As Food Costs Rise, People Are Buying More Ramen and…Spam?

The Associated Press is saying that rising food costs are driving people to buy more Spam, despite the fact that the Spam itself is more expensive. Are you really doing this?

The price of Spam is up too, with the average 12 oz. can costing about $2.62. That’s an increase of 17 cents, or nearly 7 percent, from the same time last year. But it’s not stopping sales, as the pork meat in a can seems like a good alternative to consumers.

Kimberly Quan, a stay-at-home mom of three who lives just outside San Francisco, has been feeding her family more Spam in the last six months as she tries to make her food budget go further.

She cooks meals like Spam fried rice and Spam sandwiches two or three times a month, up from once a month previously.

Pulling Spam from the shelf prevents last-minute grocery store trips and overspending, said Quan, 38, of Pleasanton, Calif.

“It’s canned meat and it’s in the cupboard and if everything else is gone from the fridge, it’s there,” she said.

Spam’s maker, Hormel Foods Corp., reported last week that it saw strong sales of Spam in the second quarter, helping push up its profits 14 percent. According to sales information coming from Hormel, provided by The Nielsen Co., Spam sales were up 10.6 percent in the 12-week period ending May 3, compared to last year. In the last 24 weeks, sales were up nearly 9 percent.

The Austin, Minn.-based company, also known for the Jennie-O Turkey Store, has embarked on its first national advertising campaign for the 71-year-old brand in several years. They’ve credited the sales increase to that, along with new products like individually packaged “Spam Singles” slices. Also helping sales, executives said in an earnings conference call, was the fact that people looking to save money are skipping restaurant meals and eating more at home.

Spam Singles? According to the article Spam costs about $3.49 per lbs. Is this a good deal? Our local grocery store in Brooklyn has boneless chicken breasts on sale for $2.49 per lbs.

Another woman in the article says she’s feeding her kids ramen more often:

April Smith has been changing the way she feeds her family in Broken Arrow, Okla., to keep up with rising costs. This summer the 33-year-old administrative assistant will feed her two boys, ages 11 and 8, more ramen for lunch. Normally they eat the noodle soup on Saturdays, but since ramen costs about a dime per pack, they’ll get it twice a week. Smith says she’ll throw in some leftover frozen vegetables to make it more nutritious.

“Since it’s cheap and easy, I figure why not let them eat it twice a week instead of once a week,” Smith said.

What are you doing to save money at the grocery store? Is canned meat involved?

Sales of Spam rise as consumers trim food costs [AP]
(Photo: jodsey )

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. danno99 says:

    Monty Python references in 3…2…

  2. se7a7n7 says:

  3. ffmariners says:

    Rice + chicken + broccoli
    Pasta + chicken + broccoli

    Those are my two most common means I cook

    And they are relatively cheap

    BUT unlike a lot of America I try to eat normal serving sizes, that probably saves me a lot

  4. Nissan288 says:

    people should see how crazy it is over in south korea; those bricks of spam are like gold…

    i remember fondly many nights of spam and ramen…::sigh:: if my body was only like that now i could still do it, but eating that stuff is what put me in this position in the first place…

  5. Ummmm…we just buy more meat when it’s on sale and load up the freezer (esp. chicken and steak).

    The grocery prices are hitting the news hard right now, but our personal grocery budget jumped up and leveled out almost a year ago and has been pretty consistent ever since. Knock on wood, but everything has seemed pretty stabile for the past few months from my observations.

  6. B1663R says:

    the deal is, its not that they are getting poorer, its just that gas is so pricey now people can’t afford to drive to McDonalds as much.

    people are lazy or busy and just don’t have the time to whip up a meal under 30 mins.

  7. Also worth mentioning that 18 months ago, we went to one grocery store (Publix). Now we go to three of them in rotation, depending on sale prices and what we need (Publix, Winn-Dixie, Walmart Neighborhood Market)

  8. chiieddy says:

    I can buy a FRESH (And I mean fresh) chicken roaster for $1.49/lb. It’s the same price in the grocery store. 1 4 lb chicken is generally 2 – 3 meals for the two of us and costs slightly under $6 or about $2/meal/person. Actually, the last one, we ate chicken legs and thighs for the first night. The wings for a snack and then the meat, I picked off and made 6 servings of chicken pot pie.

    You can eat less processed food for less, yes.

  9. @Nissan288: Yeah, in my house we eat kimchee bok-keum bahp with egg and spam pretty regularly. Admittedly it is completely unrelated to overall food costs.

  10. Bladefist says:

    Food prices in America are up 4%

    Food prices in the World are up +20%

    Sooooo….America FTW

  11. henrygates says:

    Ramen has the nutritional value of a cardboard box. Try buying only meat on sale. Ground chuck is still around $2/lb so why would you buy spam for $3.50/lb? Makes no sense to me.

  12. fluiddruid says:

    Shelf stability is a factor here. Not everyone has a lot of storage space especially for frozen food. I lived for years in apartments and it was difficult to keep myself in much frozen food. Buying shelf-stable items meant fewer trips to the grocery store; even if the item was a bit more expensive, avoiding a trip or not having the temptation to just order delivery food was worth it.

    Having quick, easy-to-make items definitely helps reduce my eating out cost (I don’t always have time, for example, to make rice; cooked rice pouches and frozen rice are worth a small premium to me).

  13. Christovir says:

    Weekly vegetable box + rice + pasta + beans = many, many cheap, wholesome, and tasty meals.

  14. vetter02 says:

    “S”quirrels
    “P”ossum
    “A”nd
    “M”ice

  15. woodenturkey says:

    You can save a TON by going to the grocery store when they first open and buying the brown meat that’s been marked down; I eat like a king because I purchase steaks that are close to their expiration date and freezing them.

  16. Mistrez_Mish says:

    @Ash78: …we just buy more meat when it’s on sale and load up the freezer (esp. chicken and steak).

    Same here. I have enough chicken nuggets,sausages, and other various meats in my freezer to last for months. That and I’ve started accompanying some of my friends on their monthly trip to Costco, so that I can stock up on groceries that I either tend to go through quickly or have long shelf lives.

  17. sweetdaddyo says:

    Geez, I am flashbacks from childhood…still cannot eat Spam or even smell it without gagging. How about making more soup and beans? It has got to healthy and more cost effective than Spam.

  18. alice_bunnie says:

    Really, people are idiots if they are paying that and thinking they are saving money buying Spam. I buy regularly priced chicken for less than that, and I’m talking boneless skinless breast, tenderloins and cutlets. Pork loin for $1.99/lb and London Broil for $2.49 lb. And, I’m not talking scouring the sales either. :/ And, it’s not like it takes anymore time to stir fry that up than it does to make a stir fry with spam. Talk about lazy.

  19. louveciennes says:

    I don’t know if I’m eating MORE of it, but Spam isn’t something I sniff at, anyway, you bunch of snobs. ;) Seriously, Spam musubi? Spam and eggs with rice? At least once a month.

  20. PurplePuppy says:

    I found a great thrift store book from the 1960’s called “365 WAYS TO COOK HAMBURGER”

    Other than this, we’re getting a chest freezer and buying half a cow from a farm in autumn. Also, we live in Oregon (berry capital of the world) so there’s lots of U-pick farms.

  21. quirkyrachel says:

    @danno99: Dang you beat me to it.

    “Waitress: Well, there’s egg and bacon; egg sausage and bacon; egg and spam; egg bacon and spam; egg bacon sausage and spam; spam bacon sausage and spam; spam egg spam spam bacon and spam; spam sausage spam spam bacon spam tomato and spam.” Ohhh man that’s a classic.

  22. protest says:

    i have to agree with the other posters so far, spam is not really that cheap. as far as longer shelf-life protein goes even eggs are cheaper than spam, and better for you.

    buy fresh meat on sale and learn to cook and use your freezer. learn to be creative with eggs. grow your own herbs, tomatos, peppers (no yard needed). there are far better solutions than effing spam and ramen!

  23. Shadowman615 says:

    Nah. I rarely even buy frozen meats, never mind canned. I don’t really make much of an effort to save money on food, other than not eating out too much.

    Of course, things like the large, thick, fresh, 20-buck-a-piece steaks and chops are pretty much reserved for special occasions. But other than that I don’t shy away from buying everyday fresh meats.

  24. TechnoDestructo says:

    1. Spam doesn’t get pumped full of water to drive the price per unit of actual meat up.

    2. Spam just SEEMS like it ought to go better with instant ramen than does something like chicken breasts or steak, therefore it DOES go better.

    3. Spam is quicker and easier to cook without fucking it up than other meats, better matching things like ramen.

    4. I haven’t noticed it here, but I suppose it’s possible that meat prices in general have risen more than Spam prices in some locations. (Vegetables are what have really skyrocketed in AZ)

    5. “”It’s canned meat and it’s in the cupboard and if everything else is gone from the fridge, it’s there,” she said.” If you’re buying things in bulk, all of a sudden fridge and freezer space is at a premium, therefore meat that can go in the cupboard is worth a little more.

    6. The AVERAGE price of Spam has gone up. How was that determined? Surveying store shelves? Are sale prices included in that, and weighted for the actual quantity bought at those times? Has the actual price that people PAY per unit gone up? I’ve seen plenty of instances where the regular price of things has gone up, but occasionally the sale prices will be at pre-oil-price-hysteria levels, and I’ll buy the shit out of it then (bell peppers). The same could be happening with Spam.

  25. scarysnow says:

    i read a lot on here how people buy and freeze their food, and it makes me shutter.

    i guess that’s fine if you don’t care about the quality of your food, but freezing meat and poultry basically ruins all the natural flavor and texture, and people have to add overtly-processed sauces to create some semblance of flavor (and in the process, undo any nutritional gain.)

    of course, you could grocery shop twice a week and always have fresh, unfrozen foods.

  26. dry-roasted-peanuts says:

    I like spam, but it’s just cheaper to buy things like chicken breasts, hamburger, pork, etc.

  27. Its only a good deal if you can only buy your groceries once every two-four weeks and don’t have a giant freezer. Which actually applies to more people than we consumerist elitists (lol) think.

    Actually, I tend to buy a lot of non-perishables once a month to fill in the days where my fresh food had gone bad.

  28. Truvill says:

    @dry-roasted-peanuts: Seconded, since for almost 10 years now my family’s been buying nothing but bulk and preparing everything ourselves.

  29. KatieKate93 says:

    Spam, or any processed food really, is never the savings it seems to be at the time. Buy what’s on sale and throw it together in a creative way, add one or two “fancy” ingredients like Reggiano Parmesan or a really good wine and you’re still way ahead, budget wise and taste wise.

    Though I haven’t really bought pre-packaged food in years, I can definitely vouch for the savings incurred by getting a little creative in the kitchen. For example, I can feed two of us for about three days on what I would spend taking us out to dinner once (think Ruby Tuesdays or Applebees or something on those lines). SOOO worth the few minutes extra it takes to cook for yourself.

  30. @henrygates: We buy the ‘family size’ trays of whatever is on sale, and divide it up into meal-sized portions (for us, that’s three portions per gallon-sized freezer bag) before putting it in the freezer. You see a lot of sales at the supermarket, but only when you buy 5 lbs. or more at a time.

  31. HootieMac says:

    As a Minnesotan, I thank you for sending your cash our way.

  32. RBecho says:

    We do the freezer stuff like others have mentioned, only we tend to stick to ground turkey. Though we are fans of canned chicken / tuna because it’s just easier to deal with some days (being able to make tortilla chicken soup without browning / chopping the chicken first saves time and effort).

    I do have to admit we are scaling back on some things (like being more store brand friendly) and we are taking advantage of more food purchases at Costco.

  33. hi says:

    People can be conditioned to eat things they wouldn’t normally eat. It’s sad.

  34. Gokuhouse says:

    More Ramen, please?

    Yes, we are buying more Ramen…lots more…

  35. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    Spam and Ramen? Try Spam and boxed Macaroni and Cheese. I eat like a king… a 14th century king weighing 300 lbs.

  36. Scoobatz says:

    I went to Hawaii a couple of years ago and remember seeing a lot of locals buying Spam. I thought bad for these people, because I thought they couldn’t afford to buy decent cuts of meat. Turns out, lots of people over there just really like Spam. When I returned from my trip, I coincidentally saw a random news article that said how Spam is more popular in Hawaii than anywhere else.

  37. azgirl says:

    I think that giving your children the idea that cutting back on nutrition rather than cutting back on “nice to haves” is a poor message. Growing kids should be eating fresh fruit and veggies and meats as much as possible, even if it means cutting out cable and cell phones and other BS…giving them preservative filled processed food is a bad idea, period… how many of us are healthy on that sort of diet as an adult?

  38. SuffolkHouse says:

    @scarysnow:
    You seem like a real snob.

  39. lilkeith7 says:

    Rice or pasta, veggies (usually a salad), chicken or ground turkey. Thats pretty much what I eat everyday. I usually go to the grocery store twice a week and get the managers special and cook it that night or next night to keep things fresh.

  40. theblackdog says:

    I can’t eat Spam, the two times I tried it in my life I ended up puking afterwards.

    Now ramen, that’s something I haven’t had in a while, and supposedly I’m the perfect demographic for doing so. However, last night I was able to combine $1.00 of chicken and $0.50 in some frozen vegetables with soy sauce, pepper, ginger, and garlic to make a kick ass stir fry, with plenty to take to work the next day.

  41. SuffolkHouse says:

    @KatieKate93:
    Restaurants like Applebees and the rest in that type are rips offs. I can get good Chinese or Sushi for the cost of an $8.00+ burger at Applebees.

    Still, going out is increasingly insane because of rising costs.

  42. Angryrider says:

    “…Spam?” Oh, you Americans and your irrational hatred of processed foods despite the fact that the Hostess fruit pie has a lot more ingredients.
    You know, Asian people love spam, and use it as a meat substitute, it’s kinda like having meat loaf on a Thursday night or something. Nothing beats veggies and spam on separate dishes for dinner every once in a while or so.
    With rice prices going up, I hope I don’t resort to ..ugh… American rice.

  43. dry-roasted-peanuts says:

    @Truvill: Totally. You want to save money, the first thing to do is stop eating out.

  44. Angryrider says:

    I’ve always wondered, why do Americans pronounce ramen the right way, “rah-men,” instead of “ray-men?” While karate is “ka-ra-tea,” and karaoke is “kar-e-o-ki?” Don’t get me started on hari kari, which doesn’t even mean “hara kiri.”

  45. VA_White says:

    I cook at home. That’s how I save money. Spam is disgusting and so is ramen. Might as well fry up some tube socks.

  46. @Angryrider: Isn’t hara kiri is the late coke-bottle-glasses baseball announcer lovingly immortalized by Will Ferrell? “If you were a hot dog, and you couldn’t afford Spam, would you eat yourself”

  47. VA_White says:

    If you’re eating corn-fed beef from the grocery store, it doesn’t matter if you pay $1.00 a pound or $15.00 a pound. It’s all assy and bad for you.

  48. scarysnow says:

    @SuffolkHouse:

    i’m sorry that caring about what you eat is snobbish–some people, such as myself, see food as something besides a trivial commodity for nutritional energy.

  49. marsneedsrabbits says:

    We buy Turkey Spam (around a quarter the fat of regular Spam) to make Spam musubi once or twice a month, but don’t eat it otherwise. It’s about $2.25 a can here for 12 ounces.

    Spam is cheaper than going out to eat, of course, but not at all cheaper than fresh chicken or even fresh beef on sale. It isn’t even cheaper than real ham on sale.

    I can buy a huge chicken for around $5.00 and get 2 meals for 4-5 people out of (8 to 10 individual meals total), whereas Spam is 2.25 for one meal for 2-3 people. But it’s a nice treat & so tasty.

    Spam is probably more popular because a lot of people wouldn’t know what to do with a raw chicken or a pot roast if it were staring them in the face, but pretty much anyone can open a can of Spam, dump it on a plate, slice it & put it on bread with mayo or mustard.

    I feel sort of sorry for people who can’t cook.

  50. katylostherart says:

    ewwww….

  51. rwyuan says:

    I’m surprised that no one has mentioned that both items (SPAM and ramen) have really high sodium levels. When I love ramen, reading the label on one 10 cent package shows that it contains TWO (2) servings (B.S. I say – no one every has 1/2 of a package of ramen) and that each serving has 33% of the Recommended Daily Allowance for sodium. So, have a whole package for one meal and you’ve just consumed 2/3 of your RDA of sodium. A diet that uses SPAM and ramen as major staple items is very HIGH in sodium (which can lead to hyper-tension). I can understand the allure of the 10-cent meal (having had it myself many times). I would say either – skip the seasoning pack (use your own) or only use a little.

  52. syndprod says:

    I am a happy consumer of ramen noodles, but my trick is not to use the packed-with-sodium seasoning packet in each brick pack. Instead, I just cook the noodles and toss a little Trader Joe’s Thai Peanut Sauce on ‘em.

    And I enjoy going to Asian supermarkets and seeing the mind-boggling array of ramen and other noodles! I’ve purchased cheap ramen packets just for the package design.

  53. strathmeyer says:

    Heck, next thing you know people are going to start buying raw beef and chicken and cooking it themselves!

  54. Rando says:

    People are buying more spam because it can easily be used as a meal, entirely. $3 to feed a few people is a good meal imo. But I hate spam…ew

  55. ByeBye says:

    @rwyuan: Hyper tension? That would be me. Before I got married and was poor about 4 years ago, ramen, spam and macaroni and cheese was my diet. Yup, got the good old hyper-tension.

    What me and my wife do now is at the beginning of the month (Food stamps FTW, 3 kids, make less than 30k a year…yeahh…) we buy tons of chicken and beef, and it mostly lasts us. Especially now with the whole “crisis” going on. This tip is not that great unless you have a high metabolism and have very few bits of income.

  56. PunditGuy says:

    @scarysnow: I’m willing to bet my culinary arts degree that if I were to properly prepare a once-frozen chicken breast and a never-frozen chicken breast, you’d have no idea which was which.

    Embrace the freezer. It’s what separates us from the pioneers.

  57. battra92 says:

    @Bladefist: Sooooo….America FTW

    America always wins.

    Love the icon by the way.

  58. katylostherart says:

    @scarysnow: actually i freeze a lot of my meats and buy frozen vegetables. it doesn’t ruin anything if you freeze it immediately after purchase and cook it immediately after thawing. if you know how to cook, it doesn’t ruin a thing. and if you add spices and things like sauteeing in a bit of olive oil or marinade and bake under fresh tomatoes, it really really doesn’t take away all nutritional value, or really, any of it.

    you are being snobby. if you can’t cook well with frozen, previously fresh foods, you should probably take some cooking lessons. it is cheaper to buy things in bulk for a lot of people. so i buy less of better food instead of more of bad food but i still can’t afford to get fresh produce of every type that i eat. if frozen veggies are 2bags/$5 and it’s 5 servings each bag i’m going to go with that rather than the 3 servings of other other mixed vegetables at $5. parboiling or blanching frozen broccoli has the same taste, texture and nutritional value as steaming fresh broccoli. the only texture/taste difference is between uncooked vegetables and frozen and then not cooked vegetables.

    although the thought of what’s in spam makes me kinda ill… snouts, what assholes and meat? spare parts and meat?

    oh and it’s SHUDDER. shutter is the thing you close over a window and such.

  59. battra92 says:

    I’ve actually been pretty good about my food budget for my family and helping my parents learn to manage theirs. For years it wasn’t so much of a problem but now with a little planning they are finally getting into it.

    First, almost all meat is bought at BJs and frozen.

    Second, despite what people are saying, rice is relatively cheap still and it’s filling. $5 worth of real (non Minute) rice lasts our family months.

    Third, cutting down on portions is helping my waistline get smaller. :D My family is a bit envious but won’t cut down their portions.

  60. ClayS says:

    Ramen and Spam. Probably the two saltiest foods found in the grocery store. Maybe a lot of people just have an electrolyte deficiency so they crave these foods.

  61. donkeyjote says:

    I foresee a rise in scurvy incidents outside of the college-age group in the near future.

  62. bohemian says:

    Spam no. Our kids make ramen when they are home in the summer. We have changed our eating habits quite a bit, we eat more brown rice, lentils, ground turkey and that kind of thing. Our meals have leaned more toward Asian or Indian type foods lately too, more veggies and rice and less meat.

    If you want to find more ways to do decent, interesting and cheap meals from scratch Google “Old Scrote”. He has recipes and notes about where to spend your money to get the most out of it food shopping.

  63. ramthor says:

    Cube a potato or two, slice in an onion, dice in some Vienna sausage (3 cans for a buck) dash of Cholula, bullion cube … fried or boiled you can stuff yourself for peanuts.
    US Army, Korea, wore me out on Spam forever.

  64. Ninjanice says:

    I’ve started making lists before I go shopping. Seems simple, but I never really did it before. I’d just go up and down the aisles, grabbing whatever looked good. I also make sure that I am not hungry when I shop so I don’t veer from my list. I never really was a big meat eater, so I’ve always favored beans and legumes for protein with meat treated more as a side, not the main attraction. And I don’t plan on buying Spam for it’s shelf-life. Canned or dried beans are better tasting, better for you, more versatile and last just as long sitting on the shelf.

  65. battra92 says:

    @scarysnow: i read a lot on here how people buy and freeze their food, and it makes me shutter.

    IIRC Alton Brown said that frozen birds are just fine.

  66. capnjack says:

    Turkey breast was on sale $1.40/lb. last week. I quartered it and sliced off all the meat, and froze it into about 7 servings. Much more delicious than spam, and since I cut it up myself it doesn’t take as long to cook when I get home. Just throw it in the grill or on the pan and voila!

  67. TangDrinker says:

    Aseptic packaged tofu is cheaper than spam – and if you’re doing a stir fry, people probably won’t notice. Subbing TVP for part of your ground beef/turkey in chili/casseroles, etc is also a way to stretch your food dollar without resorting to mystery meat in a can.

    We’ve cut back from buying organic milk to hormone-free non-organic. I just can’t afford $6 gallon organic milk (for us it ends up being $12 a week on milk). By switching over, we’ve cut our milk costs by a third.

  68. katylostherart says:

    @ClayS: ramen, spam, can of cambell’s tomato soup for sauce. bet you could turn your blood stream into the dead sea with that.

  69. kaptainkk says:

    Stop with the Spam is disgusting. People don’t know what disgusting is. Do you realize people actually die from not having enough to eat. Just imagine that!! If you were starving, I guarantee you’d be all over that Spam. How about a healthier lifestyle where diet is concerned? And Spam is not the answer. What am I doing to save money, I just eat less and who couldn’t stand to lose a few pounds.

  70. henrygates says:

    I don’t understand minute rice. It only takes 20 minutes to make real rice, compared to 5-10 for minute rice, and real rice tastes a lot better!

  71. capnjack says:

    @TangDrinker: Well, tofu is disgusting tho. Spam is delicious.

    Although tofu does absorb the flavor of other things. Wish I knew how to season it properly to make it edible.

  72. katylostherart says:

    @henrygates: only takes 10 mins to make basmati rice.

  73. kc2idf says:

    You can solve the sodium issue with ramen by not following the instructions.

    I usually will cook and drain the noodles, then sprinkle on a mixture of garlic, chive, white pepper and ginger. It’s much tastier.

    If I am feeling ambitious, I might instead add them to some mushroom soup.

  74. marsneedsrabbits says:

    @scarysnow:

    i guess that’s fine if you don’t care about the quality of your food, but freezing meat and poultry basically ruins all the natural flavor and texture, and people have to add overtly-processed sauces to create some semblance of flavor (and in the process, undo any nutritional gain.)

    Boneless, skinless, natural (no hormones or antibiotics) chicken breasts are on sale where I live this week @ a very low 4 lbs/$4.99 ($1.25/lb). This is a rare occurrence, maybe once or twice a year. My choices are either to buy them now and freeze them, or not buy them at all later when they are $4.00/lb and up.

    If I don’t buy them now, we would have to eat lesser cuts that cost more and are fattier at a later date, which is completely unacceptable. Nutrition is very important, but fresh every time does not make sense since proper freezing does not harm the meat to the degree you seem to think it does.

    See: [extension.missouri.edu]

    “Nutrient retention. The freezing process itself does not destroy nutrients. In meat and poultry products, there is little change in nutrient value during freezer storage.”

    I somehow manage to never dump “overtly-processed sauces” on it when it is cooked, too. The last chicken I thawed ended up being in gỏi cuốn (Vietnamese Summer rolls) with homemade peanut sauce, fresh raw veggies, fresh raw basil, fresh raw cilantro, & homemade nÆ°á»›c mấm (bun sauce). The “other half” of that chicken was served with garlic mashed potatoes and fresh asparagus and a loaf of homemade gluten-free rosemary & garlic bread.

    Hardly overprocessed.

    Just because people aren’t flocking to the grocery store twice a week, paying nearly $4.00 a gallon for gas to get there so that they can pay $4.00-$8.00 a pound for chicken or whatever does not mean that they don’t care about nutrition.

    It means that they don’t want to throw money away for no good reason.

  75. IrisMR says:

    I… I think spam tastes good. *hides in shame*

  76. tbone13 says:

    too much ramen will kill you.

  77. tbone13 says:

    btw. i love spam. breakfast, lunch, and dinner of champions.

  78. marsneedsrabbits says:

    @capnjack:

    It needs to be the right kind and it needs to be pressed before cooking to taste good. Tofu is easy to prepare, but takes a few minutes spaced over time versus being able to fix it all at once, just like many meat dishes. If you drain it in the morning, and slice it in the evening, it’s really no different than taking something out to thaw in the morning.

    Buy firm if you want it to hold it’s shape. Use the “soft” for smoothies & desserts, or for scrambling, casseroles, etc.

    So, take it out of the package, lay it on a clean dish towel on a plate. Place another plate on top of it & maybe add a can or two on top of that. The liquid will start to drain out. You may have to change towels and/or drain the plate or use two towels to start with. Do this until it is pretty dry. This usually takes an hour or two, but makes a huge difference in how it tastes.

    When it is pretty dry, cut it up. I usually cut mine into about 8-10 slices, then cut those slices into french-fry sized lengths. Blot with more towels if you need to, or lay them out on a towel to drain more after they are sliced. Drying it out allows it to take up the flavor that the water occupied.

    Our favorite is to spray Pam on a baking sheet, lay down the “fries” which have been previously tossed briefly in Tamari (soy sauce) and dry sherry, spray olive oil Pam on them, sprinkle curry powder and garlic, plus pepper, and bake at 350 till crispy (about 30 minutes). Serve with an appropriate sauce (fresh raita or chutney for curry), plus fresh veggies.

    You can make Mexican or Thai or whatever tofu fries substituting appropriate spices and sauces.

    Kids love these, too.

  79. Novaload says:

    @marsneedsrabbits: And let me add to the pile on ScarySnow: Before heading to the Gourmet blogs, you better replace “shutter” (goes on a house) with “shudder” (a-tremble with cold, fear, etc.)

  80. karlrove says:

    I can’t read all these comments, but I will say this: why do people head to shitty processed foods when real foods out of the real ground cost similarly and will actually keep you healthy, away from the doctor and your insurance premiums down? *phew*

  81. Froggmann says:

    Dammit people, STOP EATING ALL OF MY BATCEHLOR FOOD!!!

  82. Youthier says:

    @scarysnow: Most weeks, I barely have time to grocery shop ONCE, let alone twice and I don’t even have kids yet.

    @fluiddruid: You do make sense… I’m lucky enough to have a freezer in the garage and stocked up on $1.99/lb ground beef this week but those without the room may not be as lucky.

    I will say that if you can spare the $200 for a small chest freezer, it’s worth it. We got a nice big upright this winter and it’s helped our grocery costs enormously. Even with the rising cost of food, it’s about paid for itself.

  83. RobertW.TX says:

    If cost cutting is your goal skip the SPAM and try making more meals with a meat substitute like lentils they are dirt cheap and only lacking the amino acids methionine and cystine. Fortunately rice and wheat contain both so a lentils and rice together make a complete protein. Add some frozen veggies and you have a nutritious meal that cost about a buck per serving.

  84. Mjolnir427 says:

    @TangDrinker: This may sound wierd, but we cut our dairy spending by getting milk and eggs delivered. It costs slightly more per gallon/dozen, but we spend less on impulse buys so our actual costs go down.

    It’s counterintuitive, but the checkbook doesn’t lie.

  85. chewiemeat says:

    Maybe I’m stupid, but groceries cost about as much today as I paid for them a year ago. Or two years ago. Or three years ago, with three years of 3% inflation calculated in. It just isn’t a big deal. I think people are just looking for something to whine about and have convinced themselves that groceries are suddenly ungodly expensive just like they convince themselves that because gas increases by a nickel per gallon that they’re suddenly going to have to send junior to a community college.

  86. theblackdog says:

    Before I forget.

    Living right behind a supermarket FTW!

  87. Brunette Bookworm says:

    @scarysnow: Since I try to buy only local, grass fed beef and pastured chickens, some of that has to be frozen. Grass-fed beef isn’t slaughtered every day you know. Meat, well, meat grown naturally has a “season” just like produce. I’d rather pay more for good meat and eat it less often. I end up with a few vegetarian meals a week. If you freeze meat correctly and make sure that the packaging is free of air, it tastes fine. My frozen grass-feed steaks taste better than any of the “fresh” steaks at the grocery store. I’ve cooked them with out sauces so I can really taste the meat. I don’t dump stuff on them.

  88. Mistrez_Mish says:

    @IrisMR: I… I think spam tastes good. *hides in shame*

    It’s ok, you’re not alone. Although I’m not feeling this Spam with Cheese in the picture…

  89. bohemian says:

    @chewiemeat: Most of the food items we buy have gone up 20-100%. Many that went up quite a bit we buy less or don’t buy. Maybe you buy things that have not gone up but I track prices based on receipts, food prices have gone up a ton.

  90. scarysnow says:

    ahh! i didn’t know you guys were going to get all defensive about freezing your meats! (to the point where you were scrutinizing my spelling like a 3rd grade english teacher. what’s up with that?)

    maybe i was just criticizing my mother-in-law who freezes everything, and it all ends up tasting like rubber. i can always tell the difference. kudos if you’ve managed to make it work. i guess, in this department, i am a snob (and I’m not alone here), but you’d have to put a gun to my head before i freeze anything voluntarily (much less take classes on how to defrost…kill me now.) :)

  91. bohemian says:

    Everyone I have talked to that was raised in an Asian culture or lived in one for a while said that a rice cooker is a core kitchen tool. I bought one a few months ago and use it all the time. Ours even has a timer to start it at a specific time. It makes putting dinner together much easier.

  92. suncoast.katie says:

    The food budget is one of the few things we have control over. Normally, I would just stretch everything with more carbs—extra pasta, rice, potatoes; but since that has led to extra pounds around the middle, I only recommend that trick for someone NOT sitting at a desk all day. Now we double the veggies, usually frozen store brand and use meat as a flavoring. Homemade sauces help vary the routine a bit. Whole chickens last 2-3 nights if you do that and at .82/lb at Walmart, whatta bargain!! Chicken legs are only .51/lb. When I lived in NY years ago, the best place to shop for veggies was Chinatown. Stuff is dead ripe and very cheap!

  93. TechnoDestructo says:

    @scarysnow:

    Stop spelling like a third-grader, then.

  94. ravensfire says:

    @Youthier: It’s good to hear that the cost of a chest freezer is made up in reduced food costs so quickly.

    I don’t yet have one because I live in a one bedroom apartment. When my husband and I finally have a house, one of the first items on my to do list is to by a chest freezer.

  95. commu6 says:

    I’m sorry, but an Asian in the Bay Area eating SPAM is hardly news. Hell I’m craving a SPAM musubi from L&L right now.

    Now if they said, Patty O’Reilly from Nob Hill is eating more SPAM, then I’d be impressed.

    JB

  96. DePaulBlueDemon says:

    Man, oh, man… What’s so wrong with Spam? I grew up in Poland and Spam would have been a treat! I guess some people just need to count their blessings…

  97. scarysnow says:

    @TechnoDestructo:

    ok. SHUDDER. jesus. i spelled a word wrong. crucify me. and you all had the audacity to call me a snob.

    enjoy your frozen food, tightwads. :)

  98. Not Alvis says:

    Loves me some ramen. Like most of us I started eating it in college, but then a couple of years later I started buying it again. I like to keep a 12-pack in the pantry. It’s great for when you can’t decide if you’re hungry enough for a whole meal – you can eat half a bowl of ramen and only waste six cents.

  99. GTB says:

    my only concession to the recession is to buy more store-brand items, especially things that don’t have a noticeable difference in ingredients. These things are normally bad for me, so it doesn’t really matter. For instance, since all soda is now equipped with HFCS, there is no reason to buy name brand stuff. (I splurge on natural cane soda once in a while, but its more expensive)

    I tend to still buy fresh meat and fruits, though my vegetable intake has changed drastically to frozen stuff now.

    But spam? really? Pass.

  100. oregongal says:

    Ramen? Well yeah in a pinch with fresh veggies and herbs thrown in ……….. but ……….. Spam? *shudders and backs away very quickly*

  101. ghost77 says:

    Don’t forget, these are the same people who have/had junk mortgages. It’s like one big dumb mass of americans who can’t get anything right.

    Mmmmm spam.

  102. Lambasted says:

    @scarysnow
    @scarysnow: You shouldn’t be so shocked at the responses you have received. For example, a car may run better on premium gas but regular gas may be all people can afford. It serves no purpose to point out how much nicer your car runs on premium; that you wouldn’t be caught dead pumping regular; and those who do are uncivilized savages (to paraphrase), is demeaning and worthy of a vitriolic response.

    I am sure no one here would argue with you that fresh food tastes better. The point is not everyone has the luxury of finances or time to buy fresh food. They must make do with what they can.

    If you don’t like frozen foods or think they’re beneath you, good for you, don’t eat it. Go get yourself some FRESH juicy roast beef, dab a little Grey Poupon on it (not too much) and bon appetite. But are you so out of touch that you don’t get that people are fighting hard to survive and take care of their families? They are struggling to pay their bills, fill up their gas tanks and put food on the table. The taste of frozen chicken is the least of their doggone concerns.

  103. hell, I feed a family of 5 on like $250 a month. Spam is definately NOT on the menu, although I don’t snub my nose at people who eat it. I spend about $100 on meats, $100 on refrigerated foods/frozen foods, and $50 on boxed/canned stuff on sale. My pantry is full because I bargain shop. I do what many people do, wait until meat is about to expire and it’s marked down, or wait for a fantastic sale.

    Not that hard when you’ve been stocking a house for 6 years and know the “average” costs of things. If you don’t know that, you don’t know a deal.

    (P.S.- up here in NY, the Freihofer’s outlet is PHENOMENAL!)

  104. Scuba Steve says:

    The only canned meat I will touch is Chili, and it’s only if I’m too lazy to make it myself.

  105. Lambasted says:

    @Lambasted: Oops, edit: It is demeaning and worthy of a vitriolic response.

    Where’s an edit button when you need one.

  106. scarysnow says:

    @Lambasted:

    eating frozen foods is a convenience thing, not a price thing. the price is relatively the same for what you get. it’s not like the point of my original thought was to bash poor people. i was actually surprised that people associate frozen food with being poor, and therefore have a reason to be defensive about it. if someone’s self-worth is tied up in how you buy your food, then you’ll have to work that out on your own.

    my point was that i hate frozen food, it tastes, in my opinion, no better than SPAM. Lots of SPAM bashing here, and yet when I interject by bashing frozen food, I’m the bad guy. I didn’t see anyone defending people who are forced to eat SPAM.

    I think the snobbery is on the other end of the table here, and it comes from apparent insecurities I was not aware of. feel free to spell check this for me, if anyone has no better counter argument.

  107. scarysnow says:

    I’ll also note that I’m pretty convinced that anyone on this blog isn’t “poor” poor. I mean, 99% probably have cable internet, cable tv, take plane rides, and shop for computer hardware, all of which they complain about on a daily basis.

    Not exactly the portrait of the poor and downtrodden. More like whiny, spoiled little kids who aren’t making as much as their mommies and daddies did.

    I have a feeling I’m as good as toast here as a commenting presence, but I wanted to make my point clear. Bon voyage.

    (again, feel free to check for spelling and grammar.)

  108. Lambasted says:

    @scarysnow:

    “Eating frozen foods is a convenience thing, not a price thing. the price is relatively the same for what you get.”

    See there is this thing called a sale. People without a lot of money must stock up on items when they are on sale not when they are fresh. To keep said items free of bacteria and other nasty germs, they must be kept frozen. Clearly you must not have to buy foods on sale. Thus, I understand why the importance and necessity of freezing may be lost on you.

    i was actually surprised that people associate frozen food with being poor, and therefore have a reason to be defensive about it. if someone’s self-worth is tied up in how you buy your food, then you’ll have to work that out on your own.

    The only one being defensive is you. I simply pointed out your failure to see beyond your own lifestyle and how others may live. You berated people who choose to freeze food. I countered that for some people freezing isn’t a choice. Thus, indirectly freezing can be based on one’s financial status.

    my point was that i hate frozen food, it tastes, in my opinion, no better than SPAM.

    Good for you. Shame everyone doesn’t have the luxury of eating fresh, non-spamlike foods. I have always lived my life by the notion , “All words have meaning. Use them carefully and wisely.” It’s one thing for someone to say they hate Spam or frozen foods. But I would never go on about how gross it is, tastes like road kill, no better than dog food (I exaggerate) because I know that some people reading here may be hurt by those words, especially if they have no other choice but to eat Spam and frozen foods. That is not being defensive. That is being considerate and compassionate. I don’t have to live a life to understand it. Context is key here. After all, the premise of the article is that people are forced to make food choices based on financial decisions not preferences.

  109. skeptikool says:

    Well, it’s not Spam but it comes in the same size and shape of can. It’s called Holiday Luncheon Meat and, at 95 cents, is a good buy. I like it and probably get about six to eight sandwiches per can. The meat is chicken and pork. I’d rather it didn’t have the MSG, but it’s there.

  110. comicgeek77 says:

    i havent really changed my eating habits due to price increases but as a general rule i have always looked for really good deals on ramen, boxes of pasta, boxes of mac and cheese, jars of pasta sauce, and frozen vegetables. whenever i find them for super cheap i stock up because they have pretty long shelf lives. throw some peas and broccoli into some mac and cheese or some ramen with soy sauce or some pasta and sauce and you have a decent (if not super healthy) quickly made meal. having all of these items constantly at hand also cuts down on the desire to order in or make a drive thru run when you are feeling too tired/lazy to cook a real meal or go restock on groceries.

    i also stock up on sardines, tuna, and crackers when they are on sale like mad. most people think its gross but my idea of a decent lunch is a tin of sardines or tuna, some hot sauce, and some crackers,

  111. Not Alvis says:

    I’m always amazed by the price sway within the same brand of ramen. It goes from over $1.00 to around $0.10 per pouch, depending on store and quantity bought.

    Now, I can see paying $1.00 per pouch for imported Japanese brands, but I’m talking about Top or Maruchan here. I bet it’s highest in convenience stores on college campuses that let you use meal plan points as cash.

  112. nyaz says:

    @Bladefist: That’s cause we provide a lot of food duh.

  113. Roxie says:

    Well…no, Spam isn’t specifically a part of my family’s plan to save money. I was raised to care about eating well first–not just being able to afford food but being able to afford to eat the food I’d actually *want* to eat. And then everything else comes after that. But I’m Filipino, so I was raised on Spam, definitely, kind of like the way that folks in Hawaii love their Spam too. I still enjoy Spam every once in a while as a treat. I like my Spam fried and preferably with some fried eggs and a side of warm rice. Yummy! :)

    And it’s funny that Ramen would get mentioned here. Just the other day this week, some Filipino co-workers and I talked about Ramen. I told them I was weirded out by one of my friends in elementary school when she sprinkled parmesan cheese on top of her bowl of Ramen. And…I think she was equally weirded out when I said I’d prefer my Ramen “plain,” with no cheese on top. O.o And then I told them about how my parents and I like our Ramen. We like poaching eggs in the broth and adding other ingredients–Asian dumplings, green onions, maybe some crabmeat, or other stuff in the fridge that we think would taste good in the soup. My dad got us hooked to adding all this stuff to the soup–we turn those lowly packages of Ramen into actual meals, or try to. :)

  114. RvLeshrac says:

    @chewiemeat:

    It is “ungodly expensive” to shop for most people due to the fact that the majority of us don’t get raises.

    3% inflation every year is fine if the company you work for actually gives a damn about its employees, but very few companies seem to. Without a raise every year, people have seen a spike in the prices of everything with nothing to put money back in their pockets.

    That’s the real reason people suddenly can’t afford to feed their families – they have to fit the same amount of groceries in a smaller bag.

  115. RvLeshrac says:

    @Bladefist:

    This is partially because most foreign markets pre-emptively raise prices. It puts more of a burden on people in the short-term, but evens out over time.

    They have to adjust rather rapidly, but this is a lot better than our policy of trying to ignore the problem and hope that it goes away without our having to make any sacrifices at all.

  116. ShariC says:

    I second the folks who encourage eating eggs for cheap and nutritious protein. I think being affluent makes people forget that you can eat things like egg salad for lunch for pennies (okay, maybe dimes).

    Things like water-packed tuna and ground turkey (in my case, ground chicken as they don’t sell turkey in Japan) are also good to put into the rotation for meals. Obviously, avoid processed food as it’s very poor value.

    The biggest way to save money though is to never waste any food you buy and not to eat out. So many people stock up on food and it rots or becomes outdated before they consume it. I’d imagine that if everyone ate up every food item they bought, they’d see savings sufficient for making up for food price increases at this point.

    I won’t join the Spam bashers though I don’t care for it myself. However, there are a lot of Asians who adore it, including the Japanese who are held up as being the healthiest eaters in the world.

  117. Novaload says:

    @Lambasted: Kudos to you for having the patience to take apart ScarySnow’s opinions and mere assertions, which SS mistook for actual arguments and reasoning.

  118. stezton says:

    Personally I’ve always got some ramen and a can of turkey Spam in the cabinet. Not because I’m trying to save money, but just because I like them. Although I don’t know how people can eat regular flavor Spam. That stuff is salty!

  119. majortom1029 says:

    The sodium in ramen comes from the seasoning packet. I never use the seasoning packet.

  120. azgirl says:

    I still stand by my thoughts that the high carb high preservative food will cost you more in the long run.. I ate “cheap” for years, and have spent the last 5 trying to unload it from my butt…the path for me was fresh, and organic/hormone free. And yes it is more expensive, but the weight loss speaks for itself… People need to eat less- and better foods.

    As for saving money- I stand by Slickdeals to keep me in all the free toothpaste and shampoo I can handle. I have so much of that stuff, I donate it.

  121. LibidinousSlut says:

    @scarysnow: I don’t eat spam and I don’t eat carbs. I don’t think I pay an ungodly amount for groceries because I don’t eat anything processed and that’s where the premium is. Also, frozen veggies such as broccoli and spinach are typically cheaper than their fresh counterparts and are perfect for like a breakfast frittata. I also don’t abide by breakfast foods. This morning, for example, I’m having tomato slices with fresh mozarella for breakfast…but I’ve never really been one for breakfast foods.

  122. battra92 says:

    @azgirl: I ate “cheap” for years, and have spent the last 5 trying to unload it from my butt…

    I don’t know. I eat more rice now and I eat a lot of cheap foods (never did like SPAM or ramen though) and I weigh a lot less than I did before.

  123. RobinB says:

    My mom used to serve it with sliced pineapple on top to dress it up.

  124. HeartBurnKid says:

    Chicken thighs are great, as cheap food goes. They’re 99 cents a pound at most of my local megamarts, and, prepared properly, they’re lean and tasty. If you need a fast meal, de-bone and de-skin a couple (it’s easy to do) and give them a hot and fast sear; you’ll be eating inside of 10 minutes. Hell of a lot better than spam, and it’s been my cut of choice lately unless I can get a whole chicken on sale for even cheaper (which is more frequent than you think).

  125. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @scarysnow:

    Either you’re a crappy cook or that’s all in your head.

  126. katyggls says:

    I get the Ramen thing, it really is cheap especially when you’re in a hurry. But SPAM? I can buy a pound of lean hamburger for less than it would cost me to buy a pound of SPAM, plus SPAM is disgusting. Only idiots shop this way.

  127. Disturbedearth says:

    @sweetdaddyo: Amen to that! Even looking at a picture of the can makes me ill a little but I do have friends that absolutely love it. To each his own!

  128. BigElectricCat says:

    @Scoobatz: You’re correct about Spam being popular in Hawaii. I was stationed out there in the late 80s, and the folks out there LOVE it. There are cookbooks available with scads of Spam-containing recipes. It’s not unheard of to see truckload sales on Spam, and people will line up to buy a box or two when such an event is held.

    It’s true; Spam is near and dear to the kamaaina heart out there.

    @commu6: Spam musubi? Hells yeah! You can easily find them in just about any okazuya in the Aloha State. But you’ve got to show up early, because when they’ve sold out of the fresh ones that day, they don’t make any more. Construction workers and schoolkids seem to buy a lot of them, so if you’ve got the taste for Spam musubi, better start hunting before 9 AM or you might be out of luck.

  129. TheNerd says:

    In a small household, we find that a sack of potatoes goes bad before we eat it. We can’t afford to waste food, so we buy canned potatoes. Same with just about any bulk fresh food item – if we can’t freeze it, we buy it canned.

  130. firesign says:

    from wikipedia:
    A 56 gram (approximately 2 ounce) serving of original Spam provides 7 grams of protein, 2 grams of carbohydrates, 15 grams of fat (23% US Daily Value) including 6 grams of saturated fat (28% US Daily Value), and over 170 calories. Unfortunately, a serving contains nearly a third of the recommended daily intake of sodium (salt). Spam provides very little in terms of vitamins and minerals (0% vitamin A, 1% vitamin C, 1% calcium, 3% iron).

    i think that pretty much speaks for itself. fact is there are really easy to make that are a LOT better for and a LOT more cost effective then spam.

    @verucalise: man, i miss freihofer’s baked goods.

  131. ludwigk says:

    you guys, the woman in the article lives outside of San francisco. Food costs more here. Fresh boneless skinless chicken breast meat is about $5.50 / on, but you might see $4/ lb on a good sale. If you shop costco, you can buy bulk and get $3/lb, but that’s nastified 15% salt water added chicken. Good chicken is usually $6-7.50 lb. Yes, we really pay that much more for food.

  132. evilhapposai says:

    *reading as I eat my farm raised porterhouse steak and laughing manically*

    Grow and butcher your own food. Healthier, cheaper, and tastier. If you don’t have room for a steer or 2 get something smaller like a back yard goat or chickens. For you city slickers try a window box garden or even raise a couple meat rabbits indoors. You would be surprised how many meals a few hares and a freezer can give you and how good they actually taste.

  133. lestat730 says:

    @Lambasted: Well done, I couldn’t agree more.