Portion control at a price

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Willpower has hit an all-time (and costly) low. Bigger waistlines, it seems, trump higher debt as Americans pony up their hard-earned pennies for pre-portioned snacks that cost at least triple as much as simply portioning out the snacks themselves.

Internet debates rage on whether the new 100-calorie packaging prices are, as ThriftyFun.com puts it, "Diet Aid or Rip Off?" While the blogger suggests using good-old-fashioned Ziploc bags and existing packaging's back labels to portion out your own packs, some respondents balked at the suggestion that it should be so simple to self-apportion.

Rob Ainbinder, for example, eschewed the idea of measuring out his own Reduced Fat Cheese Nips, offering that, "If you want to mess with those baggies that's fine. But, for those of us in the real world, we'll take the 100 cal packs. Sure, we might pay a fewer more pennies per ounce, but we also can't sneak any extra in while refilling!" (That may be, but can't you eat more than one 100-calorie pack, Rob?) Richelle, herself clearly without self-control, agreed. "I think the packs are great for limiting the amount of snack you eat. It is better than sitting with the box of Cheese Nips, for example, and going out of control." Decide for yourself. Is it worth it?

Below is a sampling of what consumers must shell out for food marketers to do their calorie counting for them.

* A 13-oz. bag of Doritos retails for roughly $2.99 vs. $1.99 for a five-pack of Doritos Mini Bites, which total 3.4 oz. (Convenient snack packs only charge a slight premium, $3.49 for 13.6 oz.)

* A 16 oz. box of Keebler Sunshine Cheez-Its retails for roughly $3.89 vs. $3.19 for a six-pack of Keebler Right Bites Cheez-Its, which totals only 4.6 oz.

* An 18 oz. package of Oreos retails for roughly $3.99 while a six-pack of Oreo Thin Crisps (only 4.86 oz.) also retails for $3.99.

* An 11 oz. box of Goldfish retails for roughly $2.99 while a five-pack of Pepperidge Farm Goldfish 100 Calorie Pouches (net weight 3.6 oz.) sells for $2.69.
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