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A Texas Two Step

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I can't eat an IPad!
The Gazette Staff
I'd like to have an IPad - at least I think I would. But as someone famously said recently, "I can't eat an IPad!"
Probably you've noticed how food prices have gone up, up, and up. Financial reporters say they have increased 3.4 percent, the largest increase since Gerald Ford was president.
I began noticing last year that corn and anything containing a derivative of corn had gone up substantially. I read that devoting a part of the corn crop to making ethanol caused the increase plus a domino effect affected the cost of beef and pork which are often corn-fed.
Then sugar and flour and bakery products started going up. Meat and seafood soon followed. Now fruits and vegetables have soared. A pint of fresh berries is around four dollars. A package of pre-washed greens is over $2.50. Apparently the soaring cost of gasoline is a major part of the problem as it becomes much more expensive to get food to your market.
That won't change until we get national leaders who realize we must start producing our own abundant fossil fuels and quit hoping we can run a huge industrialized economy with windmills and solar panels. A viable alternative to oil will take at least two decades to develop.
What to do, beyond hoping for better days?
Well, there are some practical measures that can be taken.
I truly am not shilling for Wal Mart, but their Super Centers offer excellent buys especially in areas such as tinned goods (chili, beans and so on) as well as pet food and some items in fresh produce. I recently bought some small lemons for 20 cents each. Of course, these prices alter frequently. You need to grab them when you find them.
Both the Super Center and my local supermarket cut the price of fresh meat by almost half on the day before the last day of sale. So if paying $12.50 a pound for some beef filets is too painful, take note of the last day of sale. If you come back the afternoon before that date, you'll likely get the half price deal. However, you need to use the meat within two or three days or freeze it.
Lately, my local market has started reducing packaged greens just before the last day of sale so the usual $2.50 price goes down to $1.49. If you have a large family, you can use them right away. If not, separate them into single serving plastic bags and refrigerate them that way - they will stay fresh for a few days.
Weekly specials and coupons are good if you use them to buy staple items or items you would normally buy anyway, and obviously, stocking up on frozen food when its on sale is a good move.
I have, over the past few months, become a fan of the "dollar" stores. Apparently, I'm not alone. Fox Business Network recently reported that the dollar stores (Family Dollar, Dollar General, etc.) are enjoying excellent profits. What they lack in ambience, they make up in savings to you.
Their strong suit applies to the following categories: All paper goods - paper towels, toilet paper and facial tissues. Also, they offer great values in plastic bags and trash bags as well as cleaning products and detergents. If you can buy in bulk, you'll enjoy even greater savings.
Lastly, it sounds picky, but it helps immensely to have a grocery budget. You really need to know what you are spending on food and household goods. The easiest way I know, is to keep your receipts for an average month and use that as a guideline. Also, if you buy food with cash, you will spend less. The $4 cookies will stay on the shelf.
Maybe you'll even save enough to buy that IPad!