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How to Stay Even When Food Prices Increase

July 20, 2012

We’re being warned that the drought that the Mid West and Plains States are experiencing is worse than what caused the 1930s Dust Bowl and the 1950s drought. You have probably seen photos of the stunted corn growing there.

Here in West Virginia we have drought conditions in many areas as well. This will affect our food prices very very soon.

Here are some things you can do off-set those rising costs. Maybe, if you have done implemented any of these ideas presented earlier, you may even find your food budget going down!

1. Make a budget. Know what you can spend on a weekly or monthly basis. Stick to it, even if it means not getting something that catches your eye and consider eating out less to make your food money stretch further.

2. Stock your pantry and freezer now. Think longer term and stock up on staples now. Don’t think about meal planning for just the next week but think about those items you eat again and again over several months.   Stock up with staple foods purchased in bulk, in season, or on sale.  Then your only goal when grocery shopping will be to restock the pantry, not to buy specific ingredients to make specific meals. 

3.  Buy in Bulk. By switching to a simple, unprocessed food diet, buying in bulk can help any family meet their goals. Warning: There are downsides to buying in bulk…just be sure that you’re going to use all of it before it goes bad — it isn’t cheaper to buy in bulk if you don’t use it.

4. Stock up when things go on sale. If it’s an item you normally use, buy a bunch of it. This goes for the seasonal produce too! Stock up throughout the harvest and at the end of the growing season. Of course that means you need to put that produce up, either canning it or freezing it. Don’t buy and not store it properly!

5. Eat less meat. Meat prices will go up, even if you are purchase organic, pastured meats. Our family already eats quite a few vegetarian meals several times throughout the week to stay within our food budget.

6. Share a garden with someone else. If lack of space is your issue, consider an arrangement where someone else — a friend or family member — who has space for a garden and you share resources and efforts. For example, you could plant a garden in a friend’s backyard and then spend a preset amount of time each week working to cultivate and care for it with your friend. In the end you both would split the harvest.

7. Make friends with an avid gardener. If you don’t have equal time to give to a garden, work with someone who already loves to grow their food. Those who grow a large garden each year always seem to grow a surplus, just in case. If you know someone who gardens faithfully, offer to help in the garden or barter in exchange for produce.

7. Buy locally. Locally grown or produced food is often available at a cheaper price, because you don’t pay for long transportation costs. Farmer’s markets, fairs and the local aisle at your grocery store, are all game for deals on tasty and fresh food.

9. Stop buying overly processed, non-nutritious foods. Perhaps its because our fast-paced society encourages convenience, but it seems so hard to avoid the quick and easy. Nonetheless, junk food and ready-made meals – i.e. foods with high fructose corn syurp as a main ingredient – will most likely be the first types of foods to see significant increases in price. Not only do they contain about zero nutrition, but it makes you and your family unhealthy and in the end it can kill you. Talk about a seriously bad deal! Instead reach for real foods and cook from scratch whenever possible.

10.  Garden and Preserve. These two things alone can add up to big savings in the long run. Obviously families living the the “country” or rural areas have more gardening options than those living in suburban or urban areas. Families with limited or small outdoor spaces may be surprised how much they can produce in a few large tubs or other urban gardening tricks. Likewise, home canning, dehydrating, and freezing are all vital skills necessary to decrease our dependence.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. July 20, 2012 4:15 pm

    All very good suggestions!

    • July 20, 2012 6:04 pm

      What has the news been about food price sin Oregon being affected by the drought?

      • July 20, 2012 6:38 pm

        To be honest I’m not tuned into the news much. Personally, I’ve paid for my CSA in advance. I rarely buy any of the processed crap. I rarely eat meat. Hopefully eating locally for the most part, increased gas prices (as ethanol prices go up) should minimize the impact. I do eat quite a bit of locally caught fish. Possibly fish prices may rise as gas prices go up for the fishermen. It’ll be interesting to keep an eye on the actual impact.

  2. Karl Hayden permalink
    July 20, 2012 6:56 pm

    Very good post. People should be doing this even if processed food prices don’t go up.
    Unfortunately, the stuff based on corn and soy will be going up quite a bit, and it will effect milk and meat as feed prices increase. Going to be a very interesting year if not a pleasant one.

  3. July 20, 2012 11:42 pm

    Greet post Beth! You’ve given us all some actionable advise. Thanks

    • July 21, 2012 4:06 am

      Change is pretty tough for most people. I need to take a course on canning myself.

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