I dread stepping foot into a grocery store these days. Supermarkets have never been my favourite place: whether it’s being stuck in the thick of the weekend crowds and long checkout queues, or trying to manoeuvre a dogdy trolley, or constantly having people stop and chat in the aisles or slowly peruse their options in the exact spot on the shelves you need to access, or being one-upped by those sly self-service machines. You can tell, sometimes I have to manage by supermarket rage. But more recently my rage has been centred on the minute or so before I can escape the store: when my tally is totalled and I realise how much I have to pay. It’s becoming a regular sucker punch. It’s a travesty. It seems my average shopping is at least $50 higher than it used to be just 12 months ago. And unless I’m super frugal and come armed with a shopping list of must-haves (which to be honest I rarely do), then a shopping basket or small trolley can easily exceed $100 these days. It wasn’t that long ago that I used to be shocked if my big fortnightly shop for my household of one (although I have three mouths to feed: and my dog and cat have expensive taste, but that’s another story) exceeded $100. Now it can be close to $200 if I’m not careful. Now, by no means am I crying poor. But the reality we all face at the check out makes me feel so much for those who are scraping by on minimum incomes or welfare. How do they actually manage? When things like iceberg lettuce become way too expensive we know we’re in trouble. Even families on average incomes are struggling, hence the rise of the new needy class known as the “working poor” who are turning to things like food donations to ensure there’s enough food on the table. It’s been a while, but I remember my broke uni student and first job days. Sometimes, I would only have $20 or $30 a week leftover to put towards food. But in that stage of your life you find a way to manage (mostly by turning to the Bank of Mum and Dad for a loan). I don’t know what I would do if that was a way of life, permanently. We are all feeling the effects of the avalanche of rising cost of living expenses piling on top of us. But it’s the people most vulnerable we should be thinking about most. I, for one, would applaud any supermarket or business in general introducing more discounts for necessities, just for those who really, really need it. And is it just me, with fresh food these days, that the more they rise in price, the less time they actually stay ripe? I’m sick of buying apples and bananas and then discovering the next day or so, they’ve turned chalky and inedible, and have to be binned. New research highlighting our cost of living crisis released this week from CommSec estimates the average Aussie household is forking out $85 a week more now compared to this time last year. When it comes to food, housing, petrol, utilities and other necessities, I reckon $85 might be a conservative estimate.