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High food costs

Is anyone else changing the way they cook and/or eat because of the high cost of certain foods? I just can't bring myself to pay the cost of beef, for example. Pork is up because of the baby pig epidemic, cheese is at an all-time high, chicken is going up. This winter I find myself cooking with more fish and sausage and beans and vegetables (and where I am, it IS still winter). Is anyone else making significant changes because of this, and if so, what?

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  1. Nope, we're continuing to cook pretty much as we've done in recent years. We've not really needed to cut back on expenditure generally but, if we had, then it would have been on other aspects of life not food.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Harters

      Same here. We tend to eat a lot of legumes, soups, fresh vegetable anyway. If we do meat, it's cheaper cuts or larger portions for roasts with lots of leftovers that can be used in other dishes.

      1. re: Harters

        Are you seeing the same increases in England (UK? Britain?) for things like beef as we are here in the US?

      2. I HAVE, but not intentionally.
        Scenario-- go to grocery store. Price packs of chicken, ground beef, pork chops. Decide they're too much and I'll "skip this time."
        Later in the week, check freezer for a basic protein ingredient-- don't have it!
        SO, I can't bring myself to pay the price(s) but I haven't yet readjusted my mental "what I always have on hand" list.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Kris in Beijing

          if you assemble a recipe file for legume-based main dishes, your problem will be solved.

        2. My demand for high quality food is about as inelastic as it can get. Unless prices double, I won't really change my purchasing habits at all. I'll change my purchasing habits of every other good and service I use before food.

          Also, how are you eating more fish? Good seafood is vastly more expensive than pork, beef, or chicken assuming you're eating good quality fish. Are you simply catching it yourself?

          I feel like food is incredibly inexpensive. Though maybe that's just because compared to other things I can buy, good food always ranks at, or near the top of my priority list.

          The thought of cutting something out of my diet that I love to eat is utterly unthinkable to me.

          On a side note, is food actually getting more expensive? I haven't noticed anything like that on a mass scale, though I'm 24 and have only been buying groceries roughly 6 years, and worked at a grocery store for 4 years in high school before that so my experience is limited to about 1 decade.

          4 Replies
          1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

            Where I am in the world, food price inflation is outstripping general levels of inflation.

            For example, the changes in the weather in recent years have reduced crop yields. In some parts of the world, land that used to grown food is now being used for bio-fuels. And this at a time when supply and demand is inherently affecting prices - an issue for those of us who live in parts of the world where we are obliged to import food.

            1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

              Fish is by far the most expensive protein we eat and we generally buy pastured meat and dairy. I was wondering how that was a budget option too.

              Food prices are rising all over and we will probably just suck it up and buy what we value. Good food is important. And more beans, always more beans.

              1. re: JudiAU

                It can depend a lot on location. For me, seafood is cheaper in general than beef or lamb, because the seafood is local and the other is generally imported from abroad. And some stuff can be very cheap - in season I can get whole squid or saury for about 30 cents a piece.

              2. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                Good comments, thanks!

                Salmon, walleye, cod loins, and shrimp are regular sale items at our supermarket and that's when I buy them. There is little or no waste so portion costs are pretty reasonable. I use the cod for fish tacos and the shrimp in stir fry or other dishes with vegetables and pasta or rice.

                Foods that have gone up in price or will go up significantly in 2014 include: Chicken, Turkey, Pork, Beef, Citrus, Cheese, Coffee, Wine and Produce.

                In the mean time, I'm challenging myself to make do with less of these foods and to be more creative with alternatives.

              3. I am willing to pay for a quality food item that I particularly desire - ie pastured pork from Lancaster County, beef from Philly Cow Share, but I don't buy blindly - I buy it when I have a good price from a good source. I find supermarket prices often very high for products that are not particularly high quality I definitely adjust my choices of what I buy and where I shop based on this. I look for sales and always compare per lb prices before filling my cart.

                The change I would like to make but have not managed to is to buy only very high quality pastured/free range/organic animal protein and adjust quantity of consumption accordingly

                1. In Chicago good fish costs three or four times as much as chicken. You must live in New Bedford MA with Moby Dick.

                  1. I guess you could say I do. I tend to plan my meals around what's on sale at the grocery store that week using ingredients I like. If a good quality shrimp is on sale, I'll make a dish using that, etc etc.

                    1. I am vegetarian so my own groceries are very different- the price of tofu seems to remain the same lately ;)

                      My parents are omni and buy organic humane free range etc... meats and poultry and have adopted the meat as a side dish method. Instead of one serving as 8oz its 3-4oz meat incorporated in a veggie heavy stir fry, or a stew with beans.
                      They buy more canned wild caught sardines and tinned fish than fresh- a little goes a long way.

                      And they have drastically increased the number of meatless meals they have. Shashuka, baked eggs, lentil soup, entree salads with spiced chickpeas and nuts, veggie and tempeh tacos etc have all become part of their regular meal rotation

                      Both of them have incidentally lost some weight- probably just from so many more vegetables

                      1. I am making some changes but in a different way. I'm growing more of my food. Granted, I'm not very good at it yet - but I hope to improve.

                        For example, tomatoes used to be about $3 per kg. Nowadays they are more like $8 per kg. (I think a kg is roughly 2 lb). They are pretty easy to grow, so I've got a few heirloom tomato plants in the garden now. I also have some tomatillos growing - I haven't tried them before but I'm looking forward to a new culinary experience, and am also looking forward to organic, fresh produce.

                        I also have some beans and snow peas but it remains to be seen whether I get anything from them - it doesn't look too hopeful (snow peas haven't even germinated). But I figured it was worth a try. Seeds are pretty cheap so I think it's a worthwhile exercise, and hopefully I will save some money that will make the higher cost of meat more manageable.

                        2 Replies
                        1. We eat less meat all the time.

                          I am doing what the OP is; more sausages, canned fish, beans. But veggies are more expensive too.

                          I am shopping in more stores as well.

                          1. I continue to eat well, and choose good quality ingredients. I use organic, range-fed/pastured, and sustainably fished products. In order to maintain my food lifestyle, I have seriously curtailed other types of purchases (i.e., shoes, purses... live theater) Definitely sad about the serious reduction in live theater. But I am also serious about supporting farmers and food producers in providing good product, locally.

                            1. I don't notice a difference. Food is cheap compared to most other things I buy.
                              Eating less is not a bad thing for most Americans, in general. If I eventually have to eat less, I will just eat less, but more quality items.

                              1. I have noticed inflation, most definitely. And I know beef and other dairy products have definitely increased, more so in other parts of the country where my family live. I'm in Southern CA so beef price rises have not yet been significant, but I think it will be a matter of time. We've had a very long hard drought here, and many ranchers were selling their herds off very early. Of course this affects milk and cheese as well. Also, pay attention to nut prices, especially almonds, as many farmers here have pulled up groves of trees because of insufficient water.

                                So I have been stocking up on beef, cheese, milk and almonds mostly. Luckily I have two freezers. I've changed what stores I shop at and frequent ones that offer better value, like wholesale and Trader Joes. I've cut back personally on red meat and dairy, but I still have kids at home to nourish. And denying myself restaurant meals, clothes and shoes has been going on for quite a while now ;)

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                  I really feel for the farmers, they are doing it tough here in Australia too :(

                                2. We eat out infrequently, so I don't mind paying the price for good raw ingredients. That said, it's tough to stomach paying $20/pound for wild, line-caught fish when I can get chicken for $2/pound. My DH isn't a huge fish lover anyway, so I tend to cook mostly beef/chicken/pork/lamb/sausage at home. The price of beef has definitely been rising but there's no WAY I'd give it up!