Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Most Overpriced Food Items

This post is all my humble opinion and may be different than yours. Even with watching my families pennies, there are many items I would not even think about trying to make from scratch and would buy in a store or do without. Some because I just plain have no interest in learning how to make and others, that even if I had an interest, the result I'm sure would be such poor quality it would end up trashed anyway. You won't find me micro brewing my own beer, or fermenting juices to make wine. I'm not going to crack eggs in a bowl and whisk in some oil and make my own mayonnaise. Then there are some items, that are so outrageously priced (and yet I have bought them and been disappointed) that even with the time element involved, I prefer to make in my own home. When it comes to dining out, I skip things that do not add value to the experience.

Muffins and cupcakes: Even for those large ones, I can't see a reason for a single muffin or cupcake to cost  $3.00 or more. Granted in a grocery store you can often get generic for $6.00 for 1/2 dozen smallish ones or 12 mini, but in my kitchen, I can whip up a dozen for half that much, in about  five hands on minutes, and 18 minutes of baking. 

Deli coleslaw: Unless it is a super sale, spending $3.00 on a small tub that barely feeds the three of us is pretty expensive. Add to this the fact that you may be buying the last of an old batch. I'd rather make my own coleslaw dressing with a bit of sugar, vinegar, mayonnaise and pepper. I don't have a cabbage shredder, but even buying a bag pre-shredded (not on sale) with my own dressing yields twice as much as the deli, and it is fresh and tasty. In summer, the pre-shredded is often on sale for  $1a bag. As for time savings, I can whip up coleslaw, complete with the making my own dressing, in the time it takes to stand at the deli counter.

Restaurant ala carte side salads: Unless the salad is part of a dinner, I skip ordering. Usually a side salad is a bunch of iceberg lettuce, perhaps a few shaved carrots, a cucumber slice, and maybe a cherry tomato. Unless it is a house specialty  made dressing, you have to add so much pepper to have any taste. I'd rather just enjoy my main dish and save the $3-$5 add on. 

Restaurant Deserts: I am going to qualify this one though with restaurant deserts when there is not a pastry chef on staff. I have had some truly mouth watering deserts and house made pies, clearly made by someone that knows what they are doing and with a great cup of coffee, it was a perfect end to a meal. I'm talking the generic deserts that more than likely were defrosted and plated, or defrosted, warmed, and then plated, and you get the pleasure of spending upwards of $8, even in chain restaurants like Olive Garden and Applebees. 

Breakfast add-ons in hotels: Many hotels have a complimentary continental or more breakfast. Then there are those that have the option of an up charge for on site breakfast. My experience, take a pass from this "bargain." I've seen charges as high as $15 per person on what appeared to be a bland buffet. When we were in Washington DC two years ago, we had the option of adding breakfast vouchers to our hotel for $15 a person. One of our days we decided to just eat a big breakfast before heading out for the day, planning to skip lunch and have an early supper later. Knowing other than in Union Station there wasn't a lot around for early breakfast, we just ate in the hotel restaurant. (We had spent $33 picking up breakfast at an over crowded Pret a Manger two days earlier, so a sit down breakfast was preferred) DH and I had the quite nice buffet, which ended up being only $13.99 a person, cheaper than had we prepaid. DD2, wanted French toast which while on the menu, wasn't on the buffet, and got an order with a side of hash browns for around $10.00. I suppose if you were trying to keep all your costs together, or were a business traveler, it would be considered a convenience cost. 

I should add, when we do go out for dinner, we order what we feel like eating. I don't understand the purpose of going out to eat and then limiting yourself on options-I'd sooner go out less often if trying to be economical, than limit to only what is the lowest priced items.  We tend not to drink our dinner, and maybe have a beer or glass of wine as we wait for the food to arrive, but most often just the one. When we meet friends for drinks and nibbles, we might have a couple, but have not been the type to sit for long stretches running a large tab. We are good tippers though, tipping at the full rate even if we are out at happy hour prices. What do you think is so overpriced you just don't bother to spend the money on? How do you balance eating out and going out with friends with trying to manage your budget?

19 comments:

  1. If you're serious about losing weight, you have to pay attention to calories, not only to prices. I've noticed you don't mention caloric values of food, so it makes me wonder...

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    1. In my humble opinion, I think you are missing the point of Sam's post. This post seems to be geared more towards the financial aspect of food purchases, not weight loss.

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    2. Thank you both for commenting. This was a post on when I'm willing to spend the money and not go homemade, and when I feel the cost does not justify the ends. I think I understand where Duta is going with her comments. A bargain is not a bargain if it is calorie laden, and not healthy for my so called attempts to lose weight. while not quite the intent of my post, I do appreciate the feed back, and the reminder that weigh loss is about less calories consumed than calories burned.

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  2. I am with you on desserts in restaurants. Typically, I gauge a place by its desserts. I always ask before I order if it came from Costco. Also, I dislike the mark up on wine.
    Where I live, there aren't a lot of restaurants nearby which I consider worth wasting my time at. I generally wind up disappointed with the food, and annoyed at the cost. When we go out then, it's not so much for the food, but to get out--which I really don't feel the need to do much, as I like staying home. Seriously, I find the notion of "date night" silly. On days when I cannot face meal preparation, I either have DH take the brood out, or make a run to the supermarket to get something easy to prepare...usually the fixings for Reubens. And if Dh and I need time to ourselves, we have no compunction whatsoever in booting the brood right out of the living room. It's at the point where they knock on the doorway of the living room during the cocktail hour for permission before they enter. But, I agree with you-- when we go out, I believe in ordering what strikes our fancy.

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    1. Nothing spoils a dinner out faster than being disappointed with the food and wondering how much cheaper and better tasting the home made variety would have been.I may have to disagree on the date night thing, as with both of our schedules, and DH working two evenings (+) and Saturdays, we do need to schedule and leave the house or we get in a rut of separate activities at home. Lately though, date night has been a long walk by the river, and not so much eating out, which has been fine with me.

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  3. Have you ever read the book Make The Bread Buy the Butter by Jennifer Reese? It touches on a LOT of this and gauges popular foods and their costs in both time and money. And there are tons of recipes too!

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    1. Thank you for the recommendation-sounds like a worthy read. I do think if someone enjoys making it fro scratch, even if time consuming and not thrifty, then it is a viable hobby. Oh, and I made plenty of butter with my preschoolers and own kids in the day!Shake that cream until the butter forms.

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  4. I confess to buying pies at the grocery store. I have my mother's pastry recipe but I just can't be bothered to make my own pie dough. Or I will buy pie/tart shells and make a pumpkin pie or tarts a couple times a year. One thing that I make and will not buy is salsa. I love my fresh veggie salsa so much that I just cannot stomach the pasty stuff sold in grocery stores.

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    1. I would add buying pie crusts to my list as well-my crust is horrible, though I have some nice filling recipes. Every now and then we do buy a frozen pie, when on sale, and DH gets a craving. It is rre though, that we have pie, but always a treat at a couple places that make them from scratch.

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  5. I totally am with you...but on occasion buy pies like Jane (Costco makes a good pie, $5.99 for a monster pumpkin pie when I only have time just barely to make the Thanksgiving Dinner (Canada's is this weekend) let alone bake pie. I would not make my own mayo, or yogurt. I have brewed my own wine when I had more room. I make some things that taste insanely good but are time consuming like potato salad that store's can't even come close too. After trying numeros times to get $3 a muffin, pretty much ever except while on holidays as some times you are at their mercy. We bought ourselves a pasta maker for our 12 Anniversary last month but have yet to make it as haven't had the time and hubby was sick but will in a few weeks time. I think you can be frugal and make decisions like these, most of which involve saving time and stay on budget

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    1. My SIL buys Costco pies for Thanksgiving, and they are pretty good. I'll add that to the bargains, but don't want to pay $5 for a slice of it in a restaurant.

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  6. There are things I will spring for and things I will not. Having perfectly fine pie shells in the freezer section is one. Maybe some day I will make a huge amount of pastry dough and freeze it, but I probably won't.
    At least twice a year we go out to eat somewhere really special and pay no attention to prices. We combine our birthdays and anniversary (we no longer give each other gifts for those) and head to Highlands Bar and Grill. We are doing it next Tuesday, in fact. The rest of our eating out is going to more moderate places, and honestly, we get what we want, not what is cheapest.

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    1. I think it seems pretty universal that pie crust is just as easily bought, with satisfactory results. We are bar and grill people mostly if we go out, but on the rare occasion it is a special place, I don't want to nickle and dime.

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  7. When I dine out I try to look for a dish that I can't make at home. It makes me feel a little better about spending the money on it and it makes the experience more special. Also, I try to avoid the dessert and beverage menu since that is where most of the markup is. I find Trader Joe's has better quality food even if it is something frozen. It's sad when a restaurant disappoints so badly (pretty much all chain restaurants. Mom and pop type cafes/diners I like better) that I'd rather by a frozen entree from TJ's!

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    1. That is a good strategy to order what you don't make at home. For my husband and son, that is seafood-shell fish in particular. It drives me bonkers when my kid orders pasta in restaurants, but usually only when we are on vacation, so I guess that shouldn't annoy me and at least I know she will eat it.

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  8. Great post. How many times have I had regrets when I get the bill in a restaurant! But I do indulge in pie for dessert. Usually we will split it. Having a whole pie at home is too tempting for me. So I am spending money to save calories. On my birthday last year I ordered a piece of coconut cream pie and was served a piece that looked like the cheap frozen ones. I sent it back. The waitress was embarrassed. The manager came over and turned out a big deal.

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    1. If I think it will be delicious, sure I'll indulge but so often the deserts have been how you describe-just sad.

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  9. I just get chicken wherever I eat since I don't eat any mammal meat. I would usually rather have a great salad with chicken on it. Dessert after dinner is gross to me. I want dessert much later, so I rarely ever get or want dessert after dinner. It always looks delicious, so tempting, but I usually pass on dessert.

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    1. I guess I too prefer the sweet much later. When you say no mammal meat, I assume you mean red meat or pork?

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