Breakfast bacon for $22 a pound?
And it's not even the artisanal kind. Here are some other ways you pay for convenience.
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.
"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?
More on MSN Money
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Copyright © 2013 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
WHAT IS FRUGAL NATION?
Donna Freedman's Frugal Nation blog is for readers who want to live cheaply -- whether due to necessity or a lifestyle choice. It explores living sustainably and making life more meaningful at the same time.
ABOUT 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.
The popular online program lets you earn Amazon cards, PayPal cash and other rewards.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
Which store penalizes you for too many returns? And which one will let you retroactively apply coupons?