Interesting piece in the New York Times about how people are trying to be frugal in their shopping habits, but with mixed results.

“All around the country,” the Times writes, “perfectly sound brains have been seizing up like an old car on a frigid day, particularly in the last few weeks. As Americans attempt to perform cost-benefit analyses of their needs and behaviors, they are whittling pennies from cable bills only to squander dollars on gas driving miles to discount stores, or on coupon-spurred splurges for nonessential items, like Cheez Whiz or organizing supplies. Pinched by shriveled retirement and college accounts, battered by ballooning mortgage costs, rent and co-op maintenance increases, and hedging against the possibility that a job might vanish, some are practicing economies that may not deserve the name.”

It is a matter of both mathematics and priorities, as many customers find themselves in the position of having to make unfamiliar choices for themselves and their families.

KC's View: Growing up in a family as the oldest of seven kids, with a father who was a schoolteacher, the whole idea of frugality was drummed into our heads …and we used to make fun of our dad, who used to buy powdered milk and mix it with the real stuff so he could make it last longer for less money. He used to get paid on the first of the month, so we could always tell the last week of the month because that’s when we would have things like French toast, pancakes, and big bowls of spaghetti (canned sauce, no meatballs) for supper. (The first night of the new month was almost always steak.)

Y’know something? That was just fine. It was a pretty great childhood.

Supermarkets can serve a real role in this process, helping people today figure out how to make intelligent choices…maybe spreading out the “pain” over the month…learning new habits that can save money as well as being tasty and nutritious.

Tell you something else. I served French toast for dinner the other night.

My daughter, though she’s dubious, will survive. Maybe even be better for it.