Recent Aricle I Had Published in Taranaki Daily News
Ouch! We are feeling the pinch and struggling to make ends meet on our self imposed $75 a week grocery budget. Last year, when GST went up to 15% I expected to feel the impact, but seeing we mainly buy staple ingredients items like flour, sugar, chickpeas etc the increase seemed to pass us by. However recently with the price of even the basic, basics (like butter and vegetables) soaring and no doubt slammed into outer space by the effects of outrageous fuel costs, world food shortages and the like, I can see the $75 is definitely not going as far as it used to.
Apart from the occasional bar of yellow washing soap and loo paper, we no longer buy anything from the cleaning and cosmetics aisles which allows the bulk of our budget to be spent on food. Even the most budget-est of budget bread has increased in cost by twelve cents, from $1-51 to $1-63.
We are so lucky being on the farm with access to unlimited supplies of milk which is getting so costly on the supermarket shelves that it could be priced out of some family’s reach. I hope people can adjust their other buying preferences to allow basic dairy to remain on their list.
Because the prices of dairy products seem to vary so much, I imposed a $2.99 limit on butter and an $8-99 limit on cheese. If these items are priced above this, we are not allowed them. I was recently forced to up this to $3-99 and $9-99 respectively, otherwise we wouldn’t have had any butter or cheese for months. I am interested in seeing whether Fonterra’s timely consideration in freezing the domestic milk price will relieve the prices of butter and cheese? Who buys the cheese for $16-99? Not me. I wait for the $9-49 special which comes up all the time at various supermarkets, then buy three and freeze them.
It is not only food that is sucking your bank account dry, take fuel increases in to the equation and you are getting it from all directions. Instead of whining about expensive prices the consumer needs to take action in the form of change. Change is difficult and unwelcome but sometimes ‘ya gotta do what ya gotta do!’ Make an action plan to keep living in a happy, healthy way but still keep some money in your own pocket. I would challenge anyone to make a few cuts to their grocery budget. If your family is whinging about this, spare a thought for the Kenyan families that often have a food free day to make their meagre resources stretch as far as possible. Try a meat free day once or twice a week or the occasional make your own sandwich night. Get the kids to suggest some ideas to save grocery money. Successful baking is handy and a cheaper, healthier way of providing snacks and lunches. Substitute that expensive butter with cooking oil in most cake and muffin recipes to get a moister, less fattening result. Snacking on seasonal fruit is cheaper and healthier than chippies and biscuits and you don’t have any packaging to dispose of.
It is a bit of an outrage to be referring Kiwi families in the land of plenty to the starving billions so they can get their own grocery budgets into perspective, but the era of cheap food is over and we need to realise we remain the lucky ones, but perhaps can no longer afford the luxury of taking things for granted. I was informed recently the cost of sugar is about to skyrocket. It was suggested to me that I could invest in a 25kg bag of sugar now and stave off the price rise, which is to be significant. While tempted, I decided to continue buying the sugar in smaller quantities and just take to cost increase when it comes. Storage was an issue and you can’t justify an expensive bulk purchase on a tight weekly budget. ‘Sorry kids, no food this week – Mummy’s just bought a year’s supply of sugar!’ But it made me think about my own personal sugar consumption, which has crept up on me a bit over the years. I’m going to have to alleviate the sugar crisis by cutting down my usage. It will be easy for me to cut three spoonfuls in my coffee down to one – and eventually I could just cut it out altogether. My waistline and wallet will both be winners.
Same thing with electricity and fuel costs rising – you’ll have to cut back your intake and if you are anything like me, it will be easy, because chances are you had never thought about it before and used the resources willy-nilly, taking it all for granted. Danni has become the electricity police at my house and drives us all mad switching off the lights and turning appliances off at the wall. I’m not allowed anywhere near the clothes dryer anymore and the heater is a no-no. I hate(her) it! But when the leccie bill came and it was only $70 (it is usually about $230), I had to thank Danni for her efforts.
So use the price hikes as an opportunity to examine your spending and utilisation and try an few changes here and there. You may be pleasantly surprised at the results.