We have grocery issues at our house sometimes. Lately it’s been more of an issue than usual, because I am still spending my full budgeted amount on groceries, but the food runs out before the end of the week. #1 son looked at a grocery receipt yesterday and said, “It looks like you bought a lot of stuff, but there’s nothing to eat.” I’ve said it’s the boys’ locust-like appetites and they have said that I am not shopping right, but Leonidas has another idea.

Apparently, food prices are going up, that’s all. Staples like eggs and bread have risen by as much as 20% this year. Here is an article discussing the reasons for this. If you have read The Omnivore’s Dilemma, you know that there is a sense in which we are just eating petroleum, so the rising costs there have an immediate effect on our food budgets. If you have read Fast Food Nation, you know that our low food costs have been the result of artificial manipulation, which couldn’t be expected to last forever.

I’ve figured that my not having a car has been part of the problem. I usually go to the farmer’s market, the butcher, the natural foods store. Lately, since I’ve needed a ride to get groceries, I’ve just gone to the grocery store, which is not the best place to buy all foods. My husband drove off in my car today. I am still not allowed to drive it. He thinks that there is too much gas being sent — I can’t even finish that sentence. I don’t know quite what he means by there being too much gas, but apparently there is still something wrong with the car. I will drive his car to the store today, and I am perfectly happy with that, but I am really looking forward to having a car again on a regular basis.

But if it is indeed the case that food prices have been rising sharply, the end of my transportation problems might not signal an end to our grocery issues.

The boys also suggest that I ought to get a tax break on groceries if I use them to practice for my business.

The cooking show last night went well. From leaving my house to returning, it took me about three and a half hours. I’ve done some emails and phone calls and there will be some more of those, but the hostess is a friend, so I would have spent that time in communication with her anyway. I don’t think the total business-specific contact time will go over 30 minutes. Assuming that I don’t spend an unreasonable amount of time on paperwork for this show, I will be within the official company time estimate of 5 hours per show.

Disregarding the initial time spent in training and practicing (much of which I would have spent on cooking for my family anyway, since my practices have produced their meals), I think I am making about $20 an hour at this. That number should increase as I go along, since my shows so far (all two of them, and one a catalog show) have been slightly under the average sales total for this area. I figure that once I can use the mandoline with elegance and quit absent-mindedly setting the garlic press on a distant counter, my show average will increase.

I am keeping track of these things as best I can since, as one of the women at the training said, you can’t tell when you should celebrate if you never decided what success would look like.

I think she put it in a more catchy way.

One of the suggestions I noticed in the course of the training was a recommendation to take pictures of the shows cropyou do and make a scrapbook. The idea is that you then can show people what your various theme shows look like, and illustrate your words with alluring photos that cause your prospective hosts to think how nice it would be to have you come to their houses and cook for them. You can see that  I failed dismally at this task. I got all involved in cooking and answering questions and there was no chance to take a picture of the garden pizza in all its glory. This snippet of a blurry shot of vegetables is the only picture I took. I have of course removed the people in accordance with my no-faces policy, but even if you saw the whole thing, you would not be thinking how alluring it was.

Considering the news from Leonidas, though, I may need to be pointing out how important it is to make the most of your food dollar, rather than how much fun it is to cut your zucchini into pretty crinkly shapes.