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.)

Hyde Park Produce – Chicago, IL

Of all the things I could blog about… flux, matrix theory, pointers in C… I’m writing today about Hyde Park Produce in Chicago, IL. Why? Because I’m impressed.

As you may know (by reading some other posts on this blog), I’m not impressed by fancy signs or “glad” service… which is good for Hyde Park Produce (HPP) because they don’t really have either. What they do have, and what I was impressed with, is a nice selection and exceptionally affordable products.

I walked into their tiny building, and the place felt packed. I was elbow-to-elbow with the other fifteen customers. Yet, the atmosphere wasn’t hectic. It was pleasant. Smiles, fresh smells, vibrant colors – these lined the narrow walkways. I had to walk through the entire store three times before deciding what I “needed” – for such a quaint space, the selection is respectable.

I decided just to grab a few necessities – 10lbs of potatoes, 2lbs of carrots, 3lbs of onions, 3 bell peppers, 1lb of celery, and some huge tortillas. The registers (two of them) are somewhat antiquated, but the cashiers seemed genuinely enthusiastic. Unfortunately, or not, my total didn’t meet the $8.00 minimum for using a credit card! I quickly grabbed another 10lbs of potatoes and three more bell peppers. My total was still under $9.00. I was impressed… shocked even – compared to the Co-Op prices I was used to, HPP is dirt cheap.

I’ll be going there again. I like the service, am excited to try some of their less mainstream offerings, and can’t get over their prices! (Nothing I purchased was marked as on “sale” or “special”… so I’m assuming these prices are standard.) They’ll be moving to a bigger building shortly, only a block away – so I’m interested to see if this affects atmosphere, price, or service in any way. I’ll update shortly.

If you’re looking for some place to get produce as the Co-Op shuts down and Treasure Island Foods moves in, I highly recommend Hyde Park Produce. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised if you’ve been buying your produce from a larger grocery store.

homemade yogurt for breakfast, 25¢ for lunch

So, I gave it all away in the title. Yesterday I made homemade yogurt for the very first time. Not only was it easy, but it’s absolutely wonderful tasting! I plan on making more – eating about two quarts a month during the school year. Not only is it tasty and nutritious, it gives me something to do with milk that’s on the verge of expiration. So, that’s that.

And the ridiculously cheap lunch… that’s not a one time deal. I’ve been having lunch for under a quarter for a few days now. The secret… rice, beans, and spices. Full of fiber, protein, and flavor – for less then a quarter. Most people spend 10 to 20 times that! I’m happy, full, and passing along the fact that it’s possible to reduce the cost of your lunch.

Hmmm… technical news. I’m discontinuing the photo portion of – I don’t update it enough. I’ll try to incorporate pictures into posts right here… and eventually I might set up another, different, photo album program. I’m working on a recipe section for my website… powered by some custom recipe crunching software. I’m already keeping very detailed expense logs for food… the recipe section of this website will allow me to share my recipes and their cost with readers like you… you should be excited!

College: year two. That’s only ~25 days away. I’m ready, I think. Math and physics are going to humble me… very much.

That’s all for now. I’ll write again. Until next time, thanks for stopping by.