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How to Budget Rising Food Prices

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How to Budget Rising Food Prices

It’s no secret food prices have risen lately. Since food is at the top of the list for basic human needs, we’re all interested in combating these rising costs this winter. Keep reading for some helpful tips. 

1.    Eat Out Less

Dining out is an extremely expensive option, especially if you already budget for a full list of groceries. If you think about it, many meals you purchase out can be made for a fraction of the cost at home. Fast food can be a cheaper option, but this is where your health takes a hit. High-calorie and low-quality fast food may not keep you full for nearly as long. 

2.    Don’t Shop on An Empty Stomach

We’ve all been grocery shopping on an empty stomach and the results are not good.  When hungry, we tend to overspend and veer off the shopping list. Stick to your necessities by grabbing a bite to eat or a small snack before you begin your shop. 

3.    Stick to Your List 

If you expect to save money without creating or sticking to a list, you may experience sticker shock when you check out on your next grocery haul. If you fill your cart with everything that catches your eye, be prepared to spend a lot more than you planned. By creating a list in advance, you can plan out your meals and ingredient list to cohesively work together for the week. This also allows you to plan around any sales the store may have, or you may choose to shop elsewhere because there may be a better deal. Avoiding impulse buys is key to fighting these rising food costs. Many say all the products you need are on the edge of the store, so avoiding the aisles that aren’t on your list is a win.

4.    Fresh Over Prepared

In a world that is already fast paced, it is easy to opt for prepared items when shopping at the grocery store. Whether it’s convenience or to simply have on hand, these pre-ready meals are at a premium price tag compared to simply buying the fresh ingredients to make yourself. This same concept also goes for frozen items you may be grabbing. Yes, they absolutely are convenient and last longer, but they often are priced significantly higher than buying fresh ingredients to prepare yourself. 

5.    Bulk May Be Best 

Buying in bulk can save you time and money. It is important to pay attention to the price of family-sized options. If the price per unit is lower, it is well worth your money to buy more if you have a place to store it and will use it before it expires. Items you go through consistently, like toilet paper and paper towels, are almost always worthwhile buying in bulk as well. 

6.    Bulk Isn’t Always Best

If you find you are not fully utilizing your membership at a big-box retailer like Costco or Sam’s Club, consider canceling. It is important to pay attention to your spending habits at these stores as well as your overall consumption. The prices at the big boxes are often no bargain compared to discounts or sales at other stores. In addition, the family-size packaging at these stores could mean you buy more than you need, driving up your grocery bill.

7.    Sign Up for Rewards

If you are visiting the same stores consistently, it may be worthwhile to sign up for their rewards program. Some stores may raise their prices when they offer rewards so without their store card your bill could be higher. Look into the rewards offered. They may have benefits such as a discount on gas. Take advantage of the benefits at places you visit regularly.

8.    When Prices Are High, Look Low

Grocery stores are strategically set up to tempt you to spend money. As mentioned earlier, stick to the outer edge of the store. You can avoid higher priced, unnecessary items by not shopping the end caps or checkout area.The highest priced items are placed where it is easy for you to look, such as the middle of the shelf at eye level. If you look down, chances are you’ll find the generic, cheaper alternatives. 

9. Substitute the Expensive Items 

If you notice an item you use frequently has a price that is consistently climbing, look for a lower priced alternative. Is there something else you can use in its place? For example, you can swap apple sauce for olive oil in baked goods recipes and cut the cost nearly in half. 

10. Maintain a Well-Stocked Kitchen

Shopping infrequently and only when the need arises will help you avoid overspending. If you stock up during sales, you set yourself up to keep your food budget down. Food is one of those purchases that simply cannot be avoided. Be a careful well-prepared shopper, and you will minimize the amount you spend at the grocery store.