The High Price of Food
This is getting ridiculous. During the pandemic we limited shopping to a bi-monthly excursion to avoid people as much as possible.
As the months went by I was finding more and more empty shelves.
No worries. I always kept a full pantry. Other than rubbing alcohol, there was nothing I truly needed.
Still, as another year went by my pantry was beginning to suffer. I stockpiled when I could. Then 2022 arrived. Shelves were full again, but the prices...!
Not too many people complained about the prices in the early days. I noticed them because, well, that's my hobby, keeping an eye on food prices. At first the hikes were minor and intermittent. Now they punch you in the face every time you shop.
More people are shopping at warehouse stores. The people who shop at regular grocery stores leave with leaner shopping carts.
Yes. I notice what people put in their carts. That's my other hobby.
A few weeks ago I had to put my foot down on one of our regular buys. Here, I must admit to one of my guilty pleasures, Pepsi Zero.
The price had risen to ridiculous proportions. I had to curtail my drinking. Unfortunately, I couldn't just switch since all soft drinks have inflated prices. That and I'm kind of a snob about soft drinks too. I'd rather drink water than drink knock-off brands.
So soft drinks aren't really food. In the height of inflation, it's an easy martyr for the cause.
But it's not just soft drinks. Cat food prices are nearly criminal. Jammy has to eat. And he can only eat very specific types of wet food.
Eggs are high too. Thankfully, I have chickens. But feeding those chickens are pricey. It's a trickle down effect.
Chicken meat is crazy-high. I'm imagining some of my older chickens simmering in sauce and potatoes right now.
Pork is somewhat stable, but you can only eat so much pork.
Fruit is so-so. The prices are better than vegetables in my area. I had a rotten garden year so I'm kind of stuck with buying veg at the store. Oh, the humanity, buying subpar tomatoes!
Beef is hovering at high, but not rising, so there's hope there.
From the latest farm reports I've read there's no foreseeable end. That sucks. I'm prepared, but how about the average person who doesn't keep a stocked pantry? How are they managing? And what if they had kids?
I always haunt the discount shelves at grocery stores and regularly scored some great buys. Those days are gone. People are getting desperate for any relief and grab the discounted stuff before I ever get there.
So what can be done? Do we have options? Here are my ideas.
- Do without. There's always something you can manage without.
- Switch. Do you really need Starbucks coffee? There are so many other brands out there without sticker shock. Greg's found several that he really likes.
- Buy store brands. There are a few brands that I prefer to generic, but not many.
- Use up leftovers. I try to make meals for four. This way I have leftovers for another day, plus I don't have to cook. Any time I don't have to cook is a holiday for me.
- Shop sales. If steak goes on sale, I buy double my usual needs. It costs more upfront, but when prices go back up you'll be glad to still have steak in your freezer.
- Eat from your pantry. Many of us are guilty of shopping, then pushing the old food to the back of the shelf or freezer. Make a concerted effort to pull out those dusty cans and use them up.
- Buy versatile staples. Hamburger regularly goes on sale by me. It's the most versatile staple in my arsenal. I can use it in countless recipes and it can taste differently every time.
- Buy freeze dried food. While freeze dried food is not cheap it has advantages. One, it takes up little space. And two, it keeps a very long time without taking up freezer space.
The other thing I would invest in if you don't have one, is a vacuum sealer. It keeps food fresher for longer periods of time.
It's getting tough out there. There's no denying it now. Do whatever you can to offset higher costs.
The sad part about all this, is that the chances of prices going down will be slim.
Plant a garden, join a food coop, team up with friends or family to buy in bulk, or buy shares in a cow or hog.
The only way to fight the big chains is to do more for yourself. Take out the middleman wherever you can. This includes buying whole foods: like buying a whole cabbage instead of the pre-shredded bag of slaw, or buying a whole chicken instead of parts.
The more people do for you, the higher the price at the end of the day.
What is the highest priced food item that you regularly buy? Is there anything you've decided to do without for a while?
Let me show you our best score of late.
This is the Lodge Sportsman Grill. I've had this puppy on my Wish List all year. I found one (an earlier version of this brand) in a pitiful state at a garage sale. With a little wire brushing it was good as new. All for $3. Granted, the chances of finding one on sale is next to impossible. I think only because this one looked so sad and rusty that no one wanted to buy it. We snapped it up and made it beautiful again. That's it in the picture above.
It's the perfect size for us. We use it a lot. It takes very little wood to grill a steak or hamburger and it cooks fast on open flame. (You can use charcoal, but wood smoke makes it taste so good.) Grilled chicken thighs are my absolute favorite.
One interesting point someone made was to look at the price of things that had been really expensive a couple of years ago (like organic chocolate) and see if the gap between regular versions and the expensive versions had closed. And you know, there are times when it has! That makes me a bit more comfortable about paying a little more for a treat - rather than paying a bit more for the same old thing.
Huh. Did I say "same"? So many products seem to have substituted cheaper ingredients, so I'm paying the same or more for a far less satisfactory product. Now, that, makes me mad.
I'm eating out of the pantry which I keep well stocked, the farmer's market which ends the end of this month, our local farmers, I haven't joined a co-op yet, but I'm considering it, but I have to say, thank God I live in God's country and have these things available to me. I can't imagine living in the city and relying solely on the grocery store and nothing else.
But what you said about better quality products struck a chord with me. I find myself sometimes going without a dessert or the like then splurge on something nicer. Maybe less often, but it feels more satisfying than settling for the lesser quality.
My niece (God love her) broke the mold and left the big city. Not only did she teach herself to garden and can, but she's teaching her kids. I can't think of a better way to parent.
I used to be better at seeing into the future, but I'm not seeing much change up ahead.
I never think of making lamb except during the holidays. You can find it year round but the stores never seem to promote it until the spring.