(IS1) Shop in at
45 least two
food stores

(IS2) Buy only
15 those items
on your
shopping list


Shop alone

(IS4) Shop when
35.5 store is
not busy



Pay with

Compare unit

Instrumentation/Encoding Key

"What percentage of your food
dollars do you normal7 spend in
your major food store? (Subtract 10
and divide by 10 to
record as 1 digit (C)

"How closely do you adhere to
buying only those items
on your shopping list?" (C)

"In the past six months, have you
usually done your food shopping
by yourself?" (A)

"Has either of your two most
recent food shopping trips been
accomplished at a time when
the store was busy?" (A)


"How closely do you adhere to
comparing unit prices?" (C)

(IS7) Figure unit "Do you usually refigure unit
22.5 costs after price based on coupons you
coupons redeem?" (A)

(IS8) Use store "Do you usually seek out generic
19.5 brands and labeled brands when you shop?" (A)
generic labels



Buy largest (Dropped)

Watch the
tally your

(IS11) Figure cost
32.5 per serving
of meats

"Do you usually watch the checker
tally your order?" A "yes" will
be recorded if the respondent
indicates the register window, the
checker, or the flow of merchandise
to the bagging area is watched. (A)

"Do you figure the cost per serving
in addition to the unit price?" (A)

Table 8 (continued)


Instrumentation/Encoding Key

(IS12) Buy meats in
55 primal cuts

(IS13) Stock ahead
18 when prices
are low

(IS14) Be alert to
12 promotional

(IS15) Learn how to
6.5 interpret
open dating

(IS16) Learn how to
26 interpret
USDA grading

(IS17) Read nutri-
6.5 tional

(IS18) Avoid im-
3 pulse buying


"How closely do you adhere to
stocking ahead when prices are
low?" (C)

Transformation of the cost per
serving and package selection
categorical responses (Notes B and C)

"How important is open dating
(the date on the package) to
your purchase selection?" (C)

"How important is USDA
grading to your purchase
selection?" (C)

"On a scale of 1-10, how important
is nutrition to your food purchase
selection?" (C)

"How closely do you adhere to
avoiding impulse buying?" (C)

Coding key for IS19, IS20, and IS21:
"Did you accomplish your most recent food shopping trip
while especially tired, hungry, or rushed?"


(IS19) Don't shop
12 when you're

(IS20) Don't shop
26 when you're

(IS21) Don't shop
26 when you're

1) 1 4 5 4 7 5
1) 4 2 6 4 6 8
0 5 6 3 9 6 5

"Yes" if response from the above
grid is 2, 4, 6, or 8; "No" = 0

"Yes" if response from the above
grid is 1, 4, 5, or 7; "No" = 0

"Yes" if response from the above
grid is 3, 5, 6, or 9; "No" = 0


Table 8 (continued)



Instrumentation/Encoding Key

(IS22) Buy for "Does anyone in your household
50 short time do anything to acknowledge the
periods practice of buying only for short
time periods for the purpose of
managing the food budget?" (A)

(IS23) Buy small "How closely do you adhere to
28 quantities of buying perishables in small
perishables quantities?" (C)

(IS24) Check day- "Has anyone in your household done
35.5 old anything to acknowledge the prac-
bakeries, tice of buying day-old products from
etc. bakeries, close-out counters, pro-
duce stands in the past month?' (A)

(IS25) Buy soft "In the past month, has anybody in
54 drinks in your household done anything to ac-
returnable knowledge that buying soft drinks
bottles in returnable deposit bottles can be
an effective way to save money on
food?" (A)

(IS26) Use a marker (Dropped)
58.5 to copy prices
in UPC stores

(IS27) Get rain- "In the past six months,
30 checks for have you asked for a rain
out-of-stock check when an advertised
items item was not in stock?" (A)

(IS28) Return de-
6.5 fective

"In the past six months, have
you returned any defective food
items for refund or exchange?" (A)

(IS29) Look for in- "Do you systematically look
9.5 store for in-store specials?" (A)

Table 8 (continued)

Panel Shortened
Rank Name Instrumentation/Encoding Key

(IS30) Check for "In the past six months, have
15 specials on you sought out damaged packs
dented cans, or discontinued merchandise that
crushed may have been featured
boxes, etc. at a reduced price? (A)

A Dichotomous variable, "yes" = 1, "no" = 0.
B Specific categorical responses; recode 0/1.
C Respondents asked to rate "from 1 to 10,"
researcher later recorded 0/1 based on
frequency distribution of those ratings.

Table 9
Life Style Variables ("Adopt Economy Attitudes and Behaviors")


(Ll) Use hot
61 cereals

Instrumentation/Encoding Key


(L2) Buy juice "Which type of fruit juice
46.5 concen- do you most often serve?" (B)
trates, add
your own water

(L3) Buy meat "In the past month has anybody
52.5 substitutes in your household done anything
and cheaper to acknowledge that using meat
cuts substitutes or cheaper cuts can be
an effective way to save money on
food?" (A)

(L4) Buy whole "Which type of chicken
22.5 chickens do you most often serve?" (B)

(L5) Avoid waste,
9.5 use left-

(L6) Avoid food
4 spoilage

(L7) Review
30 register

(L8) Keep price
58.5 records

(L9) Avoid fats,
17 salt, sugar

"In the past month has anybody in
your household done anything to
acknowledge that avoiding waste by
using leftovers creatively can
be an effective way to save
money on food?" (A)

"In the past month, have you had to
throw away any food because it
spoiled before you could use it?" (A)

"For your most recent major
food purchase, did you check off
your register tape after you got
home with your food order?" (A)


"In the past month has anybody in
your household done anything to
acknowledge that avoiding foods
high in sugars, fats, and salt can
be an effective way to save money
on food?" (A)


Table 9 (continued)



(L10) Analyze
42 recipe costs

(Lll) Be your own
44 butcher

(L12) Put up
42 seasonable

(L13) Eat out
42 less fre-


Stay slim

Instrumentation/Encoding Key

"How closely do you adhere to
analyzing recipe costs?" (C)

"Do you frequently buy primal
cuts or large roasts and cut
your own portions for more than
one meal at a time?" (A)

"In the past six months, have
you frozen or canned any
fresh fruit or vegetables?" (A)

"In the past month has anybody
in your household done anything to
acknowledge that eating out less
frequently can be an effective
way to save money on food?" (A)

"In the past month has anybody
in your household done anything to
acknowledge that weight control
can be an effective way to save
money on food?" (A)

(L15) Serve smaller (Dropped)
51 portions

(L16) Drink water
52.5 with meals

Do you usually serve water
with meals?" (A)

A Dichotomous variable, "yes" = 1, "no" = 0.
B Specific categorical responses; recode 0/1.
C Respondents asked to rate "from 1 to 10,"
researcher later recorded 0/1 based on
frequency distribution of those ratings.

__ 1

by Dillman, 1978). Large blocks of demographic data are

usually best placed near the end because questions about age

and income especially tend to offend many respondents

(Groves & Kahn, 1979). Interview length can be longer if

subject matter is of interest. However, increased interview

length increases likelihood of disruption and therefore the

chance for incomplete survey data. Completion of a pilot

survey similar to the "strategy use" portion of the

telephone interview in this study in April and May, 1984,

required 18 to 25 minutes. Such lengths would be un-

acceptable for non-prearranged personal or mail surveys, but

are well within limits accepted by commercial marketing re-

search groups. For example, Illinois Bell has had success

with interviews extending to 35 minutes; 30-minute

interviews are common at Data Group Incorporated; and

Blankenship had success with a 45-minute telephone survey

with women on home hair grooming (all cited by Blankenship,


Conducting the Telephone Interviews

The researcher personally conducted the telephone

interviews, completing the "demographic" portion on the

first call if possible. After greeting and

identification, the interviewer attempted to determine

who in the household completed the reply card for phase

1, and asked to speak to that person. Groves and Kahn

(1979) pointed to research showing promising increases in

response rate when the acquaintance procedure is

lengthened. The use of phase 1 as a pre-survey and the

conversational manner of inquiry, rather than a rote

track so familiar in telephone solicitation contacts,

probably reduced aborted interviews.

At the opening of the interview, the respondent was

given an opportunity to reschedule the interview if the

first call time was inappropriate. Initial calls were

made on weekdays between 10:30 and 11:45 AM, 1:30 and

5:00, or 6:30 and 8:45 PM. All calls were made as soon

as possible after receipt of the card.

Data recorded on the response sheets was supple-

mented with notes as to opening and closing times of the

interview. When, in the course of the interview, the

response lay outside the pre-established objective

choices, the exact response given was recorded and cate-

gorized later. Any relevant statements about food

shopping that the respondent volunteered were also noted.

If the respondent's name or the name of the favored super-

market surfaced during the conversation, the information

was recorded in the margins of the response sheet along

with appropriate comments made during the interview.

The "strategy use" portion of the interview

necessitated contact with the same individual who had

provided the demographic data. For this reason,

notations from the first interview were read before the

second call was made.

Data Analysis

Data analysis was performed at the Northeast Florida

Regional Data Center (NERDC) with the statistical package

SAS (Ray, 1982). The first analysis consisted of cross-

tabulations tested with the chi-square procedure. The

crosstabulations allowed testing of a series of null hypo-

theses. Those null hypotheses were that efficient and

inefficient food shoppers do not differ significantly in

their use of 53 specific budget management strategies.

Index of Pricewatching Efficiency

Response data for estimated food expenditures and

nine demographic variables were used to calculate two

estimates, predicted weekly food dollars spent and

reported weekly food dollars spent. The estimates in

turn were used in calculating an Index of Pricewatching

Efficiency (IPE) for each respondent. IPE was calculated

according to the formula

IPE = -----


IPE = index of pricewatching efficiency, and

P = predicted amount spent weekly for household
food according to USDA southeastern data,
adjusted for meals not eaten at home, and

S = reported food dollar outlay for the
household, adjusted to a weekly amount.

In this study, both P and S include consideration of the

household budget level as well as the age and gender of

individual members of the household. These differences

between households are controlled by using IPE for

expenditure comparisons rather than pure dollar amounts.

Positive performance on IPE reflects the use of a

set of food buying strategies which are price-effective

for that particular food budget manager in the sense they

reflect the expenditure of fewer dollars than would be

predicted using USDA figures. (Conversely, a negative

IPE is reflective of greater food expenditures than the

USDA would predict.) Data for calculating each

respondent's IPE were obtained as part of the telephone

interview reproduced in Appendix E.

To facilitate the calculation of IPE by researchers

wishing to replicate this study, a microcomputer program,

written in Applesoft BASIC, is included as Appendix G.

It can be used to both calculate and receive interpret-

ation of an individual's IPE.

Phi Analysis of Categorical Variables

The IPEs of the individual respondents were divided

into deciles numbered 0 to 9. The upper four deciles

(40% of respondents) comprised the "high-IPE" group, and

the lower four deciles were designated "low-IPE."

Deciles 4 and 5, containing the 20% of respondents who

buy most closely according to USDA averages, were omitted

from this portion of the analysis.

Those respondents who performed in the upper 40% and

received the "high-IPE" designation and those in the

"low-IPE" group were crosstabulated on one dimension of a

2 x 2 grid with the "users" and "non-users" of each

strategy and characteristic on the other. The results of

some 70 to 80 crosstabulation procedures were compiled

into several summary tables and are presented with the

discussion of findings in the next chapter.

Crosstabulations of the two categories of IPE

performance with variables representing interview

response data allowed identification of food buying

strategies which correlated with price efficiency. The

selected level of significance was .95. The two IPE

performance groups' interaction with the variables was

subjected to phi analysis (Babbie, 1983) within the SAS

program, a process that can be thought of as sequential

testing of null hypotheses that the groups representing

two levels of each variable do not interact with IPE.

The crosstabulations are presented in SAS with

standard statistics such as chi-square and probabilities

as well as phi correlations. For dichotomous variables,

significant interaction is interpreted with alpha set at

.05. A positive correlation was considered reflective of

price-efficient shopping.

Phase 3: The Follow-Up Interview

A follow-up personal interview of selected telephone

respondents was the qualitative assessment portion of the

research design. The purpose, as stated earlier, was to

provide a check on the accuracy of respondent's

self-assignment of food budget level and recall of recent

food expenditures.


The data gathered in the qualitative phase of this

study were used for the purpose of corroborating the

weekly estimate of food dollars spent, as calculated from

the various phase 2 questionnaire responses. The

frequency tabulations of phase 2 data were examined so

that six or eight shoppers representative of different

food budgets, income levels, age, and household size

could be selected for this follow-up. Each was asked to

save all food receipts (supermarkets, convenience stores,

bakeries, and restaurants), and make itemized log

entries, for a period of 2 weeks. A $10 payment was

offered for the opportunity to review those tapes or logs

in a personal interview appointment at the end of the

2-week period. The tape data were scrutinized for such

cost components as non-foods purchased and coupons


Topics Covered

The phase 3 interview included questions about

family members who were present and expenditures that may

not have been recorded (such as snack foods and vending

machine purchases). Weekly expenditures were assumed to

equal half the 2-week tape total. A comparison of this

average with the predicted and reported expenditures

calculated from phase 2 responses was for the purpose of

corroborating the level of validity of self-reports of

expenditures in general.

The interview format allowed consideration of

factors not previously discussed. Some of these were (a)

food cooperative membership, (b) the bartering of food for

services, (c) home production of food, (d) food received

as gifts, (e) the bounty of hunting or fishing, (f)

consumption of limited-availability foods such as Yurika

and Herbalife, (g) temporary extenuating circumstances

such as household member away from home or extra guests,

(h) an atypical number of restaurant meals during the

study period, and (i) special diet needs of individuals

in the household. Any of these factors would impact on

the food dollars spent and partially explain differences

between the log entries and the previously calculated

weekly amounts.

Finally, the follow-up interview included an inquiry

about the specific menu served at the previous evening's

meal (or, alternatively, another recent meal at which all

household members were present). The purpose of this was

to seek out differing consumption patterns among the

household members that would tend to decrease the

economies of scale adjusted for by the USDA. Also, a

cursory review of menu information served to corraborate

the reported food budget level.

Each respondent's IPE was recalculated based upon

the documented expenditures and reported as part of the

narrative presented on each phase 3 respondent in the

next chapter. It was assumed that wide unexplained

disparity between recall for the phone interview and

documentation for phase 3 could suggest procedural


Summary of Methodology

This study addresses the following question: Of the

various food purchasing strategies recommended in con-

sumer education textbooks, which ones are used

significantly more by price-efficient shoppers than by

those defined as non-price-efficient? The methodology

described in this chapter was constructed on the eight

research tasks outlined in the first chapter. The first

three tasks had to do with compiling and validating the

consumer education curriculum content related to food

budget management. The remaining five tasks concerned

data collecting from food shoppers, and the analysis of

the combined data.

The research tasks and the procedures outlined in

this chapter generated data used in developing an

empirical basis for determining which contemporary

consumer education food buying strategies are

price-efficient and therefore appropriate to include in

curriculum materials related to food. The empirical

basis, in summary, consists of correlating a dichotomized


measure of shoppers' use of each "do" and "don't" food

buying recommendation with their categorization according

to "high efficiency" or "low efficiency" groups as

determined by a measure of wise shopping called

pricewatching efficiency.



The study involved (a) identification and extraction

of food budget management strategies from textbooks and

other contemporary sources, (b) evaluation of the

combined list of strategies by a local panel of consumer

educators, and (c) interviews with food shoppers to

ascertain their use of the strategies as well as data on

their food expenses. The product of the research is a

pared list of food budget management strategies--the ones

empirically correlated with efficient household food


This chapter presents material from the interviews

with shoppers, obtained in three data-gathering phases.

The first and third phases can be considered set-up and

follow-up of the shopper interviews (phase 2) which

provided the input for computing the index of price-

watching efficiency (IPE) and for determining shopper's

use or non-use of specific food budget management strat-

egies. The set-up of interviews was accomplished unobtru-

sively, through the mail-back cards of phase 1.

Follow-up with eight of the phase 2 respondents involved

in-home interviews during which the researcher reviewed

receipts and expenditure logs. The documented


expenditures were later compared with reported

expenditures that had been based on recall during the

telephone interview.

In addition to presenting the data on effectiveness

of the various strategies, this chapter contains a

summary of the demographic information about the

respondent food shoppers. Selected demographic variables

were, like strategy usage, crosstabulated with high and

low-IPE group membership for the purpose of determining

phi correlation statistics.

Results of Phase 1

The researcher purchased 3000 random

computer-generated address labels from Cox

Cable/University City Television Cable Company in

Gainesville, Florida. Each label represented a household

that had subscribed to the cable service for six months

or more. The labels were affixed to foldover postcards

and mailed under the Cox Cable bulk postal permit. In

the six weeks following the mailing, return postage was

paid for 270 responses (a return rate of 9.0%).

The reply card questionnaire was designed for

soliciting volunteers for the telephone interview portion

of the study. The address side of the card was labeled,

"Please read the other side of this card and return

post-paid portion promptly. This is not an advertisement

or sales gimmick." Below that appeared the legend,

"Important Survey Reply Card Attached 'Television Use and

Shopping Practices'." The message on the obverse side






Four response items comprised the reply portion of

the card. The first two had to do with the use of cable

facilities. The third inquired, "Who usually does the

major portion of decision-making in your household about

. . (CHECK ALL THAT APPLY) . what TV programs are

watched, . which food stores are selected, and . .

what food items are purchased? To the right were three

columns labeled "You," "Your Spouse," and "Another Member

of Household." The final item stated, "If you would be

willing to participate in Phase Two of this study, please

give your telephone number: ."

No telephone number was indicated on 158 of the

returned postcards. The 112 card respondents who gave a

telephone number (all 112 indicated they participate in

selecting food stores or purchasing food items) were

scheduled for contact in phase 2.

Results from Phase 2 Interviews

Returns from phase 1 provided 112 telephone numbers.

In a 5-week period, 107 interviews were conducted. One

respondent's data set was eliminated because the

interviewee was unable or unwilling to give any dollar

estimates for food expenditures. Three telephones had

been disconnected before the person who had supplied the

number on the postal card could be reached, and two other

numbers yielded no response after multiple telephone

contact attempts prior to the end of the interview


An overview of the types of households represented

by the interviewees is presented on the following pages,

consisting of selected narratives composed from the

researcher's marginal notes recorded during the

interviews. They are included for the purposes of high-

lighting the variety of households in the study, and

relating some of the specific situations that make up the

statistics of the study. Eight additional narratives, for

households selected for interview follow-up, appear in

the discussion of phase 3 near the end of this chapter.

References to the IPE are included in each

narration. These include a parenthetical notation of

approximate decile (0 through 9) to assist interpreta-

tion. The higher the decile number, the more price

efficient the shopper. Composite data and statistical

testing results follow the selected respondent profiles.

Household 58 This respondent, a 35-year old school

administrator, provided data resulting in an IPE of -.05

decilee 4) at the moderate budget level. He was the only

person interviewed who acknowledged current membership in

a food buying cooperative (Orange Blossom Warehouse). He

reported expenditures of about $100 monthly for dietary

supplements, vitamins, and "specialty personal items"

which he bought directly from a Shaklee distributor.

(The cost of Shaklee products was not added to any of the

food dollar categories. Bulk grains purchased from the

cooperative cost about $25 quarterly, so $2 per week was

added to the variable for "dollars spent in food stores

between major food buying trips.")

This man shops for his wife and 10-year-old son in

Food 4 Less, Norman's Country, and several bakeries.

Until about two years ago, "nearly everything" was

purchased at Mother Earth (a "natural foods" store which

features produce, grains, and cheeses).

Household 62 Both the 34-year-old food buyer and

her 41-year-old husband are law professors. The

household income was reported to be $100,000. They have

no children, and often share in gourmet meal preparation

and entertaining. Their IPE of -4.3 decilee 0) was the

5th lowest of 106 completed interviews. Even when