How to Beat Grocery Price Increases
If you're on a tight budget, hearing about a rise in gas prices and a rise in grocery prices might give you an identical swell of dread. But the two are actually very different. When gas prices go up, many people have no choice but to pay more. But when grocery prices increase — as they are expected to in 2013 — there are lots of strategies you can use to avoid increasing your spending. (See also: How to Grocery Shop for Five on $100 a Week)
Stock Up in Advance
Fortunately, looming price spikes are often reported in the news before they hit the stores. It's predicted that this summer's drought will cause the price of certain products to rise by 2013. That gives you plenty of time to stock up on frozen and packaged goods as sales come up throughout this fall. If you've thought about buying a whole side of beef and putting it in deep freeze, now is the time. Some sources even predict that beef prices will fall before they rise, as the higher cost of feed pushes some farmers to slaughter early.
Lock in Prices
If you've been considering joining an organization that delivers produce or meats directly from farms for a set subscription price, sign up now. Some community supported agriculture groups (CSAs) will let you lock in next year's price in advance.
Change Your Eating Habits
The 2013 price spike is expected to affect mainly meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs. We all know we're supposed to be eating more veggies — now more than ever, following this advice will also be the economical thing to do.
Typical annual grocery price increases are around 2.5%. Next year, beef may go up 4-5%, pork 2-3.5%, and chicken and eggs 3-4%, according to the Department of Agriculture. That's not so scary when you consider how easy it is to get a 30-50% discount on meat. One of my favorite tactics is to watch for butcher markdowns on soon-to-expire items. Many stores routinely cut prices on these items by 30-50%, and if you use them the same day or freeze them right away, the quality is fine. Other stores frequently offer buy one, get one free deals on meat, effectively giving you a 50% discount. Both kinds of sale completely eclipse a 5% or even 15% price spike.
Believe in the Budget
You'll find yourself a lot more motivated to avoid increasing your spending if you have a firm number in mind. No matter which strategy you choose from above, you'll have a better chance at success if you know what number you're aiming for each week.
Wise Bread has lots of advice on saving on groceries, and whatever strategies you use, the results tend to be much larger than the expected price spikes. Check out these other posts for inspiration:
- Save on Groceries With Discount Grocery Stores. Switching grocery stores is a quick and easy way to cut up to 50% from your bill.
- Save Money on Groceries With These Online Tools. How to plan menus, find coupons, and compare prices online.
- Meat Money: Grocery Saving Tips for Carnivores. This piece talks about cooking techniques that spread your meat thinner, even mixing it with textured vegetable protein to stretch it.
- Waste Not, Want Not: Stop Throwing Away Your Food! A surprising list of vegetable "leftovers" that can be eaten instead of thrown away.
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