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Forgive my hyperbole for a minute and play along...

When it comes to macaroni and cheese, I'm a firm believer in the Kraft spirals. There is none better (at least for quick, easy, prepackaged stuff). And it's not like it's expensive either... at about $1 a box, it's fairly affordable.

Of course, store brands can offer a huge savings over already decent prices. Take Wegmans for example... Their spiral mac & cheese? About 3 for $1. That's just insane. But there has to be some sort of trade-off, right? Yes... there is.

First thing I noticed was the Wegmans brand directions require 1/4 of butter or margarine. Compare that to just 1 tsp for Kraft (even the "classic" ingredients on the Kraft box only require 3 tbsp). That is one half of a stick of butter for the Wegmans brand. Also consider that the Wegmans brand specifies 2% milk - and Kraft recommends fat free (though has a recipe for 1%).

Here's a quick look comparing some of the "nutritional" facts... Comparisons are to the "prepared" values... and percentages are % Daily Value.

Nutrition Wegmans Kraft
Calories 520 290
Total Fat 40% 8%
Saturated Fat 27% 15%
Sodium 43% 25%
Total Carbs 21% 16%

Damn.

So of course this is just one example and doesn't really mean a whole lot when considering store brands as a whole, but this is a bit disheartening when you have people looking to save money for their families - but then end up feeding them something WAY less healthy than an actual name brand.

Quite frankly, I'm a bit saddened that this particular example is so bad. I like Wegmans... and shop there a LOT. But this is just bad. And really, even the taste of the Wegman's brand isn't even CLOSE to the Kraft stuff - really not that good at all.

So go ahead and save yourself a few dollars... but make sure you hit the gym a few more times to work off that cheap stuff.

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3 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Store Brands: Cheap, Silent, Killers”

  • Lahatiel

    November 12, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    Was told a story by an uncle in the 80s — that he worked at a site in central MI where he bagged frozen tater tots for delivery to stores. Half his shift was filling Ore-Ida bags, half a store brand’s bags… with the same potatoes from the same chute. Honestly, I can’t provide any more specific details than that, as it was ~25 years ago, and that uncle has long since passed away; also, obviously, a lot of things can change in two-plus decades, anyway. The basic story has always stuck with me, though. I guess the real moral would be that purple

  • Lahatiel

    November 12, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Dammit, typing on my phone, trying to back up to correct “purple” to “people,” and accidentally hit the Publish button. 🙁

    Anyway, people should be more vigilant in checking labels, comparing ingredients, etc. — but then again, that’s just a basic truth in today’s world, regardless of the name/store brand issue.

  • ack154

    November 12, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Oh I absolutely believe a lot of “generics” are essentially identical to the name brands. That’s why it was so odd to find this one sooo far off. 🙂