Consumer Confusion

Have you noticed you’re going to the grocers more often and you’re spending more? Twenty-nine percent of Americans say it’s difficult to afford food. What’s going on?

You know your grocery bill is going up, even though the official government inflation rate for 2010 was only 1 percent. I explain in QE & Your Food Budget why inflation in reality is much higher. Added to this deception is brand name household products regularly downsize their packaging.

You’ve Been Downsized!
In reality, the cost of dairy, eggs, fruit, natural ingredients and other food products have risen on average 20 to 25 percent in the past two years. One reason that it’s not noticeable at first glance, Consumer Reports says is due to downsizing. More and more companies are producing smaller packaging. In an effort to hide the rising costs (inflation) from you, companies have been shrinking ounces and inches from their products.

Madison noticed that cereal boxes now hold less cereal.

Everything from toothpaste to OJ to yogurt are being repackaged in smaller containers without reducing the price. Tropicana has reduced their half-gallon orange juice from 60 ounces to 59. Ivory dish detergent changed their packaging and contents went from 30 ounces to 24. Kraft American Cheese used to contain 24 slices, now 22. Kraft Mac & Cheese went form 7.5 ounces to 5.5. Cereal boxes, candy bars and ice cream have been downsized as well. What this means is the average family is paying more for less.

How To Save
Stock Up Sale Items

Purchase when your favorite product is on sale. Every week grocers have “loss leaders” and rotate the items they feature. Stock up when the products you regularly use are at their cheapest.

Read Labels
Compare price per ounce, etc.

Purchase Store Brands
Store brands can be as much as 30 percent cheaper than brand name.

Buy in Bulk
Big warehouse stores like Sam’s Club and Costco offer low prices everyday.

Cook Whole Foods
Whole foods are more cost effective than the higher priced processed counterpart. You’ll pay more for American cheese slices than cheddar cheese. Fruited yogurt is a lot more expensive than plan yogurt (add your own fruit). Purchase beans and cook them yourself. You’ll not only enjoy their taste, the nutrition will be optimal and you’ll save tons.

We’ve come to believe the advertising hype that processed foods are faster than cooking them from scratch. That’s not always the case. It’s a matter of learning how to do it and having the ingredients on hand. Following are some kid favorite recipes:

Mac & Cheese


Banana/Orange Yogies (instead of creamsicles)

Vanilla Pudding


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