This was one of our most popular articles from 2011.
Food inflation over time
We were too young, did not listen and we were blissfully happy. Everyone told us to wait until we were out of college to get married, that it would be better to land good jobs first and do not be in a rush to start a family, “But we really want grandchildren by the way.” We were 21 years old, headstrong, and in love. Is that not how the story is told, over and over again? So Wilson and I were students during the day (I took 21 credit hours to graduate earlier), and he changed tires at an auto store in the evening while I sold clothes. Both ($6/hr) jobs were at the mall, so I would literally run from my side of the mall to his so that we could see each other on our dinner breaks. But we made it through the progressive food inflation somehow.
Life is not much different now—we are still very frugal. My memory of that first year is so clear—the difficulty of balancing the checkbook and the contents of the cupboard shelves, both were usually simultaneously on empty. So I will engage in that “yes, I’m old” game of “I remember when…” as we take a look at an inflation marker. We were married in 1998 and one pound ground beef was only $.99 a pound!
What year did you get married or move out on your own? Do you remember any of the cost of living prices? Here’s a reality check: http://www.dollartimes.com/calculators/inflation.htm You can measure the value of a dollar from one year to the next and see the average rate of inflation.
How far did your dollar go then? For me in 1998, my dollar then requires $1.36 to wield the same purchasing power as I had in my newlywed bliss. Sigh.
What is food inflation? It depends who you ask. The number magicians tend to omit the cost of fuel and food when it comes to calculating inflation. Hmmmmmm, here in reality town the grocery store does not pay much attention to that fuzzy math.
So, it is clear to me that when I look at ground beef or green peppers, a dollar does not buy what it used to—that is the inflation of food prices for you. Food inflation is real, kind of like I cannot find my keys and I am late to get somewhere—not just perceived as in, “Is it me or has that comic strip has not been funny since Kennedy was president?”
Let’s just say that you work a job that allows for an annual raise of 3% yearly to compensate for the rate of inflation, as mine did (prior to becoming a stay-at-home mother). Many jobs are better than that rate, some are worse, but work with me. 12 x .03 = 36. That is 36% in 13 years.
So there you have it: if you have received a consistent 3% raise for every year for the last 13 years, you have kept up with inflation, almost neck to neck. If your raises do not average that, you have fallen behind the decreasing value of the dollar.
To me food inflation is just one more reason to make your kitchen self sufficient. A bucket of wheat purchased in 2011 will still be good in 2021, 2031 or 2041. Today it cost $28.00 for 26 pounds—anyone want to take a guess at what it will cost in 2041? Food inflation is real, but if you are smart with your food shopping you can stock your pantry, grind your own flour (which is much better for you) and come out ahead. Use coupons, grow your own, buy in bulk—all of these can help you stay ahead of the inflation of food. Can those green beans in the summer, eat them in the winter and enjoy the savings—you know Grandma used to. Have a tip on saving at the grocery store? Please leave a comment!
Bag of Beans by Pantry Paratus
Ground Beef by chidseyc http://www.rgbstock.com/photo/mtLNWJW/sizzle
Piggy Bank by chidseyc http://www.rgbstock.com/photo/mAbSBWW/Bankcrupt