Today, I was riding in my truck and I got to thinking. What's cheaper canned and processed foods or fresh foods? You hear people talk all the time about processing taking nutrients out of food. I counter that with the comment "Processing is the same as cooking so, unless you're eating raw, it's all the same."
Well, I went to Walmart to see if I could verify my assumption that canned foods are cheaper. My first assumption before giving it some deep thought was that, if somebody has to can it, it must cost more. But then I thought about the fact that canned foods have a longer shelf life. Here's what I determined from my shopping experience.
- Canned fruits and vegies are cheeper unless you're paying for special recipes like soups. The reason is longer shelf life. Lots of produce gets thrown away when it goes bad. Also, canned fruits and vegetables take up less space to store and ship than fresh ones.
- Many people eat meat just because of the protein and would be willing to go without meat if they didn't worry about protein. So, I evaluated the cost of meats by cost per gram of protein. I know there are other things that come into consideration like taste but bare with me.
- Canned meats like canned chicken are cheaper per gram of protein I guess because the meat is mechanically separated. When you introduce labor costs for butchering meat, the prices go up.
- For meats that you need cut, you're better off getting the largest boneless cuts you can find and cutting it yourself. Or you could cook the whole piece of meat and eat leftovers for a couple days. I say boneless because there's no need to pay for what you won't eat and the lower cost of bone-in meats doesn't justify it based on the weight of the bones.
- When buying ground beef, get the leanest ground beef. Why pay for fat/grease that won't get eaten?
- The last thing to consider is what you eat for lunch if you take your own food. If you take dinner leftovers, it's going to cost you more than if you buy simple sandwich ingredients for lunches because dinner ingredients are usually more expensive.
What things have you figured out to be cheaper, more efficient, or more cost effective as a result of these harder times?