CALORIES: YOUR BEST BUYS|
Although prices fluctuate from week to week, there are some real buys out there for the budget-conscious calorie counter. For example, if you look hard enough, you can still find the Mars Bar "Two-for-One" Halloween promotional offer—a double helping of full-size 650-calorie Mars Bar candy bars for only thirty-five cents, which breaks down to 37 calories per penny, a real bargain. Compare that with a small box of Domino Pure Granulated sugar, which has 2400 calories but costs $2.25 (D'Agostino), or about 9.4 calories per penny, and you can see how much farther your consumer dollar can go—when you know what you're doing.
Here are this week's "Best Buys" based on their calories-per-penny (cpp) ratio:
1. M&M's Jumbo Pak, 32 oz., 36 cpp (Safeway)
2. Dolly Madison Chocolate Ice Cream, 1 qt., 33 cpp (Pathmark)
3. Payday Bar, 30 cpp (7-11, Finast)
4. Extra Chocolate Payday Bar, 30 cpp (7-11, Finast)
5. Necco Wafers, 26 cpp (Waldbaum's)
Have a large family? You might try the generically-labeled 2 lb. bag of Assorted Fudge Candies available at most A&P and Food Emporium stores. It's close to this top group in cpp, and for $3.79 you get enough calories (11,000) to keep the whole gang happy for an entire week.
Warning: Beware of any product that has the word "Lite" or "Lean" or "Diet" in its name. To wit: A Stouffer's Lean Cuisine Chicken With Vermicelli Dinner, costing $2.85 (Grand Union) delivered exactly 265 calories. Figure it out. It comes to less than one calorie per penny. Rip-off.
In fact, we're seeing an alarming trend lately with a record number of food products that break the calorie-per-penny barrier. The hapless shopper is being asked to pay outrageous sums for everything from nouvelle frozen dinners to red seedless grapes—and for what? Certainly not for calories! Red seedless grapes, as it happens, may be the biggest bamboozle since bottled water. On average, a bunch consists of 30 to 35 grapes, each grape about 2 calories. The total calorie count for the bunch is approximately 70. A bunch of red seedless grapes cost me—and here's the part that's hard to swallow—one dollar at my corner fruit and vegetable stand. (You can check and compare but, believe me, this was the going price around town.) Again, a little simple arithmetic reveals that I paid more than a penny-and-a-half per calorie. Don't buy red seedless grapes. Boycott!
And don't buy canned tomatoes, rice, skim milk, celery, lettuce, carrots, radishes, mushrooms, fresh Bing cherries, Persian melons, rhubarb, pink grapefruit, and almost any type of berry or fish. Anything you pay for these foods is too much because they have virtually no calories. I don't know about you, but I feel kind of stupid paying more than a penny per calorie for something. (Gristede's is selling a small basket of strawberries for $4.99. I hope you're sitting down. It works out to eighteen cents per calorie!)
The best advice? Ask. Ask your grocer about the price-per-calorie of the food you're thinking of buying. If he doesn't know, ask him to check the side of the box or container and figure it out. It's not hard. In fact, you can do it yourself. Take the total number of calories, divide that number by the price you paid and—voilá!—the magic number. If it's lower than 1, meaning you paid more than 1 penny per calorie, return it!
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