In case you’d not heard, we don’t have noticeable inflation. I am sure that you are glad to hear that, because if you are like me, you have noticed considerable inflation at the store. Some examples: mini powdered donuts were $1.77 before the holidays. They are now $2. A pound of turkey taco meat cost $.98, and now costs $1.19. A can of tomatoes that was $.88 now costs $1.08. A gallon of milk that was $3.95 is now $4.49. The sugar that was $1.96 is now $2.28. A pound of ground meat that cost $1.88 if you purchased the five pound package ($9.40) is now $2.29 per pound ($11.40). The bag of potatoes that was $2.50 now costs $3.99. A loaf of French bread used to cost $.99, but now is $1.50. Remember that can of spaghetti sauce that was $.88? It will now run you $1.08. Need toilet paper? The brand that was $1.99 is now $2.78. How about some window cleaner? It was only $1, but now it costs $2.29. Vegetables are no stranger to price increases either. The can of corn or green beans that was $.59 before 2011 started is now going to run you about $.79. In the frozen food department, that frozen pizza that was $1 is going to cost you $1.50.
So if we are to total up our before and after grocery bills, it would have cost us about $27.89 in December. By mid January, that same list would cost us about $36.37. That is about a 7% increase in just ONE month!
Most of us are not like our Congress, and able to give ourselves a cost-of-living-increase-in-pay to compensate for this increase in prices. Most of us are fortunate if we have the same amount to spend on groceries this month as we had last month, even if we are being told we are recovering from the recession. Apparently, the “trickle down” effect of Congress’ raise in pay hasn’t struck the Mississippi Gulf Coast as of yet.
The grocery store isn’t the only place with the price increases either. It’s at the gas pump, it’s at the electric company, it’s in the price of car repairs, a stop at a fast food restaurant, or even at the Barnhill’s $5 Buffet in Moss Point. (Their prices are going up as of February 1 to $5.25 per person, plus drinks.)
So how is a real family supposed to cope with this non-existent inflation that insists on hitting our wallets and purses?
We have no choice to but to tighten our belts and get by with less. How do we do this?
- Shop sales and purchase items on sale when possible.
- Buy in bulk when possible.
- Eat less meat, one of the most expensive items on our shopping lists.
- Skip “luxury” items such as gourmet coffee, expensive flavored creamers, premium frozen foods, bakery desserts, expensive cheeses, etc.
- Make more “budget” meals using less-expensive ingredients, drawing from the Depression era recipes that focus on feeding many with little.
- Skip eating out.
- Buy less expensive deli food, instead planning ahead for busy days and cooking yourself.
- Cook “from scratch” more and use less convenience products.
- Invest in cost-saving cooking tools such as pressure cookers and slow cookers.
- Learn to multi-task your oven to reduce your energy costs. Prepare multiple meals at the same time, allowing for quick reheating in the microwave the next day.
- Make your own “convenience foods” by preparing extra meals on the weekend, and freezing them for use later in the week.
- Use fewer commercial mixes for baked goods, or make your own mixes. There ARE recipes available to do just that!
- Eat fruits and vegetables in season.
- Buy locally from farmers markets and “you pick” farms when possible.
- Learn to make expensive “luxury” items such as jams, jellies, preserves and pickles yourself from local fruits and vegetables. They are healthier, tastier, and cost much less than the expensive ones at the store!
- Buy fewer prepared vegetables, instead doing your own washing, cutting, and preparing of fresh vegetables for salads and cooking.
- Postpone purchasing items such as new cars, electronics, home improvement items, remodeling jobs, landscaping upgrades, etc.
- Reduce amounts allocated to non-essentials such as wardrobe replacement, hair cuts, tanning sessions, artificial nails, massages, hobbies, club memberships, etc.
- Reduce the number of non-essential trips in the car, combining errands when possible and planning routes carefully using a map program.
- Skip vacation or minimize vacation expenditures by staying closer to home and cutting the trip shorter. Consider alternatives such as a stay-cation or camping instead.
- Do more projects yourself instead of hiring someone to do the job-such as minor home repairs, maintenance on your car, bicycle repairs, landscaping tasks, etc.
- Repair items instead of replacing them (lawnmowers, bicycles, weed trimmers, hedge trimmers, chainsaws, tools, fishing rods & reels, etc.)
- Eliminate your flower garden and plant a garden or edible landscaping instead to add inexpensive fresh vegetables to your meals.
- Start plants yourself from seed rather than purchasing plant starts.
- Grow your own fresh herbs for pennies compared to grocery store prices, and truly experience fantastic flavor! Many, such as basil, rosemary, oregano, cilantro, parsley, etc. are very easy to grow, even from seed, and can even be grown in a pot or window box. No more skimping on fresh flavor or settling for faded stale dry herbs.
Get creative at ways to have fun and save money! You are in control of your own creativity and budget when you are “doing it yourself.” You are also smarter, more creative, more ingenious, and more intelligent than you realize.