Saturday, April 09, 2022

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Yikes!

I don't know about you but when I first heard about the expected inflation, I had no idea it would get this bad... this fast.  The price increases are on top of what we have already seen the last few years.

It can only get worse as last Sunday, Germany announced a 20% to 40% increase in the cost of many food items.  One of the stores that would be affected was Aldi, although currently only their German stores but they believed the increases would be felt in American stores eventually.  I have already seen price increases at Aldi (as well as Meijer and Kroger), and that was before the big increase in German food items.

I vaguely remember the inflation of the 1970s.  It was happening when we were first married and my husband was in graduate school studying for his Master's Degree.  It was in the midst of an energy crisis when gas was expensive and in some cities, there were lines at the gas stations to buy gas.  One had better not wait until they were driving on fumes, which we did being students on a tight budget.

What I do recall from those years was the best way to hedge against inflation was to purchase immediately what you knew you would need and not wait until later when the prices would go up.  Of course, that was very hard for us to do with my husband in graduate school and me working at the university on a student wife salary.

Inflation is a cruel task master, especially for people just starting out in life and those of us who live on Social Security or pensions.  

Before the inflation of the 1970s, one could purchase a house and easily pay it off within fifteen years with only one person working outside the home.  After the 1970s and early 1980s, that became increasingly difficult.  More women with children went into the work force just to be able to afford a house.

Now, with a new round of inflation (possibly leading to hyper-inflation), I have heard numerous news reports of home ownership getting harder for first time home buyers to enjoy.  One local report said with the increases coming in interest rates, people are trying to make a purchase before the rates go up and with a shortage of homes for sale in the area, there are often multiple buyers and those with cash are getting the houses.  That was unheard of around here previously.

In my wildest imagination, I didn't see the kind of inflation like we saw in the 1970s happening again.  Especially so quickly but then again... doesn't it seem multiple changes have happened suddenly in the last couple of years?  It does make thinking people have to wonder...

We looked at the supply chain demands last year already causing inflation and decided to get some necessary work in and around the house done at that time.  Now we are so glad we did.  There are a few more big projects needing to be done.  We take them by priority, one at a time, knowing they will not get any cheaper.

I always pray before shopping, whether for food or an item for the house.  He knows how we can stretch our money and when we are told we can ask God for wisdom, it didn't say anything about "except for grocery shopping".  

Just recently, I went to the grocery store when the Easter hams were on sale to buy one and I felt like I should take the time while there to look up and down the aisles for grocery list ideas that will be needed in the warm weather months.  I bought a few items like the Italian salad dressing I use for pasta salads in summer and our favorite barbecue sauce we mostly use in summer.

I thank God that while it may seem impossible to build a new deck right now, it is still within reach to stock up on essential food items a little at a time.  I continue to keep an ear turned toward shortages, whether caused by weather or supply chain demands... or both.  These foods often become a priority for my pantry budget.

For instance, right now there is a lot of talk about shortages of chicken and eggs with the prices increasing a lot for both.  I showed my husband a small package of chicken breasts I bought at the store last week, the cost was the same as the family pack used to be.  I can still get canned chicken at a good price, whether chunk chicken for salads or Keystone chicken that is great in soups and to serve with noodles.

I had already stocked up on the cream cheese I needed for the next few months while I could get it at 99 cents a block.  Cream cheese often has a Use By date three to six months out. This past week, there was now a limit of 2 for each purchase.  So far, butter has no limits but I have purchased extra butter for the freezer before it went up too much.  Butter is one of the food items expected to go up 50% in Germany.

Besides shortages, there have been some food items that have surprised me by not being available when I shopped.  For instance, there were only a couple not-so-good looking cabbages at Meijer last week.  I have never seen cabbage out of stock before.  They had plenty of the red peppers I needed but I had to look carefully through two boxes to find one that was not scratched or bruised. I have seen more flawed produce than I have before the past few months.

We have been spoiled, haven't we?  I heard a news report last week that said the average college student has never seen a shortage of anything at the stores.  If they wanted something, it was there for the purchase.  I had to think of other places in the world where they don't have enough for one meal a day.  Honestly, it made me realize how thankful we need to be for what we have had.

Then there is the growing challenge of shrinkflation. We buy a couple chopped salad packages each week since it is easy for me to just add tomatoes, cucumbers, and spring onions for a healthy meal on nights I am tired after a busy day.  Those packages have shrunk in size as they have increased in price.

As with so many things having to do with the pantry, I am increasingly finding that knowledge... which often can be obtained free... is very valuable.  Such knowledge saved me a lot of money and concern recently.

I found out last week that I can purchase the needles for my insulin pens over the counter from the pharmacist at Walmart for $9.00 for a box of 50.  This is without a prescription (although my doctor was willing to give me one if needed).

I was purchasing my insulin pen needles through Amazon but they have stopped selling to individuals except for really weird looking Chinese knock offs that do not work well.  I know, I tried them.  I don't have prescription insurance and the high cost of pen needles is ridiculous, there is nothing to them!

So, I had gone to my Walmart pharmacist and talked to him about the cost, bringing out my GoodRX card to see if I could save some money if my doctor wrote a prescription.  That is when he told me they sold them and for less than I even paid at Amazon.  I was able to buy two boxes right then and I can now stock up a little over time without being tied to a prescription.

I have one YouTube video to recommend this week.  When I was watching it, I thought it would contain excellent information for people with large families.  I don't have to stock up a lot with only two of us but She's In Her Apron showed some great ideas in a video recently... here.

I've already mentioned that Heartway Farms is one of my favorite YouTube vlogs, even though I am not a homesteader, I find excellent information here.  Their last video was about the way they hope to hedge against inflation by stocking up now on necessary items for their pantry (with lots of kids)... here.

I'm sure next week there will be more to talk about!

Image Three Hens With Coop


Debbie Nolan said...

Dear Brenda I love your idea of praying before shopping. His wisdom always leads us to make the right purchases for our daily needs. Yes we here in America have been so very blessed. Wish everyone could have what we have to eat in the world. Take care and keep the faith.

Vee said...

Now subscribed to She's In Her Apron. That gal is a wealth of information and she is not an "uhmmm" person. I usually tiptoe out on those. I have troubles with some of the homesteaders who cause me as much anxiety as a news program. 😝 I had such troubles with my Wal*Mart keeping their shelves stocked that I had to ask my doctor for the prescription. Thankfully, I do have insurance coverage. Still, I would have gone with the less expensive option. Thanks for all the information, Brenda. O I cleaned out my pantry and, when I purged all the things I will never eat, I have quite a lot of space to stock with things that I will. I liked Apron Gal's suggestion to make menus and buy according to what is needed for them.

Nana said...

It never crossed my mind about Aldi’s prices being tied to Germany. I have read about how their prices have risen. Now I understand.
I also subscribe to she’s in her apron and love it.

Jenny said...

I guess I'm not too stressed about inflation but that is honestly all God, not me....I've been working very hard to think about today & trust God for the future. That does not mean I am not preparing for harder times but it does mean that I haven't felt surprise over it...I don't need to know because God knows.

My stores have been well stocked, thankfully. I'm doing my best to stay in budget & still have good things for my family to eat. So far we have no reason at all to complain.

I'm 56 & I can't ever remember going to the store & not being able to find what I wanted....except during a natural disaster. So I think it's not just college students who haven't experienced this before.

I'll check out the videos. Thanks for sharing them.

Alison said...

Its not just groceries though, is it. Here in England we are feeling the pinch from a hike in everything; food, fuel, utilities, clothing, taxes. And its not just brought on by the pandemic fallout that is causing supply and labour shortages. A series of political mistakes in this country have come home to roost (ten years of austerity, then Brexit). My husband and I are so fortunate to be in relatively good health, with good paying jobs. We have no dependants unless you count one greedy Labrador! I suppose we have had it very good for the last few decades and perhaps its time that we all learn to live more simply and on less. I worry though for those who are already "on less" and can do no more. I believe God has a plan for each and everyone of us, but it sure is hard being patient while waiting to find out what that is.