Food prices are constantly on the rise. In 2018 they are predicted to increase by as much as 2% across the board, with some staples such as eggs predicted to increase by between 4% and 5%. And it’s not just 2018, as we saw the same last year and we’ll likely see the same next year. Yet despite these rising food prices, wages aren’t catch-up, leaving many Americans out of pocket and struggling to make ends meet.
In this guide we will show you some ways that you can beat rising food prices and stay financially secure even when even your monthly food bills are showing no sign of stopping.
1. Buy Bulk and Plan
Take a leaf out of an extreme couponer’s book by collecting coupons and then using them to purchase significant amounts of sale items. The goal is to stock your pantry for as little as you can, stocking-up on staples that will not perish in weeks or months, whether that be frozen vegetables, dried cereals, tins or powders.
It’s cheap food, because it’s not fresh, and it will keep over the long haul. You then simply need to plan your meals around these foods. It’s easy to be dismissive of the food you have and to assume that there is nothing you can do with it. But you’d be surprised at how far a little creativity can go.
Read through recipes, checkout cooking apps, and put some effort into cooking with the food that you have in order to stretch your monthly budget further and further.
2. Eat Less Meat
Meat is expensive and the price of meat is also increasing at a faster pace than many other food staples. If you reduce the amount of meat that you eat you can save tens of dollars on your weekly budget, and the bigger your family is, the more you can save.
You don’t need to give up meat entirely, just focus on reducing the amount that you eat and on eating more off-cuts and frozen meats when you do. Vegetarian and vegan meals can be very cheap and super easy, just what you need to feed a family. If you plan carefully, you won’t even miss out on protein or other essential nutrients.
3. Grow Your Own
It can be a hassle to turn whatever limited green space you have into a complete vegetable garden, but you don’t need to go the whole hog to benefit from a little self sufficiency. A few square yards of space is all you need to grow your own beets. These are very easy to grow and often yield bumper crops, with the vegetables and leaves both offering sustenance.
If you rotate your space then you can produce seasonal vegetables all year long. It’ll require minimal effort on your part—just buy the seeds, plant them, provide them with a little water and then let nature do the rest. Not only can you enjoy fresh seasonable vegetables, but you can save tens of dollars a year for every square foot of land that you use.
It’s important, however, to focus on bumper crops that are easy to grow, otherwise it can be a pointless endeavor. Asparagus, for instance, is easy to grow and tastes great fresh, but it is not a great use of space. The same goes for lettuce and other greenery, while root vegetables and fruits can be ideal. If you have more space, plant a couple orange or apple trees and in years to come they will reward you kindly.
4. Ask Others
If you can’t grow it yourself, then take it from someone who can! If your neighbor has fruits or vegetables, ask them if they have anything left over. You would be surprised at how often they will answer in the affirmative. Anyone who grows their own seasonable fruits and vegetables will have a surplus, and if you’re a close friend or a persistent neighbor, you could benefit from that surplus.
If you grow a bumper crop of a single fruit or vegetable, then you can also swap. This is common with many neighbors who grow their own. There’s only so many apples that one person can eat, so if they have a bumper crop they can swap them with a neighbor who grows oranges, and maybe another neighbor who grows potatoes.
If you can’t grow and you can’t swap, then it’s time to take direct from nature. Learning how to forage is an essential skill that could save you a lot of money and help to put all kinds of foods on your table.
From edible greens and plants, to fruits, mushrooms and roots, there is a wealth of nutritious food out there just waiting to be harvested. It is essential that you know what you are doing though, because there are also poisonous berries and mushrooms that can turn your free food into a very unpleasant and even dangerous dinner.
6. Eat Better
Finally, if you want to eat better and stay nourished for less, focus on eating good, clean, natural foods. Processed food has the calories but not the nutrients—it’s unhealthy and will do more harm than good.
It’s true that it can be expensive to eat well and that processed food is often cheaper than its fresh counterpart, but only if you’re comparing the best organic produce to the worst processed food. If you make allowances, buying frozen vegetables, buying in bulk and not buying organic, it can be much cheaper to eat well.
You can make all kinds of one-pot dishes for your entire family uses a few bags of frozen vegetables and some dried grains. It’ll cost you a $1 or less per person, which is a lot less than a meal at McDonalds and a lot better for you.
What Causes Food Prices to Rise?
There are a number of factors at play here. It’s not simply the result of manufacturers demanding more money and thinking they can get away with charging it—if only it were that simple. The truth is that the costs increase for them so they also increase for the consumer. In some cases the manufacturers actually take more of a hit, but most of the time they pass those costs onto the consumer and also use smaller portion sizes and packaging in order to reduce costs (it’s why your favorite treats have significantly reduced in size over the years).
The main thing affecting food prices are:
1. Oil Costs: The price of oil has an impact on entire global economies and most industries. Not only is it needed to fuel the machines that harvest, produce and process, but it’s also needed to ship the food we eat great distances. Increasing oil costs mean higher prices at the pumps, which impacts on regular Americans like yourself as well as companies paying to transport food nationwide.
2. Climate Change: Whether you believe in global warming or not, you can’t deny that droughts and environmental disasters are more common, leading to a huge shortage in essential crops that are being grown all over the world.
3. Demand: The world’s population is constantly on the increase, and more people means there is a greater demand for food, which in turn means that there is more pressure on the producers and the suppliers. This increases cost across the board.