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Fat in the Budget

by Jane Wangersky | October 5th, 2010 | Shopping Secrets
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butterToday, let’s look at the fat on your grocery list. I don’t mean that in the sense of extra stuff that won’t be missed, or the fat content in the foods you buy — I mean butter, margarine, oil, shortening, and cooking spray. No, it’s not exactly healthy, but we all need a little of it once in awhile. So what’s the most economical way to buy it?

First, forget about cooking spray. Yes, it puts a little bit of oil into a nice even coat over a large surface, but you’re paying for the aerosol gadget, and it’s not worth it. Put your oil in a permanent spray can — you can buy one at a kitchen supply store — or a new spray bottle. Or use empty butter wrappers, or a bit of paper towel with butter or shortening on it.

Actually, you don’t have to forget the cooking spray completely. The butter-flavored stuff is good for popcorn.

Speaking of butter — right now, I’m leaning toward the belief that it’s better for you than margarine. It’s more natural, anyway, and I may be slightly biased by the fact that I can always get it free by redeeming 500 points.

I used to buy margarine in bulk and use it as both spread and shortening. That ended not only because I decided butter was possibly better, but because I realized that, pound for pound, margarine cost twice as much as shortening. This was like my earlier discovery that sliced ham cost twice as much as unsliced.

Fat may be an unavoidable part of life — in more ways than one — but it doesn’t have to be an expensive part of it.

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