What Sells in a Recession: Canned Goods and Condoms

Supermarket sales figures reveal the mind-set of U.S. consumers in a recession

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Chris VanKat / Ervin Photography for TIME

To cut costs, Linsey Knerl cooks a month's worth of food.

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Cocooners are cutting back on discretionary pleasures as well--often regretfully. Maria Muñoz, a hospital administrative assistant in Chicago, no longer meets her book-club friends for dinner once a month and dropped a partial-season package of Chicago Bulls tickets that she shared with her 11-year-old son. "Sure, we sat in the nosebleed seats," says Muñoz. "But my son loves basketball, and I loved sharing that time with him."

For Muñoz and others, however, hunkering down is ultimately worth it. Besides picking up video-game skills from her son during nights at home with the PlayStation--"I like the fighting games," she says--Muñoz has grown closer to him. "We talk more about his basketball and his friends," she says. "Now I know what he's thinking."

Knerl, who blogs about her frugal habits on the personal-finance site Wisebread.com insists that peace of mind makes up for a slower social life. "You're not lying awake at night wondering if going out with friends will put you in the negative," she says. "You learn to appreciate things more. And there really is a huge sense of freedom."

A PENNY SAVED To cut costs, Linsey Knerl 1 stores meat, 2 gets help from Mom, 3 cooks a month's worth of meals and 4 grows flowers in-house

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