January 31, 2011
Food Prices are Going, Going - Have Gone Up
This article was in the Des Moines Register yesterday. It is worth reading. Here is the link.
I posted several months ago that food prices were predicted to go up and in our area of the world they have gone up. When I went to the grocery store last week I noticed a considerable increase in staples from the previous week. From flour to meat to bananas to milk, prices have gone up around 10%. Also some experts are warning that this is just the beginning and prices will be going higher.
For those who are unemployed and living on Social Security, this will definitely be disheartening news. The food pantries will now be used more than ever to supplement those individuals who don't have enough money to buy food.
But what is a little more disturbing to me beyond food prices going up are the other predictions. Some economists are saying that IF corn prices rise this year due to bad weather, then the shortages of corn will continue. Farmers have already shrunk their herds of cattle and hogs due to the high price of feed and will continue to do so. This means that meat prices could skyrocket due to the low amount of animals going to slaughter.
It's not just meat that is going up. It is other commodities such as sugar, flour, coffee, produce and pretty much everything. Gasoline prices have gone up so the cost of delivering goods to market have gone up.
So, what is the writer of this blog who focuses on living a frugal lifestyle going to do? Get prepared and not panic.
I have been able to cut back our budget over the past 18 months so that we can absorb the increase in the cost of food. However, I am going to do my best to continue to use coupons and buy items on sale to save money and want to keep my food budget in check.
Last week at Fareway I was picking up a couple of cans of Progresso soup that was on sale (and I had a great coupon). As I reached for the soup I looked over at the meat case and there was a large sign "Hormel Cure 81 Spiral Hams 99 cents lb." Holy Cow!!! This is a top of the line bone in ham that sells for close to $3.00 a pound before prices went up. I checked the sell by date and it was February 12th. I bought the last one - it was 18 lbs. and I will put it in the freezer for Easter. This is a delicious shank ham that makes excellent lunch meat for leftovers and I always cook the bone and use the broth for soup. This is why Fareway is one of my favorite grocery stores. When things get close to their sell by date, they reduce the prices on those items.
Other ways I am saving:
I have been reducing the amount of meat I serve at a meal. Also when I brown ground beef for a casserole I remove 1/4 cup and put it in a ziplock bag in the freezer. I then use it for pizza or soup or I use it in another casserole. So far, we have not missed that 1/4 of meat in a recipe.
I'm becoming more and more conscientious about ingredients in baking. I have been decreasing the amount of sugar in some of my recipes and have not noticed a difference. For a basic cookie recipe I take out about 2 tablespoons of the sugar.
Every week I plan to pickup at least 1 bag of flour and sugar to add to my stockpile. I easily go through 1 bag of flour a week in my baking. This week I will be picking up a large bag of cornmeal before the prices get too high.
I will be making more and more of our homemade bread and rolls and I am going to try my hand at bagel making.
One thing I have been doing to save some money on water is that I don't wash my hair everyday. I know to many people, this isn't a new revelation. For me, I have found that with going back to my shorter hair style that my hair looks better the day after I wash it. So on those days I take a quick shower - less than a minute and I let my hair go another day. I have been doing this for over a month now and my hair has adjusted and I love not having to wash, dry and style it every day of the week. What a time saver.
My son comes home for lunch during the day as he is a Senior in High School and is allowed this opportunity. My husband also comes home for lunch. Twice a week they eat leftovers for lunch. These are leftovers that aren't enough for the three of us to eat the next night for supper. I always seem to have a little bit of this or that so with both of them at home for lunch, those leftovers are being put to good use.
This summer I would like to try my hand at soap making. After my pasta supply in the pantry is used up, I plan to make my own pasta. I want to get better at making bread and would love to get a flour mill. Also, I have the opportunity to buy 1/2 a hog from a local farmer for meat for my freezer. I just have to find one other person to take the other 1/2.
The hardest part about food going up in price is to determine a new target sale price for many items. For example, my target sale price for 85% hamburger has been $1.60 lb., for boneless chuck roasts $2.25 lb., for 5 lbs. of Clementine tangerines $4.99; 8 oz. blocks of cheese - $1.50; 8 oz. bags of shredded cheese - $0.99. These have been normal sale prices over the past couple of years. Having a target price helps me to know when a sale is a sale and when to stock up.
It's unsettling to see prices go up on food, gasoline and utilities. I think a lot of people thought that come 2011 we would start to see some relief in the economy but it looks like we still need to stay on top of things and watch those pennies. To coin a phrase from President George H.W. Bush, we need to "Stay the Course" and continue to do our best to pay down debt, reduce expenses and continue to meet our financial goals.
I know of people who will probably give up and throw their hands up in the air and say what's the use, it's just too hard. They're right. It is hard to live differently from others and cut back and save and be frugal - but it is also very gratifying to watch debt go down.
So, no matter what the financial news brings us, stay the course. We just have to dig in, learn new ways to save money and help each other by sharing tips and news.