Food prices, group buy #4 closing, headsup on GB#5

Yeah, it wasn’t my imagination…food prices have gone up and not by the usual small amounts. My local Albertsons is selling 85/15 ground beef at $3.69/#. $3.69! Madness!

So, whats a person to do? Well, as any devotee of Alton Brown knows, ground beef that’s sold in the supermarket is usually pieces of other cuts that have been ground up. In short, it’s the scraps from cutting up roasts and steaks. A quick trip over to the bargain meat bin shows a few remaindered steaks at about $2.33/#. So…its actually cheaper to buy the steaks and have them ground.

The stories Im reading are saying that the recent increase in food prices is mostly (but not entirely) due to the sudden renaissance of ethanol and other fuel substitutes/additives that can be developed from corn. Corn, of course, is whats used to feed a lot of the livestock in this country. Demand for corn goes up, price of corn goes up, price of animal feed goes up, cost of meat goes up…its really that simple and classic an example of supply and demand.

I can’t believe that people didn’t see the resultant food price increases coming. I saw it a mile away. Of course, if I had any money I’d’ve sunk it into corn futures.

So, I’ll head over to SuperWallyWorld and Costco and check out their prices on bulk ground beef. See, this is where having a freezer and a vacuum sealer really come in handy. I can buy the big Brick O’ Beef™, break it down into easier-to-manage 1# packages, vacuum seal them so they’ll last pretty much indefinitely and send ‘em to the basement for the cryo-nap. Hopefully this will result in some significant savings.

Now, even if the savings amount to only, say, $0.25 per #, you might say whats the big deal? Well, if I buy, say, 15# that’s a savings of $3.75. That’s $3.75 to sink into more food. When money is tight (and, really, when isn’t it?) every bit helps. Plus, every $1 I save off of ‘normal’ purchases can be $1 devoted to more ‘specialized’ purposes like freezedrieds, batteries, ammo, guns, radios, etc, etc.

I suppose the argument could be made that if I became a vegetarian I could save even more. But, alas, it is a quality of life issue. Spaghetti and tomato sauce just doesn’t have the same overwhelming satisfaction of spaghetti with tomatoe sauce, meatballs, and melted cheese.

EDIT: Costco had 88/12 ground beef at $2.50/# so theres some sanity there. Cheaper than WallyWorld too.
The Chip McCormick 1911 mag deal ends tomorrow. There are 41 magazines left. Whatever is unsold after Monday goes into the bunker for me and the girlfriends use, so if you want some now is the time, my friends. These mags were a closeout from one of my vendors so this is a deal that will not be repeated.
The next group buy will start next month and run into June. It’s the one some of you have been waiting for – the Mountain House #10 can buy. This time cans will be available as singles or by the case. Buy will run until June 1st at which time the order is ‘frozen’ and sent in to Mountain House. Takes about a week-to-ten days for them to get a truck here.

Calculating shipping costs on the #10 cans is a monstrous headache. Rather than try and do a one-size-fits-all deal (which isn’t really fair to most folks) I’ll provide an Excel spreadsheet with pricing and weights so you can calculate shipping charges on your own. Orders will be paid upfront but shipping charges will be paid at the time your stuff is boxed up and ready to go. In other words, you’ll check off a shopping cart with what you want, pay for it and when the stuff arrives around June 10th you’ll get an email saying what your actual shipping costs will be. To avoid surprises you can calculate your final shipping weights on the spreadsheet and then check out UPS’ website to guesstimate shipping.

There’ll be no minimums, but for best results you’ll want to order in quantities of six if possible. This is because each box holds six cans. That makes for the smallest, neatest package with no surplus packaging weight. Obviously if you only want one or two cans of something then you’ll just order that, but if you have the flexibility, ordering in quantites divisible by six will make everyones day easier and cheaper.

Prices have gone up a bit for 2007. That’s just the way the world works, Im afraid. Single cans vs. cases are the same price. That is to say one case is the same price as six single cans. I’ve got these things as cheap as I can get so theres not really room for a ‘case discount’.

Any items not in stock at time of ordering will not be backordered, you’ll simply get a refund. This is because the whole order has to be done at once and has to weigh a certain amount to get free shipping…and that free shipping is a very large part of what makes this affordable.

Its going to take a few days to get the ordering page up but when its up, you’ll know.

Like all group buys, this is open to anyone reading this. Don’t email me and ask if you can get in on it…you can. You should!

No ‘broken orders’ this time! Since we were doing whole cases last time some folks agreed to split cases and I would send half of one and half of another to two people. This time there shouldn’t be any need for that since you can order singles. As much as I like you folks, the whole splitting of cases is a bit of a pain so this time it ain’t happenin’.

Will ship to all 50 states but if youre in HI or AK, well, you know what to expect. Might ship to Canada if theres no restrictions on foodstuffs…be prepared to pay a bit more for shipping. Watch this space.
I’m TiVo’ing a program on the History Channel about Berlin’s underground bunkers. You can have all the Nazi rocket scientists, just gimme their building engineers.

6 thoughts on “Food prices, group buy #4 closing, headsup on GB#5

  1. Look into buying a feeding steer then having it butchered to your spec. If you can get a mostly grass feed it’s very cost completive and though the meat will be a bit tougher than feedlot IMO it’s much more flavorful. This means having space for a big freezer on a UPS though.

  2. In college, 5 of us went together on a half-side and decided how we wanted it cut up and packaged. Any cuts we didn’t know how to deal with we had ground. We rented a locker for it, as our fridge wasn’t big enough. It more than paid for itself. It’s a good deal if you eat enough beef.

  3. Random question – have you ever figured out the break even point on quantities or buying a certain amount of whatever at Costco vs. other stores? I used to have a Sam’s Club card, but only went a couple of times per year. Eventually decided (and read somewhere on the ‘net too) that it made more sense not to have the membership and just to spend a little more effort watching sale prices or getting to know the price cycles at the grocery store or WallyWorld…

  4. Not a problem for me. I’ve never actually paid for my CostCo membership. Buddy of mine had a membership and tagged me onto it.

    However, considering the $1 difference in ground beef prices, for example….the $11 I saved on meat yesterday covers about a third of the membership.

  5. Ah… good buddy. I’m not set up yet to store perishable goods in bulk quantities. Dry goods I’m doing better on… but starting with building the rotating pantry of stuff that I and the significant other will actually eat is a good start.

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