With the cost of food rising, consumers are cutting back, or doing without

The way food prices are these days, Sheanna Caban and her family have had to adjust to a life of meatless Mondays and a whole lot of pasta on the dinner menu.

The 32-year-old mother of two and her husband work behind the scenes at local television stations. But even with two incomes, they struggle to keep pace with the ever-rising cost of living and raising a family.

With staples like milk going for $3.50 or more per gallon, just putting food on the table leaves a big dent in the budget of middle-class families like the Cabans.

“It’s a big concern,” she said. “Our grocery bills are second on the list of expenses, right after rent.”

Things are expected to get even tighter in the coming months as fallout from the nation’s worst drought since the 1950s drives food prices higher. >>>

A new study by the Pew Research Center dubbed the first decade of this century a “lost decade for the middle class.” Since 2000, the middle class has gotten smaller, lost ground in income and wealth, and shed some of its characteristic faith in the future.

And more than three years after the Great Recession officially ended, more than 60 percent of those surveyed said they are still cutting back on household spending because money remains tight, the study found.

These are people like Sharon Calvert, a 49-year-old cafeteria worker from Goose Creek, who has switched to off-brands and dumped staples like milk and bread from the shopping list when prices have climbed too high for her family.

Another mother, from Mount Pleasant, said she has cut back on buying new clothes, getting facials and enjoying other “adult treats” so her kids can eat quality food.

A lot of people have just learned to do without the things they like. >>>

Making it work

The struggle to get by has become almost second nature to many folks, breeding an almost stoic sense of acceptance in the face of a system that is largely out of their control.

They earn too much to qualify for assistance and too little to move beyond a state of just-getting-by. So they suck it up, put aside their sticker shock and move on. >>>

Shoppers have any number of strategies for trying to gain an edge. They look for sales and buy in bulk, clip coupons, search out generic or store brands, sign up for supermarket discount cards, look for stores that offer fuel perks — anything to keep the bill down. >>>

More pain ahead?

Even with such strategies, the challenge to make ends meet could get even harder. >>>

In the past people have switched from meats to peanut butter in tough times. But even the peanut crop has taken a beating recently, limiting options even further, he said.


Up and coming Food Shortages

The news this last week about our crop situation was dire. Corn production is at an all time low. We'll be lucky to get 35% to 40% of the crop. Soy beans and other crops are also at an all time low. With Corn prices skyrocketing, everything from Fritos and other corn snacks, fuel and the price of beef will soar. Because of the drought, beef prices were on the rise anyway. Now, with our corn crop in jeopardy, prices are expected to increase again. Fuel nowadays is mandated to contain 10% ethanol. So expect fuel prices to climb.

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Too bad we can't just drink the corn out of our gas tanks, eh? But what's the problem anyways? Moochelle has a dozen or so WH chefs and is (obviously) eating well. As is Comrade Barry, when he gets away from the Mooch. And did anyone notice Maobama took the cost of food and gasoline out of the 'cost of living' index? Hmm ....