Sunday, April 25, 2010

The English Muffin Epiphany

Last week a neighbor who was going on an extended vacation emptied her refrigerator and asked if I could use the food that would spoil before she returned.

Free food? You bet I said yes.

One item was an unopened package of Thomas' English Muffins. Now I love English muffins. I eat at least two a day, with butter and strawberry jam. But it's been years since I've purchased the Thomas brand because they are several times as expensive as the sale-priced store brands I normally get. I'm the kind of person who stocks up when a store sells its own brand at three for a dollar, and freezes the extras.

The store brands are serviceable. I like them.

BUT, they are SO not as good as the Thomas' variety.

I was forcibly reminded of this as I worked my way through the package left to me by my neighbor. These muffins were fluffier, fresher, with all kinds of nooks and crannies to hold the butter and jam. They were so good, I actually had a dream about them one night.

Still, they didn't last forever and now they are gone.

What's a cheapskate to do?

Would it have been better not to have had the finer brand when I will have to go back to my usual mediocre brands? That doesn't sound right. Why would I deny myself the occasional treat just because I can't have it all the time?

Should I change my frugal habits and start purchasing the Thomas brand? Not likely since I eat too many of them per week.

In the meantime, I read far too many articles on frugality that tell me store brands (of almost anything) are just as good. Can we admit that this is often NOT TRUE? Sometimes I just don't care. For example store brand tomato sauce may not be as good as something more expensive, but once it is in my spaghetti sauce, I don't find that any difference is worth the additional expense.

But for my daily English Muffin fix? Hmm--tougher question.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

WHEN OBAMA FINISHES HIS CHANGES,
YOU WILL BE HAPPY TO HAVE A BREAD CRUST TO PUT YOUR JAM ON. IF YOU CAN AFFORD THE JAM.

Anonymous said...

I buy the brand when I know I like the brand better, but I'm in a different financial situation than you.

I think that in your situation, I would buy one package of the brand if I was having a bad week or if it was a holiday, but otherwise I would stick to the store brand.

Florence said...

I would continue to buy the store brand regularly but once a month treat myself to a package of the good stuff.

Anonymous said...

Hi Grace,

I only buy Thomas brand. I agree, they are the best. I will only buy when they are buy one, get one free. For whatever reason, I find if I freeze both packs they last longer. I'm not tempted to have them every day.

Patti

Revanche said...

Oooh I would have had the same reaction: I shouldn't have had the good stuff because now I'll regret the store brand. Bah.

But I'm pret-ty cheap so when I'm determined not to spend above a price point, I don't, not even if I knoooow it'll be wonderful. The satisfaction of "winning" (even against myself means I'm a happily deprived person.

Anonymous said...

Funny you should write this frugal bread post today. Lately, I've been rethinking my outlet bread. We have a bakery outlet about 10 minutes from my house. I usually stock up there and get my favorite breads for $0.89-$0.99 a loaf. The other week, I was out of bread and bought it at the regular grocery store ... it was much softer and fluffier. "Day old" bread does taste older. It's "good enough" but not "just as good."

Anonymous said...

Target had Thomas' on sale for $1.89 last week. They are often on sale for $2.00 if you look around the grocery stores. They come in multi-packages at Costco, I think 4 for $6.49 if I recall.

Why not cut somewhere else and stock up on what you really like when it's on sale?

Sharon said...

Okay, Grace, I vote you buy Thomas brand, period. Unless you have tons of expensive "vices", this one seems relatively harmless, and it would give you such pleasure!! :) Go for it!!!

frugal zeitgeist said...

I agree with buying them in bulk only when they are on sale, and then freezing them. Think of it as stalking an elusive yet utterly delicious prey. ;-)

Bouncing Back said...

Some brand names ARE just better than the store version. Thomas's English Muffins are one. I buy one bag of Thomas's about once a month, the rest of the time it is the store brand..... I feel your pain.

Susan said...

I can easily live without eating another Thomas english muffin .... but not their Australian Toaster Biscuits! OMG they are a piece of heaven from the toaster with homemade jam. Knowing I get to eat one of those makes getting up and going to work a delight! Thankfully, Costco sells them in large quantities or I would be living in a chronic state of emergency.

Living Almost Large said...

I'd buy it on sale and freeze it. Costco has them cheap if you don't want to buy them with coupons.

Personally I'd skip a coffee or something for the difference in price.

MasterPo said...

Bouncing Back is correct. Things like Thomas Brand muffins or Heinz Ketchup just can't be replaced (wish they brought back Ketchup in glass bottles!!).

ps- Anon on 4/25 @ 11:51am is also oh sooooooo correct too. It hasn't even begun yet.

Not racist.
Not violent.
Just not silent any more.

MEG said...

If you're eating 2 a day then I just hope they are healthy and unprocessed, regardless of brand or price. I buy Ezekial 4:9 English Muffins and love them! I'm sure they cost even more than Thomas', but they are made from sprouted grains and have 6 grams of fiber, 0 sugar, and 8 grams of protein! They aren't as light and fluffy as some brands (as only processesed bleached flour can be), but when something is the basis of your diet it's worth paying for the good stuff I think. http://www.foodforlife.com/

Diane said...

Oh, I've been found out! I L-O-V-E Thomas' English Muffins. Here's how I sneak them into my diet: I stock up at the day-old bread store and freeze the extras. Their price is about 1.89, but they are always having additional specials. Find your nearest store on line or ask the person filling the racks at the grocery store. Mine's not that close, but is is on the way to another occasional-but-important errand. Oh, and their whole grain and multi-grain options are scrumptious! I'm getting hungry just writing this...

Bucksome said...

Darn you, Grace! Now, I'm craving a Thomas' english muffin full of melted butter in the nooks and crannies. Oh, and it's the sourdough ones.

This is not going to end pretty....

444 said...

I may be late to this party. But I want you to know that I know that store brands are SOMETIMES as good as name brands and sometimes NOT as good.

English muffins: Store brands most definitely NOT as good.

I think you should just indulge in the good English muffins. I indulge in good coffee, good beer, a particular olive oil butter/margarine-type spread, natural peanut butter, fortified name-brand orange juice... I think that's it for the name-brand must-haves. Oh yeah, I do not buy generic bread. I make it if I have to, to save money so that when I buy it, I can buy the good stuff.