I live in a town of 1,100 people. Inflation has changed the way I grocery shop — here's how.
- Tim Connon lives in Altamont, Tennessee, where there's a Dollar Store and Piggly Wiggly.
- He says grocery-store items like broccoli and bread have become a lot more expensive.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Tim Connon, a self-employed insurance agent from Grundy County, Tennessee, about experiencing inflation at his local grocery store. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
I live in Altamont, Tennessee, a small rural town with a population of around 1,100 people. The closest grocery stores we have near us are The Dollar Store and Piggly Wiggly, which are walking distance from my house. The only two big-chain stores are Save A Lot and Walmart, which require driving a few miles down the mountain — so they're far and I don't end up going to them very often, if ever.
I try to spend less than $100 a week on groceries since I only have myself to feed. I usually buy a protein like chicken or beef, vegetables like broccoli or Brussels sprouts, and occasional carbs like potatoes.
I've noticed the grocery items I typically buy have gotten more expensive
I remember the price of chicken at my local Piggly Wiggly store was $6 for two-and-a-half pounds of Tyson boneless skinless chicken breasts two years ago — now it's $9.39. Philadelphia cream cheese has also increased in price; I remember it being around $1.59 for 18 ounces and now it's $2.99. The price of bread today is $7 a loaf, up from $4, and broccoli's price rose from about $2.70 a bunch to $2.99, according to my estimates.
If I buy beef, that will usually put my bill over my $100 weekly limit. When I recently checked beef prices, a pound of beef was $15; before I remember it being $10 or less.
I drink a cup of coffee every day that I brew at home from ground coffee beans. The cost of Starbucks ground French roast that I buy from the grocery store has increased by more than 50%, from $6 to $10.99 per 12-ounce bag.
Given inflation, I've had to make some adjustments to my spending decisions and habits
The high coffee prices have been one of the hardest things for me to deal with. They've caused me to resort to purchasing lower-quality coffee like Folgers.
One shift I've made has been finding online alternatives that serve my budget better. I'll typically go to Amazon to look for different deals, and it's the main online platform I use to shop for cheaper items. I've had to switch to other methods, such as buying bone-in chicken instead of boneless breasts, in order to save an extra $5.
I've also cut back on using recipes that have cream cheese to once a month instead of several times a month like I used to. One of these recipes was for "Crack Chicken," which I really enjoyed because it was a creamy chicken with bacon added — but that particular recipe is also hard to make if you have bone-in chicken like I have now.
Another change I've made to save money was switching to a different brand of cream cheese that costs half as much but has more added ingredients.
When I first noticed bread prices rising, I even learned how to bake my own bread with home ingredients for a fraction of the cost. But I've been on the keto diet for a little while now to lose weight, so I've stopped buying bread, and this is helping to cut costs as well.
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