Raise your hand if you have bought one those small 3 pound bags of apples and pears at the grocery store without even thinking twice. Because hey, they’re in bulk, so they’ll be cheaper, right?
Have you ever taken the time to weigh one of those bags? Well if you do, then you know sometimes you will get lucky because those bags of fruit give you more bang for your buck, and weigh in at a few ounces more than what’s marked on the set price on the bag. Sometimes even as much a half a pound more.
But not always.
When I was Winco last week I noticed they were selling their 3 pound bags of red delicious apples for $2.98. But their price on bulk red delicious apples were $0.78 a pound. At three pounds that comes to $2.34, for the same apples. The only difference is you are putting the apples in the bag instead of the processing plant.
3 pounds bulk apples @ $.78 a pound = $2.34
3 pounds bagged apples @ $0.994 a pound = $2.98
Even if you were to get a 1/2 pound of “lucky overage” in the bagged variety, you’d still be loosing money over the bulk price in this instance. I know it’s not much of a difference, but it did catch my eye.
When you buy the bagged apples you are paying for convenience and you don’t get to inspect each apple that you are paying for. Plus, chances are, those bagged apples have been tossed around a lot more than the ones stacked by hand by the produce guy who had to remove the apples one by one out of their padded shipping box.
Maybe I overthink things when it comes to buying food. Or maybe, this is just another one of the ways I’ve trained myself to save on our bottom line. Anywho, it’s something to think about the next time you are buying produce
Do YOU prefer to buy bagged fruit or bulk? If you buy bagged, do you take the time to weigh it?
Keep calm and save one,
Interesting, it’s not always the best deal to buy bulk. I do usually buy the bagged apples now, still inspect every apple in the bag for bruising and checking for a nice firm apple. The thought came to mind a while back that lots more hand touch the loose, individual apples and I have seen people do things with their hands that I wouldn’t want to touch after them! Also, I have seen and even approached a produce manager at a ‘nicer’ grocery store after a cantaloupe fell off the display, rolled under another bin of produce and he picked it up and put it back on the pile of $2.99 cantaloupes! His reply was ‘I’ve been working in produce for 25 years and you can’t bruise a melon’. The store manager wasn’t much more understanding other than it should have been discounted, but that’s only because I made a stink and called the next day to complain about his produce managers inept work and rudeness. I grow everything I can, buy as little as I can because if you observe how most stores handle produce……sad. I’m a farmgirl, grew up eating ‘real’ fresh from the garden food, had that melon taken a fall like that at our house, my mom would have cut it open that day to eat. Anyway, that’s my take on it. 🙂
Oh, $2.99/lb cantaloupes!!
I have been buying apples by the bag recently, because it works out to be less expensive per pound at the stores I’m shopping at.
I used to see the managers at Meijer dump the apples from one box to another in the produce display. Unless I was getting apples directly from the packed box, it was hard to find apples that weren’t all bruised up.
Now I don’t have a Meijer to shop at, and do most of my shopping at Aldi. But they do not know how to handle bananas! They throw those bananas around and bruise them all up!
andrea d. says
Yep- I always weigh anything that is sold prepackaged in the produce section. And I keep looking until I find the one that weighs the most. It helps that my kids are with me so I have 5 extra sets of hands to send around weighing things 🙂 I usually look for ones that are at least 1/2 lb over, but have been lucky enough to find some (rarely) almost 1 lb more. Along with this I always price match the loose vs prepackaged to see where the better deal is. People look at me like I’m crazy- but they do that anyway when you show up at the grocery store with 5 kids in tow.
E in Upstate NY says
Mavis, bulk fruit isn’t the only place where larger packaging isn’t cheaper. Often I’ve found in the dairy case the smaller units less expensive than the larger containers. Weird that the contents and increased packaging and handling is cheaper.
I usually buy bagged apples because they’re not the giant ones. I prefer smaller ones and they don’t usually sell those loose.
We like the bags of small apples because they’re easy for my kids and they’ll eat the whole thing; less waste. However, I guess it’s still the cost of convenience because I could slice up the big ones for them and do something to keep them from browning.
I also like the bagged apples because of the smaller size.
Karen Picoult says
I’ve been having issues with buying “bulk” packages of ground meat when it is on sale. It’s hard to pass up $2.49/lb for good ground beef. The package will say 3.14 lbs, but when I get it home to weigh/repackage into 1 lb. portions I’m lucky to get 3 lbs! How can I prove that to the store?
I’m wondering if the person packaging the burger forgot to deduct the tare weight. Try weighing the whole package, then the individual portions, and the store packaging. Even if some blood drains from the meat, that weight should show up somewhere, like in the absorbent pad sometimes on the bottom of the tray. No one likes to be ripped off. Good luck!
In the stores I have access to that have bulk and pre packaged produce bulk purchasing is not always the best deal for my family. For example, apples; yes, the pre packaged ones might equal out to being cheaper per pound, BUT, the loose apples are HUGE!! You will only get 3-4 loose apples compared to the 9-10 apples you would get in the package. When you need multiples, the price is not the only factor you need to consider.
And to think that what caught my eye was “red delicious.” After living in apple country for 20+ year, you couldn’t pay me to eat a red delicious apple at any price. We are so blessed with other, better tasting (IMHO) apples that the red delicious are never my go to choice.
Exactly what I thought. I will pay more for a better apple.
Agree! And the red delicious in stores today are far from the red delicious out the back door of my Walla Walla Valley childhood home.
LOL — Laura, I thought the same thing? Who eats Red Delicious apples anymore when there are so many much better varieties?
Practical Parsimony says
I love red delicious and will eat nothing else!
Ellen in Clackamas says
where do you live Laura? I also won’t buy red delicious apples unless it is from an orchard. My Dad used to go hunting in Yakima and would bring back boxes of red and yellow apples. I got spoiled!!! Can’t stand the ones in the store anymore.
In Bellevue. Totally spoiled by all those yummy varieties around here we are. Lucky WA residents! And such fantastic berries too. Spoiled by the abundance of wonderful produce. And grateful for it as we moved here from Texas which was very different in the produce available (though I miss some of those incredible melons that tasted like candy. Always fun to enjoy the bounties of your locale!
I buy bagged apples if they are the only way to get the smaller apples (which requently they are). I am comfortable paying a little more and knowing my kids will finish the apples in their lunch instead of throwing away a half eaten apple.
I buy organic apples and the organic apples bagged ones are always cheaper than bulk.
Safeway had corn 6 for $1 last week. While I was waiting in line I couldn’t help but notice that everyone around me had the half shucked corn wrapped in saran wrap in their cart. It was 6 ears for $5. That was crazy!
I will start weighing my bagged apples. Thanks for the tip! The smaller apples, usually the bagged ones, are closer to a “serving size.” This is important to diabetics and others who try to limit carbs. While fruit is a healthful food choice, it is loaded with fructose. Size matters.
I buy whatever is cheapest per pound or item. (Big bananas at 19 cents are a better deal than 50 cents a pound, for example.) Except today, when I bought grapes, and didn’t read the fine print. Grapes were 0.88 /lb.
But only the black and green. I bought red. They were on the same display. I didn’t notice until I got back to the office. Worst part, I don’t even like grapes! (They are for little kiddos birthday party tomorrow).
Our grocery store bulk bag apples tend to be awful. They’re always small and bruised. If I find them to be cheaper, I’ll sometimes get them for applesauce if I notice they’re cheaper but never for fresh eating. I recently noticed, however, that bell peppers are $1 apiece but $3.99 for a bag of 6, and they’re the same size and quality. I’m in the middle of a massive freezer stock-up project, so I’ve been buying the bulk bag anyway, but I was stunned when I noted that it essentially comes with 2 free peppers.
I tend to buy the bagged apples because they are the right size for my kids to take to school and also because they tend to have a real apple smell. I find that the single apples in the grocery store are all covered in a waxy coating, and they don’t smell like anything. The bagged apples tend to have a nice apple smell and they don’t seem to have that same waxy coating. I like my apples to smell like apples.