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.