Inflation in 2022 has been causing the cost of food at grocery stores to rapidly rise. My families are now finding it difficult to afford their normal food purchases. It’s not uncommon at all for a family of five to spend $2,000 or more at the grocery each month now.
These increased prices are obviously causing a lot of strain on household budgets. While you can’t control inflation or the cost of goods, you do have control over the things that you buy. With a little bit of discipline and strategic planning, you can actually reduce your food bill substantially. I’ve shared my saving tips in this article.
Rising Food Costs
Overall, inflation in 2022 has caused grocery prices to rise more than 10% since a year ago. However, you’re likely spending a lot more than 10% extra at the supermarket. The reason why your costs have gone up higher than the rate of grocery inflation is because of the items in your shopping cart. Certain types of products have simply increased in price more than others.
Meats, poultry, fish and eggs have been the hardest hit sector with increases around 15%. As a comparison, fruits and vegetables have only gone up about 8%. This problem can be traced all the way back to the first level of the food chain. Costs have simply risen to produce goods. Wholesale prices on most products have gone up. Labor, transportation, and electricity cost more now too. All of these factors combined cause suppliers to increase prices to offset their expenses, and this increase then trickles down through the industry until it reaches you at the food store.
Besides going on a diet and simply trying to eat less food, the main tip that I can offer to reduce your food expenses is simply to be more careful about what you buy. There are actually a few different strategies you can utilize to accomplish this goal, so I’m going to discuss each of them in more detail below.
Everyone has to buy food from the grocery store. It’s simply a necessity to live unless you eat all of your meals at restaurants and fast food venues. I still believe it’s cheapest to prepare food at home to eat, but there is one thing worth mentioning about eating away from your house. Across the entire food industry, food that you eat away from your house has actually increased in price the least amount as a result of inflation this year. It’s around a 7% increase, so just slightly less than fruits and vegetables. I’m not saying to stop shopping at the grocery and eat fast food every day though, just pointing out that restaurant costs aren’t rising as fast as groceries.
You ultimately get to make the final decision about how much money you’re going to spend on groceries. If you’ve found that you’re spending too much lately, you simply need to make an effort to reduce those costs by buying cheaper food or possibly buying less of it.
I have a few different tips to offer for spending less on food. These are all based on my experiences being responsible for a family of five, and also based on knowledge I’ve picked up recently as a result of inflation.
Shop More Frequently
Food waste can be a big problem in many households. If you find yourself throwing away any unused food each week, you’re either buying too much at the grocery or you’re not shopping often enough. It might sound counterintuitive to shop more often to spend less money, but there’s a purpose to this madness. The idea is to reduce the amount of food that you throw away and waste. Wasted food equals wasted money.
Almost all food, except honey, spoils. As soon as you buy something from the store and take it home, an invisible clock starts ticking. If you don’t eat it all before that timer runs out, the food spoils and you throw it away. As an example, when you make a weekly shopping trip, you’ll be buying certain items like fresh bread, meat and produce that will likely go bad in about 3-4 days. When you load up on too many of those items to cover meals for a whole week, you end up not being to use it all before it spoils.
My personal strategy to avoid food waste is to simply take more frequent trips to the grocery and buy less on each visit. I’ll go once every 3-4 days and only get enough food to last for that amount of time. This not only helps me avoid most food waste, but it also makes the food that I eat fresher. I can have fresh fruit and vegetables in the house all the time since everything can get eaten before it turns rotten.
Stop Buying Snacks
My kids like to eat snacks. I’m talking about potato chips, ice cream and other types of junk food that isn’t really a meal and is likely unhealthy too. If I let them, my kids would probably eat nothing but junk food. Beyond health issues, this type of food is usually more expensive. Since it’s not part of a meal, it simply ends up adding extra costs to your food budget.
The best recommendation that I can offer is to avoid buying snacks completely if you’re on a really tight food budget. If you’re able to do so, limit the snacks you buy. Get yourself one favorite snack to enjoy between meals for each shopping trip instead of buying numerous items. Something this simple can easily knock $20 or more off of the cost of each trip to the store.
Try to plan out your meals for 3-4 days and make a list of the items you’ll need from the grocery to make those meals. Only buy those things at the store to avoid loading up on a bunch of junk. This helps to ensure that you’re not overspending on unnecessary items and also helps to avoid food waste too.
Reduce Meat Portions
Once you’ve cut out all of the unnecessary spending from your grocery budget, there is one final step you can take to reduce your expenses even more. The contents of each of the meals that you and your family eat could possibly be a large contributor to higher costs. Grocery inflation in 2022 has made food costs rise, but this hasn’t happened in a uniform way. Different categories and industries have increased prices more than others. By simply being choosy about the types of products you buy, you can actually avoid roughly half of the inflated food costs.
Meat, dairy and eggs are the hardest hit food sectors. However, specific types of meat have actually been affected by inflation at different rates. Poultry and eggs are some of the hardest hit out of all food industries. A bird flu has swept through chicken farms this year and caused large numbers of animals to die, so those costs have gone through the roof. Eggs are up about 20% and poultry meat is up around 15%. By comparison, fish has only increased around 8%.
By simply being observant of how much costs have risen for various types of products, you can make some adjustments to your supermarket list to drastically increase your savings. Either avoid the products that have drastically risen, or reduce the amount of those items that you use. As an example, let’s say that the only meat you eat is chicken, so you don’t exactly want to switch to fish to save money. Instead of cutting chicken from your meals entirely, you could simply reduce the amount that you use for each meal. Try cutting the amount of meat for a meal in half and replace it with another side item, like a vegetable or a starch. This one simple tactic alone can easily save you 10% – 20% on your monthly grocery costs to help you battle inflation.