How to Hedge Against Food Inflation

charlie_imageOver the last month I've done our family's grocery shopping and the prices seem to be increasing every week! It is amazing how sneaky these prices will increase too. Whether it be in reducing the quantity you get in a product or paying a few cents more for the products. It's all inflation!

In looking at what we are spending on food over the last few months, I can see a definite trend in our food bills increasing. In particular, I've seen lately a dramatic increase in meat and dairy prices. The news headlines and trends don't show any sign of decreasing any time soon either. 

With food inflation staring a lot of low to middle income families in the face it makes a lot of us wonder how we are going to make ends meet. It has a lot of families already making tough choices on what expenses to cut in order to pay for higher food prices. Here are a few ideas to help you and your family combat this trend.

  • Buy On Sale – oh sure…sounds obvious doesn't it? But how many of us are always paying normal full price? Look at your local Sunday paper or mailed grocery flyers for what's on sale. Go in with a “sale list” and get your items, and get out. More than likely these prices are teaser prices to get you to buy other non-sale items. Have a laser focus and go for the sale items only.
  • Price Match – my mom is the best at this! She goes into her local major grocery chain, and will have all the local ads to be able to capture all the low prices at one store. This will save you from having to go around from store to store getting all the sale items.
  • Stockpile, Stockpile, Stockpile – I can't emphasize enough about how important it is to have both a big food pantry and a deep freeze! Both a freezer and pantry will allow you to stock up on sale items and never pay full price. It is always harder to part with one large chunk of money, but over time your per item costs will dramatically go down.
  • Dehydrate Foods – have you considered dehydrating your foods as a measure to fight food inflation? If you are able to buy items on sale and stockpile large quantities, then why not extend the time you can have them in your stockpile? Dehydrating will combine both buying on sale and stockpiling, which will help you compound your savings potential. Here is a great tutorial video on how to dehydrate fruits and veggies.

  • Grow Your Own Foods – will 2014 be the year of the backyard garden? You'd better believe with how much prices are increasing that people are looking at ways to grow organic and not be so dependent on their local super market. The great depression taught a lot of farmers to grow even bigger and bigger gardens, which helped them make the best of those tough times. Take note of what others have done to get through higher food costs.

These are just a few ideas that I came up with to hedge against higher food costs. Have any of you guys been experiencing higher food prices at the store lately? What products in particular? What have you been doing to lower your food costs (please be specific)?

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  1. Buying in bulk definitely saves. Buying a 5lb bag of shredded cheese and freezing smaller quantities. Buy larger roasts and do the same. Sam’s club and Walmart are generally cheaper than some of the alternatives.

    Of course, I eat out a lot, but it is generally fast food places where there are many coupons.

  2. I started a front yard garden and stopped eating meat. I am trying to work up the nerve to ask my neighbors if they would be willing to sell the eggs from their backyard chickens. I shop at Aldis and Save Alot for the majority of my groceries. I eat ALOT of casserole/one pot meals. I participate in a food coop for lots of fruits/veggies.

  3. Price matching is a fantastic thing to do if you have the time. I like to shop at our local Walmart because I know I can bring in evidence of a lower price available from other stores and they will meet the new price. I don’t have tons of time to dedicate examining all the sales, but the time I do have can really be made effective in a hurry at those stores with a solid price matching policy. Thanks for all the great tips!

    • Ya, price matching can really benefit a family if one or two people have a lot of time to dedicate to this activity. It’s definitely hard to juggle. Thanks for reading, Wallet Doctor!

  4. Great post, Charlie. One way we save BIG time on beef is to buy a quarter or a half a cow at a time through a local farm here. You have to have a deep freezer to do this, but the prices are awesome. We get 50% hamburger and 50% steaks and roasts (you can divide it up any way you want) for $3.50 a pound, and it’s high quality meat: no antibiotics or hormones given to the cows, and they are grass fed whenever possible. We also stock up huge when staples like spaghetti sauce go on sale, and we buy things like flour, sugar and spices in bulk. These tactics have allowed us to feed our family of six for about $450 a month.

    • Laurie- I’m considering that too! I’d like to purchase either a half or quarter cow and put in my deep freeze. It seems like a great way to stockpile and not be subject to price fluctuations. I still don’t know how your can feed a family of six on $450! Great job!

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