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6 More Ways to Handle Food Price Inflation

If you’ve been paying attention at all while you shop for food, you’ve probably noticed that grocery prices have been going up in the last year or so.

Washington's Green Grocer produce box

This is not your imagination! Groceries are actually, factually more expensive than they were a year or two ago.

Specifically, in 2020, grocery prices increased 3.5%, which is 75% more than what we usually see.

And that doesn’t seem super likely to change in the very near future.

(Here’s some detailed information from the USDA about rising food prices.)

A small pile of groceries.

You can’t really do anything to change the price of groceries (the prices are what the prices are) so you might be feeling a little helpless.

And as I’ve said before, it often helps if I make a list of things I CAN do, rather than focusing on what I can’t do.

So, I thought it would be good to do that here in a blog post, focusing on food prices.

I made a list like this in 2020, so this is part two!

1. Eat at home more

Grocery prices may have gone up, but still, pretty much everything at the grocery store is a screaming bargain compared to anything you buy from a restaurant.

So, if you have been eating out, switch to eating at home for at least some of those meals.

And feel free to buy convenient grocery foods if that’s what you need to do.

shrimp and ravioli topped with pink sauce in a white dish.

A bag of ravioli, a jar of sauce, and a bagged salad are fine.

A refrigerated container of pulled pork + a package of buns is more expensive than the homemade version, but it is bound to be cheaper than the restaurant version.

A rotisserie chicken, a salad kit, and a loaf of bread will be cheaper than almost any takeout.

You seriously can buy almost anything at the grocery store and still save money over restaurant food.

2. Change where you shop

If you’ve been sticking with a store that’s a little more expensive, consider trying a cheaper store.

This would be a great time to finally check out Aldi or Lidl.

(I’m here to tell you that groceries are still ridiculously affordable at Aldi!)

Aldi shopping carts.

You could join a bulk membership club near you, such as BJs, Costco, or Sam’s Club.

Or you could try Hungry Harvest or Misfits Market.

3. Try some DIY

If you have more money than time, skip this tip.

But if you can find some time to spend on cooking/food prep, add some DIY food into your routine.

A few DIY food ideas:

Homemade granola costs pennies on the dollar compared to store-bought.

A bowl of granola, topped with sliced peaches, in a white bowl.

Try this no-stir recipe that won’t get oats all over your oven floor!

Homemade yogurt costs less than $1/quart.

Five jars of homemade yogurt in glass Mason jars.

Try this homemade yogurt recipe that requires no special equipment.

Homemade pizzas are cheaper than even frozen pizzas. In fact, homemade pizzas cost $1.87.

A sliced cheese and pepperoni pizza.

Here’s how I make pizza.

And here are five reasons your homemade pizzas are not as tasty as you’d like.

4. Look for deals, like gift certificates and cashback

There are some small things you can do to eke a few more dollars out of your grocery budget.

For example:

  • If you are a responsible credit card user, make sure to swipe a rewards credit card to do your grocery shopping. Considering signing up for a credit card that offers particularly good rewards for grocery purchases.
  • Buy some grocery cards through Gift Card Granny
  • Scan your receipts through an app like Ibotta or Fetch Rewards* to get points toward gift certificates

*If you sign up for Fetch, use code QG8V2 for a 4,000 point sign-up bonus.

5. Be a flexible eater

If you have a rigid set of items you want to eat, and you want to eat those items in specific combinations, it’ll be tough to save money on groceries.

But if you are flexible, that can help in a multitude of ways.

For instance, a flexible person can:

  • eat what’s on sale
  • eat what’s in season
  • eat extras given by another household (or extras from food pantry volunteering, like we do)
  • eat leftovers
  • eat clearance items
  • eat odds and ends from the fridge, freezer, or pantry
  • eat generic brand foods
  • substitute ingredients in recipes to use what they have or what’s cheap

6. Reset your thinking about food prices

According to Monthly Labor Review, households in 1917-1919 spent 41% of their income on food.

And according to the USDA, in 1960, the average American household spend 17% of their disposable income on food.

But in 2019, that average was down to less than 10%.

When you look at it like that, it’s a little harder to feel sorry for ourselves about how expensive food is.

What did I miss? Add some more ideas to my list!

P.S. In case you missed it, here are the original five food inflation tips I published.

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Isa

Friday 10th of September 2021

Hmm.... don`t grocery shop in Canada?? Oops, can`t do that one, bummer! :-(

I`m still blowned away by the cheap prices of USA grocery compared to ours. I wish!

(it`s all in good humor, I`m not resentfull, it`s life!)

Kayla

Friday 3rd of September 2021

The growing food prices are hitting those of us with dietary needs the hardest. Gluten free for example can be a struggle for some things. And if the company can slap on more than one free tag like gluten free, lactose free etc they can increase the prices further! Celiscs must have everything 100% gluten free or we get sick. People dont understand its an autoimmune disease that makes our bodies attack itself when we have even a crumb of gluten.

Tarynkay

Friday 3rd of September 2021

My biggest money saving tip is to eat less meat. It’s hard to beat dried beans for price or nutrition. Miso and liquid smoke are excellent ways to add a meaty taste to vegan meals. There are thousands of delicious bean recipes in the world, especially if you start looking into the cuisines of other nations.

You can also use smaller amounts of meat- serve more vegetable heavy stews, stir fries, and salad. Serve fewer roasts and chops.

AnnieH

Thursday 2nd of September 2021

The biggest increase we have seen has been with meat/fish. We are only buying meat that is on sale and freezing it. Sometimes the best deal comes in a bulk pack so we freeze in portions. We are also swapping beans for some of the meat in soups and stews as beans are still cheap and they're good for you.

We also make our own stock with leftover bones and veggies scraps we store in a baggie in the freezer. The only "stock" I do buy is the powdered stuff which is way cheaper than the liquid version and adds extra flavor without needing the actual meat.

We normally use an online grocer as the prices in NYC are the same there as in a brick-and-mortar store, and it would cost us more to take the bus there than delivery costs per order. Our local grocery store is usually much more expensive except for deli and some items we check the circular for each week.

Although we started doing this long ago, we don't buy ready made drinks for home anymore. I only drink tea and he drinks coffee so we make our own, even iced tea. The rest of the time we drink water.

K D

Thursday 2nd of September 2021

One way to save on fruit is to be open to cutting things like melons and pineapples. The price per pound is pretty low.

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