Saturday, August 23, 2008

Grocery shopping in the time of rising food prices

Eric and I went grocery shopping today--first to the farmer's market, where we got hot peppers for salsa and parsley for tabbouleh and fruit for all the time--and then to Kroger. We'd had to skip our usual weekend breakfast of toast with apple butter because we had no non-rye (or non-frozen) bread, so while Eric went to the pharmacy I went straight to the bread aisle.

Where I made faces and was momentarily panic-stricken, because the bread we used to buy for $2.50 is now $3.59. I had some money-related anxiety a few days ago because Eric's tuition and the car insurance are both due in a week and we don't have money to pay for both after the mortgage payment goes out. Luckily the car insurance can go on a credit card and Eric gets his first paycheck at the end of September, so we should be all right, but I berated Eric just yesterday for suggesting that we could go out to eat.

"It's a good thing you know how to make bread," Eric said when he came back from the pharmacy to my empty cart. I made a perfectly serviceable sandwich loaf not long ago, soft enough for him and whole-grain-y enough for me, and I have most of a pound of yeast at home and flour is still relatively cheap.

We debated whether or not to buy Parmesan cheese. It was $6 for a 10-oz. block, and we had recently decided to get some for breadsticks and pasta sauce and pesto. "Should we go without?" I wondered. Eventually Eric suggested we try the Kraft stuff in the green box, and I agreed since I haven't had that stuff in ten or fifteen years and he says it tastes fine. The Kraft stuff turned out to cost the same amount, but the Kroger generic was less, so we got that.

"We're having to go without luxuries," Eric observed as he picked up lunchmeat and decided to skip breakfast sausage. "At some point we're going to have to buy ice cream rather than--"

"Never!" I declared. "I'll go without."

"I'm wondering if we could retool our ice cream recipes to use half-and-half instead of cream," he said.

"Maybe," I conceded. We have plenty of ice cream right now so it's not an issue, and presumably won't be in the winter--unless we decide to make more for a party in October or so.

"We're still getting by on one paycheck," Eric reminded me as we picked up milk and winced at the price of butter. "What are we going to do when we've got two again?"

"Not complain quite so much at food prices?" I said.