Author Topic: Extra cheap food vs quality  (Read 2693 times)

iceberg8

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Extra cheap food vs quality
« on: July 23, 2017, 02:06:32 PM »
Hm, hi there.
I have noticed, a lot of you are doing a great job, spending so little on food, but when I read, for example $1/lb of pork/chicken, I have to ask. Do you trust that meat?
Here, I would not buy chicken for $3 (average size 3lbs), even if it is the most low cost tesco, imported from Brazil. In western EU it would cost at least double. I think that cant go even more low cost, but even if so, on some SALE, maybe it would.
BUT then - I think, I have no proof, but I think and heard, these chickens get injected.. with water. Not sure if this is allowed in the US. So i might buy $1/lb, but 20-40% of it would be plain water.
I did calculate, how much would cost to raise such chickens, in bio-quality. I think it would be somewhere around $1.5/lb depending on a lot of factors. (space, heating, food source quality, life span) and I do not count the work hours invested in it. (if you do 50-100 chickens, if can go as high as 150-250hours in total). A very bad time investment indeed.
But you know, in home growing/raising, you do not pay the truck driver, shareholders, taxes... So how on earth could some mall get meat so cheap?
I would be afraid about quality (truly, I do not buy chicken in my country (Slovakia), I go to Austria for that, but there it cost $11 per chicken, budget chicken! merkur/spar, 3lbs+-15%). Also i get chickens from my grandparents, they raise them for close family.
So, how about you? :)

iva

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Re: Extra cheap food vs quality
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2017, 02:16:52 PM »
Can you get better chicken for a higher price? Chicken in my part of the states tends to cost closer to $2/lb, and looking at the size of the breasts sometimes, I know there's got to be something pretty unnatural about the way they're raised. But I buy it anyway since it's more chicken for less money. If you live close enough to the Austrian border, and you trust their chicken better, it might be worth the trip -- unless you could just pay a bit more for quality chicken in Slovakia. Alternatively, just enjoy more beans and other proteins instead of chicken!

nereo

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Re: Extra cheap food vs quality
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2017, 02:18:30 PM »
I feel that quality ingredients are one aspect of our buget we splurge, on, but even so our monthly grocery bill is around $300.  Local cheeses and good meat are two things we frequently have in our rotation

**the key is not to let meat (or any high $ item) be the dominant theme of your diet **

I won't get into the whole diet issue because IMO that's about as controversial a subject as religion or politics, but from a financial aspect you can still buy organic/local/small farm/fair trade whatever when you keep meat down to reasonable sizes and don't try to eat 12oz rib-eyes all the time.  YMMV.

HipGnosis

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Re: Extra cheap food vs quality
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2017, 05:44:07 PM »
The prices of things vary substantially around the world, and since this is the world wide web, you get information that reflects that.  It can't all be applied to you, your location or your situation.

Here in the USA, I could buy meat very cheap, that is very low quality or sold in large quantity.  But I buy the lowest price meat that is acceptable quality and workable quantity that I can find, which is by logging the prices and watching the sales flyers of the grocery stores around me.

Cranky

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Re: Extra cheap food vs quality
« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2017, 05:52:26 AM »
Define "quality".

Indeed, I can spend $4/lb on chicken raised with organic feed on a small farm, and I will feel better about that chicken's quality of life. But in the end, the chicken is still dead, I am still eating it, and it tastes exactly like the .99/lb boneless chicken breasts at the IGA once I've marinated and grilled them.

I don't worry about the safety issue of either purchase, but YMMV.

Zero Degrees

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Re: Extra cheap food vs quality
« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2017, 07:52:12 AM »
Where are you all even finding meat that costs so little?  I have wondered the same thing when people say they spend $1/lb on any meat.  I have never seen that kind of price in the Midwest, USA. Including the Aldi.

 

nereo

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Re: Extra cheap food vs quality
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2017, 08:11:32 AM »
Where are you all even finding meat that costs so little?  I have wondered the same thing when people say they spend $1/lb on any meat.  I have never seen that kind of price in the Midwest, USA. Including the Aldi.
 

FWIW our local CostCo recently had packages of porkloins for $1.99/lb with a special of $5 off per packet.  Most packets were ~5lbs, so the checkout cost was right about $1/lb.  At least where we live porc seems to be the cheapest meat right now, followed by ground beef and then bone-in chicken thighs.  Different grocery chains seem to run promos for gound chuck every week at $1-$1.50/lb

ketchup

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Re: Extra cheap food vs quality
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2017, 08:53:46 AM »
I treat all grocery store meat as the same "tier," and assume that if they're doing something shady (like water injections) on the cheap meats to save a buck, they're probably also doing it to the less cheap meats to make an extra buck.  So I see no reason to pay more for grocery store meat than I have to, ever.

I will pay more for meat/eggs directly from a local farm (pickup about once a month), and trust that more.

When I buy raw meat for dogs too, I'll trust that more to not have bullshit like added sodium injections (which doesn't matter much to us but can be bad for dogs' digestion).

Where are you all even finding meat that costs so little?  I have wondered the same thing when people say they spend $1/lb on any meat.  I have never seen that kind of price in the Midwest, USA. Including the Aldi.

 
You can buy bone-in chicken thighs at Aldi or Costco for $0.99/lb any day of the week.  Chicago suburbs.

iceberg8

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Re: Extra cheap food vs quality
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2017, 10:06:08 AM »
Quote
I treat all grocery store meat as the same "tier," and assume that if they're doing something shady (like water injections) on the cheap meats to save a buck, they're probably also doing it to the less cheap meats to make an extra buck.  So I see no reason to pay more for grocery store meat than I have to, ever.

i dont think so, why would they bother? They already priced up, some extra, so why cheating customers with water to get even more.... at least I ask, if the chicken is watered. Also, there is easy test - bake it, and check how much water comes out. But of course, good logic, even expensive meat could be a scam, so need to have eyes wide open when buying..

But sure,
I will pay more for meat/eggs directly from a local farm (pickup about once a month), and trust that more.
That is the ultimate solution :)

catccc

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Re: Extra cheap food vs quality
« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2017, 10:25:33 AM »
Like someone else mentioned, we don't buy cheap meat, pretty much only buy locally raised, which can be pricey, but we eat very little of it.  Grocery budget is around $415/month for a family of 4.

cats

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Re: Extra cheap food vs quality
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2017, 10:27:36 AM »
I agree with nereo, the big key is portion sizes/not letting meat be a dominant part of your diet.

We have been moving more towards buying "better" meat over the past year, but we keep an eye on sale flyers and know what the lowest likely sale prices in our area are.  When we see that kind of sale coming up, we jump on it.  e.g. last November a local store had a post-Thanksgiving sale where turkeys were half their usual price, we bought 5.  Roasted them all at once, carved up the meat and froze it for use in soups, casseroles, etc.  The bones made great broth also.  That was our primary meat for the next few months, so the fact that we spent something like $100 on turkey in one go wasn't such a big deal.  This spring grass fed lamb was on sale for $4/lb (usually at least $5/lb, often more).  We bought quite a bit and have been doling it out in really tasty lamb curries.  Things like curry, soup, stew, casserole, etc., you can more easily bulk out with beans or cheaper vegetables to stretch the meat further.

ketchup

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Re: Extra cheap food vs quality
« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2017, 10:36:28 AM »
Quote
I treat all grocery store meat as the same "tier," and assume that if they're doing something shady (like water injections) on the cheap meats to save a buck, they're probably also doing it to the less cheap meats to make an extra buck.  So I see no reason to pay more for grocery store meat than I have to, ever.

i dont think so, why would they bother? They already priced up, some extra, so why cheating customers with water to get even more.... at least I ask, if the chicken is watered. Also, there is easy test - bake it, and check how much water comes out. But of course, good logic, even expensive meat could be a scam, so need to have eyes wide open when buying..
I've gotten burned by bad-tasting or premature-gone-bad meat slightly more often from the "nicer" grocery stores, so I have a hard time believing that they are actually providing a superior product in any way.

Pigeon

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Re: Extra cheap food vs quality
« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2017, 10:56:27 AM »
When I encounter $1/lb meat, it is generally a loss leader that's on sale as a way to draw in customers.  It is exactly the same brand of meat that is usually at least twice as much as that, usually more.  There is no discernible difference in quality when it is on sale.  I sometimes stock up at that point as I have a freezer. 

This meat is not organic or free range, it's standard supermarket brands, just periodically on sale.  It is unusual for me to encounter meat at this low a price point, though.  In an ideal world, I would eat meat locally and humanely raised by small farmers, but I haven't found good, local  sources that aren't vastly more expensive.

GuitarStv

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Re: Extra cheap food vs quality
« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2017, 11:23:26 AM »
I agree with nereo, the big key is portion sizes/not letting meat be a dominant part of your diet.

+1

I agree with the previous posters on this.  When going over our grocery expenditures, by far the biggest cost was always meat.  It made me really rethink how we eat.  We now eat smaller portions of meat, and usually have a couple days a week that are entirely meat free.  Once you have the quantities under control, getting good cuts of meat every once in a while doesn't really put a big dent in the budget.

That said, it's also often possible to find less desirable cuts of meat that are perfectly good to eat if you know how to cook them.  A slow cooker, pressure cooker, or a sous-vide can make tough stuff pretty awesome.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Extra cheap food vs quality
« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2017, 11:41:59 AM »
I figured out when my grocery marks down their meats when they are approaching their sell-by dates, so I make sure to check in and pick up all the "quality" meats I want for less than half price. Usually that means skinless chicken breasts and pork tenderloin - for around $1/lb.

I stock up and freeze so it's never an issue for me to have good quality protein available for cheap.

Laura33

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Re: Extra cheap food vs quality
« Reply #15 on: July 25, 2017, 07:49:11 AM »
I think this is all very personal.  I have started shopping at Aldi's for their much better prices, and while many things are basically "good enough" (especially considering the prices), my DH doesn't like their OJ, my kids don't like their version of a particular granola bar, and the last several times I bought super-cheap beef, the entire underside was fat that had to be cut away, which made it not so great a deal in the end.

My general rule is to start with the cheapest option out there.  If that is unsatisfying, then ok, I'll spend a little more for something fancier.  But for me, it needs to be a noticeable difference in taste, quality, etc., so that the upgrade seems worth it, and not just habit/marketing/laziness.  I must admit, I had upgraded to expensive eggs for a few years ($3.75-ish a dozen for organic, cage-free, etc.).  But with Aldi's at $0.69/dozen, I went back, and you know, since I usually use them for cooking or eat them with other things, I really don't notice the difference (or at least not $3 worth).

One useful thing in the US:  I believe all meat companies* are allowed to inject a certain amount of brine into their meats, but they have to say that on the package label.  So I would not buy a more expensive commercial meat and just assume I am avoiding the brine -- but I think you can check the package to see if it is there.  I think some people also buy kosher or halal meats for a similar kind of quality control, i.e., you may not follow those dietary restrictions, but you know that the meats are processed in a certain way and don't have a bunch of other stuff added.

*Don't think this is true for organic, but I'm not sure.