the best metric for quantifying bread savings…

…or, alternatively, Why I Don’t Buy Cheap Bread.

For whatever reason, you’re on a mission to be frugal. You can’t NOT buy food, so you head on over to your local discount grocer. You proceed to buy grits, powdered milk, cheap hotdogs and then you reach for the cheap bread…

Ah, but should you? Well, you inspect the little tag with the price and then you probably notice two things 1) the squishy white enriched bread is cheaper and 2) the price per ounce is closer than you might have thought – possibly even in favor of the more expensive loaf.

So, what do you do? What metric do you use? loaves or ounces? The cheaper loaf, or the loaf that costs less per ounce? It plagued me for a good ten minutes a few years ago, and then I decided to go with the cheaper loaf. My initial reasoning was actually based on the slice metric, ie. cost per slice. Those long, squishy, cheap loaves of bread have more slices than their more expensive counterparts. This trumped, in my mind, even the price per ounce benefit of a few competing loaves.

So I mozied on home – particularly pleased with myself for making the frugally-intelligent choice of price per slice. Then I made a sandwich while reviewing the receipt. I was a genius! …

And I was still hungry – so I made another sandwich. By then end of sandwich number two I felt terrible. No, I didn’t over-eat. I realized I had made a mistake, my metric choice was flawed.

You see, the better bread generally has more fiber and is heavier per slice. You eat one sandwich made with the more expensive bread and you’re satisfied. It takes two with the cheap stuff. That means you’re actually eating double the slices per meal, not to mention the cost of the extra sandwich fillings. That cheap white bread costs your more money than you realize.

Lesson learned – the proper metric is price per sandwich-meal. I’ve been eating more expensive (per loaf) bread ever since – and that’s why.

(This doesn’t necessarily hold if you’re a chronic snacker, or making sandwiches for someone that normally wastes half of them regardless, ie small children.)

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