Is it Wal*Mart? Wal-Mart? Walmart? Who knows. It’s the place we go to “save money and live better.” Sometimes, though, saving money doesn’t equal living better when it comes to choosing foods which are nutritious. It’s important to me to live as simply as I can and to avoid over-paying for things that are non-essential. One example of a food that I try to minimize cost on is the graham cracker. I have graham crackers with peanut butter as a snack each morning. It provides a carbohydrate bump to keep me energized, a medium-term dose of protein, and the fat from the peanut butter will make sure I have the energy to keep going until lunch. Is “Great Value” the greatest value?
For a while, I’ve been buying Kroger Value graham crackers. When I’ve looked for graham crackers in Walmart, I found they have limited selection of inexpensive, store-brand grahams. None are available in my “home” store, in fact. I ducked into the store nearest work for another reason, and I saw that they had a new product on the shelf. It looked “value-y,” and it even listed “5g of Whole Grain per Serving” on the front of the box with a little asterisk, to make the lawyers happy.
There are two ways I evaluate a product when trying to decide if it’s, in fact, a great value. First, I look at the nutrition facts. Let’s look at this product as compared to my current product, the Kroger Value graham crackers. Because the serving size of the two products is different, I listed the original figures and then scaled the Walmart values down to be comparable to the Kroger serving size. With identical serving sizes, you can compare nutrient values side-by-side. I rounded up or down as necessary when computing the scaled version.
|Walmart Great Value||Kroger Value||Walmart Scaled|
|Serving Size||31 g||27 g||27 g|
|Protein||2 g||2 g||2 g|
|Carbohydrate||24 g||20 g||21 g|
|Fat||3 g||3 g||3 g|
|Sodium||190 mg||140 mg||165 mg|
The first thing I noticed is that the Walmart grahams have fewer calories per gram. In the real world, though, I’m going to be breaking these into pieces based on the score marks rather than weighing them by the gram. In this case, the Kroger crackers would leave me consuming slightly less product and therefore consuming slightly fewer calories because the score marked pieces are a bit smaller. I’ll call this one a win for Kroger.
Protein and fat are both comparable. The Walmart grahams have slightly more carbohydrates per gram. In the sodium department, the Kroger variety is the better selection because it has 17% less sodium than the Great Value grahams. These are very similar products, so it will come down to cost.
The Kroger variety comes in a one pound box for $1.95. The Walmart variety comes in a slightly smaller box which costs more. The Kroger price per ounce is 12.2 cents. The Walmart price per ounce is 15.1 cents. The Kroger variety is lower in sodium, lower in cost, and portioned in a way that will help me reach my weight loss goals. The Walmart variety is higher in carbohydrates and says, “5g of Whole Grain per Serving.” Does that phrase make it a healthy food?
Flipping down to the ingredients list, we see the first ingredient in both products listed as, “Enriched flour.” No. These aren’t “whole grain” foods. They may contain some whole grains, but most everything contains a little bit of whole grains. This product contains more sugar than it does whole wheat flour. The asterisk on the Great Value box leads you to a tiny statement on the side of the box which states, “*USDA Recommends 48g or more whole grain daily.”
As I put the finishing touches on this post, I’m reminded of this hilarious story about Jeanne Robertson sending her husband to the grocery store. She says, “Frankly, I don’t care what things cost by the half ounce.” Well I do! That’s the left brain in me!