As American households face rising costs to cover basic necessities, consumers are looking for savings on their grocery bills any way they can find them.
According to the latter inflation data, the price of groceries rose nationally in June 12.2 percent from a year ago, the fastest pace since April of 1979.
Soaring food prices played a major role in pushing overall inflation to 9.1 percent for the month, a four-decade high.
Meanwhile, a recent study found that 61 percent of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck, and the burden of higher food and gas prices is pushing many family budgets to the limit.
Discount chains, including dollar stores, have seen a huge spike in grocery sales as shoppers try to stretch their paychecks through the month and keep food on the table.
Here, DailyMail.com offers suggestions on how to find healthy but cheaper substitutes for regular groceries, based on an analysis of national average retail prices from the Departments of Agriculture and Commerce.
DailyMail.com offers suggestions on ideas for cheaper substitutes for regular groceries, based on an analysis of national average retail prices
Shoppers can also often save money by selecting fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season in the region where they live, which cuts down on shipping costs and takes advantage of the produce in the most abundant supply.
Tips for experienced shoppers
- Buy products in season
- Compare prices per ounce
- Check for store brand alternatives
- Enroll in free loyalty programs
- Avoid pre-sliced or prepared items
- Stick to a shopping list, or order ahead online to stay within a budget
The USDA maintains a handy list of seasonal products to help consumers select fruits and vegetables for each season.
Another important tip is to compare the unit prices on packaged goods, looking at the price per ounce.
With ‘shrink inflation’ on the rise, many manufacturers are stealthily shrinking their servings without cutting prices.
Comparing unit prices—the cost per ounce or per gram—can show which choice is actually the better deal.
Most cost-conscious shoppers also know to check for store-brand alternatives for packaged items like cereal and crackers.
Although stores put brand-name items at eye level to catch shoppers’ attention, most grocery chains have their own store brands that are similar in quality, but lower in price, on the bottom shelves.
Many stores also have a discount section on baked goods that are set to expire soon, though they are sometimes tucked away in a discreet back corner away from the main bakery.
Another tip to save money is to choose the least pre-processed item. You pay more for each step of cutting and packaging.
For example, a block of cheese will cost less than a package of pre-cut slices, and whole heads of broccoli are cheaper than a bag of pre-cut florets.
Most grocery chains also offer loyalty programs that are free to join, and automatically provide discounts at checkout without the need to clip coupons.
And when it comes to clipping coupons, be careful. Discounts on items you normally buy can save you money, but avoid the temptation to expand your shopping list just to cash in on a discount.
Inflation in the US rose to 9.1% in June, the highest since 1981
Consumer advocates say one of the best ways to shop on a budget is to make a shopping list and stick to it.
Many stores also offer the option to order groceries online for in-store pickup at no extra cost, as long as the order is a certain size.
Shoppers who order ahead can carefully craft their grocery list to ensure it stays within their budget, and won’t be tempted to splurge on other items once they’re in the store.
Inflation is the top concern for 24 percent of Americans, according to a YouGov poll released last week. Rising prices were far ahead of the runner-up priority, jobs and the economy, at 12 percent.
Experts blame inflation for everything from supply chain problems to the war in Ukraine’s impact on food and energy markets. Still, high prices undoubtedly hurt President Joe Biden’s approval rating, which dropped to about 37 percent.
Meanwhile, more Americans are turning to discount chains to find groceries on a budget, including dollar stores that often don’t offer fresh produce.
Grocery sales at discount stores rose 71 percent between October 2021 and June 2022, analytics firm InMarket found, while sales of the same items in supermarkets fell 5 percent.
San Antonio resident Lily Penelope recently told The Wall Street Journal how her family began to rely on a local Dollar General for groceries, eating mostly canned chicken, peanut butter and vegetables from the store.
Penelope, 26, is unable to drive due to a disability and can no longer pay the cost of both food from the local bakery and the cost of an Uber to get there. Previously, the total for such a trip was about $120, they said, but since January that cost has nearly doubled.
Customers shop at a Dollar Tree in Chicago. According to a spokesperson for the chain, 16,162 of its stores carry frozen produce, along with sugar-free groceries, whole wheat options, and milk and eggs
DailyMail.com examined the prices of everyday items and calculated how much they would cost if inflation had stayed at the Federal Reserve’s target of 2 percent — not the runaway hikes we’ve seen this past year — to find out how much additional consumers currently pay
‘My health and the quality of my life has gone down,’ said Penelope, ‘I’m in a position where I have to choose between making food that I can afford and putting my health on the line.’
The Dollar General next to Penelope doesn’t have fresh produce, a problem many across the country face when they turn to dollar stores for relief.
Of the more than 18,000 Dollar General locations across the country, only about 2,300 carry fresh produce, something the store said it’s working to improve, but doesn’t expect to do for “several years.”
“While Dollar General is not a full-service retailer, we consider ourselves today’s general store by providing close and affordable access to everyday household essentials, including the components of a nutritious meal,” a spokesperson said. She added that the company expected to stock fresh produce at 10,000 locations in the coming years.
Until then, consumers will have to depend on their boxed, canned, and if they have them, frozen options. Although such products are less healthy, customers are willing to put up with those shortcomings for the price.
“Everything in there is super-duper sweet,” 41-year-old Phoenix Kamlo told The Wall Street Journal, “But it’s close, and it’s cheap.”
Dollar Tree echoed Dollar General’s sentiment that they never intended to be grocery stores for their customers, and instead are meant to complement more robust grocery options.
According to a spokesperson for the chain, 16,162 of its stores carry frozen produce, along with sugar-free groceries, whole wheat options, and milk and eggs.
Tips for saving money at the grocery store as inflation rises
Source link Tips for saving money at the grocery store as inflation rises