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Effect of the recession on your eating habits.

How has the current recession caused you to alter your food budget and/or eating habits?

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    1. I would like to think I am relatively a smart shopper. I love great food and trying lots of new things. Can I afford 15.00 coffee or Starbucks every morning when my good beans from whereever is 5.99 or 6 bucks tastes great (this is not aimed at anyone, there were many posts. I am just being generic). I try to buy good seafood, but can't afford Whole Foods and when my fish monger is 12 a lb vs 6 a lb. I don't mind either. My veggies are from the farmers market which I love, my wine is under 10 and do use short cuts now and then.

      I really try to watch spending but when I entertain, that is completely different I don't go overboard but I do what I know my friends would appreciate. They aren't going to like a 40 dollar wine no more than a good 20+ bottle. But everyone has different friends and they know their tastes.

      Personally, more seafood, light pastas, salads and soups which I love to cook. Some stews and meats that will last a few days. Smoked chicken and pork that I can cook ahead and bag up and freeze.

      I have gone more green with green cleaning supplies and trying hard to cut back on paper towels and napkins. I am not a cloth napkin girl so I do use those all the time.

      So yep, I don't go out much, just now and then, and try to cook mostly at home. Have more dinner get togethers at home even if it is just pizza, chinese or anything. We get chinese once every couple of weeks but so much cheaper than going out. We all split so not as many leftovers and we get a variety, no tip in the restaurant, our own beer so why not.

      Yes, I have cut way back but still eat healthy and good. I am a firm believer you can eat good with friends or not but it doesn't have to be fancy. Simple food with friends can be just as fun.

      15 Replies
      1. re: kchurchill5

        You find using *green* cleaning products to be more economical? Unfortunately I find them much more expensive. It's actually easy to use cloth napkins so it's cheaper and greeener. And salads? Wow, that is one of my splurges. Good produce isn't cheap. I can buy meat for less.

        1. re: c oliver

          I wonder if kchurchill means she's cleaning with baking soda, vinegar, salt, that sort of thing.

          Hmmm, I USED to be a cloth napkin user. Where did I lose that along the way? Probably time to see what I have left and use them again. One summer I bought stacks of dark colored bandanas that we used as cook-out napkins. They were great for messy foods like barbecued chicken, buttery corn etc.

          Ok, kchurchill, please let us know what inexpensive green products are working for you, and c oliver, thanks for the boot. I've gotten lazy and I don't like it.

          1. re: fern

            Here's a rather long and at time contentious thread about cloth napkins. As you can read, it switched me over :)

            1. re: c oliver

              Just a nudge about the missing link.

              1. re: Paulustrious

                Oops.

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/593001

                I wish I had a nickel for every time I'v e done that :) Thanks.

            2. re: fern

              I do mean that too. I buy some green, I do use homemade items as well. Many of my things I use on my veggies are natural I put together. I also use some simple things around the house and fertilizers, all natural when possible.

              I use baking soda in laundry, vinegar for many thngs, baking soda for scouring sinks and bathups, the normal window washing mix, I do use clorox don't get me wrong, I use dish soap from Target or my local store which has a green label, it may not be the best but they or the store does give back. Toothpaste is a great scouring and much cheaper when you get the cheap kind. Coffee gorund and vinegar for plants, natural cayenne and garlic in the ground to ward off buts, soap, baking soda and a minimal use of a biodegradable pesticide or one that basically breaks down. I probably described that incorrectly. Environmentally friendly. Corn starch is great, Borax, a few other ingredients, salt mixed is the right combos can be a great rubbing scouring mix. A citrus oil for wood furniture. and as I said, I buy a few to keep on hand.

              I do use paper towels, sorry guity as charged. No cloth here only for entertaining for napkin use, but have cut way back on paper products. I do use paper bags but I recycle them for my garden. Hate plastic other than kitty litter, I throw away all my cans but I literally have NO where to put them, but I try to do the best I can.

            3. re: c oliver

              I do buy green cleaning products, more economical, came out about even when I did my simple home test. I try to recycle but I admit I am not the best. And salads, I mentioned salads, I am eating more and more, but growing more and more too. My farmers market I can buy way more produce much cheaper than most meats. 20 bucks and I leave with veggies for over a week easily. I eat more chicken or try to and fish that I catch myself. That reduces meat. I could eat seafood 3+ times per week pasta 2 and then meat or chicken. I do cook meat though don't get me wrong. I go in spurts what I feel like. Cloth. I don't have time to do my own laundry and my sons and in an apt you can't do laundry after 11. Many days I don't get home until after 8 or 9, 4 loads and one no room with towels for the pool, suits, and clothes for on the boat when I work so there are lots of work clothes. Room, where am I gonna store them. My napkins I buy them and then go on a small metal napkin holder, cloth doesn't fit in there. Cloth is just not me and never will be. It may be smarter but not for every day meals. I'm usually working on my cookbook on my desk at 9 at night eating or the kids in their room eating on the computer. Cloth is just not workable.

            4. re: kchurchill5

              Re cloth napkins:
              When I was in college I went on a study abroad trip and we stayed four nights in Rome. The hotel dining room gave us these plastic pouches with our names on them and after dinner each night we would put our cloth napkins in the pouch and would use them again the next night. (They also did this thing where instead of changing the bed sheets they would just flip them around; we knew this because there was a laundry mark on one sheet that "moved" during our stay.)

              1. re: MysticYoYo

                That is interesting. I do enjoy using them. Just impractical for me. But always when entertaining I use them unless it is outdoor BBQ or big outside pool party. I'm not against them but just not for me on a daily basis. That is a neat idea to use them for each person. Many American has lost touch with the fine art of dining I think compared to those in other countries. I may be wrong

                1. re: kchurchill5

                  I think practicality has something to do with it, too. We in the US wash and dry everything after one use. Not the same everywhere. In fact, friends of ours in Belgium and France don't even have clothes dryers in their homes! They wear/use things until they're dirty, wash them and then hang dry. They probably think we're excessive in our fight against dirt and germs! And our use of resources.
                  kchurchill, if you ever find a deal on cotton bandanas or napkins, get a stack of darker colored ones for your BBQs, you'll love it! They hold up to the sticky sauces etc and then you toss the whole bunch of them in the washer. Sorry, no reusing here! Also, the bandana pattern hides any sauce stains that won't come out.
                  You will be baking a cake in my honor once you try it. :) :) :)

                  1. re: fern

                    IMO, once you've used a napkin, it's dirty.

                    1. re: pikawicca

                      For myself, I totally agree. Napkins are single use items. But I do think it is not the same everywhere. We've had exchange students that never did laundry in 2-3 weeks. They wore things again and again. Longer than I would have, for sure. Then when we visited a couple of them we found that they don't even have clothes dryers at home. They do far less laundry than we do.

                      1. re: fern

                        While travelling, or living abroad, it was understood that cleanliness was more what one had next to their skin. Skivvies and socks, change daily. Other things, wear until demonstrably dirty (or smelly). From my experience even with parents in the US, the same is done with children's clothes and those destined for the dry cleaners (a/k/a suits).

                        1. re: Caralien

                          I should mention that most of the kids who visited here were neater about their clothing than some of our kids. They hung things up so the clothes were aired overnight and not rumpled from being in a heap on a chair or the floor.
                          I admit to being wasteful about laundry while growing up. I'm better now but still wash things more often than our visitors did. They never seemed grungy to me, but I am accustomed to more frequent washings. Can't seem to scale that back. As for napkins, I like them cleaned after each use.

                  2. re: kchurchill5

                    Using "cloth" napkins etc is deeply ingrained with me.Actually cheaper and less work after all these years.
                    95% of the time we use what can go into any wash load.Zero special care 100% cotton.The thrift stores have been a real boon in recent years.$10.00 for ? average, mundane synthetic junk vs $4.50 for a banquet size "madiera cloth" tablecloth ,real value ? $400.00 +.No one wants to "care for" or learn to maintain old fashioned quality,and so on.If not for this balancing out perhaps I would not be so wedded to cloth and its care or lack of.Add on knowing how to ID the fabrics that fit the bill.One of the places age,experience and European parents
                    pay off.

              2. I am less wasteful, more creative. I take a good look at what's here and find a way to use it up. The shameful truth is that I haven't always been so conscientious about it. I feel much better the whole thing.
                Also, we don't always have as many dishes at one meal as before. Main, starch, veg, and salad was always the program without even thinking about it. Now we sometimes have the main and maybe a cucumber salad or something.
                A year ago that would have seemed like an incomplete meal to me. Now it's plenty.

                One more thing, I come here very often for frugal ideas for cooking for friends and family. No more just choosing what I think sounds good and heading to the store. Now I take some pleasure in coming up with a delicious meal that is pretty frugal, too.
                Thank goodness for Chowhound, seriously.

                My cousin and & were discussing recipe modifications based on what's in the house and he said,
                "Using what you have. It's the new black." :)

                1 Reply
                1. re: fern

                  We've been doing the same thing - sometimes just a main and a side dish. We're eating less, which both my husband and I could use, and saving money.

                  I'm also shopping out of the freezer and pantry a lot more now. I'm trying very hard to use down what have before I go buy more. (And replace the stuff I used with stuff I bought on sale.)

                2. for the better,have always been frugal and HATE WASTE
                  Many things are the same price or cheaper.We don't do "prepared" foods or little packages etc.Have a vacuum sealer ,dehydrator that see a lot of use.Both keep $$ and
                  waste down.As do stock pots and freezers.Bones and vegetable scraps are the next stock base.Paper and plastic almost not used ,haven't purchased a trash bag in 20 years.
                  Took the time this winter/spring to really manage food stuff for a move.We are now on 42 acres with the start of a garden and 12 fruit trees under renovation/rehab pruning.

                  like Kchurchill we think that when we entertain there is a reason to consider the guest.
                  Some like pasta and others like steak and shrimp.Some everyday wine,others the splurge and older wines from our cellar of 40 years.
                  Wine(mid level),steak,lobster,artichokes $ down.Most fresh fruit and vegetable $ up.
                  Dairy and pantry staples are all over the page for price fluctuations.Still holding to the resolve of fair trade,local,concientious and rational choices are becoming easier but
                  not less expensive.

                  1. I used to make my grocery list based on what we wanted to make or eat for the week. Now, I only write the basics (olive oil, butter, eggs, etc.) on the list. Everything else we buy is based on what looks good and is also on sale or is not too much of an indulgence. This has forced me to be more creative in the kitchen and has also helped me grow as a cook because I need to look up recipes and cooking methods for things that I may not usually buy.

                    I can't say the recession has really affected me as I am currently just finishing up school but it has really made me stop and think about finances a little more.

                    Even prior to the recession, we tried to eat in more so that we could splurge once or twice a month at high end restaurants.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: pinkprimp

                      Oooh, that's great, pink. Buying what's on sale and figuring out what to do with it, after, is such a fun/economical thing to do! If I had to point to one thing that helped me grow as a maker-of-food, it'd be that. I can't tell you how many times I've bought funny looking vegetables that I couldn't even name (i.e. kohlrabi) at the market, because they were inexpensive and interesting-looking, and then worked it into a soup / stirfry / roast / pickle / pastry / you name it.