Saturday, October 03, 2020

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Keeping the pantry simple and dealing with shrinkflation

My goal was to have my pantry replenished by November and it is almost there already.  I have replaced what was used up during the lock down and added a few extra items that I wouldn't have thought a priority before there were shortages.  Having had to use our pantry a lot, I now knew what became unavailable that was a surprise at the time.

It has been fairly painless to the budget since I am keeping the pantry simple these days.  I've added a little at a time for a few months now.  This week my husband was getting a haircut in the area where Sam's Club is located so he stopped by there to see if they had in stock what they have been out of before.  

He was finally able to get pecans, Quaker oats, and a large package of toilet paper.  All three are much cheaper in bulk and both the oats and the TP were unavailable a lot during the shortages.

On my monthly stock up day, I mostly added canned goods... a few cans of organic corn, diced potatoes, peaches, one can of Essenhaus beef, a can of Essenhaus chicken, and a few cans of mushroom gravy.  The gravy adds a nice addition to potatoes, rice, etc., even when no meat is available. 

Besides the toilet paper purchased at Sam's Club, I added to our paper products by purchasing two small packages of "paper" bowls.  With just the two of us, I don't need a deep or complex pantry but I took the time a few weeks ago to think through items I wish we had during power outages and when our water was turned off.  That's when I remembered the "paper" bowls that came in handy.  

During a water emergency (and when we have no electricity, the well pump does not work), disposable plates, bowls, etc. keep us from having to use precious water to wash dishes.  I do have two plastic dishpans that I fill with water ahead of time, one with soapy water and the other with rinse water, when there is a possibility of needing them.  I will add a link to the dishpan because I use the two I have for all kinds of things.  Back when I could still garden, they were used for washing veggies, too.

Going through the shortages a few months ago showed me that I do not need to stock up for the Apocalypse to have enough.  The whole concept of deepening the pantry (as opposed to food storage) came about from my Y2K experience when I did have a very deep pantry.  Even when we experienced a long term job loss, we didn't use everything.  We did use what would have been in our everyday pantry, anyway, so I should have just added more of those items. 

I have mentioned that I have the ingredients for at least five meals (one can be as simple as pasta and sauce with canned green beans "just in case"), some meat in the freezer, canned goods to supplement what I purchase fresh at the store, a couple jars of peanut butter, paper goods, and items needed for baking.  My only real emergency food I bought that I don't eat everyday is white rice and it lasts a long time.

I always buy coffee and tea, of course, but this month I added a large container of instant coffee from Aldi.  I'd rather have an option of instant than none at all in an emergency.  I have enough tea, if one every really has enough.

Oh, I was asked what non-aluminum baking powder I use.  It is Rumford Aluminum-Free Baking Powder, usually in a red container.  It is the only baking powder I have used for a long time.  I'm including an Amazon link if you cannot find it at a grocery store (and it can be hard to find) but it is often available at a health food store.

Another question I remember is if I still used the same amount of pasta in a recipe when I also add vegetables. I usually do use the same amount of pasta, especially if it is part of a recipe.


Okay, one thing I wanted to mention this week was to ask if other people were noticing just how much "shrinkflation" is going on now?  I heard that term on a homesteader's video and thought it a perfect explanation for smaller packaging at the same price.

The first time I remember experiencing it was back when they changed half gallons of ice cream to smaller packaging at the same price.  That has been a long time now.  One may also remember when candy bars cost a nickel and were huge.  They keep shrinking, too.  Not that I buy them these days but I see them at the checkout line.  

Before the pandemic, I always bought a package that contained two mega rolls of my favorite Meijers brand paper towels.  They were handy because they lasted a long time on the paper towel holder.  Not only are they no longer available (at least, for months now) but when you do buy a package of paper towels, the rolls are much skinnier than they were before).

I remember when I bought one package of toilet paper each month with four rolls in them and that was plenty of TP for a family of four.  I found out a few years ago that the manufacturers were not only making them with less sheets on each roll but that the rolls themselves were much shorter than they once were.   Shrinkflation at work again.

I was looking at Mountain House pouches on Amazon a few weeks ago just out of curiosity to see how much they cost now. They were not available for a long time.  While I knew they were coming out with new packaging, I didn't know they would hold less.  

I found that out in the comments when people were complaining about it.  There were less servings in each pouch and the prices were often higher than before the pandemic.  I feel sorry for people who depend on these products for camping, hiking, etc.

It is going to be interesting to see what happens in the next few months.  There continues to be spikes of COVID cases in my area and now the president has contracted it.  Will there be a second round of closings?  I don't know but I want to be prepared.

Here in the States, there is still a lot of talk about civil unrest in November.  Which is why that was my goal for replacing what we had used from the pantry during the shortages.  It took spending a little extra in the grocery budget each month but not a lot taken over time.  

Deepening the pantry is quite do-able when I am not trying to prepare for the end of the world like I did in Y2K.  A lot of us learned good lessons twenty years ago!  Has it really been that long?

Mentioned in this Blog Post

Rumford Non-Aluminum Baking Powder... here.

Sterilite plastic dishpans... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to are Associate Links.  I receive a tiny commission on items purchased and it doesn't cost you any more for the product.  All recommended products are those I use and like.

Image:  Bushes of Apples; All


Vee said...

Oh yes, I have definitely noticed shrinkflation. I prefer Bounty select a size paper towels and the rolls are now so skinny that they fit nicely in the paper towel holder. 😏

I sure hope that cooler heads prevail in November. Enough of this idiocy already,

Oh that's something I want to do as well... instant coffee...even as flavoring whether I actually drink it or not.

Elizabeth said...

I tried out a brand just prior to the pandemic that we just love. Tried the chicken, beef and turkey. I like the chicken best. It can be found at Walmart, Amazon, or Lehman's...though Lehman's were MONTHS getting my order to me. It is just the meat and salt...the meat makes its own very chick yummy broth. Great for soups and other dishes. Called Keystone brand. If you cannot find your regular brand, you might try this one out. Glad you have gotten your pantry in order...mine is better than it was...but here and there I keep finding lacks. Oh well...we won't starve even if we do not have what we want.

Rebecca said...

Shrinkflation for SURE. This week, graham crackers.

Sure messes with my old recipes! 🥴

Jenny said...

I thought I would comment on 'shrinkification'. I've never heard that term before.

Companies have to choose between selling less product for the same price or raising their price on the size they sell. Supply prices go up for the companies/people who are making the things we buy & they have to cover that at some point or risk eliminating jobs.

My daughter-in-law has her own in-home bakery & she has to make that decision. Her prices are much less than most local bakeries but she evaluates price & size regularly & makes changes as needed to make a profit.

My husband has worked in food manufacturing for 33 yrs & it's something they consider seriously as well. Raising prices usually means you lose customers. Shrinking size means you usually lose fewer customers....probably because people don't notice. But it's not a trick or something they hide.

We all should know to comparison size & price on different brands. Compare quality, ect & then choose. If we're comparing....then we notice the changes. I don't think it's the seller's job to announce price increases or size reductions.

I think complaining about it causes more regulation which means the market cannot balance itself out & companies end up going bankrupt. In the history of the world prices change....more during chaotic times & we should not be surprised by it. Being prepared, as you encourage everyone to do, is the best way to deal with it.

Carol in Texas said...

Shrinkflation: remember when a pound of coffee became 12 ounces? Also five pound bags of sugar are now four!

Anonymous said...

Brenda,...just a hint for your paper plate shortage. I watched a you tube by the Alaskan Prepper I believe it was. He showed how you can use one of your regular plates and cover [wrap it ] it with saran wrap and eat on the wrap then take it off and the plate is clean to be wrapped again for the next meal. Having a roll of saran wrap is easier to store than a whole bunch of paper plates. Also is a good thing to have to use if you run out of them. LOL In a pinch you can lay parchment paper over a plate. This way you have not only saved on buying the paper products but cleaning too. And saved on some of the space a lot of plates can take up. I do have the cheap thin white paper plates to use on the plastic tray like things made to put them on to use with them. This makes these thin plates sturdy and the used plates go into our compost.

Thank you for all the information for so many years. It has been a big help to us. Sarah

Deanna Rabe said...

I've been stocking up, but I'm glad for the reminder about disposable bowls. I always have paper plates but bowls would be very handy too, as you said, if the power goes out.

I have a suggestion for paper towels, have you ever thought of using the blue "shop" paper towels. Tim always has them and one day I used one for something and I liked it a lot better than regular paper towels. The rolls seem bigger. I don't know what they cost but they are very sturdy paper towels. I just thought I'd mention it.

Kathy T. said...

Oh my goodness - shrinkflation - one of my pet peeves! And I know about the toilet paper - a couple years ago the kind I buy had 525 sheets per roll then went down to 480 now its like 450. Not a lot at first glance, but when they raise the price and you get less product, it's a double whammy! Some other things that are victim to shrinkflation

Chocolate chips - used to be 12oz, now is 10
Oreo cookies - used to be a pound - but now that size is considered to be the "Family Size"
Most individual yogurts are 5 and 6oz that used to be 8oz
small ice cream cups used to be 4 oz (1/2 cup) now are 3 oz

Honestly, I would rather pay a little more and get the same amount than to be thought of as too stupid to notice they are charging more and giving me less. Grrrr

Naomi Jones said...

I am very curious about your five pantry meals. I have been focusing on deepening our pantry but it is mostly ingredients and would not make a complete meal. Would you be willing to share your list of five? I am intrigued.

Naomi Jones said...

Second question! How do you determine that your pantry is complete? Do you try to keep a certain amount of ingredients? Have you calculated how much you need for a month/months?