Been to the grocery store lately?
If you have, you probably spent more than when you shopped a month ago.
And you definitely have more than you did before this virus began.
According to some stats I saw recently, Americans spent about 2.6% more for groceries in April than in March. That’s the largest one month increase since February 1974.
We already expected the rates of meat to increase given the shutdowns at meatpacking plants across the country.
But the rising rates have expanded well beyond meat.
Everything from eggs to dairy items to fresh produce have all seen hikes.
In fact, the number index for eggs alone jumped more than 16%.
Even as states begin to reopen, folks should not expect food rates to fall.
That’s because organizations are going to need to make extra investments in safety. For both their products and their workers to keep themselves running.
And those added funds are simply going to be passed down to us folks.
The timing couldn’t be worse with some many folks out of a job right now.
But all is not lost.
There are a few things you can try to eat healthy and keep your food funds down.
Here are some simple ways to trim your grocery funds:
First thing you want to do is shop around.
Don’t always stick to the same store each week.
Different stores provide different items and specials.
Watch for the store circulars, or subscribe to your local stores’ email blasts so you can stay informed on what’s on special where.
And, opt for private label items over more well-known brands.
Private label items run 20-30% less than their more “popular” counterparts, but are still good quality.
Also, now that it’s a little warmer, keep your eye out for some of your local farmer’s markets and CSA programs.
Foods made locally are more likely to be less since you’re not having them shipped from another state, or even another country, like you do for store-bought foods.
Farmer’s markets are also a great place to find meat on special, as local meat processors haven’t been as affected by the pandemic as the larger plants.
Another option for meat is frozen.
While the rates of fresh meat has risen, frozen meat has remained fairly stable.
Even better, the supply of frozen meat has improved since store shelves were wiped bare in March.
But, please stay away from the frozen prepared foods.
Not only are these foods typically loaded with salt, sugar and a host of chemicals to keep them from going bad, their numbers are on the rise as the raw ingredients used to make them are rising.
Unfortunately, rising food rates are our “new normal,” at least for the foreseeable future.
But with a little shopping savvy, you can mitigate the increase, without sacrificing food quality.
Stay safe out there.