October 12, 2010

Food Prices Going Up

In the past month in our area of the U.S. being Iowa, I have noticed two basic commodities that have gone up in price.  They are sugar and butter.  Last month I purchased 1 lb. packages of butter on sale for $1.69.  The regular price was $1.99.  Last week butter went up to $2.99 for a 1 lb. package.  I have two 1 lb. packages of butter in my fridge and although I used to bake with butter, I am reserving those packages for table use.  Instead I have purchased margarine to replace butter in baking for now.  I was able to buy name brand margarine on sale last week for 50 cents a lb. which was a good deal. 

I would purchase 4 lb. bags of sugar when they were on sale for around $1.50.  This usually happened every 4 to 6 weeks.  Now the best sales price has been $1.99 for 4 lbs. with a limit of one purchase.  Well, I can't replace sugar in baking but I can reduce a little bit of it.  Instead of 1 cup of sugar in a cookie recipe I can use about 2 tablespoons less and it won't affect the taste of the cookie, but I might need to add a little more flour for the missing "bulk" in the recipe. 

Then, I opened up this morning's newspaper to see that the price of corn per bushel has gone up. This is really good for the grain farmer, but bad for meat prices.  Now, before anyone thinks that I am anti-farmer, I am all for the farmer getting a fair price for the commodities that they produce.  I am just saying that we need to be prepared for rising costs on meat.  The reason for the rising price is due to moisture damage to the corn plants from this year's flooding.  Livestock producers will be paying a higher cost for feed for their animals and therefore we will be paying a higher price for meat.  This also may account for the higher price of butter.

Right now my freezer is jam packed and stocked with a lot of meat I bought on sale over the summer.  I have a general rule of not paying more than $1.99 per lb. for cuts of beef except for hamburger. I generally try to pay no more than $1.75 for ground beef, depending on the fat content.  Also, I try not to pay more than $1.50 per lb. for ground pork or cuts of pork.  Being as we live in Iowa which produces a lot of pork, that is generally easy to find.  As for chicken, I purchase chicken hindquarters on sale for 39 cents per lb. and then cut them apart into thigh and drumstick pieces.  Then I try to pay no more than 99 cents per lb. for bone in chicken breast and $1.50 for boneless chicken breasts. 

If I watch for sales I am usually able to find the above meat products at my goal prices.  However, that could be changing and I will need to "test" the market to see what may be new goal prices.  It will be interesting to see how quickly the prices go up as the article just came out in today's paper.  If it is like anything else, prices will probably go up right away.

As for sugar, right now until Christmas, holiday baking supplies go on sale and usually sugar is right up there with those sales.  I always buy a lot of sugar, flour and other baking ingredients at this time of the year.  In fact, I usually buy a 6 to 9 month supply.  This is the time of year when those ingredients are at their best sales price and I always make sure that I take advantage of these sales.  My best guess is that I will now look for 4 lb. bags of sugar on sale for $1.99 and will make that my new goal price.

What is a homemaker to do?  Continue to be diligent and saavy.  I have made adjustments to using margarine in my baking over butter.  Years ago I always used margarine but switched to butter when I had more money in our food budget.  I know, a lot of people will be saying that margarine is not good for you because of the hydrogenated oils but then again butter was a saturated fat.  I preferred butter because it contained cream and salt.  Also, cookies aren't very healthy in the first place.  They are a treat so in my opinion it is one of those gray areas in cooking.

Also, I am very careful about using up leftovers in our house and avoiding any type of food waste.  I work very hard to prepare meals that my family will eat and enjoy and stay away from any ingredients that they don't like.  An example would be sweet potatoes and green peppers.  I am the only one that likes those items in recipes so I don't make anything will those ingredients in them. 

In the newspaper yesterday they reported that for the second year in a row, there will be no cost of living increase in Social Security checks to individuals.  For many people this is their primary source of income in their retirement years.

In the end, our family will adjust to the higher prices but other families may not be so fortunate.  I would expect that with the lack of a cost of living increase in social security checks and with the rising cost of food, there will be more and more people turning to a food pantry for gaps in their food budget. 

7 comments:

Maureen said...

I continue to be amazed at how cheap your Groceries are, even with the price increases. I remember feeling the same way when I first arrived in Australia after the high price of Butcher meat in the U.K.
However you seem very price savvy so I,m sure you will find a way round this latest price increase

Martha said...

From some of your posts I have been able to glean that the prices are a lot higher in Australia than here in the U.S. In today's grocery ads they have butter on sale for $1.99 a lb. so I will buy about 10 lbs. and freeze them for later use.

Elizabeth said...

I see that butter is $1.67 (or maybe $1.79?) a pound at Kwik Star and eggs are 79 cents a dozen. I think I will be stocking up on the butter at Kwik Star because I hadn't bought butter for awhile and didn't realize it is going up!

Martha said...

Elizabeth:

This week in a local three day sale, our Fareway store has butter on sale for $1.99 lb. There were a lot of people picking up butter today.

$1.67 is a great price.

ckaal5 said...

I just found flour for $1.29 and butter for $1.70 at Aldi here in central IL. I hope it does not go up in price before I can return to buy some more.

Martha said...

I think what will happen is that we will see fewer sales on these key items so we will have to stock up and be prepared. Hopefully over the next few months with all of the holiday baking, stores will discount butter and such to draw customers into the stores. I was at Wal-mart today and a woman in front of me was buying a few groceries. I noticed the price of butter was $3.29 for a lb.

I'm not discouraged about all of this as I like a challenge.

Thomas Watson said...

In a time when grocery prices are shooting up, it's time to find some free food.