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Butter Budget Busting

August 21, 2014

Where does all the butter go? It seems like I keep on buying the stuff. But I’m not a baker. Mostly I cook with extra virgin olive oil. Yes, I break out the butter on Friday night for Shabbat, and slather it all over my challah. I love a holiday that encourages personal decadence and living richly, especially when it comes once a week.

Maybe it’s the corn. Every week we get several ears from the CSA. I’ve been fire roasting them on the gas grill and putting out a half stick of butter on the table. I love these summer suppers.

Part of it has to be Young Master Fussy too. In my effort to try and fatten him up, I’ve created a scrambled egg lover. Really, he just loves my scrambled eggs. You’ll never guess the secret ingredient. These eggs are far too rich for my blood, but occasionally I’ll sneak a bite. Oh man, are they good. So, so buttery.

But it was when i was checking out of Trader Joe’s yesterday that I realized I might have a problem.

The butter I had bought was 20% of my grocery bill.

That’s $12 of butter on a $60 tab. It breaks down into a pound of salted, a pound of unsalted, and an eight ounce tub of fancy Kriemhild grass fed butter. I was really excited to see the latter, because I’ve heard good things and I’ve yet to try it. This will be my special Shabbat butter this week.

Salted butter is the workhorse in the Fussy household. If left to my own devices, I’d only buy the unsalted and add salt myself. But being married is all about making compromises.

I picked up the pound of unsalted butter because in preparations for cooler weather, I’m looking forward to making another batch of ghee. I haven’t been doing a lot Indian cooking this summer, but slow simmered legumes and pulses are going to be coming back to my kitchen soon.

When it comes to butter, I choose to buy organic, mostly as a hedge against milk produced from animals treated with rBST and fed subtherapeutic levels of antibiotics. That’s important to me, and I’m prepared to pay the premium for it.

Although at the Wegmans in Princeton, I could get organic butter for $4 a pound. It’s pushing $5 a pound at Trader Joe’s. But I just saw Shop Rite selling the mass produced Horizon Organic butter for the everyday high price of $8 a pound. Wow.

Sure, that’s about the same price or even a bit lower than I’m paying for the Kriemhild and those smaller production French and Italian butters I love so much. But those products aren’t even in the same league as the run of the mill Horizon Organic stuff.

It always makes me nervous when I see outliers like that on the grocery price spectrum. I tend to see them as a harbinger of what’s to come. Prices creep up slowly over time. There’s nothing that can be done about that. But if one regional chain is charging twice the price for a nationally available product, perhaps those increases are already on their way.

Thankfully, Young Master Fussy actually prefers his scrambled eggs made with bacon fat.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. EPT permalink
    August 21, 2014 8:32 am

    If you like French butter, go to your local Walmart and get some Presidents butter from France. It’s delicious and has 2 ingredients, cream and salt. It the only butter I use.
    BTW, I don’t refrigerate butter no matter what the season, haven’t for over 30 years…opinions on that appreciated.

  2. August 21, 2014 9:01 am

    I think I’ve told you this before but get a pressure cooker. Your, “slow simmered legumes and pulses” won’t be so slow. And they will be tastier. Pressure cooking with lentils and such is a revelation. I might even share my down and dirty quick pressure cooker dal (from TJs ingredients) recipe.

    • Doug permalink
      August 22, 2014 9:07 am

      What he said. Long gone are the days when everyone had a story about superheated goo projectile erupting from the pressure cooker vent. We can do outstanding split pea soup in under 30 minutes, and my Good Wife has turned out worthy bread pudding in 20. With butter, just to keep this post relevant.

  3. August 21, 2014 9:51 am

    I keep the fridge stocked for baking. But since butter prices started shooting up, I’ve been doing a whole heck of a lot less baking… I mean, c’mon, butter’s like four bucks now!

    • EPT permalink
      August 21, 2014 10:34 am

      I have to go with Julia Child’s mantra, “give me butter, always butter”. Of course, some dishes require EVOO.

      • enough already! permalink
        August 24, 2014 9:29 pm

        She also said “if you are afraid of butter, use cream”.🐄

  4. Jamie permalink
    August 21, 2014 10:00 am

    I had no idea…

  5. enough already! permalink
    August 22, 2014 11:36 pm

    I believe TJ’s regular butter is rBST free.

  6. August 23, 2014 3:15 pm

    So, how was the Kriemhild? We’ve mostly been purchasing the unsalted Kerrygold (rBST free, as it is made in the EU!)

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