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In This Economy, I'm Sadly Doing Without...


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Excellent point. I'm sadly doing without inexcusable disposal of perfectly good food that's gotten old.

Me, too. I am making soup of veggies I probably would have tossed yesterday, but this does seem like a different world, now.

I'm trying to figure out what to do with the by-product "juice" from crock pot "caramelized" onions. I think I'll just throw it in some onion soup to add a little more onion flavour to it (if it's still good--it may have spoiled by now, and that will make me a waster!).

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My rampages through the cheese case at Traders Joe's are infrequent now. Otherwise I haven't given up much, because I don't have much to give up.

I haven't eaten out since a year ago November, and even then kind friends paid.

Ditto here.

A friend treats me to lunch out once a week but there's not much I can give up. We have not eaten out in years and my only hobby is cooking.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Definitely not anticipatory savings here, either...the paycuts have begun, some clients have gone bankrupt or posted big deficits, the major home maintenance and repair jobs roll around again, retirement and the specter of forced early retirement loom, relatives need a helping hand, and the kids get closer and closer to university age (we have two teen boys who eat plenty at home and also take a packed lunch daily)...

We never did eat out much or buy many ready-to-eat luxuries, but the following items have also gone to never-never land:

Cups of coffee bought while waiting for kids in various locations. Kids have always taken a bottle of home-made tea with them to school and elsewhere, now so do I.

Coffee for home use - I'm the main coffee drinker, and I can get through a lot working from home. I've gone back to keeping whole beans in the freezer for occasional indulgence, and drinking more fresh or dried home-grown herb teas. Sage is my favorite these days, and dried red shiso is good too! In Japan, a slice of raw ginger helps a lackluster pot of black tea along too.

In Japan, olive oil of any kind, cheese, nuts, butter etc. are exotic delicacies. I've gone back to standard oils heated and infused with herbs and spices, grated cheese is eked out with natto and/or mayonnaise on toast, or replaced by home-made yogurt cheese. World cheese prices have dropped, but retail prices have not come down in Japan for any dairy products.

Nuts are mostly replaced by peanuts or sesame seeds, and butter is replaced by oil or lard.

Re-calculated starch-food prices - used to be that wheat-based products were often cheaper than a rice-based meal in Japan, but not any more. Potatoes are sometimes a better buy than either.

Snacks. Snacks have always been a controlled substance in my home, no grazing goes on. Snacks now are more likely to be sandwiches, rice-balls, fruit, or home-made cereals, rather than purpose-bought snack foods.

Conversely, there are some areas where I'm spending more. I decided to take that snack dollar and buy bulk tangerines more often than we used to, because it's clear that we catch fewer colds when we eat them daily.

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I've been able to spend very little money on food since the holidays, just by using what we already have in the cupboards and freezer. That's kind of a sad commentary on how much stocking up I used to do. To be sure, there is a certain economy of time and gasoline in not making multiple food runs. However I am now working a couple of days a week in an area where I can stop at a few food markets on the way home.

I still have a lot of nice herbs and spices, condiments, vinegars and wine. So for the moment, it is easy to cut down the grocery bills and not really notice it.

Edited to add: no kids in the house so it's all kind of academic. No whining here.

Edited by Tess (log)
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I'm curious...are any of you cutting back because you HAVE to..or out of fear or higher prices or why?  It seems to me that grocery prices have stopped going up so much or have even come down.

Just thought I'd add some actual numbers, because I keep retarded records about financial stuff. According to my old spreadsheet, in 2004, my average weekly grocery spending was $106. I was feeding my college "family" (BF and a pair of brother who were his best friends). That was dinner almost every night, breakfast, and most lunches for me and 3 college boys.

Now, it's $100 a week for just me and the BF (not the same BF :raz: ). Granted, in some ways that apples and oranges, because I used to cook simpler food that relied more on packaged jump-starts like cream of mushroom soup or Suddenly Salad, and now I'm more focused on quality ingredients. But it's still 2 people versus 4.

Sorry for the little derail. In this economy, I'm doing without mindless convenience eating out. Why spend the money when I've got food at home? Only sometimes is this a sad deprivation though. Sometimes you just really want something quick to eat that you don't have to prepare yourself. But the last time my carpool buddy swung through the McDonald's drive-through, he paid $8 for a 'chicken selects' value meal. No thanks.

"Nothing you could cook will ever be as good as the $2.99 all-you-can-eat pizza buffet." - my EX (wonder why he's an ex?)

My eGfoodblog: My corner of the Midwest

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We're eating out less, not buying coffee at places like Starbucks (McD's makes a decent cup of coffee). When we do eat out, it's more cheap ethnic or fast food... places like Pho houses, taquerias and Jack-in-the-Box.

Perversely, we're not saving much money in this endeavor, as my preteen sons eat like they have hollow legs. What is getting saved in the eating out department goes towards regular groceries.

Cheryl

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I could probably save a lot of money just by eating half as much food!

I've personally been in a recession for about a decade, so my spending habits have changed less than those of people who've had recent changes of circumstances. Still, I'm doing some things to cut back.

One expense we were able to do away with easily and painlessly was individual packages of anything. We were buying a lot of those boxes of individual packs of pretzels, crackers, etc., for snacks for our son. Those are a total ripoff. You can get gigantic bags of the same stuff and create the individual bags yourself for so much less money. For example, Pepperidge Farm Goldfish in 100 calorie packs cost $2.99 for a box containing 5 individual packs. The total weight of the goldfish in the 5 bags together is 3.6oz. Meanwhile, a 7.2 ounce bag of goldfish costs $2.19. Considerably less than half price.

I'm also doing more in terms of letting the sales guide me. In other words I'm giving up on the idea of getting what I wanted to get when I left the house, and getting used to the idea of eating what's on sale, within reason.

With respect to eating out, we still spend a ridiculous percentage of our minuscule disposable income on dining out. What we've been trying to do, though, is shift to a more economical mix. We are also quite knowledgeable now about which restaurants in the city let kids eat free, and which ones have shareable food so you don't actually have to order anything extra for the kid, or have portion sizes that allow for a second meal from leftovers. The nice thing about being in the food press, though, is that a few times a month I get a really great meal for free, on account of special events, media previews, wine dinners and such. Whenever I have a meal like that I think, I may be poor but today I'm eating like a billionaire.

I have not been totally disciplined about this but I am trying to give up on the notion of eating first-tier proteins so often. I'm trying instead to make a family protein schedule/rotation, where in a given week we have one day of something relatively luxurious (e.g. fresh fish, steak), then move down through the hierarchy of expense to cheaper cuts, poultry, hot dogs, canned tuna, vegetarian proteins, etc.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I try to balance on the fence so to speak, when it comes to convenience vs. size.

For home snacking, I buy things in bulk... I buy things like pretzels, tortilla chips and crackers in bulk. At the same time, I do keep a small amount of single serve items on hand for those mornings where I don't have time to bag up 8 portions of whatever for lunches and snacks for school. I do, however, only buy the single serve items on sale.

If it tells you anything, I have 4 kids, ages 11 (boy), 9 (boy), 6 (girl) and 3 (boy). In a typical month, we go through 12 lbs of pretzels, 6 lbs of tortilla chips, 2 costco sized boxes each of ritz crackers and oreos and about 12 boxes of cereal. This is supplemented by any baking that I do and fresh fruit for snacking. I buy the pretzels in 6 lb bags that cost about $5 each.

Cheryl

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If I had 4 kids I'd probably not survive the week, but with 1 kid the snack strategy here has been to bag the individual portions as part of the weekly grocery unpacking procedure. If we buy a bag of pretzel minis, we open it and bag like a dozen individual portions and then close up the rest of the bag with a clip. So our snack cabinet is just as full of portable, grabbable portions of snacks as it was before we implemented the new rules. It's just that we now create those portions ourselves. Perhaps our expenditures on mini zipper bags have gone up a couple of dollars a month but the overall long-term savings are appreciable.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Eating out much less, even though previously most of my eating out was exploring inexpensive "ethnic" restaurants. Great cheeses much less often. Okay, but less complex, less expensive (ie. cheap!) wines more often. Slow to replace any liquor. (Fortunately, great teas of the world are a bargain luxury.) Less beef, more chicken and pork.

The local Dunn Brothers Coffee shop went up dramatically on their coffee prices -- to normal urban coffee prices -- previously $5 per half pound, so truly great coffee has gone away until it warms up and I can start roasting green beans again.

I have not totally given up coffee outside the house. There is a bakery-cafe with free wi-fi that provides a pleasant alternative workspace for the price of a cup of coffee.

I shop selectively at Central Market and Kroger, but have been shopping as much as possible for several years at Asian markets and Hispanic markets where produce prices are generally at least 40% less than mainline grocery stores. Central Market seems to be having more sale items than before, so that helps.

None of this bothers me a great deal. I have lived on much less and much, much worse in the distant past: how many ways can you cook and serve Campbell's soup and rice? Rice in soup - soup on rice - soup with rice as a side. On the other hand, I am concerned that due to so many of us economizing that many of the wonderful foods from other parts of the world will disappear from our B&M and internet stores for at least a few years.

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Fine wine buying is over for, as I have enough. But I secretly hope the prices will go down.

Meat purchases tend to be front quarter or shoulder cuts. That's where the flavor is, and they cry out for creativity.

I visit Asian and ethnic markets every week; they know the value of a buck, and there are few rip offs.

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We're just being more thrifty with our shopping, getting the deals and what not. And trying to cut out those impulse buys. I wont budge when it comes to proteins, though I see a lot more chicken on the horizon.

Good thing is right now, I'm in Intro To Baking (I attend a Le Cordon Bleu School in Portland) and we start the second week of the cycle on Monday and it's all about yeast breads, which from what I understand we'll be making a crap load of. So I know that we wont have to spend money on bread and the like.

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I hafta say that after looking at a 68-pg doc from the FDA webby, I'm definitely doing without a LOT a LOT a LOT of my kids' and hubby's fave goober products......Anyone else seen the peanut butter recall list

feeling quite faint, actually...

Don't miss out on the Mercury/HFCS list....

“Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!”
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Hmm.

After a very long,hard battle, I am joining the ranks of millions of people who are walking away from a mortgage and going back to renting.

My goal is to shop at Aldis and make everything I possibly can myself, buying little or no Made Goods.

---------------------------------------

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Hmm.

After a very long,hard battle, I am joining the ranks of millions of people who are walking away from a mortgage and going back to renting.

My goal is to shop at Aldis and make everything I possibly can myself, buying little or no Made Goods.

Christine, do you ever go to the West Side Market for produce? When I lived in Cleveland I found that prices were very reasonable there (although the hours make it a little difficult to get to. Unfortunately, protein prices at the stalls inside were generally the same or higher than the supermarkets - albeit the quality and variety were usually better.

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I'm also un-learning a number of bad habits to bring costs down. In addition to my ordinary indulgences as a single person who used to eat out often with other single friends, I spent much of the last 6 months in the midst of a major kitchen renovation with the requisite high carry-out or restaurant food budget. I might not feel so constrained if the bank account labeled "kitchen" wasn't empty, but that's another matter. All the more reason to entertain at home.

Strategies so far:

- say no thanks to invitations from friends for group dining at high end restaurants. I am happy for the friends that can still afford to do this. I enjoy their company otherwise and know I am missing good meals and good company. But between the folks who order the expensive entrees and the inevitable multiple bottles of wine, I can't afford my share of the bill. I've explained to those close to me, made excuses to others.

- don't overbuy so that food goes to waste. This will be a greater challenge for me during the summer, when I tend to go a little crazy at the farmers market after a winter of produce shipped from who knows where.

- Grow your own food when you can. Even a little patch of herbs such as parsley and chives can save you a few dollars a week. Me, I need to make better use of my community garden plot. I was good at this when the plot was a block from my house. It's a little further away now and I've gotten lazy.

- buy everyday wine at Trader Joes instead of my favorite wine shop. I have apologized to the owner, who has been very good to me as a relatively low-budget customer. But he gets it. I'll be back for important occasions or when I win the lottery or when things change. surprisingly high cost savings.

- entertaining can be simple. I'd always splurged on the best fish, cuts of meat, etc. for guests. but the truth is, dinner is mostly an excuse to get together. No need to break the bank on entertaining. Potluck is the new black.


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.

- Grow your own food when you can.  Even a little patch of herbs such as parsley and chives can save you a few dollars a week.  Me, I need to make better use of my community garden plot. I was good at this when the plot was a block from my house. It's a little further away now and I've gotten lazy.

- buy everyday wine at Trader Joes instead of my favorite wine shop. I have apologized to the owner, who has been very good to me as a relatively low-budget customer. But he gets it. I'll be back for important occasions or when I win the lottery or when things change. surprisingly high cost savings.

- entertaining can be simple.  I'd always splurged on the best fish, cuts of meat, etc. for guests.  but the truth is, dinner is mostly an excuse to get together.  No need to break the bank on entertaining.  Potluck is the new black.

All your ideas are excellent, Linda, but these three resonated with me. A pot, some dirt, a few seeds or a cheap plant and you'll keep yourself in fresh herbs.

Trader Joe's is my current wine merchant of choice, and not for Three Buck Chuck, though I buy that too. TJ's has an interesting list under ten bucks, or even five.

Potlucks are the new black, the new community, and Big Fun. Are rent parties far behind? You can drink, smoke, eat and misbehave in my house -- cue up the vinyl B52s and leave five bucks in the basket by the front door.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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