Feeling sticker shock every time you go to the grocery store?
The strain of inflation has hit food prices hard, and it has many Americans tightening their belts. Here are 17 ways to shop savvy and fight food inflation.
1. Comparison Shop
It requires a little extra time and a little legwork, but shopping around at several stores for the best prices can make a huge difference to your bottom line. It’ll help your money go farther in the short term, and over the course of a year, an attitude of “every penny counts” can add up to hundreds of dollars saved.
2. Buy in Bulk
Not only is buying in bulk a smart way stretch your dollars, but it also makes you more prepared. It helps keep your pantry stocked with staple items while you get the best price per unit and more bang for your buck.
3. Clip Coupons
Using coupons is a no-brainer for saving money on groceries. Nowadays, most grocery stores will put printable coupons online. Many will also have a weekly sales flyer. You can also check manufacturer’s websites for coupons you can redeem at the store. Do your homework and spend a few minutes surfing the internet for coupons.
4. Buy Frozen Foods
Frozen foods are often cheaper than their fresh counterparts. Check the freezer section before loading your cart with fresh produce, meat, and other items.
5. Reduce Food Waste
Throwing away food – especially when it costs so much – is enough to make you cringe. It’s like putting a piece of your paycheck in the trash. When it comes to reducing food waste, the freezer is your friend. Just about anything can be frozen. Keep your fridge and pantry organized and use or freeze food before it goes bad.
6. Buy Canned Foods
Like frozen foods, canned foods are often cheaper than their fresh equivalents. And they do double duty – since canned food has a long shelf life, it counts toward your emergency preparedness stash.
7. Budget Meal Planning
In just about any situation – a little preparing goes a long way. Before you step foot in the store, research and plan your meals. Eat on a budget by planning your meals around what’s on sale and what you have coupons for. You can also come up with (or search for) recipes for cheap, easy eats that you can throw into your regular meal rotation. Shop with a list and stick to it – unless you come across any last-minute deals.
8. Eat More Meatless Meals
Cutting back on meat can make a big dent in your grocery bill. Even before “meat-flation” reared its ugly head, animal proteins were among the priciest items you could add to your cart. Oatmeal is a much cheaper breakfast meal than bacon and eggs. And for dinner, turning to plant-based protein options like beans and lentils can subtract from your grocery bill and add to a well-balanced diet.
9. Sign up for Store Loyalty/Rewards Cards
If any of your go-to shopping spots offer a rewards card, sign up. Grocery stores often feature exclusive savings for loyalty card holders. Plus, they might come with bonus perks, like a discount on gas. Most store cards are free, but you could also consider joining a wholesale club like Costco, BJ’s, or Sam’s Club. While you do have the upfront cost of a membership fee, they can save you money in the long run, and are a great option for large families and bulk item purchases.
10. Avoid Impulse Buys – Unless Something’s Unexpectedly on Sale
As noted above, you should head to the store with a plan and stick to it. It helps to eat before you shop. Shopping on an empty stomach encourages impulse buys that look good in the moment but bad for your budget. If you’re shopping on a full stomach, you’re more likely to skip that candy bar in the checkout line.
11. Choose Generic or Store Brands instead of Name Brands
A great way to chip away at your grocery bill is by selecting store brands or generic products over name brands. Generic versions are cheaper, and often just as good or so similar your family won’t notice the difference.
12. Pay with a Credit Card that Offers Grocery Rewards (And Pay it Off)
Some credit cards offer points or cash back on grocery store purchases. Some are free and some have an annual fee. Some cards will wave the annual fee the first year so you can make sure your earnings outweigh your dues. Some cards offer as much as 6% cash back on groceries, making them an option to consider. Just remember to pay it off in full each month – having to pay interest would defeat the purpose.
13. Learn to Pickle, Preserve, and Can Foods
In addition to freezing food before it goes bad, learning traditional food preservation techniques like pickling, dehydrating, and canning go a long way toward eliminating food waste and keeping your pantry stocked. They make a great addition to your survival skill set.
14. Skip Nutritionally Useless Items Like Soda
Inflation’s a great reason to finally kick that soda habit. While your tastebuds may enjoy sugary soft drinks or processed junk food, they add no nutritional value to your diet and aren’t free. Best to avoid them – especially on a budget.
15. Look to Farmer’s Markets and Shop Local
When you shop local, you can usually find produce and other items at cheaper prices than at the grocery store since you’re not paying transportation costs.
16. Eat at Home
While takeout and delivery can be quick in a pinch, they’ll cost you more than a meal made at home, and there’s no question a homecooked meal is cheaper than going out to dinner. Plus, whether you do a sit-down meal at a restaurant or get something delivered to your door, you’ll be on the hook for a tip on top of the cost of your food. If you’re eating on a budget, your best bet is to eat at home. The same goes for beverages. A pot of coffee made at home will cost a fraction of the price of a store-bought cup.
17. Grow Your Own Food
Growing your own food won’t only save you money on your grocery bill, it’s a worthy survival skill as well. Seeds are extremely inexpensive, and whether you have a backyard garden or just some countertop herbs, every item you’re able to grow at home is one less item you have to fork over money for at the store.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food prices were 12% higher in November 2022 than they were in November 2021. In 2023, the uptick is expected to continue and to increase another 4.5 %.
Help offset the skyrocketing price of food with the tips above.