I remember about 10 years ago there was a major retailer (I'm thinking it was Sam's Club) that would let you buy "shares" of gasoline and lock in a price-per-gallon. The thinking was that you could lock in the price of gas at a lower price, and save money when the price of gas increased. I don't think that plan is around any longer, but it's too bad there isn't something similar around for groceries.

I have noticed that over the past year or so, the cost of basic food items has skyrocketed. I used to be able to buy a gallon of whole milk for $2.73, whole chicken for about 49 cents a pound and canned veggies were 3 for 99 cents. Now, milk is $4.00 a gallon, chicken is more than a dollar a pound and canned vegetables are about 69 cents a can.

Farm industry analysts are blaming a couple of different factors for the dramatic price increases: rising fuel costs and drought conditions in some parts of the U.S. Higher temperatures result in lower vegetable yields, cows produce less milk and that leads to higher prices. As more corn is being diverted to ethanol production to produce a more environmentally-friendly fuel, the cost of livestock feed is increasing, which leads to higher beef and chicken prices. I guess we can blame global warming for the high cost of food at the grocery store.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture acknowledges that the price increases at the grocery store are higher than normal. Food prices normally do increase about 2 percent a year. This year, they have increased about 4 percent.

My family has had to increase its food budget to keep keep pace with the rising prices. We used to spend about $100-$125 every two weeks for a family of four. We now pay about $200 every two weeks for groceries. Still, we try to shop smart in order to save money, and we buy items that can be used for several meals to help us stretch our food dollar. There are many tips on saving money on your grocery bill in my post Groceries on the Cheap.

Lately, we have started eating more meatless dishes, or dishes which require smaller amounts of meat. With these dishes, meat is more of a seasoning than it is a main course. For example, we have started eating more beans-and-rice dishes. Both can be purchases in bulk, and the price of each is still relatively low. It helps that my wife is a great cook. Last night, we had red beans and rice, and it was delicious.

We also purchase powdered milk. We use the powdered milk for cooking and baking, and reserve the gallons of liquid milk we purchase for drinking and breakfast cereal. A lot of people don't like the taste of powdered milk, but when you use it for baking and cooking nobody can tell the difference.

We occasionally bake our own bread, thanks to a bread machine we received as a Christmas gift a few years ago. I don't know that we necessarily save a lot of money by baking our own, but we do save money on gas when we don't have to drive to the grocery store just to buy a loaf of store-bought bread. I know the homemade stuff certainly tastes better.

Processed foods, such as convenience foods in boxes, mixes and the frozen food section of the store always cost more. It takes a little more time, but try to cook more dishes from scratch using basic ingredients. It really does help us save a lot of money. Also, when you shop the grocery store, hit the perimeter (the outermost aisles of the store) first. These areas include fresh produce, dairy and meats. These are the basic staples you need on your grocery list and they are also the aisles which contain the "healthier" foods. The innermost aisles of the grocery store contain the convenience items such as cake mixes, Hamburger Helper, cookies, crackers, soda, etc. which cost more and will run up your food bill with unnecessary expenses.

You may not be able to do much about rising prices at the grocery store, but with a little pre-planning and smart shopping, you can do more to stretch your food dollar.


  1. Anonymous // March 7, 2009 at 5:14 PM  

    I too have noticed an increase in cost of groceries....I've always been a frugal shopper and am still able to get some awesome deals. I make it a point to hit the grocery store early in the morning and purchase 90% of my meats at 50% off. (expiry date on that day or the day before). I've been able to save considerably by doing this. On a good day I'm also able to get veggies at 50% aswell. Peppers can be chopped and frozen for sauces etc. Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots can be steamed/blanched and frozen aswell. It's well worth the few extra minutes it takes. Having a food sealer (which I bought at a second hand store) has been a really good investment. It also allows me to portion when I buy bulk. There are still some deals out there just keep looking.

Related Posts with Thumbnails