The Bay Area used to be expensive to live in primarily for cost of housing, but most other costs of living were comparable to cheaper parts of the country. Gas was a tad more expensive, but some food was actually cheaper, like vegetables in the winter since a lot of them are grown nearby. Whether it’s due to the drought, the perception of the drought (almond farmers raised their prices before the cost of water irrigation even went up this spring), or alien waves from space, groceries have gotten a lot more expensive recently. There’s even been an outbreak of avian flu, and changes in regulations about conditions for laying eggs, both of which have raised egg prices astronomically.
I’ve tried several strategies to reduce grocery costs, but it’s really hard to do without compromising on nutrition or spending tons of time comparison shopping. I’m not complaining too much, though, because there are a lot of people much worse off than we are. Anyone who’s on SNAP (US food benefits, aka food stamps) is currently given $4 per day per person of benefits. $4/day for groceries. Sit and think about that for a minute – it is not much at all, and I’m impressed that anyone can manage it.
I’ve run into two resources recently that touch on budget cooking and the SNAP limits. Budget Bytes is a recipe website with great, simple recipes. This month she’s also doing a $4/day challenge and sharing her costs along the way. Her site is well worth a gander.
The other resource is a new cookbook by Leanne Brown, called Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day. The recipes are basic and well-written, and it would make a good first cookbook for someone going out on their own, or learning to cook, even if budget isn’t your primary concern. I almost made her ‘Deconstructed Cabbage Rolls’ for dinner the other night, but was vetoed by my spouse, who’s got a family recipe for Cabbage Rolls from the Hungarian side of his family that he’s very particular about.
[Book link is an affiliate link.]