I don’t think I’m alone in noticing the prices of staples, such as flour, eggs, sugar, rice, and produce climbing at an obscene pace. Okay, maybe obscene is a strong word for it, but the steep, steady increase has me concerned. And, confused, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

While I hear many people extol that convenience foods are more costly to buy, that the staples – pound per pound are cheaper, I honestly don’t think that’s the case – at least for myself and my fellow diehard couponers. I can grab cake mix for less than $.50, premade premium brand cookies for a quarter a box, and crackers for less than $.40 cents per pound. After I’m done grabbing the cheapies and freebies, the staples are what I splurge on. Isn’t that crazy?

Granted, I do get the luxury of versatility when I buy the basics, but as expensive as they are, I couldn’t afford to live that way indefinitely. I have come to rely heavily on all the steals, deals, bargains, and freebies that have filled my stockpile, fed my family, and helped my husband and I build our savings. But every now and then, I long to be someone that buys what they want not what they can afford.

Having fed my little family on so little for so long, I don’t think I ever would go back to the old ways of shopping. I don’t make a list of what I need and shop for that. I make a list of the current deals, and try to grab as many of those as I can. Once every 3 months, I do go out shopping for the basics: and I spend no less than $35 on 12-15 items. And I complain about it for the next 3 days to anyone that will stand still long enough and pretend to listen about the exorbitant prices in today’s economy.

The only category of the basics I’m still doing well with would be meat and dairy. I usually have a pile of high-value coupons that keep me stocked, but it’s frustrating when the bulk of your meal cost is the bread/buns that you have the sausage/burger/sammie on. I feel posh and lavish when I cook with simple long grain white rice. That has become somewhat of a treat, since it’s easier to grab a pasta side dish that you can make in the microwave, if you’re in a rush. The side dishes cost only $.19 each – a much better value than the staples. For me, long-grain white rice is $1.50 for 2 pounds (on sale), the cost per meal is nearly double that of those cheap pasta sides. Guess we’d better like pasta, huh?
I shouldn’t complain that grocers are catering to the 30 minute meal crowd, but it’s a shame that many of the simple things should cost so much. It’s no wonder many families don’t know how to make a proper, made from scratch meal, anymore. No one can afford what goes into it! Though I’m hardly one to talk, I only do that once or twice a week.

So maybe I’ll see you in the grocery store one of these days – I’ll be the woman with 20 bags of trail mix, 14 pasta/rice side dishes, a bunch of bananas, a head of lettuce, and an overflowing coupon binder – looking with envy at the families that are buying fruit off-season, brown rice, and whole wheat flour.
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