Just got to love these ever rising prices, especially food and utility prices. Not. Due to my ridiculously low income, I don't shop "normal". I also have to say the way I changed my shopping some approximately 3 yrs ago has literally saved my backside. But even many of these practices have shifted and evolved due to ever increasing prices. I should not be able to survive on my income, yet I do, and still somewhat comfortably. I'm not bragging. For the past several months as I've watched prices continue to go up, I'm as stumped as everyone else on how exactly I manage to do so. Yet I had 2 weeks laid off at the end of Dec without pay, made my house payment on time, bought food as I normally would, filled the gas tank, had plenty of presents (maybe too many) under the tree for family......and still had a whole paycheck to hold me over until I got the first check after returning to work on the 6th of Jan. Most of my co-workers were severely hurting and going without food. Yes, I helped a few of them with supper. When funds weren't such a huge issue I learned the couponing with sale ads trick and stocking up that way. Three years later, I still have most of that stock especially laundry soap/personal hygiene items and OTC medications. Two people don't use that much, especially the way I stock up when I find a rock bottom price or can snatch it up for free. But I don't do this much anymore, I can't afford newspapers, I also can't afford to let anything go to waste or even risk it. I do still search and print coupons off line for what sales I find if they are available. Now when I find a sale that has items I stock at ridiculously low prices, I stock. But I rarely buy anything else except when it is on sale this way. Dog/cat food is an exception......and I make the bulk of dog food if it is cheaper to do so. So you'll see me in the store with say 10 5lb bags of sugar on sale for 1.49 and probably nothing else in the cart unless the store has something else offered like that. I can't, even at aldi, just make a list and go buy 2 weeks of food or whatever. It would wipe my money out....IF I had enough to cover it to begin with. I don't play around when I stock either, I can't afford to as I don't know how long until the next sale that offers something this low or if something will ever be offered that low again. Most things, especially dried goods/canned goods, can be stored for ridiculously long periods of time. (regardless of best buy dates) You just need to know how to store them properly to keep air/rodents/bugs out. I've also realized that my processed food buying has dropped off dramatically. It takes up too much space and is often more expensive even on sale than buying staples for from scratch type cooking. I have a chest deep freeze I bought 3 yrs ago. That was a good idea that to some degree is not quite working for us. Travis and I can't go through the meat quick enough to prevent freezer burn. A little freezer burn isn't a big deal but if it's been in there long enough you're not going to cover the taste.....and it's not so great. That meat becomes part of the dog food so it doesn't go to waste and they certainly do not complain. But I don't like doing that. Especially when I've finally made it through the top 2 layers of meat in there and discovered they will have a LOT of meat for dog food in the bottom layer that has been there for quite some time....don't ask. How did that happen? I buy meat the way I buy everything else. It being the most expensive thing I buy food wise, if I find it really cheap I buy as much as I can. Well, it has to go somewhere...... And the freezer doesn't always get rotated as well as it should. Hence the bottom layer of dog food meat. I can't afford that. So I've been busy working through the meat to empty it. Once that is done I'll either sell the freezer or swap out Nichole for her smaller version of mine. (she needs the larger version) I do like to have it to keep the meat in because I do tend to buy in bulk if it's cheap enough and it usually doesn't fit into the frig freezer....and with working I don't always have time to can it right away. If Fred was still with us, this never would have been an issue. But Travis and I can only eat so much. If I didn't have my stored food........we would not be eating. Or we would be barely eating. It is the only thing allowing me to shop this way. Buy searching ads (I go online to local stores for ads) to find the absolute lowest price....and hopefully a ridiculously low price on something I stock....I can replenish and add to my stored supplies (it's not just food) as we use it. It lets me do the 10 bags of sugar and nothing else without worrying what we will need to get to the next pay check. If there are no super low prices and I don't absolutely need something, I hold on to the money and refuse to spend it. There have been times I've done this for 3-4 wks at a shot. We used my stored shelf stable milk for more than a month because milk prices jumped (lord only knows why) and I couldn't get to aldi's. Didn't put a dent into it either, but I replaced what I used once dollar tree stocked it again. Utilities may be the thing that drags us under. I can only do so much in this dept and I'm searching for new ways to keep the bills down. Not sure what that would be and this cold snowy winter is not helping. I've got black out curtains up to keep out the cold, new weather stripping on the outside doors. That didn't do much for the front door as it's hung wonky or something and there is still a gap. That? I fill with folded up newspaper. Hey, it works. lol Lights are rarely used. Heat is down to 64 most of the time unless it is frigid or really windy. I already catch any water from just running down drains. We eliminated tv service. Our "normal" light bill is 100.00, this last bill jumped to 250.00!!! (no way I can afford that, so I've got to figure something out) Our gas company is still messed up in it's billing issues for the county. I just got Sept bill. omg A tank of gas lasts me 2 weeks if I refuse to drive other than necessary which 90 percent of the time is what I do. Cigarettes just jumped again.......and now I'm looking into e cigs to cut that cost down as much as possible. One I have my eye on would average .33 cents a "pack" instead of nearly 5 bucks. That is quite a huge difference. Of course, in Spring comes the garden. There will not be much experimenting going on this year. And I will be concentrating on foods we eat a LOT. There will be a lot of green beans, carrots, cabbage, onions, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and potatoes. I might try broccoli again but with the weird weather, I've not had much luck with it. I do plan on more beans......so if there is any experimenting, it will be with that. Meat prices are just getting ridiculous and those super low sales are not happening very darn often. There will also be herbs, lots of them......because I now find it hard to plant anything that doesn't give me something in return. I still have my blueberries and strawberries. I also find it much harder to waste anything. Cardboard egg cartons are being saved for seed starter trays. Good plastic food containers are saved for leftovers and storage of other items. Good lord, people, I'm now the woman that washes out her food storage bags (provided they never saw the inside of the microwave). And there will be the compost for the garden. My trash man doesn't have as much to haul away these days. I'd like to know how you all are managing, especially when there seems to have been another big jump in food prices, at least in some areas of the country. It's always nice if there is someone to swap ideas with and we haven't done this in quite some time.