It always surprises me that people will pay extreme rates for boring/everyday food, but flinch when it comes to paying the same or lower rates for exotica.
For example, if you buy a 200g (large) packet of potato chips (“crisps” for poms) and pay a typical price of AUD$3.20 for them, you’ve just paid $16.00 a kilo for potatoes and fat.
A kilo of cashews will cost about the same amount, as does a kilo of reasonable quality steak — and the same kilo of potatoes and fat piping hot and tasty from a fish-and-chip shop will cost you about 1/3 as much. That’s still a higher rate than most fruit and veggies, although about the same as dried pineapple or pawpaw. A kilo of water will cost roughly $1.50-$3.00 for a bottle or effectively $0 from a tap.
Buy the potatoes and fat in a 50g bag instead, paying $1.60 for it, and you’ve just shelled out $32.00 a kilo, more than most of the slightly exotic chocolates (a Chocolate Orange or box of Cherry Liquer chocolates is cheaper per kilo than small bags of chips, cheezels, burger rings and the like).
Similar economies of scale can sometimes be realised elsewhere — for example a 27g box of Jila Mints from a supermarket is $1.80 apiece or $67/kg. The same mints in a half-kilo jar from OfficeWorks (of all places) is $9.99 ($20/kg) — but the general rule of thumb is that the less processed the food is, the cheaper it is (and the better for you); e.g. Pink Lady apples in a 1.5kg bag for $3 vs apple sauce in a 375g bottle for $3.
It’s also much, much better suited to your system. The apples will provide you with a bunch of nutrients neatly packaged with the enzymes and stuff required to properly assimilate them, plus water and soluble fibre, but the sauce will have most of the nutrients boiled to death and soaked in sugar, thickeners, preservatives, “flavours” (whatever the heck that is), salt and other stuff.
Sugar, salt and flavours are there to boost and alter the flavour. Why does the flavour need boosting and altering? Because the processing which upped the price sixfold also killed the flavour.
And so on. What inspired this diatribe against overpriced junk food was being sent out to fetch some flavoured coffee for a coffee-loving set of guests. I was merely awestruck to see that some of the little tins of the stuff worked out to $50 a kilo until I ran across boxes of sachets at what worked out to $150 a kilo.
The single most expensive “fresh’ food item at the Wanneroo Markets is dried rockmelon at $100/kg ($10/100g), and when you see just how small a slice of rockmelon becomes when it’s dried you can appreciate just how much fresh rockmelon goes into a kilo of the stuff (it loses volume about about 25-fold in the drying).
Anyway, since I had to trot down to the supermarket after other things, here’s a more or less random table of food price per kg to consider:
|Macdonalds regular fries||44||$2.00||$45.45|
|Jarrah “flavoured” coffee||200||$4.78||$23.90|
|Potato chips (small bag)||50||$1.17||$23.40|
|Cup of noodles (dry)||70||$1.49||$21.29|
|Canned Dolmades feta||280||$4.68||$16.71|
|Potato chips (big bag)||200||$2.96||$14.80|
|Mint Slice biscuits||365||$5.03||$13.78|
|M&Ms (peanut and plain)||250||$3.41||$13.64|
|Icecream, Picnic cone||460||$5.90||$12.83|
|Instant potatoes (as powder)||115||$1.45||$12.61|
|Ovaltine chocolate drink||350||$4.28||$12.23|
|Frozen fish (schnapper)||$10.99|
|Family Assortment biscuits||500||$4.95||$9.90|
|Chocolate mud cake||475||$4.56||$9.60|
|Frozen beef pies (pack of 4)||700||$5.47||$7.81|
|Frozen chicken pies (pack of 4)||700||$5.47||$7.81|
|Frozen beef burgers||400||$2.65||$6.63|
|Sausages (average of 3 packs)||$6.00|
|Whole chicken raw||$5.00|
|Frozen sliced beans||500||$2.21||$4.42|
|Frozen corn kernels||1000||$3.66||$3.66|
|Choc Milk 600ml||612||$2.09||$3.42|
|Canned baked beans||420||$1.43||$3.40|
|Bread (white or wholemeal, plain)||680||$2.30||$3.38|
|Instant potatoes (made up)||560||$1.45||$2.59|
|Icecream, 2l tub||2040||$5.21||$2.55|
Stewart Smith will be pleased to note that the vegetarian, particularly vegan, items strongly tend to sort towards the bottom (most cost-effective food), but nevertheless one of the least cost-effective foods (the coffee) is technically vegan. If I’d included more fresh food in this, the cost-effectiveness of a veggo food plan would be much more obvious.
Healthier items (with a few notable exceptions like sugar) tend to sort towards more cost-effective as well.
Edit: BlogSpot/Blogger.com is dumb enough to treat newlines after </TD> and the like as line-breaks and convert them into <br /> tags. To make this table work, I had to collapse it down to one single line. <slap forehead>