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Rising Food Prices - what are you doing to stay within your food budget?

As the drought in so many states continues to linger on, the food prices are slowly increasing.

I have been considering learning as many methods as I can to squirrel food away at today's prices. Of course that is playing havoc with my budget these days, but in the long run, I am hoping it will pencil out.

Pickling, fermenting, drying & freezing are some subjects I am trying to learn & of course that means buying extra books, supplies & whatnot.

What are your plans, if any, to prepare for increasing prices & perhaps shortages of food? Folks with limited space will probably need to get creative in other ways.

Do you think this is going to be a new experience for Americans or do you think optimistically & see everything falling into place later on? Unfortunately, the food prices will probably stay high no matter which way things turn out.

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  1. Coupons! Lots and lots of coupons and price matching. It's not nearly as good here in Canada as it is in the States though. Still, every bit helps.
    What I've always done is use a lot of the tips my mother used (child of the depression you know)
    Buy real food only, not convenience food.
    Freeze bones until you have enough to make stock.
    Bake from scratch.
    Trim hard parings off cheese and freeze until you have enough to make a cheese sauce for mac and cheese. You can't tell it was dried out after it's melted.
    Ends of bread get made into breadcrumbs and croutons.
    Save your fat and boil to make lard.
    Save vegetable parings in freezer to add to bones when making stock. Onion skins in particular make a lovely coloured broth. I heard this week you can also make stock out of corn cobs after the corn is gone. I haven't tried it yet but I'm intrigued.
    collect recipes that work with small amounts of leftovers.
    Eat more vegetarian meals.
    Save a couple of Tbsp. Of the veggies you make for dinner in the freezer and by the end of the week you have enough for vegetable soup.
    Save leftover coffee or tea in a jar in the fridge and make iced coffee or iced tea.
    Eat what you should eat - a serving of meat is only supposed to be the size of your palm; a serving of pasta or rice is only 1/2 a cup.
    Freeze yogurt/fruit blends in a popsicle mold and make your own ice cream.
    Learn how to make high priced sauces etc. From scratch, like tzatziki or chutney or cranberry relish.
    I'll probably think of more later but that should start things off.

    1 Reply
    1. re: dianne0712

      I'm taking advantage of the dip in the price of pork, beef and chicken and stocking my freezer. I save bones, veg trimins', etc for stock and will probably eat more game this year. Not that that's a bad thing we enjoy game and foul. I bought a frozen goose last week it was under $10. Don't know if it was miss marked, but I'll look for another one tomorrow. Stock up when there are sales and really many of the above ideas will come into play this coming year.

    2. The first step for saving money when food shopping is, IMO, working from a list.
      We prepare a shopping list of the items we need, whether we think we need them immediately or plan to stock up for the future, and discuss it between ourselves.
      Then we look through the weekly ads (the newspaper is filled with 'em) to see which of the items on our list is "on sale" and which of the stores offers the best price for what we want. We don't make impulse purchases but, I must admit, we sometimes see something in the ads the we neglected to put on the list. We mark the list with the store and price for each item, then we go shopping at our favorite store; the store which most often has the better pricing. As we shop we pick up items on the list and compare the shelf price with the prices on the list. If it's cheaper at our favorite store, we buy it. If not, we wait.
      Our shopping route takes us through a loop so that, without spending extra money for gas, we pass by each of the stores on the list. We simply stop to pick up the lower priced items enroute home and, presto, we're all done with money saved.
      Most of our food storage, even for some dry goods, is simply freezing. Fresh fruits and vegetables aren't on our list of items to store so we don't need to can or pickle. We simply shop for the lowest priced fresh vegetables during our normal shopping tours and limit our choices in that category to what's on sale at the time. There's always something in the produce section that's a good deal.

      1. I don't do coupons, unless they are from my regular store, for items that I normally buy. I find that I can get a better deal on a store brand. I also use my store card, and buy those items that are on sale. The points add up and after so much we get a discount on gas.
        I shop at one store, I used to do the grocery ad thing, but found that it took a lot of time, and I can get better overall savings from our regular store (Smiths) by shopping their sales and using their coupons.
        A list is great, but sometimes, I just go in and look for the sales.
        We have a deep freezer, and I froze 30 lbs of tomatoes and about 15 lbs of roasted green chilies yesterday.
        At Thanksgiving, I stock up on turkeys that are on sale. If you go late Wednesday night, they give you the sale price without having to buy the set amount advertised (like $8 with $25 purchase). Those also go in the freezer. They are great on the grill, cut up, in the summer. i also stock up on pork loins/chops and petite sirloins that seem to be on sale every other week. They get taken out of the large container, bagged, and into the freezer.
        Our biggest problem is waste at home. I really need to cook less, and eat leftovers instead of saying I'm going to eat them and then throwing them away two weeks later.
        I make almost everything from scratch.
        Going in with cash is good, too. Prevents overspending on splurge items.

        3 Replies
        1. re: wyogal

          I think there's a great tip embedded here: buy a dedicated deep freezer. They are actually very energy efficient (especially since they are a lot more rarely opened) and allow you to make purchases that last a long time.

          1. re: nasv

            +1 on the freezer. I scored extra turkey around Thanksgiving, corned beef around St Patrick's day, leg of lamb around Easter, wings around Superbowl, ect. I eat more beef now by just buying reduced price meat than I ever did!

            Also learn to use those tough pieces of meat like tongue, ox tail, and flank steak. A pressure cooker can help where a slow cooker can't.

            As mention, cut meat up in to smaller portions. 1 steak for two people, stretch that sausage and make red beans and rice, things like that.

            Really, just plan ahead and you'll do alright.

            1. re: nasv

              We love our chest freezer. I can't believe how long we got by without it.

          2. Check out The Evalasting Meal by Tamar Adler - lots of great ideas on how to use everything and not waste food. Here is a thread that has not been active lately but still might be helpful: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/835444

            1. I caved... and joined Costco.

              3 Replies
              1. re: nasv

                Me too, finally, even though we are a very small household with quite specific dietary preferences and very finite storage space. To me, the tipping point was actually the thought of all the non-food savings - household supplies, prescriptions, appliances, photo processing etc.

                1. re: vil

                  car insurance. I save more money on my insurance, than my executive membership costs per year and we usually get that covered anyway in the year end rebate.