It is not really news anymore that many package and product sizes have been shrinking in the US.  I am mentioning it, though, as a reminder to double check your price:mass_or_volume ratios over time if you are gaming your groceries.

Ice cream hasn't been in half-gallon containers for ages, slipping subtly to 1.75 qts, then 1.5 qts for some producers (Breyers).  My beloved Tropicana OJ has dropped its cartons from true 64 oz half-gallons to 59 oz.  I have finally increased my price threshold for OJ from $0.05/oz.  Quilted Northern just made its bathroom tissue substantially narrower, but it doesn't take me any more squares than before to take care of business, so it doesn't affect my ratios.

There was a television commercial a few years ago about a guy who got promoted for realizing his company could make a larger profit by putting fewer olives in each jar they sold.  He was expected to continue increasing profits to keep his job.  How he would continue was left open with the implication that he'll eventually have to think of something besides selling fewer olives for the same price.  This economy and gas prices have been drivers for food producers to practice some shrinkage, but I don't expect re-enlargement when the economy recovers.

I keep seeing odd package masses, such as 15 oz cans of beans and 13 oz bags of chips.  What's wrong with the pound?  Trader Joe's sells me a pound of organic chips for less than I find 13 oz bags of other chips at the supermarket.  This isn't really a problem, but something to keep watch of if you're particular with your price thresholds and ratios.


Cabbage Pockets

I loved when my mom made cabbage pockets for us when I was a kid.  I think they have an original German name.  This is nice comfort food when eaten hot, and serves as a convenient food when carried around cold.

Prepare the dough first ($1-2 depending on the type of flour, if you use milk, and how much you pay for yeast):
1 cup water
1 cup whey (or milk or water)
2 Tbsp butter
1.5 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar or honey
2.25 tsp active dry yeast (1 packet)
5.5 cups flour

Proof the yeast in 100-110 degree F water.  Mix all the ingredients together, and kneed the dough, then roll into a ball and leave in a lightly oiled covered bowl to rise until doubled.  If you only use whole wheat flour, you will have to add more liquid.  Liquid needs vary by humidity and flour density also, so you'll really have to get a feel for proper dough consistency to figure out how much to add.

Filling ($6-7):
1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 head of cabbage
2 medium/large onions
5 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp oil
oregano, whatever seasoning you like

Start preparing the filling when the dough finishes rising.  In a big skillet or saute pan, saute the onion and garlic in oil.  When the onions are translucent, add the cabbage and spices and stir.  Punch down the dough and divide into 24 equal parts.  Roll each part into a ball and let rest.  Cook the beef in a separate skillet, drain, and add to the cabbage.  Roll each dough ball into a flat circle about a quarter inch thick, put about 2 Tbsp of cabbage mix in the center, and pinch the edges together over the filling so that the dough completely encompasses the filling in a ball.  Bake these, seam-side down, for 20 minutes at 400 F.

Next time I make these, I intend to add diced jalepeno.  This should make 24 cabbage pockets pretty easily for $7-9.  Each pocket is about 150 calories, and three make a decent meal for about $1, though bread-heavy.