Like most people, I’m very fond of my routines. I look forward to my early morning bike ride, my post-workout tea and oatmeal, weekend walks downtown and evening “Forensic Files” marathons. (Aside: I realize that the elements of my routine listed here make me seem like a 38-year-old, but it’s cool. I’m practically 38.) One major component of my routine — weekday, at least — is Greek yogurt. At some point, perhaps a year after trying and becoming obsessed with Greek yogurt, I became that Person Who Eats Yogurt Every Day. Prior to the transition, the exact time of which is unknown to me, I wondered about these yogurt-eating people always mentioned in women’s magazines. Who the hell eats yogurt every day? I wanted to know.
Well, I do.
Last week, Lucky (the [big-box] grocery store nearest my house) was sold out of Dannon plain Greek yogurt. This had never happened before, so I picked up a few Chobanis and decided to return a few days later, assuming the stock would be replenished. Yesterday morning, making a 7:30 run for coffee, milk, and Aquaphor, I checked the yogurt case. Still empty of Dannon! This led me to kvetch to Hook about how Dannon has the best product for the price point and shame on Lucky for not restocking like a normal store. My kvetchings, in turn, led Hook to prompt me to write about my system of evaluating Greek yogurt, whose intricacies I will share with you now.
Yogurt Roundup: The Best Greek Yogurt for Your Money
1) Dannon 0% Plain Yogurt. In the early days of my Greek yogurt consumption, I would never have guessed that Dannon — plain old Dannon — would reign supreme in my self-determined yogurt hierarchy. While it’s true that Dannon is the best-selling brand of yogurt worldwide (who knew?), it seems, in some ways, mundane. I grew up eating Fruit on the Bottom, you know? I didn’t initially trust Dannon’s ability to produce an authentic-tasting Greek yogurt because I’d come to associate the brand with the marginal yogurts of my youth.
But the product speaks for itself: Dannon’s Greek yogurt is thick and creamy, possessing an almost custardlike consistency. There’s very little excess liquid, and the yogurt is tart but never sour. Additionally, one six-ounce carton costs a mere $.99 at Lucky — about half the price of other, arguably-more-desirable brands (which I’ll get to in a moment).
2) Fage 0%. I love Fage: the texture is incredible, the taste is spot-on, and the packaging design is lovely to behold. I don’t love that a 5.3-ounce carton of Fage costs $1.79. I’d have ranked Fage as my top yogurt were the price-per-package a bit lower, but sadly, Dannon dominates in the cost category.
3) Chobani 0%. Texturally, Chobani is very similar to Dannon and Fage; tastewise, it’s a bit tarter. I’ve found that Chobani has more liquid than either of the two brands previously listed, and I’m not a huge fan of this runoff (which I either drain off or hastily mix in to the yogurt, though I’ve been told that one should never stir Greek yogurt prior to consumption! I do not remember who told me this.). In my neck of the woods, a six-ounce carton of Chobani costs, on average, $1.69 — which means that, in a battle with Fage, Fage will win any day. (Aside: Chobani does have a Pineapple yogurt that is tasty as a dessert, but is a little too sweet for a coffee break snack.)
4) Trader Joe’s Fat Free Greek Yogurt. At $.89 per serving, Trader Joe’s Nonfat Greek Yogurt (Plain variety) leads the pack in terms of price. In other areas, though, the yogurt falls flat. I’ve found TJ’s Greek Yogurt to be runnier than the others listed, and the flavored varieties (Pomegranate, notably) miss the mark, both in terms of tangyness and in mimicking the flavor they’re meant to mimic. Not wanting to be wasteful but also not really digging the Pomegranate yogurt, I actually left a carton of this in my office fridge last week, hoping someone would sneak off with it. As of Friday afternoon, it was still there.
5) Greek Gods Nonfat Plain Yogurt. I’d like to rank Greek Gods yogurt higher — really, I would — not least of all because their packaging is eye-catching (who doesn’t love the bright colors combined with drawings of the gods?). My biggest qualm with this yogurt is its relative dearth of protein; yes, a six-ounce serving of the nonfat, plain yogurt is a scant 60 calories, but it also only has six grams of protein — hardly more than a regular yogurt. Moreover, the flavored varieties (Fig, Vanilla, Honey Strawberry) are pretty damn caloric: one cup of the Honey Strawberry has 310 calories and 15 grams of fat (basically equivalent to a half-cup serving of premium ice cream, which at least seems properly indulgent, unlike this yogurt, which masquerades as a health food). At $1.49 for a six-ounce cup, Greek Gods is not the priciest of the competitors, but the quality of the product doesn’t justify the cost.
So there you have it — more than you ever wanted to/needed to/thought you’d know about my Greek yogurt preferences. I’m always on the lookout for new products and I’m planning to try two brands (Brown Cow and Oikos) that I haven’t tried yet. For the time being, I’ll stick with Dannon.