Na Na pinches her pennies (aka frugal living)

Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.

Shrinkflation or what?

When I was young cans of veggies and fruits came in 25 ounce cans.  Then the cans shrank to 20 ounce size.  Still later to 15 and I believe a few  were reduced to 10 ounce size. Between 12 and 15 has remained the normal size for several years but the amount of liquid in the can has increased by a couple of ounces. The can may say 15 ounces but you actually get in the neighborhood of 12 ounces of actual food. The rest is water.

So….  have you seen the newest way the food shrink ray is being used?  I have.

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The cans are now between 7.5 and 8.5 ounces. Shown here on sale at .69 cents each. That works out to be about $1.30 cents a pound for the green beans. The shelf tags says it is normally priced at .74 cents each.  That would be about $1.40 a pound.

At first glance a person might think oh look at the cute little single serving size cans.  Ok, I’m only guessing here but this looks to me like it will soon become the new “normal” size. Why do I feel this way?  Because I’ve seen shrinking packages happen before. Not to this extreme though. Eventually the larger size will come back but it will have a much higher price.  I put an older size can next to the newer size for comparison.

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Here is another comparison. Three different sized cans.  In the center is the new shrunken size.  On the left is the new economy size which is the same as two shrunken ones. On the right is a previously shrunken size.

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But here is another puzzling thing.  They are changing from cans to plastic bags.  Why?  My guess is that it will be easier to manipulate the ounces of actual food in bags.  In theory its just like seeing large bags of potato chips but the bag is only half full or less.

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Or picking up a box of cereal only to find that the contents inside the bag are less than half full of cereal. People shop by habit and with their eyes not by checking ounces or unit costs.  People are going to think the veggie bags are the better bargain because they are only a dollar for 13 ounces instead of .69 for 8 1/2 ounces. Clever way to get folks to buy the bags?  Once people get into the habit of buying the bags, the contents will be less and the cost higher.

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What I really, really want to know is how is it possible for the manufacturers and processors to make shelf safe food in plastic bags?  My whole life I’ve been taught that veggies and meat MUST be pressure canned in order to be safe.  Could plastic withstand such high temperatures?  The plastic bags are against everything I’ve been taught.  What kind of mysterious chemical process makes the food shelf stable?  Scary thought.

Not only are the veggies showing up in plastic bags but just about everything else is too.  This is the dry fruit and nut isle.

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This is the beans and rice section.  The same thing is happening with all types of foods, including meats that used to come in cans.

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You may think these are just the ramblings of a little old lady but I’ve said it time after time… we cannot purchase what is not available.  If something is not there to buy what are you going to do?  You either pay the price or do without.  You either eat what is available or you go hungry.  Given enough time, the younger people, who have never seen the larger size or food in metal cans, will think the food they purchase in very small plastic bags is normal.

The world grows more frightening each day.

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8 comments on “Shrinkflation or what?

  1. Faye
    August 6, 2015

    Anita here is the edited version of my post: I can NOT believe how small cans have gotten!!! It is just RIDICULOUS!! I tell you the way things are going I may plant a vegetable garden in my back yard. I already planted one in the front yard. The other thing I am doing, to stick it to the grocery stores, is purchasing staples ( rice, popcorn, flour etc.) in 25 pound sacks. I find them thru Amazon ( with free shipping), at ethinic grocery stores and at Amish grocery stores.

    • Na Na
      August 6, 2015

      Your post? Where? I can’t find it.

  2. Faye
    August 6, 2015

    I can NOT believe how small cans have gotten!!! It is just RIDICULOUS!! I tell you the way things are going I may plant a vegetable garden in my back yard. I already planted one in the front yard. The other thing I am doing, to stick it to the grocery stores, is purchasing staples ( rice, popcorn, flour etc.) in pound bags. I find them thru Amazon ( with free shipping), at ethinic grocery stores and at Amish grocery stores.

  3. sarasinart
    May 22, 2015

    I haven’t seen those veggie bags here in Pa but that is scary. Some plastics are bad for us and we are to assume those plastics are not…….? And, as you said, the preserving of the food with heat, plastic can hold up under that heat? More preservatives is the answer maybe, more chemicals into our mouths instead of just plain food.

    • Na Na
      May 23, 2015

      That’s what I’ve been thinking. More preservatives. Stuff not meant to be consumed. If plastic can hold up under that type of heat, why can’t we do it too? Something is just not right with our food supply and its going unnoticed.

  4. boblosan
    May 22, 2015

    I agree that the world is growing more frightening. With droughts and storms like we are having, vegetables are not growing like they should The world is changing so fast it’s mighty scary. I have never seen vegetables, nuts or rice in bags like you showed. May I ask where you shop? I agree with you that packaging is getting smaller and the amounts in the packaging are getting even smaller. It’s a sad state, eh? There’s much to be said for growing your own food or purchasing directly from a farm. The skills of canning and making jelly, etc., are going to come in very handy in the next few years. I can’t imagine what the kids, who go pick up whatever they want, will do when they have to put up some food so they have something to eat next month.

    • Na Na
      May 22, 2015

      My own food comes from the food bank fresh produce each week, the senior commodity program, and from the discount bins in stores. I chauffeur my sister in law once a month for her shopping. I am in several stores depending where my SIL wants to go. I don’t usually buy much. My budget is down to $20 a month maximum which is usually spent on non-edible items. Mostly I just wander around and look at things as I wait for her. The only store I refuse to shop is Walmart. Kroger and Meijer are where the photos were taken. I pay attention to what happens in Kroger and Meijer because what they do is always followed soon after by all the other stores.

  5. Linda Smith
    May 22, 2015

    I hear you, sister. My teenage grandkids look @ me like I’m crazy when I go off about this. Haven’t seen the veg. in bags yet but this is Idaho; we’re always a little behind. Thanks again – I look forward to your post each week. Take care of you!

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