Eighty-two percent of Americans are cutting back on groceries because of higher food prices due to inflation.
Although food frugality is seen across all income brackets, Gen Xers are the most likely to buy fewer items as they are among the hardest hit in the current economic climate.
People are increasingly concerned that their food will run out before they have money to buy more, rising from 35% last October to 42% in September 2022.
Despite good harvests, food inflation remains high. Some experts expect uncertainty regarding the global food supply to persist in the coming year.
High prices are driving food insecurity and show no signs of slowing down.
After housing expenses, food is typically the next biggest expense for consumers. To deal with rising costs, grocery shoppers are watching sales, choosing generic brands, and cutting back on food by buying fewer items altogether.
Food insecurity is a growing worry and issue. Even before the current economic crisis, 43 million Americans faced food insecurity.
Groceries are a necessary expense, but the good news is it’s an expense we have some control over.
If you need to reduce grocery expenses to make ends meet, here are some tried and true things you can do to stretch your grocery-shopping dollars and keep your cupboards a little bit fuller.
1. Make A Grocery Budget
Few people enjoy budgeting, but it’s less painful than going without meals.
Review how much you’ve been spending and how much you can spend. From there, create a weekly budget. If possible, reduce your budget by $20 a month to give yourself a cushion to get you through the months you overspend.
2. Don’t Assume Name Brands Are More Expensive
Sure, generic brands can be cheaper by 10% to 30% and just as good in most cases, but watch for major sales as the name-brand companies compete for your loyalty.
3. Use A Cashback App
According to an article on CNBC.com, “Ibotta and Checkout 51 are two of the most popular apps for earning cash back at the store,” with the average user earning $10-$20 a month, with claims of active users can earn $100-$300!
4. Track Prices Across Stores
You probably already know that food prices vary widely from store to store; certain stores consistently offer items for less than their competitors. Do a little sleuthing to compare prices; keep a list to ensure you always get the best prices.
It’s easy to fall into the habit of shopping at the same store; it’s fast, easy, and convenient because you know where everything is. But sometimes, you can shave $10-$15 off your grocery spending simply by being willing to shop at a couple of different stores.
Lastly, you can always shop in bulk at Costco or Sam’s Club to save money and stretch supplies; consider splitting the cost with a friend to save money and divide the items between you.
5. Save Money With Meal Planning
It just makes sense that planning your meals reduces impulse spending at the grocery store and cuts out waste.
Don’t like meal planning? Then at least shop with a few meals in mind that you’ll prepare that week.
6. Come Up With A Few Frugal Dishes
No, you don’t have to settle for rice and beans or ramen noodles to always keep from going hungry.
Take thirty minutes to think of a few inexpensive dishes that you or your family enjoy; it very well could be rice and beans! But what about tried and true options like a big pot of homemade soup or chili?
Meatless dishes stretch your dollar further, or, as a frugal alternative, consider reducing the portion of meat the recipe calls for.
Enjoying frugal meals a few times a month saves money; you’ll save even more if you make enough for leftovers, stretching your grocery budget even further.
7. Use A Cashback Credit Card
Be careful with this tip; using credit to buy groceries isn’t a good idea unless it’s your only option. According to CNBC, the best cards offer up to 6% cashback.
8. Cut Out Non-Essential Subscriptions
People are more likely to cut back on groceries and dining out than cancel streaming services. Life is overwhelmingly stressful; streaming services are a perfect escape from worries, troubles, and fears, at least momentarily.
According to a recent National Research Group survey of 2500 adults, the average consumer spends $135 monthly on subscriptions.
When consumers are polled on how much they spend on subscriptions, $86 is the average amount they give, which can be as much as $100 to $200 less than they actually spend (most people forget about certain subscription services they’re being charged for monthly).
Look at your itemized credit card and bank statements to see how much you’re spending on subscriptions, keeping in mind that some bill quarterly and annually, not just monthly. Are there two or three that you can cancel? Cancel non-essential subscriptions to free up precious dollars for your grocery budget.
9. Get A Food-Saving Vacuum Sealer (And Keep Your Subscriptions)
Do a quick YouTube or Internet search on “vacuum sealers,” and you will be amazed at the money-saving tips you’ll find on how to stretch your grocery budget by using a vacuum sealer to save your food!
All sorts of foods that go bad quickly (avocados, berries, meat, etc.) can easily be preserved by vacuum sealing for later consumption. You might save enough money on groceries to justify keeping some of your subscriptions!
Words of Encouragement…
Life isn’t easy, especially when you have a family to feed and a household to manage.
Inflation is out of control, and the Fed keeps raising interest rates.
According to many experts, we’re about to face slowing economic growth and rising unemployment as we continue to battle high inflation (high prices).
The reality is that forces beyond our control are straining our finances, affecting how we spend our dollars and how far we can make them stretch. Sometimes we’re left with difficult choices that involve painful sacrifices.
Although the tips in this article aren’t perfect solutions or magical cures, try some of the ones you’re not already using to start saving money this week at the grocery store to keep more food on your table.