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Paul B.

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Scrimping on the quality of one's food just to save a buck? No thanks.

by Paul B. » Tue Jan 09, 2007 5:45 pm

This is something I've thought about many times but only now wrote it down to post as a query for our general community.

I have known some people who, in order to save costs, see nothing wrong in slashing their food budget ... but by going really cheap on the quality of food that they buy. It seems to me that if one wishes to economize (or has to due to circumstances), the quality of what one eats to stay alive shouldn't be put on the cutting board (very bad pun ... sorry). Much less so if one's circumstances don't even necessitate it!

Still, there are some who scrupulously seek out things based on price alone. Case in point: You're shopping with a frugal friend and you go to buy artisanal multigrain bread which might cost $3 a loaf. Your friend looks over in horror, saying how expensive that is, and instead gets Wonder Bread (or some other such thing) for 99¢. The difference in nutrition alone is what's noteworthy. Another example might be getting the cheapest peanut butter possible instead of spending a bit more and getting one that's 100% peanuts with no additives (I touched upon that in a recent thread).

I've seen this happen with tea, too. I know people who might enjoy good tea (i.e. loose-leaf Assam) but will only buy the cheapest bagged tea dust to drink at home. I also knew a person who would head straight for the not-so-fresh fruits and vegetables that have been removed from the main part of the supermarket and marked down. Now, sometimes you can get things there that are still okay, but not always.

Again, none of this has in mind circumstances where one has no choice or can't afford anything better - I'm talking about people who have money, but choose food as an area to go cheap on.

Any thoughts?
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Larry Greenly

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Re: Scrimping on the quality of one's food just to save a buck? No thanks.

by Larry Greenly » Tue Jan 09, 2007 6:48 pm

I have no problem buying quality food and I do. But I do have a problem that I've expounded on before about buying the most expensive foods just because they're more expensive.

Yes, Wonder Bread is only air and the artisinal bread would be the way to go, but buying Premium saltines, for example, instead of Zesta saltines for the privilege of paying $2 more doesn't make sense to me.

If one product is better than another, then go for it. But if two products are equivalent, I'll go for the less expensive. Why pay for a foo-foo label?
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Paul B.

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Re: Scrimping on the quality of one's food just to save a buck? No thanks.

by Paul B. » Tue Jan 09, 2007 8:12 pm

Well said, Larry. You're right - going the other way and paying a whole lot extra for some "premium" items is no better!

Someone once told me that chances often are that when the label on something is really pretty, what's inside isn't all that good. :roll:
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Re: Scrimping on the quality of one's food just to save a buck? No thanks.

by Larry Greenly » Tue Jan 09, 2007 8:17 pm

There was a study called the Pepsi test in which subjects preferred the taste of Pepsi, but when Coca Cola labels were placed on their samples of Pepsi they didn't like the taste.

When I worked state fairs, each fair had a contract with either Pepsi or Coke. If I forgot to change the label on the dispenser handle, people got upset and I couldn't convince them of what brand we really had.

We eat a lot through our eyes.
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Re: Scrimping on the quality of one's food just to save a buck? No thanks.

by Dale Williams » Tue Jan 09, 2007 10:00 pm

But we all scrimp at some point. I spend a greater percentage of my income on food than most, but I still mostly buy steaks from local butcher or even supermarket, knowing I could have a Lobel Waygu strip for $90/lb. And it would be better. Just as with wine, economics is always part of the equation. Some of us just draw the line at different places. If you knew there was an even better -but just slightly- bread at $12 would you buy it?
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Re: Scrimping on the quality of one's food just to save a buck? No thanks.

by Karen/NoCA » Tue Jan 09, 2007 10:19 pm

This topic is dear to my heart, because I am asked so many times, why I spend so much on food. Well, we buy mostly from the Farmer's Market, in season, or out of season from the organic section of the supermarket. I buy healthy breads, the freshest of produce, good meat from a reputable source, healthy (no additives) poultry, and the best fish I can get.
Hubby is in his 70's, me in my 60's, both healthy, energetic, cook 99% of our own food at home, every day!
Of course, if I see a good special, I take advantage, but only if it is one of my regular products. Never, do we scrimp on food.
Hey, my dog has a diet to rivals most human diets. He too, is healthy, never been sick a day in six years.
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Re: Scrimping on the quality of one's food just to save a buck? No thanks.

by Paul Winalski » Wed Jan 10, 2007 1:45 am

We'll set aside those whose dire circumstances lead them to have to choose between any food at all and heating their homes--or between food and living on the street.

Regarding those who choose lower quality food even though they can afford the better stuff:

Well, each person has his own priorities. It may be hard for we foodies to understand, but there are those out there who don't care about food, as long as their nutritional needs are met. To each his own. I care quite a bit about food, but I couldn't give a toss for clothes fashions. Yet I know people who insist on being nattily dressed and couldn't care less about what they eat.

Let's face it--we here, as foodies, are to varying extents fanatics. We can't expect everyone else out there to share our enthusiasm.

-Paul W.
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Re: Scrimping on the quality of one's food just to save a buck? No thanks.

by Larry Greenly » Wed Jan 10, 2007 2:02 am

Dale Williams wrote:But we all scrimp at some point. I spend a greater percentage of my income on food than most, but I still mostly buy steaks from local butcher or even supermarket, knowing I could have a Lobel Waygu strip for $90/lb. And it would be better. Just as with wine, economics is always part of the equation. Some of us just draw the line at different places. If you knew there was an even better -but just slightly- bread at $12 would you buy it?


Send me a billion and I'd buy nothing but Kobe beef and Premium saltines.
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Re: Scrimping on the quality of one's food just to save a buck? No thanks.

by Carrie L. » Wed Jan 10, 2007 2:00 pm

I think a lot of it has to do with someone not knowing the difference between mediocre and quality food (it's amazing how many people don't -- even those with money).

Reminds me of a party I attended. The hostess put magnums of Silver Oak on each table. After taking a sip, a friend sitting next to us (who frequently adds ice cubes to his red wine) leaned over and said, "This is really no better than that two buck chuck I buy."

Also reminds me of one of the original bachelor episodes when Andrew Firestone was on a one-on-one date with a very young "hair twirler." He asked her what her favorite restaurant was. When she replied enthusiastically, "Olive Garden!" he made a face. She asked very ernestly, "What -- you don't like Italian food??"
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Re: Scrimping on the quality of one's food just to save a buck? No thanks.

by TimMc » Wed Jan 10, 2007 9:48 pm

In our house we scrimp on price but not the quality.

But mainly we live by this creedo: You don't scrimp on fun. :D
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Re: Scrimping on the quality of one's food just to save a buck? No thanks.

by Larry Greenly » Thu Jan 11, 2007 1:01 am

Now that's a good credo.
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Re: Scrimping on the quality of one's food just to save a buck? No thanks.

by Martha Mc » Thu Jan 11, 2007 1:27 pm

TimMc wrote:In our house we scrimp on price but not the quality.

But mainly we live by this creedo: You don't scrimp on fun. :D


Mc's rule!

Dale Williams wrote:...economics is always part of the equation. Some of us just draw the line at different places. If you knew there was an even better -but just slightly- bread at $12 would you buy it?


Interesting question. I will buy the best I can afford, assuming I don't think I am being cheated, made fun of, or taken advantage of by the producer. Using the $12 loaf of bread as an example, I wouldn't buy it unless there was true justification for that price. If it were a start-up local business, I would buy it to keep the company going in expectation that they would eventually be able to slice the price once they are up and running. However, if after a reasonable time they are still charging $12 a loaf and the owners start taking expensive vacations and driving brand new Hummers -- I'd stop buying their bread. If, on the otherhand, they keep the $12 pricing but establish and fully fund a charitable organization to assist other start-up bakeries in other small towns with high unemployment and poverty levels, then I would keep buying the bread. I'm willing to pay for quality and I'm willing to pay "above and beyond" as much as I can afford to support a company I admire. But, I'm not going to just buy the highest priced items, just to say I buy the highest priced items while the producers laugh all the way to the bank.
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Re: Scrimping on the quality of one's food just to save a buck? No thanks.

by Sue Courtney » Thu Jan 11, 2007 2:31 pm

Paul B. wrote:Again, none of this has in mind circumstances where one has no choice or can't afford anything better - I'm talking about people who have money, but choose food as an area to go cheap on.

Any thoughts?

Paul, Not only solid food, but also liquid food, i.e. wine. I know people who have plenty of dosh, but only buy wine for everyday drinking from the special stacks at the end of the aisles in the supermarket, after they've bought their 99c Wonder Bread. :roll:
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Re: Scrimping on the quality of one's food just to save a buck? No thanks.

by Christina Georgina » Thu Jan 11, 2007 4:57 pm

Having money does not equate to having the knowledge, taste or interest in good food. As Carrie said, if one has the money and does not choose quality they likely do not know or care about the difference so, the deciding factor becomes cost. If you can't taste the difference between foundry bread and artisanal whole grain why pay the extra price ?
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Re: Scrimping on the quality of one's food just to save a buck? No thanks.

by Larry Greenly » Thu Jan 11, 2007 7:38 pm

[quote= Not only solid food, but also liquid food, i.e. wine. I know people who have plenty of dosh, but only buy wine for everyday drinking from the special stacks at the end of the aisles in the supermarket, after they've bought their 99c Wonder Bread. :roll:[/quote]

OTOH, I've found some pretty good wine on the endcaps: Penguin, Yellowtail, Turning Leaf, Lindemann, et al.

What do you think of the French who drink their vin ordinaire for everyday quaffing?
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Paul B.

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Re: Scrimping on the quality of one's food just to save a buck? No thanks.

by Paul B. » Thu Jan 11, 2007 9:00 pm

Paul Winalski wrote:Well, each person has his own priorities. It may be hard for we foodies to understand, but there are those out there who don't care about food, as long as their nutritional needs are met. To each his own. I care quite a bit about food, but I couldn't give a toss for clothes fashions. Yet I know people who insist on being nattily dressed and couldn't care less about what they eat.

That really sums it up well - and I know just such types!! Spot on.

And you're right. I, too, think way more about what I'm going to have for dinner on the weekend than what I'm going to wear. :D
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Re: Scrimping on the quality of one's food just to save a buck? No thanks.

by Brian K Miller » Fri Jan 12, 2007 2:01 pm

I need to economize this year pretty severely, but I cannot do what some coworkers do-i.e., eat packaged cheap Ramen noodles and frozen lunches.

What I need to do is cut out some of the luxury cheese and sweets. I am, shall we say, plump, and my blood chemistry is not very safe, so.... That alone would save a lot of money.
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Re: Scrimping on the quality of one's food just to save a buck? No thanks.

by Cynthia Wenslow » Fri Jan 12, 2007 4:04 pm

We had a guest for dinner a while ago that worked at the ambulance service with some of our combined pseudo-household members. It was a typical mid-week dinner.... 3 courses, good quality ingredients well-prepared, nice wine for those not on call.

In the middle of dessert the guest stopped with her spoon halfway to her mouth and looked around at all of us amazed and said "Wow! You all sure talk about food a lot!"

We hadn't noticed until that moment that indeed we do talk (and think) about food much more than "normal" people!


Edited 'cause I can't type...... :?
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Re: Scrimping on the quality of one's food just to save a buck? No thanks.

by Howie Hart » Fri Jan 12, 2007 4:26 pm

Paul B. wrote:.......I, too, think way more about what I'm going to have for dinner on the weekend than what I'm going to wear. :D

Ahh! So that explains it. :?

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