With the cost of food rising, consumers are cutting back, or doing without

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The way food prices are these days, Sheanna Caban and her family have had to adjust to a life of meatless Mondays and a whole lot of pasta on the dinner menu.

The 32-year-old mother of two and her husband work behind the scenes at local television stations. But even with two incomes, they struggle to keep pace with the ever-rising cost of living and raising a family.

With staples like milk going for $3.50 or more per gallon, just putting food on the table leaves a big dent in the budget of middle-class families like the Cabans.

“It’s a big concern,” she said. “Our grocery bills are second on the list of expenses, right after rent.”

Read it all from the local paper.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDieting/Food/Nutrition* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal Finance* General InterestNatural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc.

Posted August 26, 2012 at 11:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. BlueOntario wrote:

Good thing inflation is so low.

August 26, 1:07 pm | [comment link]
2. Teatime2 wrote:

The article is off when it comes to beef. Here in the heart of beef production, the ranchers have already sold off the heads of cattle they can’t feed because this is year 2 of severe drought and probably year 4 of less rain than normal. I have to drive by the cattle auction center to get to a retail area I frequent and it broke my heart to see the long lines of trucks and livestock trailers snaking down the frontage road. Ranchers interviewed on TV were actually breaking down in tears about having to sell off the majority of their herds. Last year, the auction was selling thousands of cows per week. This year, that number is averaging about 500. If the rains come and the ranchers replenish their herds with calves, it will take several years before they’ll be ready for market.

I’m finding chicken at crazy-low prices. This week, it’s $1.47 per pound for boneless, skinless breast or tenderloin strips. I’ve already bought 10 packages and might go back and get more. Fish has gotten cheaper, too, and I like to buy the large bags of flash-frozen fillets. You have to scour the weekly ad flyers and stock up when things are crazy-cheap.

We’re still eating really well on a budget but I cook from scratch and don’t waste anything. I rarely buy convenience foods—those are expensive and filled with empty calories.

August 26, 4:55 pm | [comment link]
3. KevinBabb wrote:

This month, I reduced the grocery bill for my family of four by sending my 18 year old son away to college.

Alas, tuition and dorm fees to tend to eat into some of my savings. On a net basis, I still may come out ahead.  Time will tell.

August 26, 6:20 pm | [comment link]
4. Cennydd13 wrote:

2.  Good points.  And the same thing is happening here in California, but to a lesser extent because we haven’t been as badly affected by the drought.  Those conditions are pretty normal for the San Joaquin Valley, and we planned for them years ago when we built our dams.  My wife and I have been buying store brands for years as a cost-cutting measure, and we buy in bulk at places like Costco, etc.  We also frequent farmers markets when we can, and it saves us quite a bit of money by buying from friends who are farmers.

August 26, 6:35 pm | [comment link]
5. BlueOntario wrote:

#2, that may explain why I’m seeing more beef production on former dairy pasture in the northeast.

August 26, 8:40 pm | [comment link]
6. Teatime2 wrote:

Could be, #5. They’d have long winters to have to buy cattle feed, though, and the feed is awfully expensive. That’s why our ranchers were having to sell off—the hay and grain needed to feed their cattle in lieu of grass was just too high to justify, especially with the lower price of beef.

#4, our farmers market has been rather sparse and the quality of produce isn’t too good this year, unfortunately. I’m doing better buying from our regional grocer and organic.

August 26, 9:56 pm | [comment link]
7. Yebonoma wrote:

You know, I am not entirely sympathetic to those described in the article.  Oh, the horrors of having to give up facials for food - give me a break.  And as far as saying that fresh veggies are more expensive than frozen - get over it, studies show that frozen veggies are just as nutritious and they keep longer in the freezer.  You know, a pack of seeds is a lot cheaper than buying stuff at the store, and you don’t need a whole lot of space to have a productive garden - assuming you can make the time to tend to it.

A lot of what is described in this article was the norm I experienced at my grandparent’s house.  I don’t think I ever ate a vegetable that was bought at the store, everything came from the garden either fresh, canned, or frozen.  Most of the fruit was also home grown.  I will admit that they were able to have meat for most meals and that came from the store.  I also have never found a farmer’s market to be cheaper than a grocery store.  All I find are boutique producers selling at high prices to yuppies.  My favorite is the weekend farmer’s market in Falls Church, VA - I really don’t need goat cheese or chorizo made without nitrates and 5$ for a loaf of “artisan” bread seems pretty steep.

Unfortunately, the 40 or 50 years following WWII was likely out of the norm for the U.S. economy.  It was not damaged by the war so American companies were able to quickly start producing consumer goods again and get above market prices for their goods until pent up domestic demand was sated and globalization caught up with us.  This allowed companies to give in to union demands for generous pay and benefits, as Americans paid above average prices for goods.  Think back to the lousy quality cars from Detroit in the 1950s and 1960s.  Getting one of those babies to last more than 100K miles was quite a trick.  When Honda and Toyota finally made it to American shores, it just about killed Detroit.

August 27, 12:33 am | [comment link]
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