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Breakfast bacon for $22 a pound?

And it's not even the artisanal kind. Here are some other ways you pay for convenience.

By Donna_Freedman Jul 25, 2012 2:26PM
Image: Full Shopping Cart in Grocery Store © Fuse/Getty ImagesWould a BLT be quite as delectable if you made it with bacon that cost three times the federal minimum wage?

Not artisanal bacon, mind you, or even one of the fancier versions of everyday pork. Just ordinary bacon that the folks at Oscar Mayer cooked in advance, ringing up at $22.22 per pound at a Seattle supermarket.

Sometimes convenience food is worth it because it makes life a little easier during hectic times. But if your grocery bill is over the top, take a closer look at the prices you're paying.

Yesterday I poked around a Seattle supermarket (from a regional chain with prices typical of other supermarkets), alternately laughing and shuddering. You might, too, if you did the math on what convenience is costing you.

Can hardly wait?

For example, several varieties of "steam-in-the-bag" fresh vegetables are available for microwave cooking. The 2-pound bag of green beans cost $7.97. The same amount of loose green beans was $1.98.

I took home about three-quarters of a pound. It took approximately 90 seconds to snip the ends of the beans, cut them in half and toss them into a steamer basket. Cooking lasted around 10 minutes, vs. 2 to 4 minutes for the bagged type.

Seriously, you can't wait an extra 6 minutes for food? They'd be steaming while you put together the rest of your meal or opened your mail (or some wine).

Here are 15 other foods that caught my eye.

Pricey produce

"Baby-cut" carrots.
These were $1.84 per pound. Whole carrots were 99 cents a pound. You're paying almost twice as much.

Ready-to-microwave potatoes.
Washed and wrapped in plastic, sweet potatoes were $1.67 apiece and regular potatoes were $1. Unwashed taters were $1.24 and 67 cents, respectively. Not much of a difference, but how much work is it to rinse off a potato?

Post continues below.

Shredded iceberg lettuce.
It cost $4 a pound, vs. 65 cents a pound for head lettuce.

Bagged salad.
A bag of mostly iceberg was $2.40 per pound. The fancier blends are even more expensive.

Stir-fry vegetable mix.
The store chopped up a few vegetables (peppers, broccoli, cauliflower) and charged $3.99 a pound. Sold solo, those varieties cost no more than $1.29 per pound.

Vegetable tray.
This office potluck staple cost a whopping $12.99. It weighed 3 pounds, but 8 ounces of that was dressing; the tray and lid weighed several ounces, too.

Cut melon.
Someone's knife skills meant $3.99 a pound; whole melons were 99 cents to $1.29 a pound. Even though that includes rind, I doubt you're paying for $3 worth.

Other spendy stuff

Soup At Hand.
This is a microwavable variety of Campbell's, for $3.85 a pound. Regular canned soup is $2.22.

Applesauce pouches.
Kids love these things, but the per-pound cost is $3.77. Jarred applesauce is $1.24 per pound. Buy yourself some reusable containers, already.

Microwave popcorn.
The nuke-able stuff costs $3.89 to $7.96 a pound. Compare that to the $1.25-a-pound plain kernels on the shelf below. (I got it even cheaper at an ethnic market. For links to exotic recipes, see "The world's most frugal snack.")

A premium for proteins

Marinated chicken kebabs.
A few bits of bird plus pepper and mushroom go for $6.99 a pound. Boneless, skinless chicken breast was $4.99 (and buy-one-get-one this week, thus $2.50 per pound); marinade is easy to make.

Stir-fry chicken.
More of that boneless, skinless stuff, thinly cut for $5.99 a pound.

Seasoned beef flank steak.
Rub a few everyday ingredients (garlic powder, cayenne, et al.) on $7.99-a-pound flank steak. Now it's $9.99 a pound.

Shredded cheddar.
Too busy to shred the $4.50-a-pound block? Buy it pre-slivered for $8.58. They'll throw in some potato starch, "cellulose powder" and mold inhibitor for good measure. Yum.

Snack-size cheddar cheese.
Handy little 3/4-ounce pieces of the same kind of cheddar work out to a whopping $12.59 a pound. You should always cut the cheese yourself (assuming we're still talking about cheddar).

You're in a hurry. I get that. But when it's a "valued added" product, you can bet it's the manufacturer or retailer that receives the value.

Readers:
What's your favorite example of pricey "convenience" food?

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130Comments
Jul 26, 2012 1:07AM
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I'm going to be the one out here, but oh well here goes. I grew up with my grandparents and my grandma cooked everything in bacon grease and I mean everything, eggs, biscuits, beans, etc., even her wilted lettuce and cabbage recipes were made with bacon grease. Yes, we were southern raised. No one in my family had heart conditions, no one. My grandfather lived to 85, and died from COPD related breathing issues, my grandma lived to 90 and passed from an issue with her diabetes, I don't know what it was but she was under weight and her kidneys were failing. Her mother lived until she was 102 and no one in our family has ever died younger than 84. I cook with bacon, my cholesterol 4 months ago was good according to my doctor, in fact it was good enough that my friend who is a RN was angry because she makes a point of "eating right" and hers was awful and she was put on medication for it. Maybe we should be looking at our activity and our diet, I'm not saying to eat bacon everyday, though my grandparents did, but eating a bit of everything. Round out our diets instead of adhering to a strict no no no diet.
Jul 25, 2012 7:54PM
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What the article doesn't bring up about the bacon. Once you cook a pound of raw bacon, weigh the cooked bacon. After all of the grease is cooked out of it, it probably doesn't weigh more than the precooked bacon. I can get 16 slices of precooked bacon for less than I pay for 16 slices of raw bacon. I also don't have to use electricity and find a way to get rid of the grease. I also don't have to use hot water to clean up the utensils used in cooking the raw bacon.

 

So I save on time, plus the costs of electricity to cook the bacon, plus electricity to heat the water used for cleaning, plus the cost of the water. So IMO, I wind up ahead of the game, in the long run.

Jul 26, 2012 12:46PM
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I can buy all the expensive precooked bacon I want.  As soon as I find myself one of these rich, millionaires, who are old and looknig for love.  Lord knows there are plenty of them advertised on MSN.   LOL    I'm kidding, of course.    I hate MSN.

Jul 25, 2012 4:09PM
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convenience costs money....this is not news
Jul 26, 2012 7:02AM
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if you are paying $22 for bacon you need your butt kicked.
Jul 25, 2012 9:22PM
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It's not necessarily the cost of convenience but whether or not we will eat it.  If I buy raw salad makings, salads don't get made,  Same for a lot of other convenience products.  We will eat  a one package of potatoes, but a 3 lb. bag sprouts and gets thrown out.  Same with fruits like the melons.  Melon sits on the counter waiting to ripen and then gets forgotten, or the moment of "ripeness" passes because we are too busy to notice.  DH and I are 60+, still working 7 day weeks and 10-12 hour days.  We don't have a bunch of energy or patience for food prep, but prefer eating at home in peace and quiet rather than a noisy restaurant and prefer to eat a bit healthier than fast food drive thru's.  Hence, convenience foods.
Jul 26, 2012 12:29PM
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I just an email to MSN/MONEY about ALL these ANNOYING ADS/SPAM on here!! May I suggest that you all take a hand in stopping this by emailing MSN Directly. Maybe at MSN MONEY will WAKE UP and do something about this!  Meanwhile, if you see ANY SPAM on here just CLICK SPAM to report it and after awhile MSN while WAKE UP and notice this!  THANKS Folks!

 

Jul 25, 2012 3:35PM
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Everyday bottled water costs about $1.29 for a half liter. Store brand purified drinking water is $.99 a gallon. That makes the cost of the smaller bottles about $10.30
Jul 26, 2012 9:59AM
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Many people are getting lazier and lazier. Women either don't like or don't want to cook anymore. Look around the stores now days and it's full of pre-cooked pre-packaged food. I even saw a bag of hardboiled eggs that were already peeled in the egg section of the store. Now that's lazy. I'm not buying the excuse of being too busy. I worked 40+ hours a week , cleaned my own house, cooked meals  and  raised 2 self sufficient children that can cook, clean and work jobs too. What's the secret, really good organization and discipline.
Jul 25, 2012 8:53PM
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Once again, why are people reacting to the spam messages posted with these comments by clicking "thumbs down?" That won't get it removed.

Hover over the lower right-hand area of the comment until the word "spam" appears and click on "spam." That gets a reaction from MSN.
Jul 25, 2012 5:42PM
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It is a pound of Pre-Cooked Bacon.  Which is probably 3-4 times the slices as raw bacon. It still sounds high tho.
Jul 26, 2012 1:50PM
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Having been raised by excellent cooks and bakers, my cousin and I do not buy nor use all this prepackaged prepared junk.  We've often said that if people had to start making there own food and not using all this prepared crap they would mostly starve to death.  It's not only expensive but there is so much added to it that most food doesn't even taste like itself anymore.  It doesn't take that long to fry bacon, bake cookies or boil potatoes.  Crock pots make life so easy now that no time is not an excuse either.  Just laziness.  People need to watch the disney movie Wall-e.  The world is coming to that.

Jul 26, 2012 11:11AM
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She has a point on some of these items, but on the other hand, I NEVER pay the prices that she quotes on a number of her examples.  Seems to me she had to shop around to find the high prices she quoted.  I do concede the main point of the article.  You do pay a certain price for convenience, some of which just don't make a lot of sense.
Jul 26, 2012 8:29AM
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Insane. As someone working within the agriculture industry I can tell you that this is nothing but preying on the lazy and in the process, generating of huge profits that would make you think the banks are the good guys. But as long as, and as we continue to become more and more of a lazy entitlement minded society...who cares. Right?
Jul 26, 2012 8:37AM
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It's called L-A-Z-Y!    I can not believe some of the things I see in the store that are not even mentioned here, Like Peanut butter slices, about 6 OZs of PB, costs 4 bucks, just goes to show, People will buy Anything. and it all has to do with being to Lazy to put in a little extra effort to do something. I wonder how hard they worked to earn that money compared to how hard it is just to do it themselves?
Jul 26, 2012 8:21AM
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Often the fruits and vegetables that are cut up are the ones that are starting to spoil.  You have a melon with a bad spot you can't sell, just cut off the bad area and sell the remainder at a premium price.  The only pre-cut fruit I buy is watermelon because a whole one is too much but I buy a quarter piece not the bite size pieces.
Jul 26, 2012 1:40PM
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Yuppies like the convenience factor rather than doing a little work to save some money. 

Actually, you could put **** in a two pound fancy bag, tell people it was organic, good for the environment and sell it for $20.00.

Watch the type of people who waddle into a fast food restaurant and then wonder why they are fat.  If they only knew what they were eating.

 

Jul 25, 2012 9:01PM
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Honestly, has no one else realized that the price is 22.00 for cooked bacon? How much raw bacon does it take for a pound of cooked? its not one pound. What 3 or 4 easy? Choosing cooked bacon to make a point was lame. But most of the comments here just go along with it. I'm sure its more costly, but not by much. Next time count the strips in a raw pound and go from there.
Jul 26, 2012 6:58AM
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ah,the price we pay for convenience.we would be healthier if we prepared food ourselves,but who wants to do all the grunt work? just depends on time and motivation.there was a time when we had to do all the prep work,maybe we got it too easy.
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Buying precooked bacon is not a waste if you buy a pound of uncooked bacon for say 4.50 and you cook it you are left with about 2.2oz. of bacon and the rest is waste fat that you dump.  Buying 2.2 oz. of precooked is the same and you don't have to get rid of the oil. 
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Donna Freedman

Donna Freedman, a writer based in Anchorage, Alaska, writes the Frugal Nation blog for MSN Money. She won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. Donna also writes about the frugal life for her own site, Surviving and Thriving.

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