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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Rising Cost of Food - An Analysis of Pre-made Hashbrowns

Last week, George Weston Ltd. owner of Weston Foods (bakery) and Loblaw (retail) announced that they will be increasing prices by 5% effective April 1, 2011 to offset the rising commodity prices.  Weston Foods provides a substantial amount of baked goods (eg. breads, buns, etc.) while Loblaw Companies Limited is the parent company to several grocery store chains (eg. No Frills, Real Canadian Super Store, Loblaws, and several others across Canada).  We all have heard rumours of increasing food costs so this announcement comes as no surprise.  Ralph Robinson, president of Weston Foods Canada indicated in the announcement that this is only the beginning of rising food costs.  What many fail to realize though is inflation will hit the convenience and packaged foods the hardest.  While raw and whole foods will seen price increases the greatest price increases will be seen in foods like mixes, canned foods, freezer meals, cookies, dry cereals, boxed foods and those types of things.

Many people rely on pre-made, convenience foods for part of a meal or even a whole meal.  So let's do a cost analysis of one common pre-made convenience food that makes it's way onto the table.  The fast food restaurants introduced convenient hashbrown patties as part of their breakfast meals.  Similar style hashbrown patties can now be purchased in the freezer section of most grocery stores.  Pictured are three such patties.  They come in a 10 pk (650 g) for about $1.79.  In comparison to the fast food restaurants that sell them for 99¢, the freezer patties are considerably less expensive at 18¢ each.  Is this a good deal?  My answer is no and I will explain why.

A 10 lb (25 kg or 25000 g) bag of potatoes averages $3.99 during the winter months for a cost of 0.00015¢ per gram.  The ready made hash browns come in at 0.003¢ per gram so right away it is easy to see they are more expensive than raw potatoes.  The ingredient in raw potatoes is potato.  The ingredients in the pre-made hash browns are potatoes, vegetable oil, salt, corn starch, dextrose (a sugar) and sodium phosphate (a preservation and another source of salt).  Nutritionally, the pre-made hash browns are a nightmare and even worse if you sprinkle with salt the way the fast food restaurants do.  In terms of convenience, raw potatoes need to be shredded then pan fried.  From start to finish homemade hash browns will take about 15 minutes.  The pre-made hash brown patties can be oven baked, heated in the microwave or deep fried.  In my taste test experiment with this product, I got the best results deep frying but how many people want to set up their deep fryer for breakfast?  In terms of taste the best hash browns were homemade from scratch.  Clearly the winner in this experiment was the homemade hash browns made with raw potatoes.

If you really want to save money on your food dollars and minimize the impact of the rising costs of food, you have to think along these lines.  Each and every time you eliminate a convenience food or replace it with a homemade version, so will not only be saving money but you will be getting a nutritionally superior food.  The homemade version will be free of excess salt, sugar and preservatives.  More importantly it is less expensive.  You will find this to be true for the majority of store bought convenience foods as well.

1 food lovers commented:

Super Mom said...

I totally agree. I am working my way through all of the convenience foods that I buy and finding homemade substitutes. Much healthier and my grocery budget loves me. Keep up the posts. They always tend to help keep me on track. Thanks.