‘I can’t remember what meat tastes like’: 18 Houston-area residents share how they’re coping with inflation

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HOUSTON – Inflation is pushing up prices on everything from gas to eggs.

During the 12-month period that ended in May, consumer prices increased 8.6%, the biggest yearly increase since December 1981, the Labor Department said Friday. The price of gasoline rose an average of 48.7% in the past year. Airline tickets are up 45.9%, used cars and trucks nearly 38%, eggs 32.2%.

Houston-area residents are feeling the squeeze. Dozens of locals detailed how they’re shifting their buying habits to compensate for the rising prices. Several are cutting out meat. One woman in Katy is making her own laundry detergent. And a retiree in Spring started taking his daily medication every other day.

Read these and many other stories below. The responses were edited for clarity and content.


“I constantly stress about the unknown”: Jessica D., 38, of Katy, Texas

Household income: $55,000 to $100,000

How has inflation affected life in your household lately? What, if any, changes have you made as a result?

“Single mom who is still waiting in child support three years later...food for two under 5 is insane. I can’t walk out of the store under $250. Daycare is up $200 a week, so I have had to pull from my 401K. Gas is $60.00 every fill-up at Costco. I constantly stress about the unknown and can’t sleep at night.”

Have you experienced sticker shock recently? Where have you noticed the biggest price hikes?

“Gas, milk, fruit.. everything. Not serving my children protein at every meal.”


“We are in worse shape than before”: Michelle P., 63, of Conroe

Household income: $54,000 or less

How has inflation affected life in your household lately? What, if any, changes have you made as a result?

“The same amount of groceries two years ago for four people averaged $280 every two weeks. Today for three people, it’s over $400 every two weeks. I’m on Medicare and I need to purchase a dental policy. Today I can’t afford it and my mouth is mess. It’s a choice of eating while I suffer from pain and losing my teeth or saving my teeth and not eating. I have lost over 20 pounds not by choice , but by eating once a day and taking multiple vitamins. We live on Social Security and yes we got a $200 raise at the first of the year but we are in worse shape than before.”

Have you experienced sticker shock recently? Where have you noticed the biggest price hikes?

“Hamburger meat or any red meats are now meant for wealthy people. Fresh fruits and vegetables are ridiculously priced. I’ve had to buy potassium supplements and multivitamins for my mother and myself. Since we are senior citizens, fresh everything is vital to our health and now my 85-year-old mother suffers from severe body cramps. Vitamins are in no way a supplement for fresh fruits and vegetables. I can buy two apples and three bananas as part of groceries. My mother suffers from COPD, and I used to change our air-conditioner filters weekly, and now perhaps once a month for the cheapest filter I can buy. Don’t get me started on gas prices as I don’t go anywhere except to the pharmacy, groceries and doctor appointments. I do, however, feel very blessed as I know others are in worse shape especially, young parents. If I were younger I would a start my own garden but, the heat in Texas is unbearable.”


“Nothing has changed much”: Yogesh P., 74, of Houston

Household income: $55,000 to $100,000

How has inflation affected life in your household lately? What, if any, changes have you made as a result?

“Not that much. We are both retired on Social Security and nothing has changed much. Due to COVID, we are not traveling by air and are using a hybrid car so gas prices are not that bad for us. We don’t have to dip into our savings for day-to-day living.”

Have you experienced sticker shock recently? Where have you noticed the biggest price hikes?

“Big surprise on new car prices as some dealers are asking above sticker price. Also gas prices are more shocking.”


“I now take meds every other day”: Richard, 68, of Spring, Texas

Household income: $54,000 or less

How has inflation affected life in your household lately? What, if any, changes have you made as a result?

“I live on a very tight budget receiving SSAN retirement. I have changed the way I take my many medications because of inflation. I now take meds every other day instead of every day. If things get any worse, I am not sure how I will meet my bills and medications and buy food, gas, utilities, etc.”

Have you experienced sticker shock recently? Where have you noticed the biggest price hikes?

“Gas prices give me sticker shock every time I go to the pump.”


“I am an empty nester and make a decent living and I am struggling!”: April P., 45, of Pearland, Texas

Household income: $55,000 to $100,000

How has inflation affected life in your household lately? What, if any, changes have you made as a result?

“I can no longer put money in my savings. Usually, I am able to put $100 - $200 a paycheck away, however, I have not been able to in the last four paychecks due to rise in costs for groceries and gas. Those two have tripled my budget, though I’m consuming the same amount of food and gas.”

Have you experienced sticker shock recently? Where have you noticed the biggest price hikes?

“A bag of chicken that used to cost $7.99 six months ago is now $14.49, almost double. How do families making minimum wage with several children make it now? I am an empty nester and make a decent living and I am struggling!”


“Reducing driving to absolute minimum”: Edward H., 74, of Santa Fe, Texas

Household income: $54,000 or less

How has inflation affected life in your household lately? What, if any, changes have you made as a result?

“What choice do we have? My wife and I are on SSI. With less than a cost-of-living raise we have been forced to make a lot of changes in our life. Spending now only on necessary items, reducing driving to absolute minimum and any other things we can to make it by. Yes, we have drawn from savings for everyday items. I can truly say I never saw prices like we face going so high.”

Have you experienced sticker shock recently? Where have you noticed the biggest price hikes?

“It has become a nightmare seeing prices everywhere on everything go so high. In our case, due to health issues, medication is totally out of control. There might be one item that tops the list, gasoline.”


“We are having to get extremely creative”: Julie M., 36, of Katy, Texas

Household income: $151,000 to $225,000

How has inflation affected life in your household lately? What, if any, changes have you made as a result?

“We are having to get extremely creative with our needs. I’ve been couponing, meal planning, shopping off of sales and weekly ads. I’ve made my own laundry soap! I’ve been backyard chicken keeping and learning how to grow vegetables. I’ve even been learning how to make my own soaps and scrubs.”

Have you experienced sticker shock recently? Where have you noticed the biggest price hikes?

“My mortgage went up be almost $400 this year because of property tax and homeowners’ insurance.”


“I don’t know how to pay my rent”: Roy B., 51, of Humble, Texas

Household income: $54,000 or less

How has inflation affected life in your household lately? What, if any, changes have you made as a result?

“Wiped out my savings to help pay rent and bills. Food and gas has gone up tremendously. Work has slowed down a lot and I don’t know how to pay my rent next month.”

Have you experienced sticker shock recently? Where have you noticed the biggest price hikes?

“At the grocery stores. The meat and store brand products have gone up a lot. Eggs are much higher than before.”


“As a precaution, we started a small vegetable garden”: Melanie B., 59, of Conroe, Texas

Household income: $151,000 to $225,000

How has inflation affected life in your household lately? What, if any, changes have you made as a result?

We have had to cut back and supplement with credit cards. Although my salary had an annual increase, it was less than the amount of inflation, so it is still a loss. We are not buying name-brand items at the grocery store and are staying home more. As a precaution, we started a small vegetable garden to be able to still have fresh food and offset our grocery bill somewhat.

Have you experienced sticker shock recently? Where have you noticed the biggest price hikes?

“My husband drives a diesel and requires DEF additive periodically. Typically, it costs $12. Saturday we paid $24.”


“I can’t remember what meat tastes like”: Hilda G., 66, of League City, Texas

Household income: $54,000 or less

How has inflation affected life in your household lately? What, if any, changes have you made as a result?

“It definitely has added to my stress level. Being on a fixed income has me cutting down on everything from groceries to staying cool, using fans since my electric bill has almost doubled.”

Have you experienced sticker shock recently? Where have you noticed the biggest price hikes?

“Groceries. I can’t remember what meat tastes like. My grocery bill increases but my refrigerator still looks empty.”


“It’s ridiculous”: Johanna G., 36, of Spring, Texas

Household income: $55,000 to $100,000

How has inflation affected life in your household lately? What, if any, changes have you made as a result?

“I have cut back on going out to eat, going to the movies, and vacation because I cannot afford it.”

Have you experienced sticker shock recently? Where have you noticed the biggest price hikes?

“On gas and food. It’s ridiculous. Milk, water bottles and poultry are so expensive.”


“Only buying what I really need”: Grace P. , 76, of Houston

Household income: $54,000 or less

How has inflation affected life in your household lately? What, if any, changes have you made as a result?

“I am buying gas for the car, groceries, (no junk food) and only buying what I really need. No going out unless it’s on my way to or from work.”

Have you experienced sticker shock recently? Where have you noticed the biggest price hikes?

“MEAT! Everything else is ridiculous too, and that includes produce as well as everyday staples. Grateful for Costco and Sam’s -- helps with groceries as well as gas.”


“I anticipate things to get worse”: Chandler, 36, of Conroe, Texas

Household income: $101,000 to $150,000

How has inflation affected life in your household lately? What, if any, changes have you made as a result?

“I have stopped dining out as much as I did in the past. I am doing this as a precaution as I anticipate things to get worse.”

Have you experienced sticker shock recently? Where have you noticed the biggest price hikes?

“The biggest sticker shock I have experienced is trying to purchase a new car. Even if you are putting in an order, that takes six to eight months to arrive and most dealers want at least $5,000 to $10,000 over the sticker price.”


“We haven’t had to cut back yet”: Phil, 42, of Houston

Household income: $226,000 to $300,000

How has inflation affected life in your household lately? What, if any, changes have you made as a result?

“It really hasn’t too much. We haven’t had to cut back yet.”

Have you experienced sticker shock recently? Where have you noticed the biggest price hikes?

“Gasoline.”


“I try to eat less and as cheap as possible”: Natalie, 46, of The Woodlands, Texas

Household income: $54,000 or less

How has inflation affected life in your household lately? What, if any, changes have you made as a result?

“It has affected me tremendously. I try to eat less and as cheap as possible; eggs (outrageous), bananas, cottage cheese, canned fruit, ect. I don’t go anywhere to save gas. I can’t afford to fill my tank. The changes are necessary. I haven’t had savings to buffer the blow as I’m became a realtor in February, and was forced to move, at the same time prices were rising. My fees and moving absorbed my savings. "

Have you experienced sticker shock recently? Where have you noticed the biggest price hikes?

“I generally buy the same products/brands and they’ve all gone up. Eggs and gas have been the biggest shock. Every time I need either they’ve both gone up 10 to 20 cents more per carton/gal.”


“We cut back on food”: Michael, 66, of La Grange, Texas

Household income: $54,000 or less

How has inflation affected life in your household lately? What, if any, changes have you made as a result?

“We are retired on a fixed income so we cut back on food.”

Have you experienced sticker shock recently? Where have you noticed the biggest price hikes?

“Gasoline prices jumped $.20 in two days.”


“Scary times”: William H., 70, of Missouri City, Texas

Household income: $54,000 or less

How has inflation affected life in your household lately? What, if any, changes have you made as a result?

“We have cut back on everything due to gas prices...we are living on a fixed income. Wife will need two heart valves replaced soon at the Medical Center. Scary times.”

Have you experienced sticker shock recently? Where have you noticed the biggest price hikes?

“Gasoline is out of control.”


“Had to cut back on everything”: Stephanie, 32, of Houston

Household income: $54,000 or less

How has inflation affected life in your household lately? What, if any, changes have you made as a result?

“Had to cut back on everything including travel even if it’s just to the park for the kids.”

Have you experienced sticker shock recently? Where have you noticed the biggest price hikes?

“Yes, at Kroger. $15.89 for a carton of 30 eggs.”


Are you feeling the squeeze? We want to know how you’re coping with rising prices. Share your experiences with us here or in the comment section.


About the Author:

Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team in 2019. When she’s not hard at work in the KPRC 2 newsroom, you can find Bri drinking away her hard earned wages at JuiceLand, running around Hermann Park, listening to crime podcasts or ransacking the magazine stand at Barnes & Noble.