Saving Where We Can

Regular readers here should know by now that I do the grocery shopping.  I’ve really tried to streamline the process as much as possible.  I go on the same day every week, with my list (though, I really don’t need a list anymore, since I buy the same things week in and week out) tucked into my back pocket.  I find a cart that doesn’t squeak too much, or wobble too much, and head to the back of the store.  I’ve been doing this for so long I know the store better than most of its employees.  So, I know what stuff costs.  I notice when eggs go from $1.08 to $1.28.  I don’t remember the name of the quiz show that used to ask the contestants how much store prices were, but if it was still around, I’d be a tough person to beat.

So I’m troubled by some of the prices I’m seeing lately.  One that bothers me the most is probably a pasta product available on what stores call their “ethnic food” aisle.  Its called fideo, and it is a small cellophane bag filled with tiny noodles.  It was a staple food for me growing up.  If money is tight, you simply brown these small noodles with garlic and onion, add broth or water, cover and simmer and you have a tasty, starchy meal.  For years this product stayed the same price: $.27 cents.  I never saw it go down to 23 cents, or up to 28 cents.  It was constant, reliable, and kind of comforting, actually.  Its now 50 cents a bag.  Double, if you round a little.  We are fortunate, an increase like that doesn’t really affect our food budget.  Some families run so close every week that an increase like that could adversely affect their finances, since it isn’t the only product that has gone up in the last year or so.

Remember when gas got to around 4 bucks?  Of course this was going to impact food prices, most of our food travels by truck, and trucks burn gasoline or diesel.  Only gas has come back down, and has remained pretty constant for quite awhile.  Many of the price spikes have leveled off.  So I don’t think the current increases are a result of transportation cost.

Since the kids were babies, we’ve done our best to feed them fruit and whole grains, and any vegetables that we could get them to eat.  Canned veggies have almost doubled in two weeks time.  In season fruit is pretty expensive, but, since we don’t buy very much prepared food, we can afford to eat fresh fruit ever day.  Still, there are far too many empty calories in our diet, mostly in the form of starches, our kids snack on pretzels or tortilla chips (potato chips are a rip-off, so we don’t buy them) but they will eat apples and carrots and celery if they are handy.  Anyway, prices have risen dramatically, and coupled with the fact that my kids eat like full grown men, our grocery budget has had to be increased a good bit.  I always wonder how families do it when both parents work.  My guess is that they microwave a bunch.  Or, they eat fast food.  I guess if you know those prices, you can feed your family relatively cheaply.

This seems like a good time to re-post this recipe for laundry soap.  I can’t tell you how much money we have saved by making our own soap.  It doesn’t take much time to make, it isn’t messy, and the soap cleans as good as any name brand, only costs around a penny a load.  Try it.  Let me know if you have your own recipe, or if you like this one.

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7 responses to “Saving Where We Can

  1. The Missus

    I also make my own laundry detergent and I urge everyone to give it a try. Mack’s family started using it first, I was intrigued. I took notice of their appearance, nothing changed. I’ve been making my own for a year now, it works fine. I really enjoy not buying liquid Tide at $15 a plastic bottle.

  2. Pingback: Rising Food Prices : Post Politics: Political News and Views in Tennessee

  3. My dad had his own company for many years that made cleaners and detergents for use in more industrial settings – cleaning milking and dairy equipment, for example. Although he used phosphates up until the late 60s, he always said that soap was soap. They kept a bar of ivory soap at the kitchen sink for cleaning dishes. His laundry detergents were sold in farmer co-ops for decades until he sold the company. They didn’t grind up Ivory bars, and they made a ton at a time, but the recipe wasn’t all that different.

  4. Tell me about it. Virtually everything I ever buy (which never has been all that much in recent years) went up and never came back down, and some stuff just keeps going up. The last ten years or so I have bought a lot of generics and store brands (mostly Kroger) and even they have gone up immensely for the most part. I’m not going to starve anytime soon thanks to some Middle TN angels (still have quite a bit of food from June left since I’m such a bad eater anyway), but if I had zero food in the house already, I’d probably be going without a meal not by choice but out of necessity three or four days out of every week indefinitely.

    That said, some much welcomed and relieving changes have just this week come about and with any luck, things may be sort of back to normal for me much sooner than later and that’s great, not to mention the fact this time two years from now I should be a “two income family” again. But with all this price raising that’s still going on even tho the gas crisis is long over, no matter how much better off I’m doing three or four months down the road, that’s still going to be a major pinch.

    I can’t even fathom trying to make it thru this period as a single mom or dad with kids to support.

    Two things have irked me more than anything else throughout this whole cost-of-everything-increase period. One, granted, I know in truth it’s a luxury (tho to me it’s not) but – cat food and dog food (and I would assume other pet food). My dogs will eat cardboard and socks so they’ve never been picky or really cared, and frankly the “better” dog foods always seemed to cause more health issues than some of the “lesser”, so we have stuck with a store brand dog food for a long time.

    The pet foods have gone up nearly 100% and are showing no sign of coming down and keep increasing. A store brand, “generic” food, 35+ lb. bag, was usually around $7.99 back before all this gas crisis mess. It’s been holding around $14 now and has been for a while.

    The brand named cat food we USED to buy before I got so poor is even worse. It was around $11 at regular price before for a 20 lb. bag, but usually on sale for around $8-9. I haven’t bought it in ages, but I recently noticed it’s gone up to a whopping $17 at a store that probably has about the lowest price, so I know it’s likely around $20-21 at some other stores like Target now.

    That’s ridiculous. And this is not Iams, Nutro, Science Diet or any of those kind of “premium” brands we’re talking about – it’s a Purina one, and not the more expensive O.N.E. kind.

    If not for the fact that I have lost several to old age in the past year and a half, so our pet population is down, and the fact my mom’s not going to let me or the dogs and cats starve to death, things would be seriously bleak in that respect.

    The other thing I have a pet peeve about, though (and did before the price of everything went bananas) – and forgive me for bringing up such a subject on your blog but you have a teenage daughter so I know you’re cool with it and understand (LOL) – the price of absolutely necessary feminine products that most of us females under the age of 45 or 50 can’t do without! Even the cheapest box of generic/store brand tampons is pushing five bucks a box, and alternatives (which I THOUGHT would be cheaper), I recently discovered aren’t really much better cost-wise. It makes me so angry I could just spit.

    Anyway, yeah, like you, I notice when pretty much every single thing I regularly buy goes up and I’ve been super disappointed to see that not only is most of it not coming down, but many things are still continuing to go up.

    If it’s not going to get any better or some extraordinary changes aren’t going to be made in this country overall to offset all this, I don’t see how most people are going to make it.

    Prince Charming and I have been in discussions for a while about the viability of maybe trying to have a kid or two before I get too much older (and when, certainly, things in our lives will be more stable with two incomes by then, hopefully). But stuff like this has made me rethink those possibilities and lean in the entirely other direction about it all.

    Ugh. Sorry for the megacomment, your (excellent) post flipped my switch on obviously and for once I had a few minutes to spare during the day, LOL.

    BTW my blog’s not gone, I’m fighting with my domain host at present and protesting their BS practices, but that’s a blog post for me for another time. It’s still at thelynnsterzone dot wordpress dot com, I guess I should update it one of these days.

    Mucho hugs to you and the primary wife and the kiddos.

  5. Interesting, I was reading a food justice blog today, I always forget to bookmark these great sites when I see them. Our whole food system is very messed up in this country but I’m really heartened at the movement toward neighborhood/community food gardens and whatnot. Especially in Tenneseee, you plant a tomato and you’ve got a freakin cornucopia. We planted three pepper plants this summer and have been so overwhelmed with “crops” we’ve had to let them rot on the vine. So maybe neighbors can get together, plant a few different crops and everyone can share in the bounty. It’s a start.

  6. Mack call me when you read this. It,s early and I can’t call your house without fear of waking everyone up.

  7. democommie

    Mack:

    I buy lots of stuff at various bargain places. I look at the label and try to avoid stuff from China (they seem to have no concept of what the FDA is all about) and anything with rocket science chemical additives, corn syrup or hydrogenated fats. I have a nice pot of beans (little pinks and little reds) in the fridge right now. Later today I will add a 1-1/4 lb. package of ham scraps (whole ham not pressed) that I got at the dollar store for a dollar. It’s Plumrose brand and it’s very delicious. That will yield me about two or three quarts of very nice stew–for maybe three bucks.

    There’s a produce market down in Syracuse that also carries tons (literally) of short dated or past dated processed meats. I’ve bought some and it’s always been fine. When I can buy Carando Prosciutto for $4/lb, I’m a happy man.

    I have a great recipe for “Fastlane Brunswick Stew”. I can’t really tell what most of the ingredients are (‘cept for the skunk, they always stick out like a sore thumb) but they all get pretty well tenderized by the eighteen wheelers.

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