Coping with rising food prices

A cartoon on rising food prices

What attitude can help you or your family to cope with rising world prices today?"

You may have to learn how to survive on less income, as rising food prices erodes your purchasing power. Here are some suggestions that can help you:

1. Make the Most of What Is Available


Food is something that some people waste. One grandmother used to sing a little rhyme that went this way:

Do not throw upon the floor the crumbs you would not eat; for many a little boy or girl would think them quite a treat.”

Instead of throwing out leftovers, why not make the most of food that you have on hand?

For instance, one days’s menu might call for meat loaf, baked potato and coleslaw (raw cabbage salad).

The remainder of the cabbage can be cooked for a later meal; and the leftover meat loaf can be broken up, “doctored” with tomato sauce, and used on a pizza, in Spanish rice or as a meat sauce to pour over spaghetti.

There is no need to buy more meat for that purpose.

Many do not realize that much of what people throw into the garbage can is the secret that has made French cooking famous the world over.

Yes, elegant French “cuisine” often begins with a pot of “stock” made tasty by snips of meat trimmings, vegetable tops and bones that find their way into the soup pot instead of the garbage.

I recall a “special sale” that I once came across on a poor quality of chuck. While it was about twice the price of bare soup bones, I saw in it greater nutrition and opportunities for several meals.

I cubed some of the cooked meat for soup. Half of the remainder went with a small amount of gravy (using some of the soup stock for base, thickened) to produce a pseudo-Swiss steak.

Another part went with leftover barbecue sauce. Few persons would guess that these three recipes came from a common source, and at good savings.

2. Could a Varied Menu Help?


Have you ever considered that a change of menu from time to time might help you to cope with rising global food prices?

This is true particularly if you prepare dishes in which meat is used rather sparingly.

Besides saving you valuable food dollars, your working up such a foreign menu will probably delight your family.

The staple of the Orient, for example, is rice. The Chinese find their principal sources of protein, not in meat, but in eggs and vegetables.

Meat and fish usually serve just as condiments or in sauces to give variety and flavor.

I once observed a Chinese cooking class where the recipe called for eight ounces of thinly sliced beef.

Because the students wanted to sample the results, the recipe was doubled.

Combined with vegetables, those sixteen ounces of beef made enough delicious sauce to provide a tasty small bowl of rice with a little meat for all twenty-seven students.

3. Skillful Buying Can Reduce Costs


Skillful buying is indispensable if you are to cope with rising prices.

Whether you frequent a modern supermarket or the boat stores of Bangkok, you can save money when you shopping.

A valuable principle for buying is: Do not buy more than you need. Instead of pounds or kilos, buy by ounces.

Do not feel that you must purchase a certain amount of something just because it is pre-packaged in that way.

There is nothing wrong with summoning the storekeeper so that you can buy a reduced amount, say 1/4 pound of ground beef or just one apple, if that is all you need.

Buying in this way not only stretches out a limited food budget, but also safeguards you from using more than is necessary simply because it is on hand.

Do you know of stores that sell day-old bakery products? Bread purchased there is usually half the price it was twenty-four hours earlier.

Are you aware that you can buy meat in the same way? Search out the far reaches of the packaged-meat counter.

A housewife visiting California reduced her meat bill by one third when she discovered a day-old bin marked “Manager’s Specials.”

Do not let the dull gray color of some day-old meat discourage you. That does not necessarily mean that it has gone bad. When in doubt about meat, rely on your nose.

What, though, if your market does not have a day-old meat section?

Why not approach the manager personally and ask about the opportunity to buy such commodities at reduced prices?

You may be surprised to find out that he already has a following, and will be glad to include you.

A couple in Memphis, Tennessee, came upon an interesting way to save food money.

Realizing that they gleaned most of the news from television, they canceled their subscriptions to the newspaper and to magazines that were not being read.

They noted, however, that on a certain day grocery-store advertising included printed discount coupons on “leader” items, goods sold at a discount to “lead” people into the store.

As these were often commonly needed goods, buying that day’s paper at the news stand rates more than paid for its cost.

4. Could a Garden Help You?


When food prices obliged a young couple in Indianapolis to cut expenses, a small vegetable garden seemed to be just the thing.

But they lived in an apartment. What could they do?

After looking at the property of a neighbor the young man suggested an arrangement:

If I mow your lawn throughout the summer, will you allow me to dig up that section over there to plant vegetables? It was agreed; and that garden produced a bounty for them and for their friends and even for the man with whom they made the agreement."

Could something similar help you to cope with rising prices today?

If you are thinking of growing some food, you may find helpful the technique of “multiple cropping.” What is that?

Instead of planting all of your seed at once, you may find it beneficial to plant it at one- and two-week intervals.

Thus when one crop is ready for harvesting, another is well along the way.

Harvesting mature crops leaves the field open for planting still others.

Crop-production experts in the Philippines have refined multiple cropping to the extent that one acre has produced thirteen tons.

This procedure can increase the yield of your vegetable garden too.

5. Do You Really Need That?


You have probably noticed that most cooks used finished or semi-finished products as building blocks for their meals. Is it really necessary to go to that expense?

While store-bought bread, canned sauces, packaged desserts and TV dinners lighten the work load, they also increase your food bill.

Willingness to “start from scratch” when preparing food not only reduces costs, but brings with it a special satisfaction.

The aroma of home-made bread baking in the oven and its distinctive flavor are things that no commercial product can duplicate. And it can be less expensive.

Coping with food worldwide soaring prices today indeed presents a challenge.

But it is one that you can meet successfully if you are willing to make some adjustments in your way of life.

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