Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Thousand Dollar Difference in Spices



Spices have a long, rich, and even a dark history.  Wars were started, ships were sunk, life-saving trades were made and those who were lucky became rich, all in an endeavor to obtain the most savory and colorful spices of the world. 
Today, we take spices for granted.  Need a little nutmeg or cinnamon for that apple pie?  A quick walk down the baking aisle of your neighborhood grocery will take care of that.  I've always tried to wait for the 1/2 off sales and stock up on my spices and herbs.  I also have several bottles of things I only needed once for that special recipe.  I wonder how much money I've spent over the years filling my spice rack?  I'm a girl that likes a little spice in her life and lots in her cooking, but I'm also on a budget.  

Recently, I started thinking about all the different places in the store you could buy the same things.  I wondered how the prices varied and if anyone ever compares them since they are often several aisles away from each other.  So, on one occasion I looked at a particular spice in each aisle, remembering the price and jotting it down.  That didn't work because some were priced per pound, others by ounce.  I couldn't remember how large the quantity.  Why do they make it so confusing?  So, I went back, camera phone at the ready and conducted a little experiment, complete with pictures.  I was blown away with the findings. 

I post this today to expose the $1000 secret hiding in your grocery store.

There are three places you can generally find the same spices in a large grocery store; the baking aisle, bulk aisle and the related ethnic aisle.  In this case, I'll reference the Hispanic aisle.  I won't go into all the reasons I think it's ridiculous to have designated ethnic foods in stores, but I will save that rant for another time. Here are five different spices or herbs that I was able to find in these three different sections of the grocery store:
  1. Paprika
  2. Bay leaves
  3. Oregano
  4. Ground cinnamon
  5. Whole cinnamon sticks
I will show the you comparisons in prices per pound.  I realize that you most likely will not be buying a pound of paprika, but in order to really see the vast difference in price, it's best to illustrate the costs per pound.

Paprika: Baking aisle
Price per pound: $54.40

Paprika: Bulk
Price per pound: $16.99

Paprika: Hispanic aisle
Price per pound: $9.44

Savings by buying in the Hispanic aisle: $44.96

Ground cinnamon: baking aisle
Price per pound: $57.44

Ground cinnamon: Bulk aisle
Price per pound: $8.69

Ground cinnamon: Hispanic aisle
Price per pound: $15.84
Savings by buying in the Bulk aisle: $48.75

Cinnamon sticks: Baking aisle
Price per pound: $127.84

Cinnamon sticks: Bulk aisle
Price per pound: $11.99

Cinnamon sticks: Hispanic aisle
Price per pound: $25.39

Savings by buying in the cinnamon sticks in the bulk aisle: $115.85

And here is the big daddy savings of them all.  You won't believe this one.

Bay leaves: Bulk aisle
Price per pound: $16.79

Bay leaves: Hispanic aisle
Price per pound: $18.88
Bay leaves: Baking aisle
Price per pound: $1210.24 (on sale for $604.57)

Let's just pretend it wasn't on sale.
Savings by buying bay leaves in the Hispanic aisle: $1191.36

That's a whole lot of money left over.  The proof is in the pictures (and by doing some math).  Conclusion: It pays to stay out of the baking aisle!


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