Monday, February 3, 2014

The Chopped Onion Project. Is there a limit to cutting costs?

Can you be too cheap?

-the chopped onion project-

Chopping onions to save a few dollars. Seems simple huh?

I realized just how many onions we've been using lately. Rather than buying the 12oz bag of chopped frozen onions for $1.00 at Giant, I considered buying onions in bulk to chop myself. Wegmans has a 10 pound bag of onions for $6.99. I could use my mini food processor to dice them two or three at a time while I made dinner. "Easy!", I thought.

As the tears poured down my face and my eyes burned so bad that I thought I was doing permanent damage, My husband kept saying "Are you OK? This doesn't look like a good idea". Then, when I noticed my 17 month old son rubbing his eyes on the floor next to me, I realized that I actually have limits to frugality. In total, It took me about 15 minutes to chop and package those onions to freeze. Those 15 minutes felt like about 10 hours and I still feel like all I can smell is onions when I walk through the kitchen.

At the end of the day, I saved $5.81 for enough onions that will likely last me through three months. While a savings of 54% is pretty impressive on a whole food, it wasn't enough to endure the noxious fumes that plague me to this day. At the end of a year, I would have saved $24.

We'll just live recklessly and buy the frozen chopped onions, 'cause you know, we're extravagant like that:)
Don't be deceived by the ease of the mini processor... You're about to cry.


  1. I've never realized the actual size of the gap between the American and the European ways of everyday cooking. I truly mean no offence to you, but for me, this is hilarious. I was literally crying with laughter. Of course, I cry when I chop onions, too, because here in Europe, we prefer fresh vegetables – but frankly, the few tears are a small price for the delicious meal you make with a fresh onion. Having a bag of frozen chopped onion in a freezer (let alone actually buying pre-chopped onion) seems like a waste of energy and space, and also, from the-old-world point of view, it is settling for less then you can get, when you could cook from fresh ingredients. They don't even sell it here, because nobody would buy it, there's no reason to. If properly stored, fresh, unpeeled onion can keep for up to a couple of weeks (in fridge) or even months (in a cellar). To me, to peel and chop 3 large onions takes about 5 minutes (and I mean chopping with a knife, it would take no time with a food processor), so one can easily do it while for instance cooking the potatoes – then again, maybe you buy ready-to-eat potatoes, too, who knows – we mostly buy them fresh, peel them and cook. When you chop the onion fast enough, you don't even have time to start crying. Some people get used to the onion fumes (which are not dangerous at all, by the way) but I never did. So here is a little tip: when your eyes start stinging, lean over a stove with your open eyes in a safe distance over the hot hotplate, and in a couple of seconds, the stinging will stop. Or, if your eyes are really sensitive like mine, you can simply keep a pair of swim goggles in the kitchen (which my friends find extremely funny). If you were interested in any other European cooking tips, feel free to contact me at

    1. No offense taken and I love your comment. It makes a lot of sense. Clearly that's the way to go here. I think I learned an important lesson about taking the easy way out. I could certainly benefit from fresher foods:)

  2. I bought a giant tub of chopped dried onions from Costco. It has lasted me about 5 months thus far, I use them every night for dinner and they taste just like the frozen onions.
    Not only that, but they were on sale at the time, so I think I paid 7 dollars in total. This is the only way I'll buy onions from now on.


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