6 Grocery Purchases That Will Be Cheaper in 2017

In case you haven't noticed, 2017 is here and bringing a whole bunch of changes.

With a new president in the White House, a second hike in interest rates by the Fed since 2006, a long list of U.S. cities with higher minimum wages, and a broad range of changes coming to the states, consumers are still trying to figure out how all of these changes are going to affect them.

Cheer up, America! It looks like 2017 may also bring you some serious savings at the grocery store. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service keeps track of the average prices paid by urban Americans for a series of key consumer goods and services. The latest data from the USDA's Food Price Outlook is showing that you'll save on your grocery runs throughout 2017. Let's break down the six buys that will give you the most bang for your buck this year. 

1. Eggs

Continuing their downward trend in prices throughout 2016, eggs are leading the forecast savings with an estimated drop of 3% to 4% in price for 2017. This means that the sightings of a dozen of eggs going for under a buck should become more common in cities across the nation. Even when adjusted for inflation, 2017 is poised to set a record for lowest price of eggs since 2000. (See also: 6 Ways to Make Perfectly Cooked Eggs)

2. Fats and Oils

Stay with me on this one; it's not as unhealthy as it sounds. In this category, the USDA goes beyond the usual suspects, such as butter and cooking oil, and includes several familiar food items, including peanut butter and salad dressing. A drop in the prices of fats and oils has a domino effect across prices in several grocery aisles.

Back in November 2016, the USDA reported that the prices of fats and oils fell 2.9% from the previous month and were down 2.4% from the previous year. For 2017, the USDA is projecting an additional 3% to 4% drop in prices for fats and oils.

3. Beef and Veal

As forecast back in our guide to cheaper buys in 2016, prices of pork products dropped 3.25% to 4.25% throughout the year, according to USDA data. In 2017, the USDA isn't expecting pork prices to drop much, if at all. However, prices of beef and veal are poised to continue to drop an extra 1% to 2% across the nation this year.

Higher production outputs of carcasses, larger supplies of beef and veal held in cold storage, and lower prices of both feeder and fed cattle are all contributing to the lower prices of beef and veal. (See also: 25 Easy Ways to Make Cheap Cuts of Meat Taste Expensive)

4. Fresh Vegetables

With all these low prices, you may be having second thoughts about your New Year's resolution to lose weight. Fear not dear dieters, 2017 is also cutting down the prices of fresh veggies to keep you on track for success. While the previous year brought very little savings, the new one is expected to reduce the prices of fresh vegetables by 2% to 3%.

When looking for fresh produce in 2017, keep in mind that the prices of fresh fruits are on the rise. The USDA is forecasting an increase of 1% to 2% in the prices of fresh fruits for 2017. Another reason to stick with fresh veggies is that the prices of processed fruits and vegetables are expected to rise up to 1% this year.

5. Avocados

Speaking of fresh fruits, the price of an avocado is one that might be an exception to the USDA forecast for 2017. If you were paying attention at the store, you may have noticed that the prices of avocados were much higher than usual. For example, some stores in California were commanding as much as $3 per avocado. The same thing was taking place across several grocers here in Hawaii.

The culprit for these high prices was the interruption in harvesting caused by disputes between avocado growers and packers in Mexico. The disagreements resulted in a dramatic drop of exported Mexican avocados to the U.S. from a projected 40 million pounds to just 13.7 million in October 2016. Fortunately, an agreement was reached in November 2016 and Mexican harvesting of avocados is now back to normal. As more and more millions of Mexican avocados enter the market in the next couple of weeks, the prices of the green fruit are expected to drop.

Given the expected lower prices of avocado for 2017, you could start taking better advantage of all of the different uses of this nutrient-rich fruit. (See also: 6 Unexpected Uses for Avocados)

6. Whole Foods Products

Yes, there are actually buys that are cheaper at Whole Foods than most major food chains. And to continue to meet the high expectations of its shareholders, Whole Foods is rolling out two key initiatives in 2017 that will drive down the prices of many of its products.

First, Whole Foods has been offering its 365 Everyday Value brand at its regular stores for quite some time. Given that many of the products under the 365 brand are cheaper than those at major grocers, Whole Foods decided to open 365 by Whole Foods Market stores that only sell those products. Currently, there are only three 365 stores (Los Angeles, California; Lake Oswego, Oregon; and Bellevue, Washington), but there are 16 more scheduled to open in 2017 and beyond.

Second, Whole Foods has introduced a rewards program across 24 regular stores across New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Texas. The rewards program offers a 10% discount on the first purchase and additional discounts as you continue to shop using the program. Also, all 365 by Whole Foods Market stores automatically participate in a separate rewards program that offers an instant 10% off on close to 120 items per week.

The Bottom Line: Eat at Home More Often in 2017

In 2017, it will be cheaper for you to eat in than to eat out. The USDA is expecting prices of food away from home to increase from 2% to 3%, while those of food at home to only increase from 0.5% to 1.5%. Shop smart and prep more home meals and you'll be able to pocket some extra cash this 2017.

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