Have you seen the price of eggs?

Food prices have been steadily rising over the past couple of years, and most of us have been grumbling about it. But I think eggs are the tipping point for our collective psyche. Prices are up 60% and people are outraged.

Maybe it’s because eggs are basic, a necessity for everyday life. Bacon and eggs is the quintessential American breakfast, even in the age of avocado toast.

In an earlier era, we might be storming city hall armed with pitchforks, shouting, “Don’t mess with our eggs!”

There’s no community spirit anymore, so I’ve got my own personal vendetta against high grocery prices. I have changed my mindset. I’m thinking outside the box. I am using my cellphone to full advantage.

Call it war. I do.


My personal breakthrough on prices came in late December, in the quiet week between Christmas and New Year’s. My bellwether for high prices was the growing number of $5 and $6 items on my receipts. Mayonnaise — $5.69 for a big jar!

This approach — nearly fainting at the sight of high numbers — is totally unscientific, I realize. However, it did motivate me to see what I could do about cutting my grocery bill.

This required that change in mindset. Though I was always aware, in general, of the cost of items, I didn’t always base my choices on it. The cheapest canned beans might be the store brand, but I preferred to buy the store’s organic line. I aimed to be fiscally responsible, but I wanted to prepare nutritious, delicious meals.

Now that I was on a mission to save money, I would evaluate every choice. It became a game, a challenge. How low could I go without sacrificing a healthy diet?

Well, store-brand diced tomatoes, to be used in chili, are just fine. Do I prefer organic? Of course, but I eat them in the summer from my own garden, so I will make up for it then.

I am more of a stickler for organic when it comes to dairy products, particularly milk and half-and-half. So, there I will compromise by buying the store’s organic products.


And my eggs must be free-range. I’m willing to pay the price there, although I still look for the best value.

Other items proved trickier. I had to admit to myself that the reason I balked at the store-brand ziti was that the box was unattractive. It contained the same ingredients as the higher-priced Italian model. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t notice any difference (and was positive my husband, Paul, wouldn’t), once it was encased in a heavenly mixture of mozzarella, ricotta and marinara, and baked at 350 degrees for half an hour.

Now that I was using more generics than ever before, I was ready to take the next step. It is one thing to buy the store-brand Cheerios. But, store-brand oatmeal is cheaper. Hannaford’s organic Toasted O’s cold cereal is $4.78 per pound. Old-fashioned oats in a 42-ounce container is $1.63 per pound.

Now, Paul eats a Kashi cereal, which is in the $7-per-pound range, but he needs a no-salt brand, and this particular concoction actually doesn’t taste like cardboard. As for me, I know that I don’t always have time to make oatmeal in the morning, so I keep Toasted O’s on hand, along with the huge canister of oats.

There’s no point in trying to save money if I’m going to be unrealistic about what I’m willing or not willing to do.

I am ready and eager to compare prices, though. It’s fun and easy. In the 1990s, Amy Dacyczyn of Leeds published a newsletter called “The Tightwad Gazette.” She advocated the idea of a “price book,” in which shoppers could keep track of the cost of groceries in various stores. I thought this was a good idea, but was never organized enough to implement it.


Now, however, it’s a cinch to just check prices on a store app on your cellphone. I do it while I’m standing there, on the hoof, so to to speak. So, there I was in Target on an unrelated errand when I thought I’d swing by the cereal aisle to check on that expensive Kashi cereal. Click, click. Sure enough, it was about a dollar cheaper (that day) than what I’d been paying.

It wasn’t worth a trip across town, even in my fuel-efficient Prius, but I was there and technology for once was my friend. Deal!

I believe my efforts are working. I’d like to be able to provide a breakdown of “before and after,” but my mind doesn’t work that way. I operate on anecdotal evidence. For a couple of months, it seemed like I couldn’t escape the grocery store without spending $100. More than once a week. For two people, although this amount includes cat and dog food and treats, and household items, such as paper towels. Two people, I should add, who eat a plant-oriented diet and no red meat.

Lately, I’ve had some $50 receipts. Which would cause me to perform a lively jig, if I wasn’t so shy and retiring.

I’m pretty sure I’m saving money. I’m absolutely sure I’m having fun.

Liz Soares welcomes email at lizzie621@icloud.com.

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