How to Eat Well for Less
Buy the best when it makes a difference, and fill the rest of your grocery cart with values.
Save on: Wine
Here’s why: Consumers and wine experts liked inexpensive bottles—think Barefoot, Trader Joe’s Charles Shaw, Black Box—just as much as their pricey counterparts in a large-scale blind tasting.
Save by buying: Everyday oil
Here’s why: When oil is going to be cooked, you can usually substitute vegetable or regular olive oil (even if the recipe calls for extra-virgin). High heat destroys much of the taste.
Splurge on: Extra-virgin olive oil
Here’s why: Fifty percent of the olive oil sold in the United States may be adulterated with cheap filler oils. Ideally, taste before you buy, and check for a regional seal of certification on the bottle.
Splurge on: Honey
Here’s why: You don’t need to go for a wildflower artisanal blend, but carefully check the label. Often the cheap “honey” in a bear squeeze jar is mixed with corn syrup.
Save by skipping: Hamburgers
Here’s why: Preformed frozen burgers cost more than plain ground beef—and you can make patties yourself in less than ten seconds each! Plus, E. coli might be more prevalent in the frozen patties.
Save by buying: Frozen produce
Here’s why: It’s cheaper than out-of-season fresh produce and is also often higher in nutrients and better tasting because it’s frozen right after picking.
Splurge on: Chocolate
Here’s why: One-dollar bars combine 20-plus ingredients to create a bar-shaped amalgam of brown chemicals. For $2 more, you could get real dark chocolate.
Splurge on: Vanilla extract
Here’s why: “Never use the artificial stuff!” says Susan Reid, editor of The Baking Sheet. “It has one chemical flavor note trying to make up for over 200 flavor notes found in true vanilla.”
Save on: Cheese
Here’s why: If you’re melting or mixing the cheese with other ingredients, go cheap! Save the $20-per-pound artisanal triple-crèmes for a special cheese plate.