Save 40 Percent on Your Grocery Bill With Bad Math!
How to shave 40 percent off your grocery bill: Buy less meat!
YahooNews has changed its homepage to include far more stupid stories than it used to, via something called the “Yahoo! Contributor Network.”
A classic: “How to shave 40 percent off your grocery bill” by Marilisa Kinney Sachteleben (her name is my name, too).
Mostly, it tells us not to buy things we’re going to throw away and to wait for sales. Thanks! But I’m especially bemused by this:
Reduce your meat spending. Meat is expensive. Twenty years ago, you could buy hamburger three pounds for a dollar on sale. Now you’re lucky to find it for two dollars a pound. Recommended daily allowance of meat is only two four-ounce servings. Yet meat is the biggest expenditure in most families’ grocery budgets. Replace meat with less expensive protein sources: fish, beans, legumes, rice, couscous, pasta, falafel and nuts. You’ll save money because servings sizes of these protein sources are only one-quarter to one-half cup.
Now, replacing meat with legumes is indeed cheaper–although not likely very satisfying as a substitute for ribeye. And, saving money by substituting smaller serving sizes is, well, not really saving money–it’s eating less.
But I especially love that hamburger has gone up from $2 to $3 a pound since 1991. If you use the CPI inflation calculator provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you’ll see that $2 in 1991 dollars has the same buying power as $3.23 in 2011 dollars. So, if Sachteleben’s rounded numbers are right, hamburger is cheaper now than it was then.
UPDATE: A commenter notes that I’ve misread the claim — transposing the numbers. She claims that hamburger was available 3 pounds for a dollar, or 33 cents a pound. I’m not sure that’s right but, if so, it’s definitely gone up well beyond the rate of inflation. Apparently, literacy is useful, too.