October 24th – The Cost of Food

Today’s news story, found here, relates to the ever rising cost of food. The gist of this article, is that the federal government is supposedly underestimating inflation in Canada by how they track the cost of groceries.

The federal government determines their average cost for specific products based on information received from three national grocery chains on a regular basis and compares it to previous data reported from the same chains. Melanie Morrison of Better Cart Analytics in Saskatoon, Sask. is saying that this is not as effective as the system that her company uses. Better Cart Analytics tracks product at thousands of chains and independents across the country.

Since most people do their shopping at larger chain outlets, I am not sure how including pricing from smaller, independent outlets or specialty shops would be any more accurate. The only thing this article seems to show is that the large national chains are not being as affected by inflation as the independent outlets – based on their rate of inflation.

One thing that does seem to be obvious, is that the cost of groceries are increasing and that is not good news for a lot of people.

Food cost is a major part of every household budget.  Fortunately,  it is also one of the most flexible. There is room for improvement in almost everyone’s shopping habits. Here are a few tips for grocery shopping that we have found to help keep our food budget in line.

  • Compare pricing for products sold in bulk and/or smaller packaging. We have at least one chain here that often sells larger size (bulk) packages at a higher price per unit than the price per unit of smaller packages. (Especially meat but other products as well).
  • Compare displays of same product. This same chain will often have a large display of chicken breasts, thighs or wings at a high price. Follow the path that most shoppers take and you will find another display – exactly the same packaging and best before date – at a much lower price
  • Check discount pricing compared to regular pricing. I have seen slightly damaged goods go on sale for higher than the same regular priced goods. (Not just at food stores)
  • Do the math Two for $5.00 instead of One for $2.00 is never a good deal but stores will offer it.
  • Check package weights Some chains sell entire displays of product (especially cheese) at so much per package. The weight is shown on the package and can vary substantially. I don’t check every package, but I no longer grab the first one I see.
  • Note the price of products (Dan is much better at this than I am) and make sure it rings in at the correct price. Most stores have a generous policy if an item rings in higher than it should – and it happens frequently!
  • Check product for damage – especially, fruit, vegetables, and eggs. There is no point in spending top dollar on poor quality product.

Of course, there are countless other ways to save money when it comes to food costs – watching sales fliers for good deals, buying ‘in season’, avoiding wasteful food habits, cooking tasty and cost conscious soups, casseroles, and stews, and avoiding impulse buying.

I know it is really hard to revise one’s shopping habits when one is working, raising a family, or just dealing with life’s issues. But, even small changes can make a big difference to one’s food budget. After a while, the only thing you notice is the money you save.

That is it for today! On a personal note …

Saving money for the things that matter – Happy 3rd Birthday, Cason!

Take care and have a great evening! 💞

October 21 – Shortages

Today, the news story that caught my attention comes from Bloomberg.com.    In this article, food shortages are discussed at length.

According to this article, the three main forces driving these shortages are labour shortages at food processing plants, transportation issues/getting products to store shelves, and hoarding by consumers.

I have seen a number of articles discussing goods shortages, gas and oil shortages, and the like.  They go into detail about how and why these shortage occur, how long these shortages will last, etc.    Most seem to suggest that they will, in time, return to pre-covid supply levels.

I can only speak for how things are in Canada, specifically in Saskatchewan.   So far, we have had limited shortages and not so limited price hikes – which of course are most detrimental to those who can least afford them.

In my view…  We need to adapt permanently! – personally as well as retailers.   In Canada we waste an obscene amount of food, product, and fuel.   Suppliers encourage this waste by their packaging and by their promotions.

There are some things that Dan and I have done for ages.  When it comes to vehicles, furniture, appliances, electronics and the like – we do not buy, or trade up, unless we have to and we do everything possible to keep such things out of the landfill.  

Mother-in-law’s rocker that Jen reupholstered. (I love this chair – I live in this chair 💞)

Since this pandemic started and I retired, we have gotten way better at being purposefully less wasteful. A number of the things we do now –

  • We shop way less frequently – saving gas, wear and tear on our vehicle and avoiding a lot of impulse buys – food and otherwise
  • We are getting way better at watching expiry dates and using up food before it gets tossed
  • We are way better at using our leftovers
  • We take better care with our food – preparing vegetables before putting away helps keep them fresh longer. Freezer packing our meat in usable portions before storing in the freezer also helps.
  • Buying condiments, etc. in smaller bottles so they get used up before being tossed out
  • We did way better at using and processing (for later use) our garden produce this year
  • Using REAL dishes instead of paper plates (mostly).
  • We are doing way more to weather-proof our house this fall to save on energy and to save my lungs and sinuses from the effects of forced air heating this winter
  • Buying better quality clothing and home linens – less often!
  • Using rain barrels to water our garden this summer
  • Giving grandkids money for gifts in lieu of ‘things’ that they may or may not need or use. Especially now that they are getting older, they would rather have the money to do something that they will enjoy.

It is little things – but they all help. It definitely helps with me being home all of the time, especially when Dan has days off. We have time to get things done together. That is not a luxury that everyone has. But if everyone who could, did a bit more it would take the pressure off of supply chains and make life a bit easier for others. We could actually be helping instead of hoarding.

We don’t really do that much, it doesn’t seem like that much, but I cringe to think of how wasteful we were before the pandemic.

Retailers could also do so much more to help control waste – especially food stores. Some perishables you simply cannot purchase in smaller quantities (like Bok Choy) or they are price prohibitive in smaller quantities. Many current promotions are only for quantities of two to four units at a time. Anything perishable – from salad dressing, to crackers, to cereal is impractical purchased in multiples for a small household. But, the price per single unit is rediculous, compared to the multiples price.

That’s it for today! My views were rather wordy compared to my news, but if you got this far ‘Thanks for listening!’

Take care and have a great day! 💞

Saturday Shopping

Saturday Lunch

Tomorrow is Saturday, which means Saturday morning shopping. Shopping is right at the top of things I do not like to do. When I have to go it alone, shopping is even worse. Dan is working nights this weekend, so alone it is.

The only good thing about Saturday morning shopping is going out for Saturday lunch. Since going out for lunch isn’t the same when Dan is working, I just go shopping. This obviously makes the shopping worse.

Finally, Dan and I have both been sick for a week or so. Last Saturday, Dan insisted on coming shopping, but once we got there he decided he didn’t feel well enough to actually shop, so I ran into Superstore to pick up a few groceries. The store was a zoo. Our Walmart, which is the only other ‘supermarket’ on this corner of the city has been closed for weeks due to cleanup from a small fire. Everyone has been shopping at Superstore.

I zipped through the aisles on hyperspeed, bypassing anything we didn’t need, I could not find, or was where I would have to play bumpercarts with those obnoxious customers who obviously knew what they needed and where it was. Not wanting to keep Dan waiting any longer than I had to, I zipped through the express cashier. I ran out to the Jeep with my haul – two sweaters, a scarf and a bag of Doritos. Dan decided he felt well enough to take me for lunch. (Maybe he just wasn’t hungry for Doritos)

This week we obviously need groceries. I will be on my own but I’m going to have to get it done. At least Walmart reopened a few days ago so us shoppers can spread out!