Sticker Shock - cost of living etc.

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Jade Emperor

Sous Chef
Joined
Apr 12, 2023
Messages
511
Location
Australia
Hello there!
I’m interested to know what your experiences of the current cost of living crisis have been?
What products have you seen jump in price beyond reasonable expectations?
Can you simply put it down to the current issues with increased pressures or have some things just gone skyrocketing due perhaps to a higher demand?
I will say that I am astonished at how much the cost of secondary meat cuts have risen over the last decade or so.
I used to get beef cheeks and such for quite cheap, but now they are priced closer to prime cuts.
I think maybe it’s all the media promotion that secondary cuts are worth using for cost effectiveness, which has ironically now led to massive cost increases.
What are your examples and experiences?
 
I’ve been fortunate that my personal cost of living has remained fairly stable for the big ticket items like rent, transportation, utilities, insurance, etc…

Food costs have increased dramatically and fluctuate quite a bit from week to week.

Some things like eggs and chicken have come back down close to where they were.

The price of beef in any form and most convenience foods are still quite high.

I’m fortunate that I can control my expenses more than the average family.

I still manage to buy the things I enjoy by scrimping on the necessities and splurging on the luxuries.
 
Yes, some things that were dirt cheap are now horribly expensive. From ground beef to bacon to eggs and butter!
I talk about eggs with tongue in cheek as until I moved here I had my own - so should really comment on them.
But I would say butter and bacon are the most obvious as in almost double.

sorry hit post,
but even soup bones, suet is ridiculous. Whole chickens? forget it. Buy a rotisserie - already cooked and half the price!
 
A lot of my favorite meals at various ethnic dives have gone up by 50% or more.

For my own shopping, I see it mostly in meat products. But I had determined to eat more vegies this year anyway. My overall costs aren't that much higher but I am eating less meat.
 
We are surrounded by cattle ranches, and there are two butchers within a few minutes of us, and the cost of beef is astronomical. Four dollars a pound for chuck roast? I may take up cattle rustling. We are fortunate that a friend who has cattle gives us bones when a steer is butchered. I make our own beef stock, and with the bones of chicken, chicken stock.
Chicken, eggs, most produce (especially in season) hasn't changed much. We have our garden, so I just buy the out of season for us produce, like lettuce.
 
We see it most in the grocery store. Eggs have been up and down like a yoyo for a while now.

Beef prices are crazy. Short ribs used to be a cheap cut. Not anymore. Lamb has gotten ridiculous. Ground lamb at $9.99/Lb! Lamb leg pieces are $14.99/Lb. Most fish is out of reach now.

I could go on . . .
 
Eggs are basically affordable again; a dozen jumbo runs me $1.49. It was twice that not long ago. Milk is still a bit crazy; I can't get a gallon under about $3.00. Beef is never under $5.00 a pound unless it contains lots of bones or it's ground up. Even boneless, skinless chicken thighs, which I used to reliably get under $2.00 a pound, is almost always over $3.50 a pound. Fish is crazy expensive, and if I see shrimp at $5.00 a pound I jump on it.

But that's only the beginning. I used to see Miracle Whip between $3 and $4 a jar; now it's $5.50. Ordinary salad dressing, like Kraft or Wish-Bone: over $3.00. Instant mashed potatoes used to be about $1.oo per bag; now it's $1.50. My point: prices are up for everything, not just meat and produce.
 
The "cheap cuts" of meat have been going up for years, maybe even decades. Are there any cheap cuts anymore?

I think it is largely due to the number of TV and YouTube chefs who have discovered how tasty less tender meat can be and have been turning them into gourmet food.

I also think that a lot more people must be buying stock. I have found that there are far fewer options for buying meat that still has the bones. They charge a premium for boneless. The bones are being used for stock, so the "waste" is being sold at a profit too.
 
I just saw flank steak in the store ad for - get this - $11.99/lb!

I usually go to Winco to get the majority of my groceries but last time they didn't have their jumbo eggs. So I decided to get them at Safeway instead. Big mistake. $5.99 a dozen. They're normally about $2 a dozen at Winco.

Still and all, the max amount of food stamps for a single person is $265/month. When I went to Winco, I spent about $200 for a month's worth of food, minus what I couldn't find. And that amount included stuff like some junk food (popcorn), a couple pounds of shrimp, and stuff like Windex, aspirin, etc. Then I went to pick up the rest at Safeway and I only spent about $70, which included the aforementioned eggs and some white cheddar cheese which was expensive. To me, anyhow.

The only things I didn't get were tomatoes and potatoes, since I wouldn't be using those for a couple weeks yet. So give or take, $270 for a month's worth of food and to be honest, it'll all probably last me halfway into September.

I still get stuff I don't need, so there's room for me to cut back if I have to. But I won't be buying flank steak and I even put back the petite sirloin steaks when I found out they were $4.99/lb, on sale. That's a bit much for me. Course, now that I think of it, those were probably cheaper than the hamburger I bought.
 
About the only beef I buy is brisket, primal slabs. Prime is about $4.50/lb at Costco, the Choice a buck less. I cut out a lot of the fat and render it in the smoker while smoking the brisket itself. or I use some for pho or a pot roast and such.
 
Brisket, that reminds me of getting a third of a cow from my mother-in-law. It was lovely gift, but there was no brisket. No one got any brisket. The butcher had ground it all into ground beef. :glare: Since brisket is only available in some supermarkets here, that is, plain brisket that hasn't been marinated or corned, I wonder if it's just more profitable to turn into ground beef. I notice that the price of lean and extra lean ground beef is higher by weight than plain brisket.

I'll happily corn any reasonably priced piece of beef.
 
We'll eat ground beef relatively often, given that it's $4 a pound or less (for 80/20 ground chuck). But aside from that, we might eat beef 2 or 3 times a month. It's just too costly.
We eat a lot more ground pork than ground beef, partially because the pork is noticeably cheaper here. Quebec produces a lot more pork than beef and it's good stuff. I like to cook Danish recipes and Danes use a lot more pork than beef. Traditionally, cows were for dairy and pigs were for meat. It's still that way to an extent. There aren't a lot of beef cows in Denmark. So, most of the beef seems to be ground or meat that needs cooking methods that make the beef more tender, since most of it is from old cows that are past their prime for milking. Considering the prices of meat nowadays, the Danish recipes satisfy my nostalgia and my budget.

Once in a while we will spring for something like beef tenderloin or a t-bone or porterhouse steak. It's nice to have a special treat once in a while. But, I have to be in the mood to give it the extra attention to make it nearly perfect. Oh, and when we do spring for those kinds of steaks, there is a 99% chance that I bought it on special.
 
Brisket, that reminds me of getting a third of a cow from my mother-in-law. It was lovely gift, but there was no brisket. No one got any brisket. The butcher had ground it all into ground beef. :glare: Since brisket is only available in some supermarkets here, that is, plain brisket that hasn't been marinated or corned, I wonder if it's just more profitable to turn into ground beef. I notice that the price of lean and extra lean ground beef is higher by weight than plain brisket.

I'll happily corn any reasonably priced piece of beef.
To provide an example, at my local store of one of the leading grocery chains in the Chicago area (Jewel/Osco), beef brisket is $12.99 a pound.

It's not easy to find near me, and when I can, it's insanely expensive. Which is a shame because Chef John (Food Wishes) has an awesome recipe for braised beef brisket with an apple/onion gravy which is to die for.

$12.99/lb. I do not call that reasonable.
 
Out of all the grocery stores here, there is only one employee owned store, huge, that has reduced produce that we keep buying each week. Today it was grapefruit, lettuce, tomatoes, peaches. We also bought corn on the cob 3/$1, and at another store peaches w/coupon and card for $0.99/lb (15 lbs for a puree/jam). Kwik Trip here has bananas for 0.29 cents/lb. We adjust our menus with what is available. We keep dry goods like whole grains, rolled grains, brown basmati rice, lentils, all different kinds of beans, and ww pasta on hand. We make our own whole wheat bread. Prices have gone up though. Beans for $1/lb are now $1.25-$1.50/lb, one kind I can only find for $2.89/lb. We buy quite a bit from azure standard when it comes to dry goods. Dry fruit and nuts are always more expensive but haven't risen terribly this past year. Laundry detergent, I don't know how people can justify it sometimes, we make our own soap and laundry soap. Vinegar, we make our own, at almost no cost. I used to work in purchasing so I treat it like a science. Toilet paper used to be 3-4 rolls/$1, now they say 1 is really 2, this is really mega, this is extra large equivalent of 3, all that bs, that means almost nothing to me. It's one of those things we should buy by the weight.
 
@blissful - all of those are great suggestions for saving money, and it’s clear that you are doing your homework when it comes to how you shop. 🫠
I too have found myself paying a lot more attention to good prices on quality products, using markets and small businesses that have good stock at reasonable prices. I find that I still won’t sacrifice quality for price but I am in a position to make this decision, and have not always been, so I do understand the difficult situation a lot of people find themselves in.
This site has been great for ideas and hints about our cooking that we can take away and use to save. Perhaps there should be a sub section for thrifty recipes and suggestions to save?
 
@Jade Emperor There is a section under Menu Planning for Budget Friendly Meals.
Buying at good prices has something to do with buying seasonally. For instance citrus fruits are more expensive and harder to find in late summer. So substitute something fruit wise that is just coming off the trees. Pineapples are usually marked down in Jan-Feb here to 88 cents-1 dollar each. Cranberries go on clearance in January. Watch the sales, so peaches, nectarines, and plums are going on sale now. Apples from last year are being sold now but the next harvest is just starting in the US. During tomato harvest (now for a month), they can be found from 20-30 cents/lb by the bushel instead of the $1 or more/lb in winter. If the potato harvest is good, they are available for about 20-30 cents/lb, the rest of the year we're paying more. Russet potatoes are pretty inexpensive most of the year. The dried beans, once last year's beans are sold out, won't be available until the harvest this year.
 
@blissful - ah, I’ve noticed that section before but it didn’t click!
That being said, another question for all would be - What Ingredients Would You Not Skimp On?
Almost nothing is safe! 🤭

I constantly experiment with different ingredients and have gradually let go of many TNT brands. Most recent was Hellmann’s mayonnaise.

I still use Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce, does that count. 😉

The meals that I eat today do not resemble the meals that I enjoyed growing up. Meat, starch, two veg, and dessert is only a memory except on holidays and maybe that’s a good thing.

I’ve noticed that all of the little bottles of pickles, jams, and sauces can quickly add up. Also, bread has become very expensive.

I try to do more scratch cooking and build a few meals each week around quality ingredients that have historically been inexpensive.

Finally, I try not to sweat it. I’m old and food is one of my last remaining pleasures so I try to enjoy myself.
 
Lea & Perrins absolutely counts! I challenge any artisan worchester sauce to be as good. Never found one.
Salt is one for me. I have an obscene amount of flavoured and specialty finishing salts, but I can just go cheap for cooking salt.
The thing that interests me is that almost all of the “store brand” products are produced by exactly the same company that makes the expensive brand ones.
 

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