How to save money as food inflation jumps more than 11% in a year

Going to the grocery store does not cost less.

Rising food prices further contributed to pushing up inflation last month, despite lower gasoline prices. The food index alone has risen 11.4% over the past year, according to the latest Consumer Price Index figures, marking the biggest 12-month jump since May 1979.

The Food at Home Index, a measure of price changes at grocery stores, rose 13.5%, also a 43-year high.

In the face of rising prices, consumers have cut spending, according to Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com. However, “food, at its basic level, is not discretionary,” he said. “That’s the difficult aspect of the circumstances we find ourselves in.”

Prices for staples like eggs, milk, cereals, bread and butter saw some of the biggest increases, further straining household budgets.

Inflation has also led many food and beverage companies, including Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, to raise prices for beverages and packaged goods. Some are also reducing the size of their packaging – also called “shrinkflation” – or swapping cheaper ingredients, a tactic now called “skimpflation”.

Why food is getting more expensive for everyone

“Grocery manufacturers know that while most shoppers will immediately notice a price increase, they are less likely to see a reduction in a product’s net weight or switch to using less expensive ingredients” , said Edgar Dworsky, the founder of Consumer World, which has tracked the downsizing of popular products, such as Charmin, Quaker Instant Oatmeal and Honey Bunches of Oats.

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The Federal Reserve has already taken aggressive action to combat soaring inflation, and a survey released earlier this week by the New York Fed showed consumers are less and less fearful of rising prices – although they still expect the inflation rate to be 5.7% per year from now.

“Consumers are prepared for high prices to persist for the foreseeable future, but people also tend to think things could get back to normal,” Hamrick said.

In the meantime, “it is prudent for individuals to continue to be prudent with their family budget”, he added.

To that end, savings experts are sharing their top tips for spending less on groceries, as food inflation shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

“It’s belt-tightening time and it’s been a while,” Hamrick said.

5 tips to save on groceries

  1. Review sales. Generic brands can be 10% to 30% cheaper than their “premium” counterparts and just as good, but that’s not always the case. Big name brands may be offering deeper than usual discounts right now to maintain loyalty, so it’s worth paying attention to price changes.
  2. Plan your meals. When you plan your meals ahead, you’re more likely to buy only the things you need, said Lisa Thompson, savings expert at Coupons.com. If planning isn’t your thing, at least go shopping with a rough idea of ​​what you’ll be cooking in the coming week to help you stay on track and avoid impulse buying, she said. added.
  3. Buy in bulk. As for the rest of the items on your list, you can save more by buying in bulk. Joining a wholesale club like Costco, Sam’s Club, or BJ’s will often get you the best unit price on condiments and non-perishables.
  4. Use a cashback app. Ibotta and Checkout 51 are two of the most popular apps for making money in-store, according to Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst at DealNews.com. The average Ibotta user earns between $10 and $20 per month, but more active users can earn up to $100 to $300 per month, a spokesperson told CNBC.
  5. Pay with the correct card. While a generic cashback card such as the Citi Double Cash Card can earn you 2%, there are specific grocery rewards cards that can earn you up to 6% at supermarkets nationwide, such as the Blue Cash Preferred from American Express. CNBC’s Select offers a comprehensive roundup of the best cards for food purchases, along with APRs and annual fees.

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