Soaring food prices: the recipe for frugal families, cook more to spend less

the essential
Pauline is 30 years old. Married, mother of 2 children, she has to make do with the couple’s income: €1,700 per month, CAF included. Françoise is a nurse. In a couple with 2 children, her partner has 80 € restaurant tickets per month to limit the impact of rising prices. Less prepared meals, more cooking, their solutions to deal with soaring food prices, in the Tarn.

Their mum doesn’t work… even if she has a lot to do at home, their dad is a mechanic, the family’s income is limited to €1,700 per month, including aid from the Caf. However, Sofia and her big sister have never eaten so well since the beginning of the year.
This is the paradox of soaring food prices, Pauline, the mother, has changed her way of shopping. “I had 500 to 600 € per month for the four of us. I very rarely went to the market. Since the beginning of the year, I go there every Thursday, I buy fresh products and I cook a lot more. That’s how we get there. »

The proof with a course of civic instruction in the field for Sofia who took advantage of Ascension Thursday to follow her mother to the Saint-Juéry market, near Albi; a first !
Head to the Chalet aux fruits stand, 65 linear meters of self-service fruit and vegetables, with a bit of a wait at the four checkouts that allow you to finish the narrow circuit, but the game is worth the effort. “My trolley is full. I have for 18 € because I receive my parents and my brother this weekend. So, I took some extras. But usually, I buy between 10 and 13 € of fruit and vegetables here, it’s between 20 and 25% cheaper than elsewhere, and I like it from Thursday to Thursday. »

Good meat at a low price

For meat, she found two other good deals: the Marché d’Orient in Albi, where she finds very good local meat with the first price at €10 per kg. And the Portes d’Orient, at the Séquestre, where she buys boxes of 20 to 25 chicken thighs for €13.90. “When I go there, I take three boxes and freeze them. When I take out the thighs, I make them in the oven, in a casserole dish, in tomato sauce, in a stew… They never have the impression of eating the same thing. »

Sofia confirms with a big smile. “And the tomato sauce, I make it myself, the same for the Bolognese,” continues Pauline, looking satisfied. With fresh products, for the same price, I make a lot more than what I find in jars in supermarkets. Besides, it’s better. And that too freezes. Clearly, I spend more time than before cooking, but thanks to that, we eat better and cheaper. In any case, if we had continued to consume as before, it would not pass with the rise in prices. »

It costs less to cook fresh and it’s healthier than prepared meals.

An increase that did not impact Françoise in the same way. At this liberal nurse, also a mother of two children, there are two salaries that come in, and therefore food is not part of the budgets on which she intends to save. On the other hand, she is more careful than before not to lose the vegetables from the vegetable garden and the restaurant tickets paid for 40% of their face value thanks to the company of her spouse. “We are against prepared meals; it costs less to cook and it’s healthier than those dishes that contain more salt and sugar, not to mention antibiotics and plastic wrap. »

Cooking to keep savings cool in the event of a hard blow, a recipe that seems to delight these two families.

The Marché d’Orient has decided to cut back on its margins to preserve its customers

The rise in the cost of materials could not have come at a worse time for Zoubeyr Mahy, a year after having moved “Le Marché d’Orient” to larger premises in Albi, a few meters from the previous one. With a loan to be repaid, logic would have dictated that he would pass on the increase in charges to his selling prices. Or when he sacrifices quality, he who is used to choosing his animals on the hoof, from traditional cattle and sheep farms in the Tarn or Aveyron. But the former refugee turned entrepreneur experienced misery before seeing his work rewarded. The Franco-Kurdish businessman therefore preferred to “cut back” on his margins so as not to make the situation even more unbearable for the French people most in difficulty.

Like the “Chalet aux fruits”, the Marché d’Orient therefore played on the purchase of large quantities to lower prices. This is how he was able to increase the 5 kg of semolina from €7.95 to €6.95 this year.

He kept prices low on kefta (€7.95 per kg) and merguez sausages (€8.50 per kg). And it limited the damage on nobler meats. And to quote poultry, 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 limited the increase from 100% to just over 12%. I went from €15.95 to €17.95 per kilo.” Always cheaper than elsewhere, like beef.

But to manage to hold such prices, Zoubeyr Mahy had to save money wherever possible. It went from 11 to 8 employees, plus an apprentice. “In exchange for what, my wife and I have never worked so much. I work 90 hours a week,” admits the man everyone calls “boss” in the company. Never mind, despite the drawn features, he trained all these employees to save energy and water. An expenditure of personal energy that he does not regret. “We need that to get through the crisis with dignity and not murder customers with prices that are too high. We try to be as reasonable as possible so that it doesn’t weigh too much on people.” And customers pay him back. The Marché d’Orient remains a very popular address in the Tarn.

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