Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Grocery Math

Every time I go to the grocery store, I think I should bring my calculator. I used to bring the calculator so I could estimate my food bill as I shopped, so I knew when to stop according to my budget. Now I have to estimate the food bill in my mind because I need the calculator for grocery math.

Why do hot dogs come in packs of 10 but the rolls are packs of 8 or 12? How many packages of hot dogs would I need to be equivalent to the number of packages of hot dog rolls? Hey, who wants a hot dog without a roll anyway? Gotta pull out the calculator.

When soda is on sale, how do I quickly calculate if the two-liter sale is better or worse than the price for the individual cans? Gotta pull out the calculator.

Why is it that when I used to buy pre-packaged shredded cheese, I knew it contained two cups? It said so on the package. Now there are packages that contain two cups, but others that contain one and one-half cups. Is it worth buying a second package of cheese to get the other half cup? Then how many packages would I need to get an even two cups, which I need for most recipes, again? Gotta pull out the calculator.

Don’t even talk to me about the nutrition information on those food labels. What is a serving size, really? It used to mean a suggested portion for a reasonable serving of a given food item. Now it has changed so that it means how much of that packaged food equals about 100 calories. We’re all into this hundred-calorie thing now, admit it. And so my cereal has completely lost its mind. One type has as its serving size to be ½ cup, another is 1 ¼ cups and yet another is 1 cup. How much cereal should I be eating? Calculator time again.

The most critical use of the calculator: popcorn math. I have calculated and re-calculated a variety of popcorn labels to determine how many calories, fat and fiber are in two tablespoons of popcorn and in an entire bag of popcorn. Why do I need to know the number for two tablespoon if that’s not what I’d eat anyway? Does 94% fat-free popcorn mean it contains 6% fat? Okay, forget the calculator now. Just pop the popcorn.

No wonder I’m tired and hungry after I get groceries. Time for a snack. Start calculating.

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