I was out yesterday, completing my once a month stock up. Hubby could stay at home since we did most of it earlier. I stopped by T. J. Max while in the "bigger town" near me to see if they had any good deals on shoes and was absolutely thrilled to find a pair of Reeboks for $29.00.
The old pair was looking so bad, I was embarrassed to have anyone see them. They are still wearable, though, so I'll keep them to use during lawn and garden work to extend the life of my new tennies.
I don't shop in department stores very often... very rarely go to the Mall (perhaps three times a year?)... so I don't know if this was usual or not on Wednesdays. But T. J. Max and Gordman's were both nearly empty... and these are stores that have discounted!
I decided to stop at the gas station on the way to town since we had heavy rain moving in later. Gosh am I glad I did! It was $3.56 on the way there, $3.86... yes, that is eighty-six... on the way home. Hubby did the math and said by getting gas in the morning, it was like getting one gallon free.
I thought you might like to know how I prioritize my "stock up" on a tight budget. It comes from having gone through this before, both in the last period of huge inflation and when we were out of work. There are a few items you know are going to continue to go up for various reasons... the increasing cost of petroleum, the decline of the dollar, and crop shortages. So... what does this mean in my pantry?
I first stocked up on basics needed for bread and baking. Bread is the staff of life. Baking is comfort food for you and those you care for. I have made a priority of purchasing flour and other items used for baking for awhile now. I still need to debug the flour I've bought, probably going to start that later today and then mark what has been done already. (Debugging is when you put a sack of flour in something to protect it and then put it in your freezer for a couple of days... it kills any "bugs" which are usually in flour... just don't think about it the next time you're eating bread.) I had wheat already but I still wish I'd known about this doubling of prices last Summer, I would have bought more.
Yesterday I bought an extra vanilla to put back as Target has the brand I like $4.00 less than my usual grocery store. It is a nice, large size, too. I started replacing old spices last autumn, most of them are now fresh. I noticed Hershey's chocolate chips were about a dollar cheaper than Nestle's so I stocked up on them this week. I already have plenty of cinnamon and butterscotch chips, purchased on sale a couple months ago. Last month I purchased an extra can of my favorite non-aluminum baking powder since the expiration date was two years from now. I also have been freezing butter when I can get it at a good price (two one-pound packages slipped into a gallon size Zip Lock bag... which can be reused over and over).
Anything that has to be imported will most likely continuing to get more expensive and that is an area where you may eventually have trouble getting products. Coffee has been a priority, it can only go up. It was one of the products that skyrocketed in price during the last big period of inflation. I remember when you could go into a restaurant and get a cup of coffee for a dime in some places, a quarter in nicer restaurants.
If I remember correctly, there is only one company that grows tea in the U.S. (I think Harney & Sons bought it out to keep it going... vaguely remember reading about that?). So... tea can only go up in price. Those sealed in individual packets store the best but I've found my favorite teas where the entire box is sealed in plastic last awhile, too. There is a reason this blog has coffee and tea in the title... definitely a priority and most tea is still very inexpensive and an easy stock up item.
Anything made with petroleum will continue to skyrocket. I bought an extra big box of my favorite tall kitchen grocery bags this week. Even though we live in the country, our trash pickup service is like most... the trash has to be in plastic bags... so that is a priority. (We do compost and are becoming more careful about using containers to keep trash down.) If you have babies at home and you use disposable diapers... stock up now. I would also suggest using cloth diapers when at home and saving disposable diapers for when you need them. I know, that is easy for me to say since I'm far beyond that stage in my life. :)
One of the good things that came out of the last huge recession/inflation period was people simplifying their lives. It is a good thing to learn new skills like bread making, baking from scratch, gardening, finally using your pressure canner (ouch!). Yes, for the sake of my friends from the Christian women's forum I've known since the 90's... Brenda is dusting off her pressure canner... the one she bought years ago and never got the nerve to try.
I was just reading an article that meat prices are artificially lower than what they would be right now because farmers are taking their livestock and chickens to market instead of feeding them the higher priced grains (and they are still high!). They suggested freezing and canning what meat you can buy now... hmmm, perhaps I should finally try pressure canning some chicken? I hear it is delicious canned this way.
Anything you can purchase ahead now will free up money to be used for items like milk, fresh veggies, fruit, etc. in the future. If there is a job loss ahead, you can eat your savings. Should you ever have to go on food stamps, you will be THRILLED you are stocked up on nonfood items like laundry detergent (I'm ordering more Charlie's Soap next month), disposable diapers for babies, toilet paper, trash bags, heavy duty aluminum foil, dish washing liquid, cleaning supplies, batteries, extra bags for your vacuum cleaner, filters for the furnace, (well, you get the idea) because food stamps can only be used for... food. Which is a smart idea.
What are other items I'm looking for at Goodwill, garage sales, book sales, etc.? Well, there is also a reason books are in the title of this blog. I have a box of "comfort food" kinds of books put back... light hearted fiction I'll store to read at a later time. I carry a list with me of books by Debbie Macomber, one of the only secular writers of light hearted novels I trust (although I heard she is a Christian). I have a few of her Cedar Cove series and one of her Blossom Street series (about a yarn store) in paperback. (I also like Laura Childs' mystery books.)
The list tells me what I still need for the next book sale. (I guess one could put Jan Karon in this category but I so think of her as a "Christian" writer that I don't.) I'm always keeping an eye for my Christian fiction authors (modern fiction is the ONE area I'm very careful about using recommended authors and titles, I've started too many and had to throw them aside because of smut and/or language, otherwise). Of course, there are favorite authors of "old books" that I'm always on the lookout for... Miss Read, Elizabeth Goudge, etc.
I didn't start reading much fiction until we were going through severe trials. I have always preferred good nonfiction but a great novel is what it takes to "get away from it all" for many people. There is nothing like living in Mitford for awhile or getting a chuckle over the antics of a British Vet (with James Herriot's wonderful books and DVDs of the PBS show made from them).
Why would books be a priority? Well, you probably know already if you read this blog. :) However, when we were out of work for long periods of time, good fiction became a life saver. That's when hubby started reading again. (When he finished his Master's Degree, he said he didn't want to open another book... ever.) I'll chat more about this at another time, perhaps an upcoming Sunday Afternoon Tea?
Along with this I'd suggest searching garage sales for good children's books, family DVDs and CDs, board games, card games, old fashioned outdoor games (like badminton or croquet), a basketball hoop installed with a couple basketballs and air pump, etc. I'm even thinking of buying a horseshoe game... they were big time when I was growing up. Believe me friends, should things get bad in the economy, you will be ever so grateful for such items. No more getting in the car and driving into town for play dates (I could never figure out play dates, anyway) when gas is $3.86 a gallon and rising.
One item I was glad we had for my son? A Game Boy... yes, you saw that correctly... on a book blog! A Game Boy with kid friendly games and plenty of batteries, especially if you have an only child or kids with a huge age difference like mine.
I have a few more ideas running through my brain but they are for a later post (misquoting Alton Brown of the Food Channel).
Picture: Apple Pie Harvest; allposters.com