The last two nights I have actually watched the evening news I have seen stories on the current droughts and the predicted rise in food costs. The USDA predicts the drought to increase food prices by 3-4% in 2013.
We are likely to see a larger than normal price increase on milk, butter, beef, pork, chicken, pasta, soy milk, cheese, breakfast cereal, powdered milk, gluten-free products, pet food, vitamins, cooking oil, and frozen, canned or dried fruits and vegetables.
With that in mind here are a few thoughts on how to protect your grocery budget. ( I think these are just good tips for frugal grocery shopping any time. By doing these now you will be able to take the edge off prices increases.)
Make Room in Your Freezer
- Buy fresh produce now when it goes on sale and freeze or can it so you do not have to buy as much next year.
- Freeze some cheese. When you find a good deal on cheese and butter (or other dairy products) go ahead and buy some to freeze.
- Buy beef and chicken now. It has become very expensive for ranchers to feed their herds so, it is likely we will see the price of beef, chicken and pork temporarily decline as ranchers sell off stock.
Use coupons and sales to stock up now.
I know many of you already do this but it would be good to start focusing on items that are most likely to increase in price.
- Stock up on cereal, pasta and canned fruit and vegetables now. You should be able to find cereal for $1 or less, pasta for no more than $.50 per box and some good deals on canned food.
- Popcorn is a favorite frugal snack around here- stock up now.
- Stock up on wheat flour now. (It can be frozen too!)
- Consider joining a CSA Program- your area may not be as affected by the drought and traditionally organic farms fare a little better in those conditions.
- Get familiar with your area’s Farmer’s Markets
- Plant your own garden!
- Learn to can your own veggies! You can check out Canning Across America for tips and recipes, or look for a canning class in your area.
Get Out Your Cookbooks
- Start cooking one or two vegetarian meals a week.
- Start making more of your family’s food from scratch, processed foods (which we all know are not as good for you) will also increase in price in 2013. (Remember the Maple Pecan Breakfast Cookie Experiment? Still one of my faves.)
- Don’t waste food. Start menu planning and considering how to use leftovers.
Make Room in Your Budget
- Start trying now to add a little more money to your monthly food budget. Either use it to stock up on or save it until you start seeing a rise in your monthly grocery spending. Either way reallocating a small amount to your budget now will help you be prepared.
These tips are basically what I saw my grandma and mom do as I was growing up on a Midwestern farm. I wish now I had paid more attention while they were canning , freezing, baking and preserving. I could not do any of that now. I am, however, an expert on picking vegetables, shucking corn, snapping beans and coring apples. So if anyone wants to team up…..
What are your best tips for keeping your food budget the same when prices rise?