How I Will Combat Rising Food Prices This Year

Rising Food Prices

Rising Food PricesBusinessweek just published an article about the insane rise of food prices which is probably something we have already started to see, but will be continuing to get worse and worse.  People – this is the time to begin some urban homesteading if you haven’t already!  I don’t care if you even live in an apartment… you can grow sprouts and compost with worms in even the smallest of spaces.

Independence is the key here.  Becoming independent of the “middlemen” will save a lot of money and you will feel CONFIDENT knowing that you are not dependent on those food trucks getting to the grocery store.  Have you seen gas prices lately?  Rising gas cost means rising food cost because those food trucks just suck it up while they are transporting those tomatoes from Mexico (if they can even get any this year!)

Here’s a few things on my docket this year that I have decided to do… it will help keep me independent of needing to buy so many groceries.  Yesterday I made my regular trip to the grocery store, and I bought mostly produce and dairy with a few stock ups on things I got cheap or free with coupons.  I’ll be posting more about coupons at some point, I have kind of a love/hate relationship with them and so I want to give it a few more weeks so I can find my “groove” with using them.

In any case, considering I buy my staples like rice, beans, and wheat in bulk already from Costco or the local LDS cannery, I usually only need to buy dairy products.  Earlier this week I received an order from Leeners, which is an awesome site that sells stuff for do-it-yourselfers for home brewing, making candy, and in this case – cheesemaking supplies.

I bought a few extra gallons of whole milk this time and this week I will finally experiment with making various cheeses.  Actually, allow me to make a list!  So, keep in mind, we just moved out here a few months ago so I’m pretty much starting with nothing.

  1. I’m going to start making cheese.  If I get 3/4lb of cheese out of a gallon of milk that costs $2.54, that will save us money.  I do expect the milk cost to go up, but not as much as cheese since the milk comes from a dairy only 100 miles away.  We’ll also start using soft cheese instead of storebought cream cheese and other spreadable cheeses.
  2. I’ve decided to become a beekeeper.  I’m just going to get one hive, but this is for two reasons – I need to make sure all these fruit trees and my vegetables get pollinated.  I had considered Mason bees, but their season is so short and I need pollinators through the summer… plus the honey and wax will go to good use.  This has the potential of bringing in income if I end up having excess, as well.  There is an investment but it will pay for itself after one season, which is pretty good!
  3. I’m getting chickens!  In a few weeks I will have some laying hens, and there is a local feed farm that basically grows ingredients to make chicken and other animal feed.  Costs are comparative to regular commercial feed, but it is grown nearby which again means less transportation costs.  I probably won’t raise meat chickens this year but I might do it next year, since I can rent professional processing equipment for $20/day.
  4. Greenhouse – I may not get it finished in the springtime, but I will put in a greenhouse this year from free glass panels that are behind the storage shed.  If I can get it finished this spring I should be able to grow a lot of warm climate produce and this will also potentially be a place for me to move my tropical plants.
  5. Gardens – I have tons of fruit trees and forage already here, but I will be putting in small veggie gardens wherever I can, here and there, to maximize available sunlight and grow as much of our own produce as I can.  I may also be growing some remotely at our property, although with rising gas costs our trips out there will probably not come as often as I would hope.  I would like to figure out a way to grow some feed for the chickens also to minimalize the bought feed – squash, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, comfrey, etc.
  6. More bulk buying – Gas costs being what they are for MY vehicle, I only am shopping once every 2 weeks and I am planning on increasing my bulk staple buying for things like wheat, rice, beans, sugar, etc.  This is a good hedge against inflation of prices, and also it makes sense to me to have more on hand so I have to drive to the store less often.  If I could get away with shopping once a month, I would do it.  There’s a good chance I can do that during the summer when we will have fresh fruit and produce in season.

So those are the concrete plans!  We all will need to combat the rising food prices in some way – what are you doing this year?

 

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22 Comments

  1. I don’t know where you live but you might try to find a farmer that will allow you to tap out their milk. In some states it is illegal but in our state if the money doesn’t exchange hands well, no one knows the difference. Our neighbor allows us to get milk and leave a donation in the milk room. They get by selling it to the processors. The cows are mostly grass fed at that farm but at others in our area are all grass fed.

  2. My family and I are currently in the middle of a journey very similar to what you are expressing. We decided to see if we could go a year without buying food at grocery/box/convenience stores including Costco and no restaraunts. So far so good. We’re 21 weeks in with just a few hiccups. We do have chickens, rabbits, goats and bees. Our goats are just weeks away from producing milk so for now we have milk and other dairy products delivered through a CSA.

      1. Wow, that is very cool. I’ll have to watch your blog to see… I would love to do something like that but I don’t think we’re quite ready for that just yet. Part of it though is we just moved here so our food production here isn’t into swing yet. I just wish I could afford a beehive so I could ensure pollination!

  3. I’ll keep doing what I’ve always done. Grow what I can, preserve what I can, buy in quantity when the price is right, bargain shop and use coupons (but only for things I would normally buy. I have always run my household with a frugal hand, so even now, when I really don’t have to pinch pennies, it has become a way of life.

  4. Annie – it’s nice when it’s already habit, huh! It isn’t like I have to now kick a 2 espresso/day habit or stop eating out every other day to save money. That is one thing that I can say as well… I have always run the house with a frugal hand (my momma taught me that!) and so a lot of the things people are going to have to change are not things I will necessarily need to change, having pretty much always done things that way whenever I could.

  5. We’re increasing our gardens this year and growing as much as we can of our own produce. We also have chickens and ducks and pretty soon a milk goat who should hopefully give us two quarts of milk a day. I’d really love to get bees too! We also buy in bulk and make our own youghurt, bread etc., pretty much everything from scratch. And I’ve been storing grains, beans and oils so we have a good food storage in case food costs go up even higher and/or income goes lower!

    1. Marcella – sounds like you are in a similar place… except I don’t have a milk goat! I don’t think I want one… I wish I could find someone local who has one so I could taste this fresh goats milk that supposedly tastes the same as cow’s milk, but all the raw goat milk I’ve had tasted, well, not good. I’d drink it in a pinch, but it was not like the Jersey cow’s raw milk that I had, which tasted, well, GOOD. I have heard from lots of people that goat milk that is really fresh and not improperly handled has no “goaty” taste to it, but I noticed it. My kids, however, didn’t seem to notice it.

  6. Sounds like you have a great plan! We live 3 hours from the nearest supermarkets, so we use most of these methods to save money. Can/freeze/dry as much as possible from your orchard & garden and you’ll save so much at the store! We also hunt locally, so we rarely buy meat which saves big money. Once you have chickens, hatching & butchering will save more money. We have just butchered the hens that don’t lay but I’m sure mass butchering is in our future 🙂 We joke that all we need is a milk cow (or goat) and we would pretty much be self-sufficient. Goats are a great option for milk & meat if legal in your town. Please keep us updated about the cheese making. I’m really interested in trying that. 🙂 Angie

    1. I’m also thinking about trying to barter since I will most likely be overrun with cherries and apples! I don’t plan on doing meat chickens but I might do that next year, I helped my mom do them this last year and they were really good. She’s trying to stabilize the Freedom Ranger chicken line (they are hybrids) so they will breed true, but it might be a while. I think, though, that with buying local beef and potentially raising our own chicken that we will be the same – mostly independent except the dairy! I do buy wheat and other grains, too.

  7. I’ve been cutting back on our grocery bill buy buying more in bulk, clipping coupons, doubling recipes and freezing leftovers, and recently started a little patio garden(just herbs so far since I have poor sunlight). I’m even considering taking it up a notch and getting some grow lights to grow more. I’m also looking into going to a local LDS cannery (we have a friend who is a member) and have most canning equipment needed to get started.

    I wish we lived in a place where I could have a couple of hens too…but all in good time. 🙂

    I think this is a great post. Being independent and self-sufficient is priceless these days. And so rewarding!

    1. Hey Zany! If you are thinking about getting grow lights, don’t buy the fancy “grow lights” because plants generally do fine with regular fluorescent bulbs. I grow all my plant starts for the season with regular shop lights and so if you do want to get a setup, you can even get “daylight” bulbs but the actual grow lights are so expensive and not worth the increase in price. And I love the LDS cannery – I am not a member but they are always so nice and their prices for bulk wheat and other staples can’t be beat.

  8. I use a 4 foot wide shelving unit I got at Costco. My lights are suspended from the tops of them, and I have them rigged so there’s 2 shop lights per spot but I am usually only using 2 or 3 of the shelves.

    I’ll take pictures when I get it put together for this spring, hopefully soon!. I have some planting to do this weekend, gotta sow my tomatoes and peppers but I think I won’t set up the rack just yet since I really need to work on getting my chicken hutch finished.

  9. Along with what I already do (I would normally describe these things but I’m thinking in this kind of group baking my own bread would not come as a surprise) I’d like to start making cheese. Other things I’d like to try are homemade mayo, laundry soap (anyone have a great recipe?) and pasta. We are going to build a hoop house. My husband has been researching ways to grow veggies throughout our cold northern winters. Our hens and bees had to leave since they are against the law and we were turned in by someone but are going to try out mason bees for their pollination. We are going to plant more fruit trees (dwarf varieties can be planted 4 feet apart) and we will be planting only edible things in the yard from now on. We are going to rent garden space at a church so we can grow even more produce. We try not to buy any produce from the store but we are running extremely low right not… next year we hope to make it through the whole year.

    The thing we wish we could have is raw milk. Cow or goats milk would be wonderful.

    1. Oh I am with you on the raw milk. I mean, there’s a raw dairy around here but I can’t afford to pay $10/gallon for milk. Just don’t have it in the budget. Sounds like you’ve got a good year coming then!

  10. I am LOVING your blog. I am a newish gardener. I’m on rock hard clay, so gave up about 30 years ago. Last year I woke up one day…..must garden…..must grow food. I started a little blog to keep track of things and to document the stupid stuff a new gardener would do. I have done plenty. But I read great blogs and books every day. I have tried to cram about 10 years of learning into one. I, like you, and interested in chickens and bees. We had chickens right after we bought the house in the 70s, but I let them go when I had my son. Neither bees nor chickens are legal here. That will be my next project. Writing town hall and going to council meeting to bring change. You and I are on the same page. There is a reason that people suddenly are feeling a pull to grow food. I feel it overwhelmingly.
    I love your chickens. I am enjoying your blog. I’m going to read the whole thing!!!

    1. Erin thank you so much for your compliments on my blog! A lot of things have changed… I also no longer have chickens. Unfortunately, they decided that they would not roost in the coop at night and when the cold weather hit, the predators came out. They killed two of my five, so them I got three replacements and then a month later the raccoons began marauding and finally when I only had two left I sold them to someone who had a fenced run. When we move to our property we’ll be getting a Maremma sheepdog to guard the livestock, my folks have some and they work great. I miss them terribly! But we’re only going to be here another year or less so I am not going to get replacements.

      So for 2012 I’ve taken a little change in direction – I’m working as hard as I can to grow the income that I make from home so that we can move out to the farm. We’re planning on moving next spring! But that’s why I’m not posting too much on here anymore, I’m over at http://homesteaderkitchen.com and also I am helping my folks with their project http://rurallivingtoday.com. Once we move out there, my hubs will be home and working on-farm full time (most likely, unless his employer offers him a lucrative telecommute job when the time comes!) which means I’ll have more time freed up and I’ll resume posting on here again.

      Anyway if you like this blog I bet you’d like those ones too! It’s so funny you said you want to read the whole blog… I always do the same thing when I find a really good one and I’ll spend days going through years’ worth of posts 🙂

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