Monday, August 20, 2012

Frugal Challenge - Factors Affecting Food Prices

Do you ever feel like this economy thing is never going to turn around? I think we may be looking at sustained high prices for food maybe from here on in. You buy a box of cereal that is the same price but it is barely the size of a book. Food costs affect us all. You have to eat.
Around here we have been tying to beef up some of our food storage. We do not have a nice walk in pantry. I have to deal with the storage in a 50s house. We did add the cabinet below in our service porch for more storage. We had other items in here before and some paper goods and we moved them somewhere else. Constant editing and reorganizing to find better ways to store more. That is my song. Here you will see we have lots of snacks. I stock up when I find deals but we having been buying more items that that are quickly going up.

We all know corn prices are skyrocketing due to wide spread drought. They say this will affect 75% of the food items you buy. We have been stocking up on extra oil, flour and grain products that are basics in so many meals. We had to spend an unexpected large amount on one of our older cars this week and also have two college age girls who we wrote check after check for this month. Whew! We are on one of our self imposed spending fasts. Food and gas is all we are buying for the next two weeks. If we cut back on all other spending we can rebuild our checking account faster. So to provide meals seven days a week three times a day, for six people, it takes a lot of food. Pantry basics are vital to cooking meals economically. Breads, muffins, soups, cookies are all items that fill tummies and can be made so much more cheaply from scratch.
 I really want to beef up my supply of pastas and canned tuna and other meats. We are also learning to eat more meals without meat. I mean when an average sized beef roast is $17 who can afford that. I am finding mark down meat even harder to find as others are snagging them up as quick as it gets put out. Many are finding it hard to stretch the food budget.
Tuna Noodle Mac is a great easy filling dish that can be made from pantry staples. I will make a huge bowl and we will eat it with some cut up fruit for a quick dinner and there will be enough left for lunches the next day.

This of course is not all my food storage but just some of it. I am looking into freeze dried items like veggies to have more long term food storage and more variety on hand to create entire meals.
Besides food, I am stocking up on the basic cleaning supplies for the home made cleaners I make on my own. My Homemade Laundry Stain Remover is really a great all purpose cleaner. I used it on the kitchen floor the other day and tonight I used it in my van to deep clean all the crud off the doors and cup holders. Worked great!

So gas is rising again and food prices are rising even higher. One thing we did wrong this summer was to keep our garage fridge plugged in. With hot temps, the amount of energy to keep it cool in a hot garage did not make it worth the small supply of bargain meat I had in there. It will be cleaned out and unplugged for the rest of the summer and not ran in the summer ever again. We left it unplugged last summer and it really helped with the electricity bill but we were attempting to stockpile some meat but for about half the difference of running it, I can just buy meat on sale and keep a small supply in the house freezer. Lesson learned.
Here is a link to a post I did in the Thrifty Living Series that links to a lot of former posts I have done on stretching your grocery budget. Next on this topic is where I shop to find the best prices.


  1. Great ideas! Don't you just love when the college tuition is due :-)

  2. We are suffering from food prices in this household, too! I'm trying my hardest to be creative and also finding more filling vegetarian meals. It's difficult when we've been very spoiled to lots of fresh ingredients and a fully stocked pantry with quality brands for so long. I've never looked for bargains at the grocery as I have been now!!
    Thanks for your tips, Elaine.

  3. Love seeing your pantry - thanks for letting us see inside!! Always reminds me to be thankful for not one, but TWO pantry's in my 50's home. The reason?? The original owner was a Home Economics teacher!! Of course, she would have a wonderful kitchen!!

  4. We moved our upright freezer into the laundry room so it wouldn't be in the hot garage. It made it a little cramped in there but I don't mind as I have access to the freezer at night now. We are filling it full of fruit, such as blueberries, strawberries, and peaches when they come in season. I think those items are SO expensive out of season in the grocery store. Enjoy your blog so much!

  5. Those are very good tips, Elaine! We're feeling the same here and always looking for thrifty tips! We made our laundry detergent back in January and still have some....we will probably make up more in September. We also made our dishwashing detergent.

    Also I make a little bigger dishes and the kids and I have it for lunch here at home or we have it for supper the next night. We do alot of casseroles.

    Thanks for linking up!


  6. Here in Canada I think that we will feel the pinch even more, since we get most of our goods from the US.

    The prices are rising already, it almost feels like they were waiting for any excuse to do so.

    We have a very cool basement and the freezer is down there, so it doesn't have to run so hard to keep it cool. But I have noticed since we got it a few months ago, a increased electricity bill.

    And having large family dinners, wonderful as they might be really cut into your food budget, so I am searching for recipes that feed more, and cost less. We have quite a few family members with food allergies, so the challenge is even greater to come up with something not too expensive and tasty enough to satisfy everyone.

    Great post.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

  7. I've been looking into more meatless meals also. The high prices are not going away anytime soon. Good ideas!
    hugs, Linda

  8. Since my husband is not bringing home an income from his business, it has been so difficult. Buying food seems like a splurge..sad but true.
    Aldi's has been a life saver. I can not imagine trying to feed 6.

  9. every time I go out to the garage fridge, I think how dumb it is to have it on in this heat! But I haven't made the clean out to turn it off just yet. We do rely on both fridges!!
    : ) Kris

  10. Boy, I think it's a great idea to stock up on items you know you're going to use anyway. That's why I don't coupon. Most coupons are for things I'd never purchase. And it's been a long time since I bought stove or window cleaner. It's so cheap to make my own!

  11. I think you are right about higher food prices this winter and I'm trying to take advantage of cheaper, local produce by canning and freezing. Eating less meat is a double bonus for the budget and the environment! ~ Maureen

  12. Great ideas. When we had 8 here at home, I would make a dish (like pepper steak for instance), small amount of meat with vegetables and serve it over rice. It was filling. One chicken for all of us, but served cut up (the breast was cut into 5 pieces instead of two). I always made my bread, muffins, cakes, cookies, etc from scratch. Steal cut oats are filling, making your own granola is good too, it seems like a treat and a small amount added to another cereal makes both go farther. Canned or frozen fruit is wonderful for a dessert. Buying a package of pudding, making it up and then putting into serving cups that are then refrigerated, takes away the need for bought pudding cups and is more economical. I always had fresh fruit on hand, but if the boys (who worked side jobs) wanted chips for their lunches, they purchased a large box of individually packed chips and as we made up their lunch, that was part of their lunch. The same if they wanted a soft drink. We didn't buy it, if they wanted it, then they had to buy it for themselves. (it not only took the bill away from us, but it made them aware of costs of luxury items) Part of the laundry room was shelved and stored a good deal of the extra stuff that is needed to run a large household. Another thing, if we 'ever' ate out - we ordered water, soft drinks at a restaurant make up a large portion of the bill. I didn't think of our 'making do' as deprived, but as an opportunity to be good stewards and also to teach our kids important lessons.

  13. we think in the same way. We don't eat a lot of meat because is so expensive. I usually cut down the meatin recipes to maybe 1/4lb, just enough to give the recipe some flavor. I also use beans to up some protein intake

  14. Hi Elaine...
    sounds like you have the right mind set, and dedication to making wise financial decisions for your family.
    That's half the battle.
    To be in the right frame of mind, and work towards provident living... day by day .

    We also have two college age kids.
    It certainly puts a dent in the finances.

    Thanks for the great post, and great tips.

    Smiles :)

  15. Those are all really handy ideas. Maybe for big family get togethers could you do more pot lucks, with everyone bringing a dish? Seems like that would be fairly painless, and also work well for the folks with food allergies.

  16. you are such an inspiration, you really are,

  17. It's only me and hubby in our household but still we feel the high price of everything. I am Asian and eating rice and fish is fine with m.e But hubby can't do that (he is American) so I have to stack up some canned goods. This year I thought of not canning or freezing anything but it change dramatically. We had a garden and the produce is abundant that I have to canned tomatoes and freeze more vegies.

    Happy Monday!

  18. After seeing the price of produce a few years back I started a garden. It helps, but only a few months of the year. I don't own a separate freezer (50's house also, no room), but we buy our oils and lots of other things at Costco and BJ's, which saves some. We only eat meat occasionally, and don't buy cold cereal that much - oatmeal, cornmeal, farina etc. is much cheaper. Sounds like you are doing as much as you can with a family to feed. I totally agree about the freezer, and I have also read that it's life would be much longer if it were inside the house. Any way it could go in a basement where it would not be subject to such temperature extremes? Also I have read (Consumers, I think) that you especially should not keep a refrigerator in the garage, as some people do. I enjoy your thrifty blog posts - please continue to do more!

  19. When one becomes thrifty it is like an addiction. It is in the blood. I love to re-purpose things to or recycle. The newest thing around here was cleaning out my husband's t-shirt drawer. He has a ton of them also hanging in the closet, but the ones in the drawer were so old, and no longer worn and had yellowed. I washed them then rinsed them in vinegar, but that didn't remove the yellow and because he no longer wanted them and I didn't want him wearing those discolored things I decided I am going to make 1 or 2 rag rugs and once made I will dye them to remedy the color problem. I know this has nothing to do with your pantry items, but it sure beats buying rugs if you can make your own. Have you ever joined with other house wives to swap manufacture's coupons? Sometimes they have coupons you can use and vice versa. Makes you feel good to know you are not only helping yourself, but also helping friends.
    Susanne :)

  20. Great ideas! We have a veggie garden which supplied about 95% of our veggies all summer. I just planted a fall garden and things are already starting to come up. Everyone should definitely have something "put up" as southerners say around here. Many older southerners have a big garden and can even though they can afford to buy everything they need. Having some extra food is good insurance should food prices go up or should your husband lose his job.

  21. I think that rasing a family is so hard at this point. It is only my husband and I with heating oil and food prices holy cow.
    I too am looking for the discount meat not much to be had.

  22. Great tips, Elaine. What is it with those cereal boxes? Do they really think we won't notice how much they have slimmed them down and then raised the price?

  23. Rising prices are killing us all, but those of us who have always been thrifty are lucky. We're already equipped to weather the storms. I eat a unprocessed, whole food, plant based diet so I always have to have fresh produce. I buy it at flea markets/farmers markets and take advantage of sales. I buy whole wheat pastas, oats, and things like that when I can. I make my own cleaning/beauty products for cheap (I'll be writing more articles on that soon)

    It's a challenge, but saving money of food is definitely one I'm up to. It's the most flexible area of our budget.

  24. Great tips and I have been stocking up too. They had canned corn on sale recently for 3 for $1 and I bought 2 cases. It will keep for months, so I just put some of it in the laundry room, and the rest in the panty. I can use it to make cream corn soups, put it into salads, as a side dish and even into stews, so it won't last too long. Saving when I can with coupons too. Thanks for joining TTT. Hugs, Marty

  25. I try to cut out "snack foods" like chips, etc. Make something homemade from scratch instead- granola bars, etc. Use regular thin pasta instead of "instant" cups, much cheaper and much less fat. We're getting off boxed cerals completely and I'm going to be making homemade, lose granola. Whole oat are still pretty cheap. But gotta have some dark chocolate :)

  26. Hi Elaine-
    You've brought some good points to light and from the looks of're not alone!
    We're all feeling the crunch.
    Like you I make some of my own cleaners...they go further and cost less. Same with snacks. We've been making snacks from scratch; although this last paycheck I bought some cheap cookies from the Dollar Store. The Honey and the Littles, like the Iced Oatmeal cookies from there. But like you said...the prices are the same or a scoach higher...but the quantity and sizes have gotten smaller. So frustrating!

    I hadn't thought about keeping the deep freeze going in the a hot garage. We don't have a garage; but we have our small deep freeze in the kitchen- Which we don't keep cool like some of the other rooms. In fact, We've been keeping the air off most of the day and turning it on afternoon sometime. Only in the rooms we want cool. I hate to even think about what a difference it would make to keep the deep freeze 'cool'!

    The other drain on our utilities is the pool pump. I enjoy the pool...but the cost to run the pump, probably isn't worth it.

    ---liked this article, food for thought, Pat

  27. I wish I would have known how much appliances in the heat of summer can effect your bill back when I lived in our town home. Great tips. Thanks for linking up with Making Space Mondays. I hope we see you back often! -Tabitha