I am a creature of habit. If you took a look in my grocery cart each week, you’d see many of the same foods- bread, produce, milk, cheese, etc. I stick with the same foods and the same brands for a few reasons. One is that I’m slightly lazy, and don’t like to take the time to comparison shop for the best deals. My goal is to get through the store as quickly as possible (especially when my kids are with me), so once I find a brand I like, I stick with it. Another reason is that once I find something my kids like (our sandwich bread, for instance), I don’t usually deviate from it for fear that I’ll hear: “This is different. I don’t want to eat it.”
I know there are things I could be doing to save money here and there, but I choose to cut back in other areas of our budget instead of on the food bill. I pay attention to sales and will stock up on things if they are a good price. But honestly, I don’t pay a lot of attention to the regular price of the foods I buy. I probably should, since the cost of items like ground beef, eggs and chicken has gone up significantly in the past year. Have you noticed? Has this trend affected what you’re putting in your grocery cart?
Although it’s still cheaper to eat at home rather than eating out, some of the foods with the biggest price increases were previously considered “budget-friendly”. The average price across all foods went up 4.5 percent (compared to 2.9 percent over the past 30 years), which might not seem that bad. What’s unusual (and tough on your wallet) is that many of the basic foods we buy on a weekly basis saw huge jumps in cost. In 2011, the price of eggs, ground beef and milk each went up an average of 10 percent. According to experts, "there are plenty of good reasons for the unusual increases. Bad weather was a factor in the cost of eggs; fewer animals in the pipeline and export demand made for more expensive beef, pork, and dairy. And record high prices for soybeans explains the high cost of cooking oil."
The USDA predicts that food prices will go up again in 2012, although not quite as much as last year. This year’s heavy-hitters on your wallet are predicted to be beef and products made from wheat (due to high temperatures and low rainfall in the Great Plains.) I know those changes are likely to increase my grocery bill.
How do you handle rising food costs? Do you cook more often instead of going out to save money? Do you change what you buy at the store? Do you cut back in other areas to compensate for the increases? Does your diet suffer because of it?
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