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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Buying maple syrup, for less

Out west, where I live, real maple syrup is very expensive. In place of real maple syrup, we use homemade blackberry syrup and homemade imitation maple syrup. For special occasions, I've bought maple syrup in small 12 ounce bottles.

With fall underway, and winter quickly approaching, I'm making pancakes for weekend breakfasts more often. There is something about a chilly morning, and waking to the aroma of pancakes cooking on the griddle. This fall, I found myself longing for real maple syrup. But that stuff can be pricey.

At the regular grocery stores near me, real maple syrup sells for around $7.00 to $8.50 per 12-oz bottle (58 cents to 71 cents per ounce).

Occasionally, I find it on sale for around $6.75 for 12-oz. The other day, at Fred Meyer, private label pure maple syrup was $6.69/12-oz (56 cents/ounce). Considering that would only last my family 3 or 4 family breakfasts, that still a bit steep for my budget.

In my search for real maple syrup, at a price that wouldn't make me choke on my morning coffee, I ventured into the realm of buying in quantity.

Pure maple syrup, sold in quarts, half-gallons and gallons, at places like WinCo, Cash & Carry, warehouse clubs and online (such as through Amazon), can yield a substantial savings over buying it in those pretty little glass bottles. True, you do sacrifice the attractive bottle, when you buy maple syrup in the larger quantities. Larger containers of maple syrup are sold in plastic jugs, whether they be quarts, half-gallons or gallons.

Our solution has been to save one of those glass bottles from Trader Joe's, and refill it with maple syrup from the half-gallon jug that I bought at Cash & Carry. (I knew there would be a reason for me to have saved that glass bottle!)

I bought maple syrup in a 64-oz jug at Cash & Carry, at 44 cents per ounce ($28.08/half-gallon). Our area Costco carries real maple syrup for close to that price. WinCo, has real maple syrup in 32 ounce jugs, for about 53 cents per ounce. Amazon carries real maple syrup in half-gallons and gallons for as low as 43 cents per ounce (bought in a 1-gallon jug). Any of these prices will beat my local grocery store regular and sale price.

The trick will be to not plow through a half-gallon in a month! It does taste wonderful, eat-it-right-out-of-a-spoon, wonderful. The flavor takes me back to my childhood, when my mother would sometimes buy maple sugar candies for my sibs and I.

And as a bonus, real maple syrup contains nutrients. It boasts manganese, magnesium, calcium, potassium, riboflavin and zinc. []

We'll still use homemade blackberry syrup, from time to time, this winter. But having some of the real stuff, for special weekend breakfasts will be a treat, and especially nice that I found it for less.


  1. We love the real stuff! Like you, I search out the best deal on a larger container and buy it that way. However, while helping cook a Wednesday night meal at my church recently (we take turns doing this once each month), they were clearing out a few items they knew would not be used in the near future. Our church is building a new kitchen so they are decluttering in getting ready to move into it. There were two jugs of Mrs. Butterworth's, the huge warehouse size, each about half used, and I was offered one because they know I have five kids at home. So I took it, knowing a couple of my kids love the stuff when they get it at camp or the rare restaurant breakfast. I figure I'm making the good stuff stretch for those of us who appreciate it!

    1. Hi Cat,
      How very nice of the folks at your church to think of you and your family! That jug of Mrs B will be very appreciated by some of your family, as it is seen as a camp treat to them. (And as you say, it leaves more of the good stuff for those who appreciate it!!)

      I hope your day is off to a great start, Cat!

  2. Sounds like a good solution, refilling the smaller bottle with less costly maple syrup. I have been blessed several times by a good friend who has gifted me 3 GALLONS (still in metal containers) as she went thru her pantry. She has a sister who gifts her annually and now that her 4 kiddos have flown the nest, she and her DH simply can't use it up fast enough! A wonderful blessing that we appreciate. It goes for about $120/gallon, and is from Vermont. I also make homemade syrup, in a pinch, if needed, but much prefer the real deal,

    1. Hi Carol,
      Oh wow! Those 3 gallons will last a long while! I remember the tins of maple syrup. Growing up, there were a few occasions that I remember a tin can of maple syrup in the pantry. My mom would mix it half and half with Log Cabin, to make it stretch. I always loved the nostalgic charm of those cans. Even empty, I bet some of the more decorative ones they have resale value.

      Enjoy your bounty of maple syrup, Carol! Have a great day!

  3. I love real maple syrup! That is an excellent buy on the half gallon.

    Have a great day!

    1. Hi Angie,
      I was thrilled that it was sort of affordable, in the larger sizes. I say sort of, because that stuff is still one of the more expensive per pound items that I buy. But it is good.

      I hope your day is off to a wonderful start, too, Angie!

  4. Lili--

    We use both the real stuff and the fake stuff around here (both bought in big jugs), as well as various homemade fruit syrups, honey, molasses, and homemade jam/jelly products. Those who like the fake stuff feel welcome to soak their whole plate. Those who appreciate the real stuff tend to naturally be frugal with it. We also do not cook with real maple unless it's a recipe that absolutely MUST have the flavor.

    Cat, what a nice windfall on the Butterworth's. Of the fake syrups, that's a tasty one. :) And those jugs will sit fine for as long as it takes to finish them up.

    CTMOM, we've let it be known among family and friends that some of us love real maple syrup; and because of that, we've been regifted with it several times by people who don't like it but got it as gifts.

    Have a good weekend, everybody! Sara

    1. Hi Sara,
      I sure hope my family will be sparing with this! No puddling allowed, I think! How nice to be regifted with maple syrup! That's the sort of regifting that I think a lot of folks would appreciate.

      Have a wonderful day, Sara!

    2. Sara-great idea! We are 1 gallon down, 2 to go currently! but I'll keep the suggestion in mind for the future.

    3. CT, you should have seen our kids' eyes widen in horror when they heard someone "diss" maple syrup for the first time at a family dinner! LOL They felt better about it when we were offered the unwelcome gift. :)

      Pure maple syrup is a gift people give with the most wonderful intentions, and the people we know who've received it and don't like it know this. So we've found that sometimes they're very happy to pass it along to someone who will really enjoy it. Enjoy your current bounty! :)

      Lili, I agree, and hope that your family will be frugal with your new stash of syrup.

      I thought that the Macduff family story was a great one. I look at that not as "spoiled", but a young man who is learning useful lessons in discrimination. I think an important part of being frugal is to understand (as a family, not just as a homemaker/provisioner) the difference between the "good" stuff, the "regular" stuff, and the "cheap" stuff.

      It's comparatively easy to offer a feast-able amount of treats when you're making things from bulk staples like flour and sugar; so sometimes our families may get used to having generous amount of those dishes. Obviously, when you talk about dishes with meat, cheese, chocolate, nuts, fancy dried fruits, and other pricier ingredients, you can't provide such a never-ending supply on a budget. Even ingredients and items that aren't super-expensive are sometimes limited in quantity.

      How pleasing when you see that family members realize that not every commodity is the same quality, nor do they have the same availability; and they make their decisions based on this sort of attention and discernment. Not hogging or wasting these resources which are more precious for whatever reason is a good sign of family care and cooperation, as well as a signal that folks are making real "value" judgements.

      It can even be a satisfying thing, if you all have the right mindset, to consciously try to stretch out a treasured commodity, and really savor each time you consume it. Then you can really look at the last servings with the perspective of "Wow, this is so delicious, and we'll miss having it; but wasn't it wonderful that it lasted so long because we shared and didn't waste it?!" At least, that's how we look at it. :)

      Glad your shopping chores should be less, now, for a while! Take care-- Sara

      PS... The selfish part of me wishes that one family member with in-laws in Upstate NY didn't confess to them that they don't like maple syrup. (wink) But they always gave grade A, anyway, and we like grade B best (though won't look at grade A gift horse in the mouth, either. LOL) And thankfully we can afford to buy our own, if we buy big and are frugal.

    4. Good thoughts on this topic, Sara. I wholeheartedly agree! I hope that when the jug is empty that we will all realize how much we enjoyed it.

  5. We also love real maple syrup.Last year I bought a larger bottle at Trader Joe's they only carry it during holidays the holidays. It lasted over six months. I also used to make my own syrup. Now we buy the real stuff. Such a splurge. I am going to check smart and final and Costco. I was on the Krazy coupon lady's site. They were saying you can shop at Costco without a membership if a member buys you you a gift card to Costco. I am going to call about this today. I do not plan to renew the membership. I have a few items
    I love from there. :)
    Have a great day.

    1. Hi Patti,
      I hadn't heard that about Costco and gift cards. Now, I'll have to think about who might give me a gift card to Costco! Let us know if you do this, and how it works at your Costco.

      Trader Joe's is where I've bought maple syrup in the past. I'll check this month to see if ours carries it in larger sizes for the holidays.

      Have a great day, yourself, Patti!

    2. I called Costco and they said nonmembers can shop on a gift card. I would check your area, but it sounds like it could work.
      Enjoy your day,

    3. Thank you for sharing this information, Patti! I will look into it for my area.

  6. You are right, Costco carries their label organic version for 33 cents/ounce. I buy it there. When I switched to real maple syrup several years ago in an attempt to get more corn syrup out of the kids' diets, I had to retrain my kids. No more puddles of syrup on the plate allowed. Take just exactly what you need. Real maple syrup is more flavorful and you don't need as much anyway.

    Last month I ran out of maple syrup and was avoiding Costco until payday this month, so I bought Walmart's Great Value brand of pancake syrup. Instead of eating waffles, my 15 yr. old son just decided to cook up eggs for breakfast. I've spoiled him. Melissa

    1. Hi Melissa,
      The other thing with real maple syrup is it seems to be thinner and flows more quickly out of the bottle. This can be a good and bad thing. More might come out in a pouring, but also a thinner syrup will put a thin coat on everything, faster.

      Too funny about your son and not wanting imitation stuff! Yep! It sounds like you've spoiled him with real maple syrup.

      I hope your day is off to a great start, Melissa!

  7. I really thought I like pure maple syrup but this past spring my youngest daughter at her college dorm "creation care" group helped harvest the maple trees and they all helped out with cooking it down and then bottled the syrup. I thought it had the funkiest taste and really disliked it a lot. I've had other syrups that were really, really good. It was very light colored and strange. I still like my imitation syrup which I do not eat very often. Here I am the oddball!


    1. My husband agrees with you! It seems to be a taste you like or don't, though some people like the grade B (darker) version better because it's thicker and stronger-flavored. Enjoy what you enjoy! :) Sara

    2. Hi Alice,
      Well, now you know for yourself, what you like and don't like. And you can use your grocery money in an area that you would enjoy more. So, that's a win, in my book.

      In a similar vein, I tried lobster on my 24th birthday. I thought, "meh, I could live without ever having this again". I figure that I save us a lot of money by never buying lobster for special occasions. And I can use that money in areas that we really appreciate more.

      Have a great day, Alice!

  8. I thought I didn't like maple syrup (not enough to spend the extra money on it) until my father started to make it. That was good stuff. He loved being outdoors, so going every day to harvest sap was something he enjoyed. Cooking it down was another story. It took a lot of time and patience to get it right.

    Recently, I found three jars he had made in the back of a closet at my parents' house. Luckily, my sisters said Finders Keepers for me and let me have it all. When this is gone, I will probably not buy any more, because of the cost, and while the fake stuff doesn't compare, we're happy enough with it.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      what a treasure that you found at your parents' house, not just because it is delicious, but also something to have that your father made, himself. And what a wonderful memory of him.

      Have a lovely evening, live and learn!

  9. Great idea to save on maple syrup, Lili. :)

    1. Thank you, Belinda. Have a wonderful weekend!


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