Note: this article was the original Better Times cover article, written in 1996, and so may be a bit dated. HOWEVER, problems on the farm haven't ended; prices farmers are receiving for their crops are at the lowest levels we've seen in decades, harvests are huge, YET, prices in commercial grocery stores haven't declined much at all. Profits for grocery store chains are growing, and the stock prices of such enterprises are on a steady upward track. A big part of the problem is the on-going consolidation of the food industry -- when you go to the store, you may see five hundred different brand names, but ultimately, you're only seeing about five companies. <end sermon mode>

Food Prices Start Climbing!

Low and Stable Grocery Prices May Be Coming to an End. Bad Weather, Poor Harvests World Wide Lead to Higher Prices for Consumers

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Supply and Demand. The past few years have been pretty hard on the farmers. Bad weather has caused crop failures and supply difficulties. These things are working their way into the prices at your local grocery store. Sooner or later, the law of supply and demand always kicks in. The best guess is that they will go higher before they get lower. Now is the time to examine your food budget and see where you can save money.

This is not just about money. It's about quality of life. Control over your life. Fun, convenience, and oh yes, how does it taste? We're not talking about feeling sorry for yourself, going second class, or giving up your favorite munchies.

You are a first class person. You deserve first class meals. You are in control of your kitchen. Might as well cook smart. But if you fall for the grocery industry's merchandising tricks, you end up paying more money than is necessary.

Getting control of your life is something that happens one step at a time. Smart cooking isn't everything, but it is something. It is a step in the direction of economic sufficiency and a boost to the quality of your life. It is one way to get control over one particular aspect of your life. It provides instant rewards -- good food, rave reviews from family and friends, and don't forget the more important results -- better health and more money in your pocket to spend or save for other things besides food.

Doesn't this kind of cooking take a lot of time? Not necessarily. It's not as simple as putting a frozen dinner in the oven, but most of these recipes can be prepared with only a few minutes of the cook's time. Plus, there's what we call a learning curve that kicks in. As you learn, you develop time saving convenience skills. You plan your meals in advance, and make things up so that when dinner time rolls around, you throw a few tasty things together and you're set.

You're kids can help. Kids need to learn to cook, and there is no better way to do this than helping Mom and Dad in the kitchen. As they grow, give them more things to do. It's good for kids to learn that there really is no such thing as a free lunch. Food doesn't just fall from the sky onto the dinner table. By the time they are in high school, they can be able to completely prepare a meal, without a parent's assistance. Later in life, as they are on their own -- going to school, working, getting married and starting their own households -- they (and their wives, husbands, and rommates) -- will thank you. Even if they do whine at first, stick with it.

It's OK to make mistakes. And you do get better with practice. Better Times gives you a lot of information. So much information, it may seek like quite a job just to figure it out. You may make some mistakes, but who doesn't? It's OK to make mistakes. That's how you learn.

Food is an adventure. You can do amazing things in your own kitchen. Be not afraid, God is on your side. If you get stuck in the middle of a recipe, and aren't sure what to do next, start your problem solving process with a little prayer, as in, "Hey God, I need some help!" You'll get an answer. You can always bet on that.

Life is complex. It's OK if you can't solve all your problems at once. Start where you can and handle what you can. Life gets better with practice, but you do kinda hafta work at it.

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