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- I already spent way too much on food before inflation, but now it’s really taking a toll on my budget.
- I’ve had to think carefully about how to cut back: I’m making my own almond milk, for one thing.
- I’m also buying frozen fruits and veg, skipping eggs, and choosing canned fish over meat.
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Last year, when I was serious about tightening up my finances and fixing up my saving habits, I had to set a strict budget when it came to how much money I was spending on food. Over 65% of my credit card bill every month was transactions related to groceries, food delivery, or meals at restaurants.
In an effort to cut back my spending in this category, I spent quality time hunting for deals (coupons for takeout and grocery stores with good prices) and found efficient ways to meal-prep in advance.
However, since the start of this year, it’s been even harder to stick to this spending plan because the price of food has skyrocketed due to inflation.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, food prices were 9.4% higher in April 2022 than in April 2021, which is the largest annual increase in 41 years.
While so many of my grocery shopping staples have jumped in price, I’ve had to find creative alternatives that are not only cheaper but can last me longer. Here’s what I’ve been doing to battle the rising price of food in grocery stores.
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1. Buying frozen fruits and vegetables
A large part of my diet consists of fruits and vegetables, so when I enter the grocery store, these are the items I shop for first. In an average week, I usually spend around $30 on fruits and veggies, but lately, it’s cost me closer to $40 to $50 a week.
According to the BLS, fruit and vegetable prices are even higher than overall inflation for food. Citrus prices have increased by 18.6% and lettuce by 12.7%.
In addition to doing price comparison on fruits and vegetables at three local grocery stores, and shopping in the middle of the week to hopefully get better deals, I’ve also started to buy more frozen fruit and vegetables.
While I’ve seen a price increase for these items, too, frozen fruit and vegetables last longer and you can often get a larger amount for less money than buying the item fresh.
2. Making my own almond milk
When it comes to buying dairy, I usually get a gallon or two of milk (or alternative milk) to use for the entire week for smoothies, coffee, cereal, and more.
According to the USDA, retail dairy products increased by 1.6% in February 2022 and prices are expected to increase between about 4 and 5% in 2022.
To help ease my spending on milk, I’ve started to make my own at-home almond milk (using a blender, almonds, water, and vanilla extract). The biggest expense to make this milk is a 40-ounce bag of almonds (which can cost $10 to $13) but that gives me enough almonds to cover my milk supply for three or four weeks.
3. Drinking half a cup of instant coffee instead of a full cup
For the past five years, starting my day with a cup of instant coffee has been a tradition. But in the last year, the price of instant coffee has increased by 28.9%.
Instead of having a full cup of coffee in the morning, I’ll make just a half cup to help my instant coffee last longer. I’ve added in caffeinated green tea or matcha powder to help get a bit more of a boost in the morning. I’ve been able to find both of these items at discount grocery stores for under $2 a box.
4. Swapping out eggs for cheaper breakfast items
I buy a carton of eggs every week for my husband to have for breakfast. But over the past year, the price of eggs has increased 36.2%.
Because of this hike, I’ve started to replace his breakfast eggs with frozen breakfast burritos from discount grocery stores (where you can get three for $2.99), or buying applesauce for $0.50 a jar instead.
5. Buying canned fish instead of red meat and poultry
Another grocery purchase I make for my husband is red meat and poultry for him to eat during the week. According to the BLS, bacon costs 17.7% more and chicken prices are up by 16.4%.
While I’ve started to try to look for buy-one-get-one coupons for poultry or hamburger patties, I’ve also stocked up on canned fish as an alternative when I find those items on sale at discount grocery stores. Having these items in the house can be a good swap for weeks when the price of meat is just too expensive to add to my cart.