Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The New "Self-Sufficient" Gardener

"Food prices are rising" I see this topic a lot on the internet.

"Why food prices are rising" I don't see this one as much.

Most people who pay attention to what they're paying at the grocery store are aware that it's more than it was a year ago. But do they know why? I was reading through someone's blog post about the increases in food prices, and throughout all of the 40 or 50 comments, no one ever questioned or tried to reason WHY prices are steadily rising. So I thought I should bring it up, it could provoke some interesting conversation. No one replied. No one seemed to care. Fine. I'll do it on my own blog then.

This article I saw on Lewrockwell.com today (courtesy of the economiccollapseblog) not only looks at what specific foods have seen the biggest price hikes, but also has a detailed analysis of what is causing rising prices. In my opinion, this is an important issue to understand. Without properly understanding where the increases are coming from, we cannot begin to understand how to go about finding a solution. Perhaps many feel that this kind of thing is beyond their control, but it really isn't. When we realize that the government's intervention in markets, and it's poor monetary policy, create the inflation that we have, been experiencing, then we can begin pushing for the necessary changes to get our economy back in shape.

But, while we wait for the masses to get on board, we will all have to begin making adjustments to tide us over. I still have another month in the safe-zone, but once we get back to the US we will need to make a serious effort change the way we look at spending money on food:

  • Cook at home. One thing I know we will surely have to get used to is not eating out all the time. We will have to go from eating dinner out 3 or 4 times a week, and lunch out almost everyday, to doing both of those once a week. A lot of money can be saved just by cooking at home though, if you do it right. Buying expensive food, and cooking only enough for one meal probably won't add up to much savings. But planning ahead and preparing things that can be eaten throughout the week is a good way to economize.
  • Minimize grocery expenses. I'm usually pretty good about being price-conscious at the store, so that shouldn't be too much of a problem. But will that be enough? I came across a few websites that are solely dedicated to reducing your grocery store spending, and it's quite amazing what these women save at the store just by putting a little time and effort into their shopping trip. One key is to plan ahead what you'll need for the week, and only buy those things. Having a list or a "menu plan" not only will keep you on track and spending less, but you won't have to spend nearly as much time in the grocery store.
  • Garden. I have never really gardened before, but this is something I am actually looking forward to doing. Not only do I think it will be an interesting task to take on, but if it is successful it could result in a lot of savings on produce. Plus, I know my fruits and vegetables will be clean, inside and out. I will have to do a lot of research and reading to get myself started, and I'll probably start with the book to the right, which I gave my Mom for Christmas.

So, these are some of my plans. Actually, they're the only plans I have so far. So, all suggestions welcome below!


  1. If you don't have a green thumb, go to a farmer's market or a local farm. Most of the time, the prices may be a tid bit steeper than at the regular grocery store, but the freshness and quality of the food is much better (or should be if you go to the right farm) that it will fill you better and you'll need less of it.

    Also, it may sound cheesy, but sometimes I look for sales/coupons for what ever I'm getting. Even if it's only saving me a dollar or two, it's still one more dollar that's still in my pocket instead of in the cashier's hand when I check out. There is no shame in coupons -- that's the most important thing that I've learned from living on my own.

    I agree with you, leftover's are huge, but just remember that leftover food only stays good for so long in the refrigerator. If you make soup or sauce, you can freeze it for later and it will still be good when you defrost it (if covered properly, etc). Mimom even freezes leftover entrees so I'm sure that has potential too.

    Still on the topic of leftovers, if you do decide to go out to eat, I like to try and get the biggest size possible of whatever I'm getting (which won't be hard in America -- you know how we love to supersize everything). But just because you supersize it, or should I say get a large cause everything isn't McDonald's, doesn't mean that you have to eat it all there. Leftover's from a respectable restaurant should stay good for a couple days.

    I think that's enough of my rant for now. See you soon!

  2. Love the thoughtful commentary here. Yes, food prices are rising--but far more on some food items than others. Thanks for the great link! I hadn't yet seen the Lew Rockwell post.

    As the previous commenter, I'm a big farmer's market shopper. The market isn't cheap, but the quality is excellent, and I'm not ambivalent about where my money is going. Oh, and the prices this summer are the same as last years'!

  3. Thanks for both comments. I totally agree that the farmer's market is the way to go for buying fresh produce.

    Here in Taiwan we have a lot of morning and evening markets with lots of fresh produce, fish, and meat, and I try to shop them as much as possible. I love buying spinach that still has some dirt on it!

    Another great thing about buying from the market is the relationship you can build with vendors. When you find a place that you like, you will keep going back, and eventually get to know the people selling you their food. You can learn a lot this way and make some friends in the process.