Sunday, May 11, 2014

Rising food prices






Image: http://www.dispatch.com/content/graphics/2014/03/11/top-food-price-hikes.jpg


Yesterday's grocery run (see other post) was frightening. While I hit 3 stores, and applied all of the grocery budget saving tactics I have, I spent $200, 1/2 of our budget. What is most disturbing is meat prices, egg prices and produce prices (usually produce is ridiculous here until the farms start back up). Even Aldi's prices are skyrocketing in the meat dept.  We already have reduced our meat consumption, I can see that further cuts will take place. One example is bulk Italian sausage. I noted that I am almost out of Ital sausage in the deep freezer. A recent quick shop @ Aldi's, I priced their bulk Italian sausage meat in the freezer case @ $2.99/lb. Not too long ago, Ital sausages could be found on sale @ 99/lb, then $1.99/lb. They were well over $5/lb at S & S. I'm not all that crazy about Ital sausage anyway (instant GERD reaction so I require OTC meds) but it can add a nice flavor to an Italian pasta sauce, in meatballs-esp if I use ground poultry over ground beef. Even Aldi's ground beef in the freezer case has gone up. If memory serves me well, it used to be $2.59/lb. I paid $2.99/lb. ground beef is $5.49 and up, depending upon fat content @ S & S, so while Aldi's is a cheaper alternative, meat in general is getting harder and harder to afford. Produce? while understandably the stores want to push older produce, it's far from a bargain. The past few visits to Aldi's for potatoes have yielded only sprouting bags-no thanks unless you mark them down to $1/10 lbs, then I'll consider them. Luckily I was finally able to buy fresh ones yesterday. Fresh fruit? besides bananas (44/lb) and strawberries $2/lb, the only "bargain" is apples but those are so out of season. I am sticking with the aforementioned, drawing upon my canned apple sauce and commercially canned fruits from Aldi's, with a few name brand cans of pineapple, mandarins bought on sale plus coupons. For veg, I am relying upon what the CSA offers me, plus the usual staples: potatoes, carrots, onions, cabbage plus my canned/fzn veg, which is dwindling down. This is normal for me, this time of year, however. Been difficult to find non sprouting carrots as well. I resorted to a 2 lb vs 5 lb bag yesterday, as a result.

I choose to live modestly, well below my income, as I have a much more important financial goal, post divorce: to once again own my own home. To do so, versus getting a town house in the city (no real land, associations to bother with, not to mention HOA fees), I need to put down a huge down payment to keep the mortgage do-able, allow me to continue to live off of my current, modest budget, which allows for significant savings towards my goal. Fast forward, and "the plan" is to continue to save at this rate, BUT to apply some if not all of this overage to overpaying/paying down the mortgage ASAP, avoiding interest, and gaining the freedom of being mortgage free sooner vs later.

CT is the second worst (NY being # 1) state to retire in, due to high cost of living. Currently, my children are all here. Where I ultimately retire is unknown, as are many of life's questions, so for now, I plan to remain here, doubt that it'll be in this town, it simply is very difficult to afford a home here, plus I don't want acreage-1/2 to 1 acre is plenty, thanks.  Time will tell.

So, we continue on the path, if it means cutting back, that is what we'll do vs automatically increasing the food budget. I'll continue to tweak what I do in the kitchen, we certainly won't starve, our diet will be healthful and varied, with a few treats tossed in as well.

Mother's Day supper: I plan on baking off some of the chicken thighs I cut off of the chicken leg quarters and froze the other day (did an IGA run), bake some Russets along side, serve a large tossed salad with choice of dressings, a vegetable-TBD. Dessert will be a baked fruit dessert topped with vanilla bean ice cream. Not sure if I'll make a blueberry-strawberry crisp, a crumb topped apple pie or BOTH! : )

Happy Mother's Day to those who celebrate!

9 comments:

Lili said...

I can totally understand your frustrations on the high meat and produce prices. For fruit, we're using the tail end of frozen stuff from last summer, canned pineapple, bananas, rhubarb from the garden (not a fruit, but eaten like one) and watermelon (39 cents/lb some weeks here already). I'm not sure watermelons would be a good buy there, but maybe. Ours are coming from Mexico at the moment, and all the way to CT might incur high transportation costs.

We're doing okay on vegetables, as our garden is producing some leafy greens, I still have a few carrots and potatoes, cabbage is 50 cents/lb at the produce stand, but I'm down to 1 onion. I'm using chives from the garden for my onions these days. We still have canned pumpkin. I hit the produce stand once per week to check their markdown bin. Last week I got some peppers, grapefruit and lettuce on markdown.

I don't even check meat prices any more, but we're using hams, turkeys, whole chickens and rationing out the ground beef, all from the freezer.

Good luck.

CTMOM said...

Lili

We'll just have to get creative in the kitchen! I also still have canned pumpkin, butternut squash (use like pumpkin), and home canned apple sauce in the pantry. Some bags of fzn blueberries, pumpkin, shredded zucchini (for baking), cranberries in the freezer. For canned, I am keeping peaches, pears, pineapple, mandarins as well as fruit cocktail on hand. @ 89 cents/can, I can get 3, 30 cents each servings out of them, so not too bad. Lots of baking used these fruits or quasi fruits such as pumpkin, rhubarb, zuke in muffins, breads etc.
Luckily, my CSA is offering us some nice fill ins, and great variety. Fresh chive was included in this Friday's pick up. I also fill in around the edges with what I can, with what is affordable.
It takes great effort, but it's worth it, as I keep my eyes on the bottom line. It pains me when I see the customer in front of me not even bat an eye at an over $200 grocery bill, and it's the usual weekly trip. : (

DW said...

I hear you on the meat prices. I routinely look for the markdowns along with the sale prices ... also been doing more vegetarian meals.

Good deal on the cereal at the $ store. Need to see if mine is carrying that brand.

sqbdew said...

It pains me when I see the customer in front of me not even bat an eye at an over $200 grocery bill, and it's the usual weekly trip. :


Just curious why it pains you?

Shanna said...

I feel your pain on the meat prices. Here to in Indiana they're rising so fast I can barely keep up. Everything is rising in price. Very scary!!! I buy my hamburger & chicken thru Zaycon.com. Don't know if they come all the way to Maine but you should check them out.

My sister & I are lucky in one respect at our local Kroger we have a family member that works in the meat dept & the meat that gets marked down she'll mark the lowest price for us which is 40% off. That helps us so much.

I to have been noticing that Aldi prices have been rising & not just their meat. I love Aldi & shop there every wk. They're still cheaper tho than the reg grocery stores.

If you buy Driscoll berries they have codes on the bottom that you can put in & get coupons. They start out at .50 cents, go to .75 cents & up to a $1. Last summer I was getting strawberries, raspberries & blackberries for a $1 a pkg or less & when Kroger was doubling last summer some I even got free. No grocery store doubles in my area anymore.:(

We just have to learn to cook & shop smarter I say!!

Shanna said...

Sorry I meant to say I don't know if zaycon come all the way to Connecticut not Maine lol

CTMOM said...

SQB
it pains me as dropping $200 is the new normal it seems. I refuse at this point to increase my budget, instead, I am eliminating some items, making even more myself, only acquiring some items as a treat if on sale/have a cpn, etc. I have a bigger goal (my next home) in mind, YET we continue to eat well, just differently.

CTMOM said...

DW
I went back the next day and bought the 4 remaining boxes.

CTMOM said...

Shanna, I knew that you meant CT, not Maine. : )
https://www.zayconfoods.com/locations

I just went to the website above-never heard of them, and no, they don't do the tri-state or north yet anyway.