Rising food prices: A recipe for frugal families: cook more to spend less

Polina is 30 years old. Married, mother of two, unemployed, she has to make do with the couple’s income: €1,700 per month including CAF. Françoise works as a nurse. Coupled with 2 children, her partner has restaurant tickets worth 80 euros per month to limit the impact of price increases. Less ready meals, more cooking, their solutions to combat rising food prices in Tarn.

Their mom doesn’t work… even if she has a lot of housework, their dad is a mechanic, the family’s income is limited to 1,700 euros a month, including help from the cafe. However, Sophia and her older sister have never eaten so well since the beginning of the year.
This is the paradox of soaring food prices, Polina, the mother, has changed her way of shopping. “I had between 500 and 600 euros a month for four people. I very rarely went to the market. I have been going there every Thursday since the beginning of the year, buying fresh food and cooking a lot of other things. Here’s how we get there. »

Proof with a civic field training course for Sophia, who took advantage of Ascension Thursday to follow her mother to the Saint-Jury market, near Albi; the first !
Head to the Chalet aux fruit stand, 65 linear meters of self-serve fruit and vegetables, with a bit of a wait at four checkout counters that let you complete the tight circle, but the game is worth the effort. “My cart is full. I have for 18€ because I am hosting my parents and brother this weekend. So, I took some additions. But I usually buy fruits and vegetables here for 10 to 13 euros, it’s 20-25% cheaper than anywhere else, and I like it from Thursday to Thursday. »

Good meat at a low price

As for meat, she found two other good deals: Marché d’Orient in Albi, where she finds very good local meat at the first price of 10 euros per kg. And Portes d’Orient in Séquestre, where she buys boxes of 20-25 chicken thighs for 13.90 euros. “When I go there, I take three boxes and freeze them. When I take the thighs out, I cook them in the oven, in the pot, in the tomato sauce, in the stew… They never get the impression that they are eating the same thing. »

Sofia confirms with a wide smile. “And the tomato sauce, which I make myself, is the same for bolognese,” Pauline continues, looking pleased. With fresh food for the same price, I earn a lot more than in the banks in the supermarkets. Besides, it’s better. And it also freezes. It is clear that I spend more time than before cooking, but thanks to this we eat better and cheaper. In any case, if we continued to consume as before, this would not have gone away with rising prices. »

Cooking fresh food is cheaper and healthier than ready meals.

An increase that did not affect Françoise in the same way. This liberal nanny, also a mother of two children, has two salaries, and therefore food is not included in the budgets on which she intends to save. On the other hand, she is more careful than before so as not to lose vegetables from the garden and restaurant tickets, paid for at 40% of their face value thanks to her husband’s company. “We are against ready meals; cooking is cheaper and healthier than those meals that contain more salt and sugar, not to mention antibiotics and plastic wrap. »

Cooking to keep savings cool in case of a hard hit, a recipe that seems to delight the two families.

Thanks to self-service, this prime sells for 25% less than the market price.

“Fruit Chalet” in Toulouse, another in Sequestre in Tarn Horticulture, four markets in Tarn, six in the Haute-Garonne – this is a proven recipe that has allowed Eric Belgioino to expand in 20 years. “We buy in bulk to keep prices down while maintaining quality. And we save on salaries. True, in self-service there is a small loss due to damage to goods by customers. But they are happy to choose, and all things considered, this allows us to offer them products 20-25% cheaper than the average. That’s how, in a few hours, 7 tons of goods found buyers at his stand in the Saint-Jury market on Thursday.

Marché d’Orient decided to cut its margins in order to keep its customers.

The rising cost of materials could not have come at a worse time for Zubair Maha, a year after Le Marché d’Orient moved to larger premises in Albi, a few meters from the previous one. Logic dictated that if the loan needed to be repaid, he would pass on the increase in fees to his selling prices. Or when he sacrifices quality, he who is used to choosing his animals on the hooves, from the traditional cattle and sheep farms in Tarn or Aveyron. But the former refugee-turned-entrepreneur endured suffering before his work was rewarded. Therefore, the French-Kurdish businessman chose to “cut” his margins so as not to make the situation even more unbearable for the most needy French.

Thus, like the Fruit Chalet, Marché d’Orient played on buying in larger quantities at lower prices. So he managed to increase the cost of 5 kg of semolina from 7.95 euros to 6.95 euros this year.

He kept prices low for kefta (€7.95/kg) and merguez (€8.50/kg). And it limited the harm to nobler meats. And if we talk about poultry, we bought 40% more expensive than in 2021, which he resells today at €11.95 per kg against €10.95 per kg a year ago (+9%). “I pay twice as much for lamb, but I have capped the increase from 100% to just over 12%. I went down from 15.95 to 17.95 euros per kilo.” Always cheaper than anywhere else, just like beef.

But in order to keep such prices, Zubeir Mahi had to save wherever possible. The number of employees increased from 11 to 8, plus an apprentice. “In exchange for which my wife and I have never worked so hard. I work 90 hours a week,” admits the man everyone calls the “boss” at the company. Nothing, despite the painted features, he trained all these employees to save energy and water. Waste of personal energy, which he does not regret. “We need this in order to adequately survive the crisis and not kill customers with too high prices. We try to be as reasonable as possible so that it doesn’t put too much pressure on people.” And clients pay him the same. Marche d’Orient remains a very popular address in Tarn.

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