Over the past year or so there have been rumours of food shortages combined with rising food costs. In some cases the price increase were quite noticeable (eg. chicken now $1 per lb cheapest compared to the previous 69¢ per lb cheapest) but in other cases it has been a bit more hidden (eg. slightly smaller package with slightly higher price). Despite reports of certain food shortages with the currently reported one being sugar, there have been no signs of food shortages here. Yet the World Food Bank has declared food costs at an all time high with dire predictions they are going to get worse. Food shortages are expected due to adverse local and global growing conditions that will affect the availability of some foods. This week's Frugal Kitchens 101 addresses a few issues with the rising costs of food and how you can create a bit of a buffer against them.
- stay informed - In this day and age it is easty to stay informed with respect to food availability and predicted shortages.
- ignore the fear mongering - Back during the y2K scare there was a lot of fear mongering centred around not only food availability but the availability of essential services and the collapse of our monetary system. In the end all this did was cause wide spread stockpiling often unorganized that resulted in an increase of food spoilage. Fear mongering creates temporary, local food shortages like we are currently seeing in some areas with sugar. The reason this happens is folks panic then over buy that product creating empty spots in the stores which feed into the panic of others who heard there may be a shortage. A vicious circle is created. The best reaction is to stay calm and do not panic.
- act accordingly but systematically - Once of the best defenses you have against food inflation is a well stocked pantry. Ideally your pantry will be stocked with a 6 month to 1 year supply of foods necessary to sustain your family. Your pantry stores should be constantly added to and rotated. Cherry pick the sales to build your pantry supplies. For example, pastas and a limited variety of condensed soups have been on sale here so the focus is replenishing the pantry with these foods.
- stock the instants - This is a good time to stock a few valuable instants in your pantry to be used in emergencies. These include: powdered honey, powdered milks, powdered peanut butter, powdered eggs, and powdered cheeses.
- stock the basics - Focus on the whole ingredients like flours as well rather than packaged foods. If buying canned foods get those that can go towards making a dish rather than the convenience canned foods (eg. canned pasta or stews). This makes the food stock a bit more versatile for later use.
- move towards self sufficiency - It is not too late to learn a few basic skills to help ensure your food security. Topping the list is growing as much produce as you can as well as raising rabbits and backyard chickens where permitted. Learn to preserve foods (canning, drying, freezing) as well as cure meats (extremely easy and cheap to do). Fishing, hunting, trapping and foraging are all good skills to learn if possible to help ensure your food security.
- change your eating habits - Now is the time to move away from heavily processed foods that will see the greatest increase in costs towards raw and homecooked foods.