One of those canned items includes tuna. We don't eat that much tuna, but for some reason I seem to stock up on it when it's on sale. The last time I paid 79 cents for a 5 oz. can (remember when they were SIX ounces???? Buggers!) and I purchased about a dozen or so. Just a few days ago I decided that supper would be tuna fish sandwiches and a side of broccoli raisin bacon oh-my-gawd-is-it-delicious salad.
When I was making the tuna salad, I realized that two cans of tuna wasn't going to be enough for supper and for Paul's lunch the next day. So after opening the third can of tuna, I drained it as normal and then weighed the actual tuna. Two and three-quarter ounces of tuna. For 79 cents. That's $4.60 a pound for sub-par-fish-in-a-can! And that price was a store brand on sale!
I also buy various beans (kidney, pinto, black, northern) in cans. Yes, I know it's cheaper to buy them dry in bulk, and we do have plenty of dried beans in the pantry, but I was convinced that the convenience was worth it. But really, was it that much cheaper and how did I actually know it was worth it if I never really figured out the cost difference? So I did another food-cost experiment.
|Left: Dried beans, soaked & cooked. Right: 15 oz. can of beans.|
In order to be able to compare "beans to beans" I had to do some creative figuring. I couldn't really compare 9 1/4 ounces of dry beans to the same amount of canned beans as there are actually fewer beans in the can because they have already absorbed water from the soaking/cooking/canning process.
So I did what any other insane person would do. I soaked and cooked my dry beans, measured out 9 1/4 ounces (just like the store bought cans) and then counted every bean. There were 327 of them, so then I counted out 327 dry beans, weighed them at 3 3/4 ounces, and based my costs upon my last grocery store trip.
A 4-pound bag of Great Northern beans cost $5, or approximately eight cents per ounce. So 3 3/4 ounces at 8 cents per ounce is thirty cents. A can costs 59 cents, so the dry beans are about half the cost. But even though the dried beans are cheaper (and probably even more so if I bought them in bulk), I still had to take the time to soak and cook those beans and it costs money to run the stove.
So, is it worth it? Honestly, I'd say it's a toss-up. Maybe I would realize more cost savings if we ate beans more often. The canned beans were also pretty salty, something I can avoid if I use the dry beans. And then there's the environmental factor if you consider that canned beans come in, well, cans. Even if you're going to send that metal off to the recycling center, it won't make up for the fact that the can took resources to fabricate. And dry beans take up less room than canned beans.
I guess the best way to save money on those beans is to plant our own. You know, when we get another garden fenced in. Which takes time and costs money. And after we get the other fifty-million things done on the list. Ugh!! Canned beans or bulk dry beans or beans in the garden????
Between trying to figure out the canned vs. dry bean costs and wondering how I'm going to plant beans, my head is spinning. I think I need to take a nap.