Friday, May 06, 2011

A little pantry talk... stocking up and sticker shock

It feels like spring!  For the first time this season, I could go outside without a jacket and feel comfortable.  It has been a long... long... long winter.

Thanks for the suggestions about the cake mix combinations.  I have combined pumpkin and yellow cake mix before and a friend has served me a cake made with the spice cake-pumpkin mix.  Very good!  The base of the cherry chocolate cake on my recipe blog is German chocolate cake mix combined with a can of cherry pie filling.  I love having options for pantry meals and desserts.

I must admit, I've been a cake snob and usually like to make mine from scratch.  However, when I made a cake recently using a yellow cake mix and frosted it with homemade chocolate buttercream frosting... Christopher said it was the best cake I've made in awhile.  Sigh...  I may overlook the list of ingredients and keep Cool Whip in the freezer, too.  ;)

This past week has brought two phone conversations about the price of food and stocking up. One of my best friends called earlier today, my friend who lives in the desert in New Mexico.  She called with a question about yeast and ended up talking for over an hour about crazy weather, the small earthquakes they have been experiencing, and the need to be prepared for anything.

Their water situation is now critical so it may necessitate a move to another state.  She is always interesting to talk with, sometimes it is hard to believe we live in the same country with her surroundings so different than mine.

Speaking of yeast... a quick answer to a question I'd forgotten about!  I use Saf-instant yeast, purchased in 16 ounce blocks.  I keep mine in the refrigerator in an ancient Tupperware canister except for just a little kept in a glass jar on my shelf to keep at room temperature for immediate use.  My yeast has lasted two years in the refrigerator this way.  Stephanie uses the same yeast and she keeps the block in the freezer before opening it (also refrigerating it once it is open).  This yeast has never failed me!

The second conversation about food and such this week was with said daughter... talking about keeping a family of seven fed at a reasonable cost.  We agreed we both need to look at ways families stretched meals in the past.  For instance, when I was growing up there was often bread on the table, especially when Mom was serving a crowd.

My mother-in-law also served bread with each meal (both mothers went through the Depression when they were very young).  Italian cooks prepare lots of inexpensive pasta and French families learned to love snails.  I am happy to make healthy bread and serve good quality pasta but not so much the whole "snails as food" thing.

The conversation with Stephanie was hours after I'd arrived home from Wal Mart and had sticker shock at the price of food... at Wal Mart!  I had read the article by the Wal Mart executive who said their prices would increase sharply come summer.  It is not summer and I'm already shocked.  My husband had given me $40.00 to purchase a few items we were out of and even though I'm good at stretching the grocery dollar... it didn't go very far.

The cost of a gallon of gasoline is around $4.25 a gallon here and that certainly hurts us all!  I can't imagine what it means to the trucks carrying food and supplies as diesel fuel is often more expensive.  No wonder cauliflower was nearly $4.00 a pound the last time I looked for it at Kroger (and did not buy it, I may add).

Christopher took me out to lunch recently and the same lunch that cost us just $12.00 a few months ago now cost over $18.00.  He was telling me it was the first time he had been there since the prices had raised but he knew it was coming, they had to just to keep the restaurant open.  Even then, he was surprised at how much the increase was for the same amount of food.

In many ways, this reminds me of the years I was a new bride and inflation was playing havoc with our budgets.  But it also has that feeling of what my mother talked about in the Depression.  At least in the 70s, the wages usually were increasing at the same time... not so for most people now and one in ten Americans is still out of work.

So... now that I've depressed everyone... what am I trying to say... again.  :)

Everything we can do to stock up a little (or a lot) will save us money down the road... and it is insurance we can eat.  I had to overcome the inability to stock up very much and realize anything I do helps in the long run.  I've also decided to do my own fight against inflation by looking through cookbooks and such to see how generations made it through the Depression years ago... and how those with less opportunities do so today (for instance, in the More-With-Less cookbook).

Now... I must also do my part by getting the small garden planted, we had frost recently but the long term forecast looks warmer.  There is a break in the rain to hopefully get some hoeing done in preparation for planting.  Except for the raised bed with my herbs... all I am growing right now are weeds!

Picture:  Cookbook and apples;


Scrappy quilter said...

I think everyone is going to need a garden in the next coming years. No matter how small, it helps stretch those dollars. With the weather acting the way it is, we are also going to have to learn what to garden and how to garden with unpredictable weather. Lovely post. Hugs

A Cultivated nest said...

LOL! Well I'm one of those people that prefers Cool Whip! I have a cookbook called "Cake Doctor" or something like that and all the recipes are doctored boxed cake mixes. I haven't had one yet that wasn't good (pumpkin with spice cake is a favorite around here).

Wow $4.25 for gas! So far we're at $3.80. It's odd that prices are so different every where.

My garden is pretty much planted and on it's way.


Anonymous said...

I was a Home Ec. major in college (though in some ways one would not know that...heehee) but I well remember our teacher telling us that homemade cakes can never compare to the box mixes because those companies have a monopoly on the VERY BEST FLOUR...which we never have access to buying...unfortunately. So do not feel bad if someone prefers the box mixes...I enjoy both myself...though cakes are a very rare thing around here.

It is not easy to make ends meet for anyone these days...prices seem to be rising by the week. It is going to take all our best efforts and ingenuity I think plus much prayer!

Blessings, Elizabeth in NC

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your helpful suggestions. I've been gradually stocking up on non perishables for the summer holidays. As a school employee I don't get paid then. It's Pogey time.
Here in Canada, the cost of fresh produce is shockingly high right now. I suppose we're paying the higher shipping costs what with the current price of gas.
When the going gets tough, the tough - make coleslaw!

Anonymous said...

A friend said her grandparents in SD during the depression mostly lived on flour, some beans and cornmeal, and rarely a bit of sugar and maybe milk and or eggs at times...for YEARS!! Her grandpa worked on the railroad in exchange for the basic food. She said that after the locusts ate everything and the topsoil flew away, it was about 3 or more years until they could grow a garden again...and ever after her grandmother canned 3 years worth each year...just in case something happened again. Her grandparents lived the rest of their lives ONLY buying what was marked down or on sale. I do not see much marked down where we are...rarely. But I see the need to be more creative!! I think we are going to be in this situation, maybe until the Kingdom arrives...but HE will enable us to manage somehow!! And even in our poorest days in the past, we were able to share some with others...also very important!!

Thanks for all your ideas...
Blessings, Elizabeth in NC

Vicki in UT said...

Thank you, I love your pantry posts. I am slow getting my garden planted, just because the weather has been too cold and wet. Things are looking up now, though; another storm this week-end, then maybe the end of next week I can plant a bit. We had a new grocery store open up near here this week, so I am hopeful I can find some good buys either there or at the other nearby store that now has to compete with the huge, pretty new store. Do you know of any depression era cookbooks? They would be very interesting to read.

Vee said...

It really is getting crazy. And all the media has to chat about are the events of Sunday evening. Sorry, folks, that's not where my mind is right now. It's on the economy. Plain and simple.

Another enlightening article, Brenda.

Gas here tipped at $4, but has gone back down four cents.

Jewels said...

I am a vegetarian and even a grocery bill without meat has increased tremendously. I am trying to stretch those precious veggies with rice, beans, pasta,and grains. I also plan to start getting inventive with stale bread. As a child I remember my grandmother, a thrifty, Italian immigrant, making some delicious meals with leftover, not so fresh loaves. I'll plant some fresh herbs, too. Thanks for your wisdom.

Marie said...

Everything is going up except our fixed incomes!
Happy Mother's Day!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for more over the fence talk Brenda. We are all in this together and by coming here and sharing ideas with you leading us, we may get some new ideas. I know when I come across an eggless, flourless or such recipe I sure want to keep it..just in case! The WW2 and depression cook books are good for this. Prices have gone up and done before. On a couple items or most when years ago the gas was scarce....but this time I wonder if it will go down again??? Thanks again Brenda you can always seem to find something fresh and new to add on this subject. Sarah

freetobeme - Anita said...

When I was a child, we always ate a slice of bread with our meal. It helped fill us up because the helpings on our plates were small. I hadn't thought about that in years! When I was first married I always put bread on the table along with the rest of the meal and then finally realized we didn't need it and we didn't eat it. Thanks for sharing.

Echoes From the Hill said...

I noticed that one item I purchased at Walmart, two weeks ago, had increased 50 per cent yesterday! Milk seems to increase twenty cents at a time, every couple of weeks, too.
We usually have a garden, but we are on metered water, which is very expensive, and we have a lawn and many trees on our small acreage to keep watered. It is a toss-up as to whether a garden will be beneficial with the ever-increasing cost of water.
I think I will do a little research on depression era cooking!