Has the economic downturn put a crimp on eating right?

keepitlowFebruary 19, 2009

With me there has been lots of times where I passed on certain foods as the affordability issue was a problem, mainly with fruits and vegetables.

Also have to pass on a lot of meats, even though I don't eat that much meat. I generally stick with chicken thighs nowadays.

And fish is pretty much a no-go for me as wild caught stuff is hard to get and high priced in my area.

High grade olive oils, maple syrup and the like are also getting priced out of my budget.

How has the economic downturn affected your eating...if any?

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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

How has the economic downturn affected your eating...if any?
About the only way I have changed is that I am eating more boneless skinless chicken breasts, and more lean pork loin.
The chicken is often 3 LBS for $5 and pork loin was recently $1.69 a LB if you bought the whole loin. Needless to say I stocked up.

I have not been buying beef like I used to as chuck roasts, round steak, rump roasts are out of site even when they are on sale. I really don't know why beef has gone up so much since pork still seems to be so reasonable.

I buy whatever fresh fruits or veggies are on sale, if the sale price suits me well enough. I then supplement the fresh fruits and veggies with either store bought canned items, or home canned or frozen items.

I no longer buy canned tuna, as it has risen in price so much. If and when I see a 'good' sale on it though I'll sure be stocking up. Though I don't eat out much, when I do, I usually enjoy a good beef sirloin, salmon fillet, or other fish.

This weeks sale bill lists 10# of Idaho potatoes for just $2.99. That's considerable less than I've seen them in a very long time. I'm even considering growing some potatoes this year in the veggie garden.

Milk is $2 this week...another bargain.


    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 10:14AM
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We're a family of 5 and winter time is tough - the cost of vegetables is typically higher and we are living off of savings from my job (I'm seasonal & self-employed) over the winter.

We do alot of stews for dinner - which use only a small amount of meat chopped into bits or ground - l/2 to 1 lb of whatever's on sale goes into the pot - usually chicken or ground pork. Cabbage is one vegetable that is always cheap and plentiful and is added in large quantities to whatever we're having. Onions are also another cheap vegetable. Potatoes, are very cheap as chemcurl pointed out, but since DH is diabetic we can't have them everyday.

We save everything and reincorporate where possible into the next - for instance we had a roast chicken (on sale for $5) with cubed potatoes/onions & green beans two nights ago and it will become chicken and dumplings for tonights meal.

Also, I like to buy grapefruits - they're great for breakfast as they provide vitamin C, fiber and something in the fruit also kills your appetite so you're not binge eating (and going through more food) and one grapefruit feeds two adults if halved. Another low cost, healthy breakfast food we eat is steel cut or rolled oats - steel cut I get in bulk from Whole Foods, the rolled oats in a carboard cannister from Aldi's which are 1/2 the price of Quaker Oats.

It's really tough though - trying to be creative, healthy and keeping meals low cost.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 2:41PM
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I just got home from a grocery-shopping trip and I'm in sticker shock again.

The only decent priced beef was arm roast, and that was the first store I went to. They were too busy to put any out at the moment and while I was standing there mulling over the fact that now I have to make an extra trip back, the clerk said, "Let me ask so-and-so if he could cut one for you." This is a store that charges higher prices than anyone else and I have had them dole things out before and look at me like I was the most selfish person in the world if I wanted more than ONE. Well, I have a freezer, and I shop the sales so I can stock up on stuff. So once again I wondered why I even go to that store. I told her I'd be wanting more than one and would try to stop back by. Of course they'd probably rather I didn't.

I went to Aldi's to try out my brand-new home-made cloth shopping bags. They worked GREAT! Made on the pattern of a Walmart plastic shopping bag, I think they actually held more and I didn't worry about things breaking through.

All told, I went to three stores. I'm so hacked off at WMT right now I'm trying not to go there. I get better prices if I buy the sale items at two stores plus go to Aldi's, but factoring in the gas, I don't know if that saves anything. Although one of the stores will still help me out with my groceries and I like that part.

I'm annoyed about the tuna. It's dropped an ounce and gone up in price, too. GRRRR. Do they think we won't notice? I think also there might be more "spring water" in the can. And potatoes! Good night nurse! I can't remember any time before when potatoes were so expensive in proportion to other things! They used to be the one thing nobody cared if the always-hungry teenagers tanked up on. Now it's almost as expensive to make a batch of french fries as it is to cook a steak!

Do we eat differently? Well, not really because I've been frugal all along. I make a pot of beans about once a week. I make a lot of dishes that combine vegetables and starches in with the meat, such as hamburger stroganoff, sweet and sour pork, chicken-fried rice, cabbage-roll casserole, chicken and noodles. Or I cook the meat and have several sides with it, such as mashed potatoes, gravy, a vegetable, and hot rolls.

When I was little, we lived on a farm. My mother was the old traditional farm cook. Boy, could she whomp up a meal in those days! She always had hot homemade bread, plenty of side dishes and always, dessert. Sometimes I didn't eat much of the meat at all because I loved the bread and sides. She would always say, "Be sure to leave room for dessert!" I didn't realize it then, and maybe she didn't either, but this is a kind of a sneaky way to get people to eat less of the MEAT! LOL!

I grew a garden last year and, even though the spring wind blew every single little plum out of the tree, I did get a good crop from the peach tree and the two youngish apple trees. A friend of my son's appeared at my door one day last September with a big box of pears he'd picked off someone's tree because they said they weren't going to do anything with them. Anyway, I canned all these up and we've been enjoying them this winter. Also got enough green beans out of the garden to can. My tomatoes got a disease from too much rain so I have already used what I canned.

I make a lot of things from scratch. I make my own chocolate syrup, and it's quite reasonable because I bought my cocoa in bulk online. I checked the price of cumin at the grocerty store today because I made my own chili seasoning mix and used all I had, and it was outlandishly high for only 5 ounces. I guess I'll be ordering that online also. I make my own cream of chicken and cream of mushroom soup. Someone asked what we ever did without Campbell's cream soups before they made them and I remember when I was a girl in home-ec, we made white sauce and used that (which in my neck of the woods is just a high-class word for milk gravy without pan-drippin's).

I store a lot of things in my pantry. It's just the way I've always done things. I started when DH was only paid once a month and I found it so convenient that I just never stopped. It's so nice not to have to plan ahead what you're going to make for supper -- If you "feel like" having fried chicken, just get a chicken out of the freezer and all the ingredients for the sides and dessert are in the pantry.

I still buy cake mixes because they're so cheap. I could probably mix my own batter for about half, and sometimes I do, and I'm thinking about making up some of my own "mixes", but I haven't found the time yet. DGS' favorite frosting, though, is a variation of a seven-minute frosting that contains little else than 2 eggwhites, sugar and water. DGS says it tastes like marshmallow. (I save the yolks of the egg to make pudding or pound cake with.)

DH and I are both retired, but we're still raising a hungry grandson, so I cook more than I would if it were just the old guy and me. Our appetites are not that big. So I imagine when DGS grows up and leaves, if he ever does, our eating habits will change then.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 3:00PM
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I'm maintaining my $50/week food budget (2 adults) and still add to the food in storage. I've spent $235.30 out of $350 so far this year. We always laugh that we can buy anything we want at the store - just as long as it doesn't cost more than $50. Blow it on steaks and we'll be eating out of the food in storage for the rest of the week. As the extra money accumulates, I'll purchase things I buy in bulk (whey-based milk powder, grain/seeds/beans, etc.).

-Meat - we eat more low-meat/non-meat meals - which is fine because we're not big meat eaters. We keep to 2-servings of meat or meat substitute per day.

I try to maintain a $2/pound limit for meat or no more than 1/5 of my weekly food budget (which would be $10). I laugh at people who think SPAM is a meat bargain - they must never figure the unit price and figure the cost per pound. Same with people buying cans of tuna. If you're shelling out for the high-priced cans of tuna, you need to figure out how much it costs per ounce and then translate that into pounds. It might surprise people to find out ground beef can be less expensive than tuna.

Check the deli department in your grocery store and find out if they reduce the price of sliced deli meats in the evening? Our store goes to half-price, so that makes it affordable for lunch sandwiches/wraps. I also use it for breakfast meat and in casseroles and a topping on homemade pizza.

Eggs - When raw shell eggs are more expensive than powdered whole eggs, I use powdered eggs. This winter the price of eggs wasn't as high as it was last winter. I always keep several cans of powdered whole eggs in storage.

Milk - I split a 50# bag of Morning Moo's (a powdered whey-based milk substitute) with a friend each year - a gallon of milk is $1.66/gallon. We've used this particular brand for over 15 years and have used a whey-based milk substitute of one kind or another for over 25-years.

Cereal - I store whole grains (by the hundred-weight) and make my own "cereal" products. After I read there's approx. 17-cents of grain in a box of commercial cereal, I was glad I have the tools to make my own multi-grain cereal mixtures, Cream of Rice, Cream of Wheat, flakes, granola, and all the other things I make from whole grains.

I grew amaranth last year in the garden. It doesn't take very many plants to make a "ton" of cereal grain.

Fresh Vegetables - There's no such thing as fresh vegetables in the store since everything is brought in from who knows where? I consider them wasted money. We eat a lot of sprouts we make at home, and homemade sauerkraut I made in the fall and froze. Sprouts are high in nutrition and cheap to make at home - our little garden-in-a-jar. Sprouts work very well on sandwiches and wraps instead of high-priced lettuce. We use frozen and dehydrated vegetables - most home-grown. I also consider our pots of herbs a source of fresh food. We also grow some things in a couple AeroGardens.

Maple Syrup - I can still get it at a reasonable price at Sam's Club. We found we use less syrup if we measure 1-2 T. into a small condiment dish and dip instead of pour. Same with butter. You'll use less butter on toast if you melt a measured amount of butter and apply it with a pastry brush to the toast.

Potatoes - I only get them when they are buy one bag - get one free. I'll cook them and make them into Freezer Mashed Potatoes. I'm planting potatoes this year in black plastic bags and will dehydrate the bulk of them and make them into Freezer Mashed Potatoes. We don't have a place for proper potato storage. I'll plant a fall crop, too.

The dehydrator is a great tool for food savings. I dehydrated enough free apples last fall that we have all the snack food, applesauce, apple cobbler and other apple dishes I can make. Over-ripe fruits make great fruit roll-ups. Can't use all that celery or mushrooms? Dehydrate them.


    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 3:11PM
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Our local Safeway(too expensive for our usual shopping) has a special on whole chickens, .77/lb. I will buy 4 when we go into town, cut them up into meal size portions and use the bones and spare parts for stock. We have a family of 6, I can get at least 6 meals plus leftovers for lunches. If I'm stingy with meat portions, I could get more meals, but I would have a grouchy family. It really helps to watch the specials and stock up when there is a good sale.I buy whole boneless pork loins when they are on sale. I cut them up into roasts, pork chops and stir-fry. I keep my freezer and pantry well stocked. I just bought a 23qt. pressure canner so I can can more food and save the freezer space for more meat and foods that don't can well. I also have a dehydrator that I use a lot. My teenage DGDs love banana chips. The chips we make at home are so much better then the ones in the supermarket.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 4:29PM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

We drastically changed our eating habits this year so I have still working on the learning curve of how to do it on a budget. We no longer eat much meat, fish is once a month. I am working on which vegetables give us the best nutrtional bang for the buck. We do eat quite a few beans. I bought a 25 lb bag of Bolita beans from a local farmer this year. Very few dairy products. I have 6 mouths to feed so I make sure that my money is going towards something that will benefit our bodies, not just fill our stomachs.

We are trying to keep everything in perspective. Nutrition is paramount and even if I save money now, I will pay the consequences in the future with our health (I am young and healthy but, I do not have much confidence in what the healthcare system will look like when I am older).

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 5:08PM
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I think we are eating healthy by being flexible, smaller portions, stretching everything, and working with what we have instead of planning in advance.

We are buying less fresh veggies and using the frozen veggies from the garden or frozen veggies bought from the store. Same with meat and fruit- I buy what's on sale fresh and frozen and we make it work. Plus we stretch everything. Before I might make two large shepard pies with two pounds of ground beef now I'll make three. Hamburgers are smaller. I buy split chicken breast instead of boneless. One breast of chicken can make fried rice/quesdilla for four instead of just for one. Fish is for lunch only (smaller portions). More soup and homemade bread. Pancakes, waffles, homemade granola (bulk bought).

I also make an effort to find something on hand and use it up. We had a bag of cauliflower that DH thought the kids wouldn't eat- oh yeah?- I pureed it and added it to mashed potatos- they never knew the difference and it didn't go to waste. We had an odd jam that a relative gave us- I used in oatmeal, thumb print cookies, and glaze on pork loin. Even the dog is only getting homemade biscuits made from bacon fat leftover.

Plus we are drinking A LOT of water.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 9:03PM
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So far, we're eating about the same. I've put more effort these last few years into cutting out some of the unhealthier foods and buying more whole type foods. I'd rather pay a higher cost for better foods because I feel it's pay now for better food or pay later with your health. I've put a lot more emphasis on trying not to waste food. Wasted food is wasted money.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 11:04PM
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**It's dropped an ounce and gone up in price, too.**

That is the way the money game works. Same with ice cream, toilet aper and all the rest - cut size and raise prices.


I was driving through some eastern states last week. I stopped at a Giant Eagle in PA. They had some Lucini olive oil for $18 for a small bottle. Maple syrup was $10 for a 12 oz bottle.

I stopped at a Krogers in WV and the olive oil it was $15, maple about the same price.

Last stop was Walmart in OH where oil was $12 and syrup was in the $7.50 area. (Still to high for me budget.)

PA supermarkets seem to be very high priced with its food and home products. But I just did a quick comparison on a few things, nothing scientific. But I'm glad I don't live in PA from what I saw at this one market.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 9:07AM
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**I laugh at people who think SPAM is a meat bargain**

SPAM is very unhealthy - the sodium content in one can is astronomical.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 10:06AM
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**When I was little, we lived on a farm. My mother was the old traditional farm cook.**

Back in the day, (prairie and homesteader era) some of our citizens were more of a self sufficient nature.

Some raised chicken or had dairy and made butter and cheese and swapped with those that grew grain or potatoes or made soap or maple syrup. And many of the homesteaders did it all. People had real life sustaining skills back then.

Sure people always bought stuff imported by the railroad. But the small population back then could make it with less dependency on being a cash in hand consumer.

The other day I saw 4 wild turkeys running down the road. How long would those 4 turkeys last if society we went back to hunting to get out dinner?

We got lots of deer here too. But they would be gone in short order if people were hungry and there were no laws on hunting restrictions. We live in an artificial world that is out of balance with what nature had intended.

Most of us have lost that skill of self sufficiency and we have shifted gears to be dependent on gov and a few other such as farmers or oil producers or China to take care of the whole pop of the US. The problem is, it is very hard to go back without causing a lot of pain. (Actually a lot of deaths)

Hell, the impotent people of modern day and age can't even make pancakes or peanut butter sandwiches and have to buy them ready made in the store...it's really scary

    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 10:22AM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

I actually had forgotten about the maple syrup. Our Sam's has the quart for $20, less than 2 years ago it was $9. It is actually cheaper right now at Whole Foods where it costs $14 for the quart. Frugal lesson, no store is the absolute cheapest or most expensive for all things.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 12:14PM
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I had a young woman stop me in the store one day. She had an expensive bag of bread stuffing mix in her hands. "Is this what I should get? I want to make a meat loaf." she said. I said, "Oh, Honey!" and then I gave her a quick lesson in how to make a low-cost meatloaf. I wish I had given her my phone number. I would've loved to have mentored her into cooking from scratch and saving money on her groceries.

Grainlady, you are SOOO right about SPAM and those cans of tuna. Aldi's had 5 oz cans of tuna for 79 cents so that's $2.37 for 15 oz. I, too, set my meat price limit at $2 a pound. Some weeks the only thing I can find for this price is ground beef, so it's a good thing I have stuff in the freezer! I'm a little leery of ground beef because lots of stores (and meat packers!) add water to it. If you bought a package of quarter-pound hamburger patties and they're frozen hard into a nice perfect round shape and have to be pried apart, odds are good they have added water. Try cooking some of it with the lid on and see how much liquid you have in the pan. Our Homeland store has a big sign in their meat department that says, "We don't add water to our meat!" But I think everybody does. I prefer to buy round steak or a cheap roast and grind it myself. You just don't know what you're getting when it's already ground. Around Christmas one of the stores had a good deal on ham. I bought one and asked the butcher to shave it. "You don't want the ends, do you?" he asked. I said, "If I'm paying for it, I want it!" I noticed they had a tray with quite a few chunks of ham in it from someone right before me. I wondered what they did with that -- did they grind it up and then sell it again, as ham salad, or did they discreetly tuck those in their lunch bags to take home for themselves?

Keepitlow, my Mom did so many things, I will be forever in awe of her capabilities when she was a young mother. She knew how to check a chicken before buying it to see if it was still laying, and every year she would watch her baby chicks closely, making sure they stayed warm so they wouldn't die, and protecting them from predators. We had wonderful fresh eggs most of the time. I didn't like to watch as she killed and cleaned chickens or geese or ducks. She made cottage cheese and hung it in a tea-towel on the clothesline to drip. The ducks really enjoyed pecking at the ground under the bag. She did the milking, slopped the hogs, painted the picket fence around the house and cussed out the dog for laying on top of the jonquils. But she always made it up to him later as he was our cow dog, and a darned good one he was, too. Part collie, part shepherd. She made bread every week, all her life. She sewed all our clothes, and in one very lean year, made Christmas for us out of her scrap bag. My sisters got new wardrobes for their dolls. I got a rag doll that was as big as me. We "went to town" about once a month. It was an event and we all got dressed up. We each got a little money to spend at the dime store. The groceries Mom bought were the basics: flour, sugar, coffee, baking powder, spices, salt. She rendered her own lard, grew a garden and canned. When Dad and Gramps butchered, she made sausage and "scrapple". There was no air conditioner in the summer and the only heat in the winter was a propane stove that sat about in the middle of the house. I remember waking up in the mornings and crawling out of a warm bed into a cold room. I'd get on my clothes and hurry downstairs, where it was warm and there were all those breakfast smells. Mom planted an orchard but we never got anything out of it because we moved to town before the trees began to bear. It broke her heart. She did have room in town to grow a big garden and she spent almost all her time out there in the summer. Mom wasn't much of a mother by today's standards. She didn't really know what to do with us except make us mind, and she was really tough.

To say that Mom earned her keep out there on that farm is an understatement. She couldn't have worked a town job and made enough money to pay someone to do all that she did. In those days, a smart, capable, hard-working wife was a true partner. Being "just pretty" wasn't as much of an asset in those days as it is now, although Mom was not unattractive. She had muscles without ever stepping foot in one of those "new-fangled" workout centers. Dad worked hard too -- he worked the fields from planting to harvest, kept the car in good working order and bought and sold the livestock.

Unfortunately, for all their hard work, neither of my parents had much of an education. After that hard winter with the home-made Christmas, my Dad found a job as a driller on an oil rig because they decided they couldn't make it otherwise. I think if they had just stuck it out a little longer things might have improved, but they got scared. Then the oil rig moved to Oklahoma and we followed. It was a big adjustment for the whole family, moving to town. Our dog ran away. We never found out what happened to him, but my Mom always said she thought he must've tried to find his way back to the farm. Two of my older sisters left to marry their sweethearts from back home and the one nearest to me in age married a boy she met in Oklahoma within a couple of years. My brother was drafted into the Army.

Mom and Dad lived to be 93.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 4:07PM
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Ilene, you are the best. If you ever want to mentor the young, this is a great place to start. And if you ever want to share more of those stories, please do so!
(I can't make meatloaf to save my life... don't tell my mother.)
I've found this little cart at the grocery store that has discounted fruit, usually apples. They have bruises in a few places. Although I wouldn't give these to the kids to munch on, I do chop them up and make homemade apple goodies with them. It's cheaper and healthier than junk food and it's so good.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 5:06PM
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By spending the little bit extra that fresh fruits, veggies, and other healthier items cost...

I see the doctor less, and I am off all my prescription medications for cholesterol, high blood pressure, GERD and migraines.

I am SAVING money by eating right!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 6:54PM
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My DH has been out of work for 9 months, so yes the economic downturn put a crimp on eating and everything else. I am so glad we have been frugal all our married life because we may have to live on our savings until retirement. We no longer eat out. Breakfast is oatmeal and whole-wheat toast. I no longer buy whole milk rather fat free because it keeps longer. We eat very little meat now. I did not especially care for tuna anyway. We eat a lot of beans and rice and frozen veggies and potatoes for lunch. Apples or oranges for snacks. No soft drinks or junk food, more water. Actually, we are eating healthier and feel better. So all things are working together for good.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 7:12PM
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Ilene, your parents sound a lot like my grandparents. They grew a lot of their own stuff and there was always fresh fish for protein. They moved to Iowa in the 50's, but kept their old homeplace in Arkansas. That old homeplace had garlic, fruit trees, asparagus, persimmon and hickory trees, berries, and all kinds of flowers growing on it. We lived there for a few years while when I was a little kid. I absolutely loved it there in the spring when everything would pop out of the ground. It's kind of overgrown now,but there are still a few of the flowers.

My grandparents didn't have an education either. It didn't matter. They came from nothing, but knew how to make do. After my grandparents retired and the kids were all gone, they'd go pick out whatever new vehicle they wanted. Some salespeople wouldn't treat them with respect because they looked and dressed like 'hill folk'. My grandparents would leave and go someplace else where they'd be treated right. Then they'd pay cash for the vehicle. When they died a few years ago, they left behind an amount of money and assets for their kids that would have been unexpected if you didn't know better.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 9:31PM
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Adella, that is the way I think my parents would've ended up, had they just stuck that bad year out. I know that I would've been better off for it. I really missed getting to see my grandparents, aunts & uncles and cousins as often as we did. All our family was there in KS. We'd drive the 200 miles to see my grandparents every couple of weeks, but Dad smoked in the car and I would always get car sick so it was an ordeal for me. My family was not very understanding.

Even living there in town (it was a small town), they were frugal and managed to save money so they could pay cash for their cars. But they would never haggle with the salesman, they would pay the sticker price. I didn't know that for years. When I found out, I said to Mom, "Oh my gosh, that sticker price is just your starting place! They expect you to haggle!" And she said, "I watched my Dad do that till he practically got things for free, and I won't stoop to that." (her Dad, my gramps, was a horse-trader of sorts. He supported the family by buying things cheap, fixing them up and selling them. He bought everything from pots and pans to horses (and later on, in the 1940's and 50's, old pick-up trucks). He would do something to the horse's gums to make them swell and thus the prospective buyer would think the horse was younger. He would temporarily fix up the truck with baling wire and whatever else he had on hand to make it run long enough to get it sold. Because he was so dishonest, they had to move a lot. It was his dishonesty Mom really hated.

But anyway, paying cash for something saves a lot of money on interest, so I guess even if Mom and Dad paid too much for the vehicle, they were still better off than most. And they always kept it for ten years. I remember that 1956 flamingo pink and white Plymouth Belvedere with electric windows (but no air conditioning)so well. Gosh, was it gorgeous! It had those big fins on the back. The year after I graduated high school, they sold it to a teenage boy and got their next car. It pained me to see him hot-rodding it. They always took such good care of their cars. I'd like to think it's a Classic Car, now, all shiny and sitting in some collector's garage, but there's one in the junk yard I pass fairly often, all rusted so you can't tell even what color it was. It could've gone either way.

Lexi, I'm convinced there's always some good that comes from bad things happening. When this time passes and you look back on the things you learned and how you lived, you'll see it. I hope your DH doesn't lose hope. I remember when my DH and I were young, he got fired. It destroyed his self-confidence and he just sat in the recliner and stared into the TV all day. We were really lucky that our neighbor and friend came over one day and told him there was an opening where he worked and encouraged him to go apply. It really saved us. Now's a good time to start your own business, sell things on eBay, get trained in something else, maybe. (They used to call it "reinventing yourself") I see so many young men who have lost their high-paying jobs and they're out there looking for another job like what they had. Even after the Unemployment payments stop, they won't consider working at a lower paying job. That's just the ego getting in the way. Money's money, and it's better to have a little coming in than none. I've known times when DH had two jobs and we had little kids so it cost as much to pay a sitter as I could make at a job, but I babysat for a working Mom and managed to bring a little in that way.

Luann, you're right that some of the stuff we buy during "good times" is just poison to our bodies. I don't drink soft drinks anymore, but more for health reasons than anything. DH still buys Pepsi, unfortunately. I was never a big pop drinker, so it's easy for me to do without it. At 62, I still have all my teeth. DH cannot say the same. I drink tea and water. And I quit buying chips because DGS will eat a whole bag at one sitting! The only baked goods we eat are what I bake, and I don't use high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors or flavors.

Jeepin, I used to go to Homeland on Monday mornings just so I could check out their "over-ripe" stuff that they always put in a shopping cart near the produce section. They don't do it any more for some reason. I used to get strawberries, cull out the bad ones, add sugar and make strawberry jam. Apples, the same as you did. You can actually use the soft, light brown parts in muffins, as long as there's not mold or something growing on it, of course. And you can use the peel, pureed in the blender, in muffins as well. Sometimes I'd get something I wouldn't ordinarily buy, like avocados or artichokes, just to try. I just love a nice ripe avocado, coarsly chopped and mixed with chopped tomato and onion. Plus you can root the pit and have a houseplant that you can enjoy or sell at your next garage sale. LOL Some of the things I would save the seed and plant in my garden. We Americans throw away a lot of things that are plantable or edible. If you wash your potatoes well before you peel them, you can season and bake the peelings for a "gourmet" snack. If you zest your citrus peelings and freeze the zest, you have a little zing to add to your cooking or baking.

And while I'm on the subject, I see a lot of waste in the use of the oven. The oven has two racks. There should be something on both of them whenever you bake. If I'm going to bake bread, I bake 4 loaves instead of 1 or 2. Put the extras in the freezer. If I'm making cabbage roll casserole on the bottom rack, I've got potato rolls on the top rack, or a couple of 9x13 cakes. It takes a little planning but you're taking advantage of all the energy your oven has to offer that way.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 8:47AM
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**Cereal - I store whole grains (by the hundred-weight) and make my own "cereal" products. After I read there's approx. 17-cents of grain in a box of commercial cereal, I was glad I have the tools to make my own multi-grain cereal mixtures, Cream of Rice, Cream of Wheat, flakes, granola, and all the other things I make from whole grains.**

A bushel of wheat is about 60 pounds. Wheat is trading for a little over $5 a bushel in big lots. Yep, they make lots of money with cereal products. Even selling wheat berries to home millers - 45 pounds goes for $70 including shipping from one company.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 9:18AM
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We haven't had to change any yet, we still buy foods I would consider luxury discretionary purchases. We never eat out so I don't mind spending extra on foods.

One of the things I do when money is tight is look towards the ancient/poor cultures for inspiration. They have add hundreds or thousands of year to work out the kinks. For me, cooking prowess can only be demonstrated when your challenged by difficult ingredients. Anyone can cook a ribeye and have it taste good. But how can you fare with less expensive ingredients? I like to look at how india/north afica/mexico, etc stretch their food and make it tasty, lentils, chickpeas, flatbreads can go a long way. I have also found ethnic markets to provide some of the cheapest food staples. I really enjoy learning the food from other countries and along the way you learn alot about cooking in general. My kids also really enjoy alot of things, one of their favorites is simple flatbreads which are very cheap to make.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 9:42AM
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We our still spending the same amount for our food budget but we are eating a lot healthier. We have cut out almost all of the junk food. That way we can spend all the junk food money on fruits and veggies. I do still use some convenience foods but am working on making things from scratch more. I have Kidneys disease so I have to watch how much Phosphorus is in my food. Phosphorus is in everything but convenience foods and dairy products are the highest........ we will see what the year brings and much we will have to tighten our belts.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 10:15PM
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