Reader question… “I’m a Mom with 5 kids and I’m having trouble making meals that are nutritious and affordable. I thought the grocery prices would go down when the fuel prices did but the prices for food are much higher than they were even a few months ago and I notice what I pay for groceries is still going up every week. I need help, do you have any frugal ideas you could share?” –Sheri K.
Sheri, you are not alone in this dilemma. I think almost everyone is having the same trouble you are… trying to keep the grocery bill from getting out of control and at the same time trying to provide good, nutritious meals. It’s a juggling act that gets more and more difficult every day.
Even though the USDA claims that food prices increased an average of only 6.5 percent in the first eleven months of 2008, all anyone has to do is look at their cash register receipts to see that the prices of some individual grocery items have increased much more than that in the same amount of time. Unfortunately, many of the items with the highest increases in price are staples that we can’t just decide not to buy. Here are a few examples:
- Rice — increased 58 percent
- Flour — increased 38 percent
- Pasta — more than doubled
- Chicken — regular (non-sale) price has increased 25 percent
- Raisins — doubled
- Walnuts — tripled
- Bananas — increased 50 to 70 percent
- Frozen vegetables — corn and any vegetable combination with corn in it has increased 60 percent, other vegetables have increased 30 percent
- Eggs — increased 30 to 40 percent
- Milk — $2.99 a gallon in May, now from $3.99 up to $4.39 a gallon, depending on the store… the USDA claims milk prices have dropped to $3.67 a gallon nationwide… not so in this area
And if we are not already discouraged enough, the experts tell us to expect grocery prices to increase even more over the coming months.
Over the next several weeks I will be writing posts for my new series on frugality and nutrition. My own interest in this topic and the large number of reader questions that keep coming in have inspired me to search for solutions… new information and ideas beyond those that already work for me.