As Wendy and I prepare for another presentation of “Cheaper by the Baker’s Dozen,” we are tempted to rename the presentation “Hurry Up and Stock Up the Pantry.” News item after news item is validating what we have been saying ever since oil began its rapid increase of prices. Add the minimum wage increase, growing demand in Asia, and government environmental policies for biofuels, you’ve got a recipe for expensive food!
The Wall Street Journal came out with an incredibly persuasive article on stocking up the pantry. Columnist Brett Arends lists the reasons with logical analysis in his article “Load up the pantry“:
- Food is a global economy, so economic food prices in Asia does effect us in America.
- Inflation in 2007: Flour up 13%; dairy up 10%; eggs up 30%; poultry up 5.4%. Compare that to the average money market fund (2.5%).
- Food companies are no longer absorbing costs for raw materials (e.g. wheat has tripled in three years).
- There aren’t “starving children in China” anymore, as a rising middle class is demanding more food (same in India).
Now, I just want to note that I was NOT one of those alarmists freaking out about Y2K. Back then I thought the claims of food shortages and riots were greatly inflated. You remember, computers would all collapse and ships would stop shipping food and chaos would consume. I remember thinking, “If that happens, I’m going hunting,” and I let others stock up on food and candle wax.
Also note, however, that the Y2K fears were not based on economics: they were based on technological opinions that no one fully understood. As I claim in Cheaper by the Baker’s Dozen, “Economics is as sure as gravity.” You can always count on it to work out, for the better or for the worse.
What should you do? Our third Principle of Frugal Living listed in the presentation states, “Frugal living requires creative solutions to economic realities.” Notice we didn’t say “economic problems” or “catastrophes.” There is really no such thing. Economics is amoral and simply a “reality” that we must deal with. The ideas Wendy and I come up with are simply ways we have dealt with the reality for 17 years of our marriage raising 14 kids.
Wendy’s Love in the Kitchen cookbook has a section in it called “Stock your shelves.” No kidding: nearly the exact same title as today’s Wall Street Journal article. She explains how she frugally keeps a tight reign on our family budget and how you can too. It isn’t computer engineering; much of it is simply understanding the family economic unit. Really, the advice she gives is worth much more than the price of the cookbook.
Could you do us a favor? Cut-and-paste the content of this post and send it to your friends. We’re onto something here, and you can help. Spread the word, for I believe our cookbook and CD ROM are rightly timed to serve a growing need out there. Thanks!