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Boxed Scalloped Potatoes can’t beat the 1950’s version of the Betty Crocker Scalloped Potatoes, and the boxed version costs about 2 ½ times as much!  Do they really “Taste as Good as Homemade?” as it says on the box?

Things are tight in the Frugal Household, and recently I wondered if it were time to re-evaluate Scalloped Potatoes.  I use the same recipe I copied as a young woman from the Betty Crocker cookbook years ago, and was interested in seeing how their box compared in cost and taste with my homemade version.  With the rising cost of ingredients, I was actually afraid that their 99 cent price per package, on sale this week and last, combined with my “40 cent off two” coupon was going to blow me out of the water.

I paid $1.58 for two boxes.  When I got home, I realized that this is not a complete mix, I still needed to add milk and butter for an extra $.25, so my total was $1.83.  But in my head, until I did the math, I was still thinking I had a bargain.

Boy, was I surprised!  I kicked butt on Betty!  Here’s the cost comparison:

Betty Crocker Scalloped Potatoes (doubled): 10 ½ cup servings:  $1.83 or 18.5 cents a serving.  *

Scalloped Potatoes, Like the ones your Grandma made:  6 one cup servings: $.91 (without ham) and if we divide my serving into ½ cup portions, it’s 12 servings, 7.5 cents each.  If we were to adjust the my recipe to equal the same amount as the boxed version, it would cost 75 cents to make instead of the $.91 cents.  *

Home Made Scalloped Potatoes

It does take about 10 minutes to make my potatoes with a food processor, and I do have to run the oven longer – they take about an hour and ten minutes to bake so they’re not an “instant” side dish.  (Cut the recipe in half and they bake much quicker and they’re marvelous left over.)  Even though they cost more than my version, I was just about ready to concede and say the $1.08 extra cost (adjusted) just wasn’t worth it, and maybe I should throw in the towel on this one.  Then I tasted the boxed version.

It was childhood all over again, sitting at the Formica table, eating off the melamine plates:  salty and gummy and a rather strange color I can only describe as orange-y.  Somehow, even if Mom dressed up boxed potatoes with ham or hot dogs or whatever else she could throw at it, it never really seemed like a meal. I thought it disappointed as well as a side dish. Oh, we all ate it anyway, one never thought to complain back then, and we all finished our plates or risked the reminder about the starving kids in China and India. Mostly, though, I think we just harbored secret thoughts about the chocolate pudding for dessert when we joined the “clean plate club.”

Today, I sat down with the box and took a good hard look at the nutrition, noticed the salt amount and the msg.  That’s why I was thirsty!

The box gives calorie count for the ‘product’ and ‘prepared.’  It doesn’t say how to prepare it, except use milk and butter or margarine. For the prepared version, it doesn’t list, of course, grams of fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium or carbohydrates.  This would vary depending on how it’s made, but what I find misleading is they list the percentages, so a quick glance at the box might have you thinking you are eating better than you are.  Nor does it list anywhere the percentage of fat to calories.

If you eat this in a more normal sized version, say a cup (my friend with the family of five told me they always make two boxes) the nutritional values are below: (Just divide in ½ if you only want a half a cup.  Just divide it into infinity, if like me, you’ve decided to stick to homemade!  Actually, of course, you can’t divide into infinity, but that thought just made me think that just like energy, fat cells, no matter how much they shrink, never really ever go away either!)

  • Calories: 252
    Fat: 8 g
    Cholesterol: 11 mg
    Saturated fat: 4 g
    Sodium: 1305
    protein: 6 g
    Fiber: 1 g

What else they bring to the party:  Partially Hydrongenated Soybean Oil (trans fat), Maltodextrin, sodium phospate, monosodium glutamate, mono & diglycerates, whey protein concentrate, silicon dioxide, colored with yellow 5 and yellow 6 and artificial colors.   Here is their nutritional information.

* Here’s the cost breakdown of my ingredients:

  • Milk, 2 %, 1 gallon, $1.98 used 2 ½ cup in mine, $.31, 1 1/3 c $.17 in BC
    Flour, 5 lb, on sale for 1.99 for 5 lb. used 3 T $.08
    Butter, 1 lb, on sale for $1.49 used 3 T $.12 in mine, 2 T $.08 in BC
    Potatoes:  10 lb for $1.99 used 2 lb total $.40
    Salt:  about a t in mine, negligible, since 1 T is less than about a penny.

Final Frugal Judgment:  Thanks Betty, but no thanks, I liked the Book better than what’s at the “Box” Office.  Scalloped Potatoes, Like the ones your Grandma Made.

 

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