Saturday, October 16, 2021

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Shocking higher prices!

Prices are rising so fast on some items that it reminds me of being a young wife during the Carter Administration.  This was before items were scanned at checkout so there was a price sticker on each item.  Sometimes, the price increased so much between one week and the next that there would be two or even three stickers with slightly higher prices on each one. 

Recently, I was going to buy a small box of stickers I use in the Kitchen that I once purchased at a favorite local store that went out of business.  When I checked on Amazon, a box had gone up from the $4.00 I bought them just last year to $6.00.  I took a few days to decide if I really needed them and when I decided yes, I went back to purchase them to find they were now $8.00.  Yikes!

I have always read that the way to beat inflation is to buy now what you know you will need tomorrow.  Apparently, that truth prevails in these days of rising prices.  I should have learned my lesson already as I delayed purchasing my 2022 planner on Amazon in September because I always waited until late October or November.  Imagine my surprise to find it no longer available except third party. It was the same price but then I also had to add the cost of postage.  Sold out in September!

Because of the high cost of gasoline these days, we make every attempt to combine errands and appointments on the far side of town.  When my husband had an appointment this week, I went with him so we could shop Sam's Club together.  Thankfully, they had everything we needed but at higher prices.

I am putting together everything needed for Holiday baking and beyond. The higher costs in the stores reinforced my decision to stock individual baking items in my pantry (including freezer and frig) so while at Sam's Club, I bought a bag of milk chocolate chips, white chocolate wafers, and their large can of Hershey's cocoa (which has an indefinite shelf life).

We usually buy one bag of pecans and one bag of almonds there but with the shortages being off and on, we bought two bags of each and I put the extra bags (each inserted into a gallon size Ziploc bag) in the deep freeze.  I store chocolate chips in half-gallon Ball jars and I knew I had plenty of semisweet chocolate chips left since I hadn't baked much over the summer. 

Sam's Club didn't look like it had any shortages but everything we needed was in the front of the store.  The last time I was at Meijer, there were some empty or partially empty shelves and limitations on some items to a purchase of no more than two. 

What I noticed in short supply on Stock Up Day earlier this month at Aldi, WalMart, and Meijer was their candy aisle.  Aldi had my favorite dark chocolate that I'm allowed to eat a little at a time but many of the shelves were depleted with their other candy.  

My husband had asked me to pick up Fun Size Snickers bars at WalMart and I was surprised to find almost every shelf in their candy aisle depleted.  (One Fun Size Snickers is his go-to treat once a day with a second cup of coffee.)  I only noticed the candy aisle at Meijer was partially depleted as it is an aisle with something else I was purchasing on the other side.

I do wonder if the companies put their limited resources into the Halloween candy since there seemed to be plenty of it this year located on center aisles.  That would make sense... and cents!

With the increased prices, I have had to change some shopping habits.  I still purchase organic whole grass fed milk for myself (much better for stable hormones) and I buy organic almond milk for my husband but we stopped buying organic cream for our coffee and organic cheese.

I buy organic romaine lettuce since it is still inexpensive and organic baby spinach but I supplement them with Taylor Farms mixed greens that are not organic.  We do still buy most frozen vegetables organic since the prices are not all that much more expensive but I don't buy organic green beans or peas since neither are on any Dirty Dozen list.

For many people on special diets, there isn't a choice at times.  For instance, because of terrible environmental allergies and sensitivities, my husband cannot eat some food unless it is certified organic.  Especially "soft" vegetables and fruit like lettuce and strawberries that are heavily sprayed.

There is a possibility that our natural gas price to heat our house this winter will double what it was last winter.  This is when I am thankful we live in a relatively small-ish house and the previous owners replaced all of the old windows with brand new energy efficient windows.

I can see more so than ever that gaining knowledge and experience in cooking on a budget is going to be even more important.  As the weather gets cooler (finally), I want to experiment with more bean meals.  One may as well make something fun and stretching the grocery budget with healthy bean meals will become a treasure hunt for good recipes.  Beans are also great for bringing blood sugar down!

I have been amazed this summer at my gardening friend who has increased the size of their garden and has been canning and dehydrating like crazy.  I've told her that she reminds me of the Proverbs 31 woman!  While I no longer have the strength and energy to garden, I am gaining more experience in ways to stretch the grocery budget even more than before.

That old adage "waste not, want not" is certainly very true.  I've been making a game (only with myself) to think of all the ways to stretch everything from food to paper towels.  Although, so far the kitties are not taking part in any such game.  They want their kibble and even more as it gets cooler!

There isn't much we can do about inflation.  Some of it is brought about by the consequences of human decisions but some of it is due to heat and drought and floods and all kinds of abnormal weather.

I agree with a woman who teaches about prepping on YouTube when she talked about the importance of knowing what was going on in the world as we make decisions about our pantries.  She subscribes to a large city newspaper and reads the International pages.  I have long had a few people I follow that share news headlines from all over the world that I can click on to get more information.

We have to be aware of various situations and while we can (and should) pray, we also need to prepare.  For instance, there are concerns for shortages of almonds due to the drought in California and my favorite olive oil comes from California, the olive harvest was also in question at one time.

So, I know that a shortage of almonds is possible... thus, the extra large size bag purchased for the deep freeze.  We have already cut back on olive oil usage but I need to buy an extra bottle from time to time to "put back".  It is not always easy since a bottle of good olive oil is not cheap. 

I'm sure everyone else is having to do the same thing, rethink priorities, change brands, shop multiple stores (I have always done this when possible), look at loss leader prices in store flyers, and definitely purchase now what we can afford and we know may not be available tomorrow.  

Our shopping habits have to be revised from the good old days when everything was usually available when we wanted it and prices didn't fluctuate very much.  If our wartime and Depression era grandmothers and great-grandmothers could do it... so can we!  

I have always been interested in what the average person in other cultures ate.  For instance, the food of many cultures have basic ingredients like corn, beans, rice, and local vegetables in them with small amounts of meat added off and on.  Many times, the fatted calf (or pig, lamb, etc.) was saved for feasts.

The two books I would recommend this week are both books I have highly recommended before.  Both books inspire us to be creative and thoughtful when putting food on the table for ourselves, family, and guests.

Edith Schaeffer's The Hidden Art of Homemaking has an entire chapter on the importance of food and how she learned to stretch meals when needed at L'Abri. In another chapter, she talks about the importance of how we serve meals and how even one candle or a small bouquet of flowers on the table add to a meal.  

This is the book on the top of my list of books for that inspired my life as a homemaker.  Even if it is a little dated now, it is a treasure to be read every year.  More information can be found... here.

Of course, I would have to mention An Everlasting Meal here for it changed the way I thought of food and cooking.  I had been cooking for decades when I read this book and I still learned a lot.  Every time I read through it, I learn something new.  

My like-minded friends and I know exactly what one of us means when we say we are having an "everlasting meal" for dinner.  More information can be found... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to are Associate links.  I get a tiny percentage for any purchase and it cost neither of us anything extra.

Image:  Thanksgiving at my home a few years ago.


Terra said...

Your ideas are helpful and those two books look inspiring. I know rising gas prices are driving up the price of everything. Trump led the USA to be energy independent but those gains are being reversed. I have a stock of cases of bottled water, always good to have. My home is heated with gas which is cheaper than electricity; new laws in our state are outlawing gas heat and appliances in new homes. Yikes!

Debby said...

In my first marriage, I lived through those Carter years and it seemed we never recouped so I got used to raising 3 boys and having to cut back - so while I am not pleased with what is going on in our economy, it's still something I can deal with due to past years of struggle and then raising 3 boys as a single mom for a time.

My husband now, of almost 20 years, likes to spend so for him, this is hard. He doesn't like to cut back but I think even he will soon realize that we must.

I live 46 miles from the Olive capitol here in California. (Corning) Yes, prices have jumped but I can always purchase my favorites.

It is time to stock up though. I have a back room, that was my craft room - for now, it is being overtaken by extra food I am stockpiling for that "rainy day."

I enjoy your blog. Keep up the good work. Hugs

becky said...

Have you read the book “Hungry Planet” What the world eats by Peter Mendel? It’s excellent and gives a great perspective on groceries from families around the world

Deanna Rabe said...

I have both of these books as well, and recommend them! I need to reread An Everlasting Meal again! I’m sure it’ll inspire!

Vee said...

I haven't been at a "big" store for six weeks. I may need to be resuscitated. Yes, I need to restock my pantry this week, Probably Tuesday when the shelves have been restocked. 🀞🏼

My son gave me a loaf of bread from his freezer as a payment for using my car for two days. It's a yummy, hearty white loaf from Pepperidge Farm. I stopped buying my favorite white loaf when it hit $3. His loaf is $4.29! That is crazy. 😳

Have a good week. May you find lots of bargains.

lynneinMN said...

My favorite chocolate chips are the Guittard brand...they have gone up from $3.69/bag to $4.79 a bag in the last few months. Glad I had a couple set aside.
I had to grin when you mentioned your husbands "one a day Mini Snickers with his second cup"...I have to have one chocolate covered marshmallow (purchased in bulk from a Mennonite grocery) with my FIRST cup...that is my morning treat!
Thank you for your tips, ideas, and sharing...there is always something to glean from your posts! In His Peace...LynneinMN

Mama Squirrel said...

We've been buying frozen organic peas and green beans, not so much for the organic issue as that (especially with green beans) we have been repeatedly disappointed by the quality of even big-label (not store-brand) non-organic ones. I'm talking shoe leather. It makes more sense for us to put an extra dollar or two into organic rather than waste the money on inedible regular ones.