Despite my intention to end my intermittent fasting, I still tend to get up late, then get involved with other projects, and end up not eating until after noon. Fasting worked well as a diet routine when I first started but now it is just a routine that has little effect. When I work on Tuesdays I drive in early and by the time I am through it is always after lunch. I usually drive back to Fort Smith (halfway home) to shop at the market, fill up my gas tank, and then go home. At times I will eat in town and other times I will wait until I get home, and regardless it is usually after 4:00 pm. Today I got off early and stopped at an Asian market hoping to find wide rice noodles (for Pad See-Ew) and seaweed wraps (for sushi). After making my purchases I was getting hungry and decided to get a medium fry and drink from a fast-food drive-thru. I ordered the medium fry and was shocked to find it was nearly US$4 for what last week had been less than US$3 for the large. Somehow the blog I had written last Saturday on russets had not registered.
I knew it was more expensive to eat out than cook at home, but when I looked online, I found there are other advantages as well. Cooking at home is not only cheaper than meal kits or eating out, but it is also easier to maintain your health since you know what is in your food. A meal like vegetable Pad Thai (or Pad See-Ew?) can be made at home for less than US$2 while a restaurant could charge 7 times more. At home you spend less and can alter the ingredients in the meal to your taste. According to the USDA 2020 food plans, a couple on a low-cost plan should spend around US$120 weekly on groceries, or US$60 per person. If you eat out that may only account for 2-3 meals. Although these numbers do not reflect special dietary restrictions, organic foods, or eating out, used wisely at home that US$120 could go a long way (hopefully until the end of the week!). Melissa and I were shocked the last two Sunday’s when we ate out (with appetizers, entrees, tea, and tip), as each of those meals ran around US$60. That meant each meal had already spent half of our weekly food budget.
After filling my tank today at the neighborhood market, I decided to check inside and see if there was anything I needed vegetable wise for my potential stir fry and sushi meals. Nothing really looked good, but I did notice there were several 8# bags of Jumbo Russets lying on the shelf. I did not see a price but knew there were only around US$5 when I bought them two weeks ago, so I grabbed one. I meandered through the store and picked up several small items before working my way to the new self-checkout aisles that had been installed during the latest reorganization (there seems to always enough money for changes). When I scanned my bag of potatoes, I was shocked to see it was nearly US$12 for the 8# bag. While our local gas prices have dropped nearly US$1 over the last month, the rising price of potatoes seems to have to offset our gain. That was when the shortage of russets did set in.
THOUGHTS: I was shocked at the beginning of the pandemic when items like toilet paper, bread, and milk flew off the shelves. I have been periodically shocked when specific items like baby food, diapers, and eggs have disappeared for weeks at a time. Many have begun to treat the local market as I do the big box stores. If something is there you may need, buy it because it may not be there when you come back. This only exasperates the problem as items unexpectedly fly off the shelf and panic buying may occur. Like the russets, most items will return, although we may be shocked by the price increase. Since I had ordered the fries, I went ahead and ate them, although I may not buy them for a while. Melissa’s response to the russets was that we need to dole them out for special occasions. Once more, we can afford to make these choices while many do not have that luxury. Act for all. Change is coming and it starts with you.