How to Beat Grocery Price Increases

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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.

Grab Discounts

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:


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Guest's picture

What about growing your own vegetibles? I have a garden in my backyard in which the soil is made entirely of leave and grass clippings.

Guest's picture

Cutting back on these foods because of price increases may be good for the health of a lot of americans. If fruit and vegetable prices seem lower in comparison to other unhealthier foods, it could be a good thing. However, stocking up on meats is a good idea, closer to the end of the year.

Guest's picture

I also find that using a hand basket instead of a shopping cart really helps me to save on my grocery bill. You are less likely to load up on a lot of junk when you are in 'decision fatigue mode'. Also if you shop with a list, you are less likely to overspend. If you end up throwing a lot of food out, sometimes the smaller sizes are cheaper because of less waste.

Guest's picture

I have already noticed a large price hike in the meat products in the pass two to three weeks here in missouri. So they are starting already. We have grown our own garden this year and was pretty good and received fresh sweet corn free, all we wanted, corn can be used in many dishes. I dont think things are going to get better anytime soon, so be prepared. Stock up on alternative heat source and candles, lamp oil, whatever you get your hands on.