Going to the supermarket doesn’t get any cheaper.
Rising food costs helped inflation pick up again last month, despite a drop in gas prices. The food index alone rose 11.4% last year, according to the latest consumer price index figures, the biggest jump in 12 months since May 1979.
The food-at-home index, a measure of supermarket price changes, rose 13.5% – another 43-year high.
In the face of higher prices, consumers have cut spending, according to Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com. However, “food is not discretionary at the grassroots level,” he said. “That’s the challenging aspect of the conditions we’re in.”
Prices for commodities such as eggs, milk, cereals, bread and butter experienced some of the biggest increases, putting further pressure on household budgets.
Inflation has also caused many food and beverage companies, including Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, to increase the prices of beverages and packaged goods. Some are also shrinking their packages — also known as “shrinkflation” — or trading in less expensive ingredients, a tactic now called “skimpflation.”
“Grocery makers know that while most buyers will notice a price increase immediately, they are less likely to see a reduction in a product’s net weight or a switch to using cheaper ingredients,” said Edgar Dworsky, the founder of Consumer World. , which has followed 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 steps to combat rising inflation, and a study published by the New York Fed earlier this week showed consumers are becoming less afraid of rising prices — though they still expect inflation to rise over time. one year will be 5.7% .
“Consumers are prepared for high prices to persist for the foreseeable future, but there is also a tendency for people to think things will return to normal,” Hamrick said.
In the meantime, “it is wise for individuals to remain cautious with their household budget,” he added.
To that end, savings experts share their top tips for spending less on groceries as food inflation shows no signs of slowing down in the near term.
“It’s time to tighten the belt and it has been for a while,” said Hamrick.
5 tips to save on groceries
- Take a look at sales. Generic brands can be 10% to 30% cheaper than their “premium” counterparts and just as good, but that’s not always the case. Name brands may currently offer larger than usual discounts to maintain loyalty, so it pays to keep an eye out for price changes.
- Plan your meals. When you plan your meals in advance, you’re more likely to buy only the things you need, said Lisa Thompson, a 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 for the next week to stay on track and avoid impulse buys, she added.
- Buy in bulk. When it comes to 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 give you the best price per unit on spices and non-perishable goods.
- Use a cashback app. Ibotta and Checkout 51 are two of the most popular in-store cash back apps, according to Julie Ramhold, a consumer analyst at DealNews.com. The average Ibotta user earns between $10 and $20 per month, but more active users can earn as much as $100 to $300 per month, a spokesperson told CNBC.
- Pay with the correct card. While you can earn 2% with a generic cash back card like the Citi Double Cash Card, there are grocery specific rewards cards that can earn you up to 6% back at grocery stores nationwide, such as American Express’s Blue Cash Preferred Card. CNBC’s Select has a full collection of the best grocery shopping charts, along with the APRs and annual fees.
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