It’s no secret inflation has influenced spending habits across the nation. Many Americans have made lifestyle changes to adjust, and food insecurity is becoming more prominent. In fact, food inflation outpaced overall inflation in 2022. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, prices of food bought at the grocery store or supermarket increased 12.4% from October 2021 to October 2022. While food inflation is predicted to increase by another 3% to 4% in 2023, there are tips families can follow to minimize grocery spending.
The common phrase “planning is key” rings true for many things in life, including grocery shopping. This helps keep you focused on the essentials. When couponing isn’t enough, here’re some planning tips to keep in mind:
- Meal plan and make a grocery list accordingly. Lean on recipes and meals with fewer ingredients.
- Stick to the grocery list and avoid impulse purchases.
- When looking to buy higher-priced goods like oils and proteins, compare prices on grocery store apps to help you choose the best place to shop.
- If you use credit cards to shop, regularly check for cash back deals and choose the card with the most grocery rewards.
Choosing store-brand over name-brand groceries may amount to up to 40% in total savings. Here are more tips to keep in while shopping:
- Compare the unit price when shopping for all household and grocery goods.
- Avoid purchasing beverages. Instead, lean on non-bottled water as much as possible.
- Include more plant-based proteins such as beans and tofu, as these often are more affordable than animal protein options.
- Avoid microwavable rice and other ready-to-eat grains. Instead, purchase grains in bulk and prepare on the stovetop.
- Choosing canned and frozen goods over fresh is generally a good rule of thumb, but it can be worth comparing prices especially for in-season produce.
Reducing waste can help get the most bang for your buck. Perfectly good food often goes to waste because of confusion about expiration dates. These dates are more guidelines than deadlines, with the exception of infant formula. Other practices that can be helpful to reduce waste include:
- Store items to help maximize shelf life. The USDA FoodKeeper app teaches you how to best store food.
- The old saying “out of sight, out of mind” stands true for food storage. You’re more likely to use items that you can physically see. Perishable items are best stored in plain sight.
- Clean and organize your pantry often so you can see what’s on hand.
- Have a quarterly pantry challenge to use up ingredients that haven’t been touched in a while.
- Maximize your freezer. Leftovers from large meals can be handily stored frozen – either as ingredients for future recipes, or as ready-to-eat portions.
Remember, planning is key. Making small adjustments in different areas of your grocery habits can lead to big results.
Shanthi Appelö is a registered dietitian and health and wellness spokesperson for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan based in Detroit. Passionate about the science of nutrition and behavior, Shanthi has experience working in clinical nutrition, public health and teaching in the university setting. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, exploring the outdoors, working on art and spending time with family. For more recipes and health information, visit ahealthiermichigan.org.
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