Shaking off complacency

Once upon a time, we lived in Barbie’s Dream House on a budget so tight it squeaked. Dinner at Sonic was a treat, and when I shopped for groceries, I bought more ‘ingredients’ than ‘food’. (All the parents out there know what I’m talking about–you spend $200 at the store and the kids complain there’s nothing to eat.) One of the strategies I used was to make hash marks across the top of my shopping list while I shopped–one for each dollar–so I could keep track of how much money I had left.

We’re in a better place now, with room in the budget to breath. It’s good, but I’ve gotten comfortable. I went to the store yesterday and got half-way through the produce section before I realized that I hadn’t looked at a single price. I just picked stuff up and put it in the cart. Out came the pen to make hash marks. About five aisles later, I had marks two thirds of the way across the top of my page (8 1/2 x 11, mind you). I had to change my tracking to one hash mark for every $5. I knew food prices had gone up. In the back of my mind, I knew that a lot more prices start with four or five now. I still buy more ingredients than food, but there is more convenience food in my pantry than there used to be.

I think I’ll be spending a large chunk of this summer in the kitchen. Mom is going to teach me to can, and I’ll be doing more cooking for the freezer. I’m trying more vegetarian and whole foods recipes based on what I’ve got growing in my yard. Prices are going up, and they never go back down to previous levels. It’s just reality. Some people complain, some people strike, and some people tie on their boots and do something different. It’s more work, but at least I don’t have to hitch the mule to the plow to feed my family. Yet.

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