We all want to get a good deal with our groceries. But buying cheap doesn't always mean you're getting your money's worth. Check out these foods that it might be worth shelling out a little more for.
According to Telegraph journalist Rose Prince, cheap bacon might not be as economically sound as we think. She says that it contains added water — making it heavier — either added during the animal's life or injected afterwards.
A sure way to tell if you're paying for watery bacon, she says is to look for the 'rainbow sheen' on the surface of the meat. This is a sign that it contains polyphosphates, which retain moisture.
So if you've ever fried bacon and found it sitting in a pool of milky-looking liquid, now you'll know why.
For an extra pound or two per pack you could have bacon from naturally-reared pigs, which doesn't shrink so much on cooking, is thicker-cut and won't boil in your frying pan.
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What's the difference between a cheap sausage and a more expensive one? We asked butcher Nathan Mills. "A cheap banger that you find on the supermarket shelf will contain a large percentage of rusk (breadcrumbs) as a filler, dried herbs and a percentage of water," he explains.
Nathan adds that they're more likely to contain E-numbers, in the form of preservatives and stabilisers, adding that the animals "see very little light of day and don't get to follow their natural behaviours."
Cheap sausages can contain as little as 20 per cent meat, while good quality ones will be made with outdoor-reared pork, fresh herbs and contain around 80 per cent meat - all for just over £1 per pack extra.
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Ice cream is made with just cream, milk, sugar, eggs and a vanilla pod or two, right?
Not always, according to the Daily Mail. In their article "The Chilling Truth About Ice Cream", they say that some contain vegetable oil, emulsifiers, flavourings and as little as 2.5 per cent milk protein and 5 per cent dairy fat.
And although it's important to whip air into ice cream for a fluffy texture, they say that "a way of making it go further is to whip as much air into the mixture as possible before freezing it into plastic tubs". Remember that ice cream is sold by volume and not weight.
You can pick up a 2-litre tub of cheap ice cream for under £1 — but a 500ml tub of good quality stuff will set you back around £3.29. Because it's denser, creamier and richer, you'll need less of it in your cone. But is it worth paying the difference?
Patrick McGuigan, from The Cheese Chap website tells us why very cheap cheese often has a rubbery, sweaty texture and bland, milky flavour.
"Essentially, mass-produced cheeses are all about achieving a standardised, consistent product as cheaply as possible to sell through the supermarkets," he says, adding that in mass production, they churn several thousand tonnes of cheese per hour, before wrapping it in plastic and refrigerating for three months.
"The plastic wrapping stops any moisture evaporating, which since cheese is sold by weight makes better profit margins, but gives the cheese that sweaty texture and flavour," Patrick told us.
Chris from MacFarlane's Deli in London gives us another reason to shell out more on cheese. "Most artisan products use raw milk from their farm which has a unique (and changing through the year) character, while factories use pasteurised milk shipped in container lorries that is purposely blended to taste the same."
There's a huge difference between a 30p chocolate bar and one costing 70p — and not just in cost. Cocoa is expensive, and so to make it go further it can be blended with sugar, vegetable fats and flavourings. This gives the chocolate an overly-sweet flavour and greasy texture — far from that velvety, slow-melting texture we all love.
But you don't need to go to the top of the range to see a difference. While you'll spend 30p on a 100g bar made with 27 per cent cocoa, 70p will get you a bar with 50 per cent cocoa solids — and as with most of the items in this list — because it's purer and richer, you'll need less.
What do you think? Are all cheap foods really worth it? Is it worth paying more for certain foods?
[All images copyright Jo Romero]