Prepping For Higher Food Prices

by Merissa on August 1, 2012

in Featured, Thrifty Living

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A while back I posted a news article on the LHL Facebook page that talked about the coming price increases for groceries over the next year. In case you missed it, the article talked about a possible 40% increase in food prices over the next year as a result of the current drought.

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40% is alot!

If you pay any kind of attention to grocery prices (and most frugal shoppers do or should!) then you know that prices have already been increasing. Maybe you've already had to increase your grocery budget or at least start looking for alternatives for some products. I know over the last year we've had to increase our grocery budget from $100 a month to about $150 to $200 a month. Here are some tips that we've already put into practice that might help! Feel free to shout out your tips in the comments, we have to work together to come out on top of this!

1. Learn to preserve. Most people are nervous about this if they've never done it before but I'm here to tell you it's no big deal! Yes, it does take some work and you might have to learn some new skills, but it's so worth it in the long run! Learn to dehydrated, water and pressure can, and freeze. These skills will help you be able to purchase items in bulk and not have to eat them all instantly!

2. Try different shopping techniques. I used to think I was totally good to go as long as I knew how to coupon. Hate to burst anyone's bubble but the way things are going, coupons aren't going to be available forever. With increasing coupon fraud and stores cracking down on the use of coupons I don't see this phase lasting much longer, at least not the deals we are used to anyways. Learn to shop different ways such as taking advantage of loss leaders, shopping farmer's marketsmeal planning, buying in bulk, growing a garden, and more.

3. Adjust your budget to provide more for groceries. I'm not saying that you should just give up but I also don't think that we should live under the delusion that we will always be able to keep our budgets in the same amount as prices increase. As I mentioned above, we've had to re-arrange our budget over the last year to keep up with higher food prices and a different style of eating. Just take a peek at your budget and see if you have an extra $25 or $50 you can spare in another category to put aside for your grocery category.

4. Just say no to the extras. Do you really need that box of Twinkies? They may taste good in the moment but think about all the other things you could buy with that $3 you just spent on a box. Through my co-op I can use $3 to buy 4lbs of oats, 5lbs of sea salt, or a package of lettuce for salads for a whole week. When every penny counts you have to make the most of your budget and there isn't room for "extras"! You might be thinking that this way of shopping might make you feel deprived (the same way as putting no "misc" cash in your budget will do), but that's not the case here. Create new treats and snacks with what you can afford in your budget.

5. Don't rely on prepping. Another train of thought on this subject might be to stock up on everything now to get you through the "dry" time. In theory, that's a great idea for a few months and I always recommend keeping a stockpile on hand of at least 3 months of food. However, I don't feel like we should be dependant on our stockpiles to get us through until prices become better. For one, we don't know when prices will become better (if they ever will!). It could be a matter of months, it could be years! Ultimately we need to learn to live self sufficiently no matter what's going on and we have to do that by adapting to the situation, never thinking we can be fully prepped for anything.

Ok so it's your turn now...share your best tips for preparing for higher grocery prices!

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Julie Bertsch August 1, 2012 at 7:24 am

Is there a link to seeing it online? We tried to stay up, but it got too late…

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2 Ramona Walden Flaherty August 1, 2012 at 7:38 am

We’ve become a throw away society and that throw away stuff is expensive!! I try to use as little as possible. I reuse aluminium foil and plastic wrap now. When I was younger I asked my Mom why she did instead of throwing it away. She said “Because it is still perfectly good and still has plenty of use left. You throw away too much and that is the reason I will always have plenty and you will never have enough!!” That has stuck with me thoughout the years.

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3 Fabienne Mistry Camus August 1, 2012 at 7:58 am

another suggestion to your list: few of my friends, neighbors and myself drive every other week to a grocerer’s fruits and veggies market. we buy what we need by boxes, bargain a deal and share afterwards between each one. we usually spend $50 to $60 each time and have so much to enjoy every time + it is so fresh! this week i even began sundrying my mangoes: in one day they are done (granted we live in Texas!)

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4 RevAllyson August 1, 2012 at 8:00 am

We’ve upped our food budget, plus upped our “prep” budget as well (though not by much). Yesterday, I baked bagels. They probably cost half of what they would have at the store, and I know every ingredient that went into them. As a *treat* I made half of them cinnamon raisin. They were delish! And no one felt like I’d been thrifty. :) We buy our grain in berries and grind it ourselves (though I admit to picking up a bag of “better for bread” flour when it’s on sale, once in a while). It makes for heavier, but healthier bread. I bake bagels and cakes and cobblers and sis makes pies.

Check out berry bushes and fruit trees in your area. We have a place we go to, where we’ve picked about 40 lbs of FREE blueberries, and maybe 15 lbs of FREE blackberries so far this year. Our neighbors have invited our children to go picking in their bushes as well. At our old house, the neighbors exchanged the fruit off one tree for us spraying their apple trees for them (we had a big sprayer and they didn’t). It cost us almost nothing, considering we mixed the spray ourselves. On the weekend, I saw a sign that said “FREE” and it turned out to have six huge fresh cucumbers, which I brought home and processed immediately.

So yeah… keep an eye out for sales. Don’t blow your grocery budget all on one day. Save back $20 or so, more if you can manage, and make a habit of ASKING when sales are. Most cashiers know and will tell you if you ask nicely. Use that “hold back” cash for times when you find your favorite cut of meat on for half price, or massive ground beef rolls for $0.99 a pound. Check out “bump and dent” stores, too. While I wouldn’t buy milk there (just me), you can pick up perfectly good dried beans, peas, barley, etc. You can get pasta and sauces and rice for half or less what you’d pay in a regular store.

Bored yet? LOL…

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5 Little House on the Prairie Living August 1, 2012 at 8:00 am
6 Bonnie Camacho August 1, 2012 at 8:15 am

Wow! Even more excited about our farmers market adventure tomorrow. Great discovery Fabienne and thank you for sharing it with us.

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7 Anne August 1, 2012 at 8:23 am

I buy in bulk every time I go to the store…or just buy extra. My husband and I ration what we eat and put back any extra…ex: If we buy a LARGE bulk bag of pretzels…we put out a small amount in a plastic container and dry can or mylar bag the rest…depending on the amount. Same with fruits and veggies, but we dehydrate them first ofcourse. I agree that we will all need to learn more self sufficiency skills as I personally do not believe that prices will ever get back to what they were (same as with gas). We may need to consider investing in livestock for eggs/dairy/meat, learn to hunt (if you don’t already know), get more into the groove of a mostly vegetables diet and have meat as a luxery. That’s the way they used to do it.

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8 KackyK August 1, 2012 at 9:44 am

This comment doesn’t help much with planning, but it does give some perspective on the cost of groceries. Recently I was feeling so down about not being able to stay in the budget we had set for groceries. The costs were going up and it was/is discouraging. So for the “fun” of it, I went to the government’s page about food stamps/SNAP. There is a page that gives you a sort of “quote” of what you qualify for, if you do. I pretended we had no income whatsoever, and listed, I have 8 kids (which I do), so we have a family of 10. The amount of money the gov’t would have given us each month for assistance was at least $500 MORE than our budget (and my budget is already over $1000). SO I decided I don’t feel so bad because these prices are going up not just because of a drought and so on and so forth…but companies know that the gov’t is willing to pay more. Does that make sense???? Anyways, sometimes it’s good to know that in this budget/grocery game, the other player is cheating just slightly, so I personally don’t become as discouraged that I can’t get ahead of the game.

Your tips are great…I’ve been hedging about the dehydrator…I need to really just do this! I’m afraid of the canning…my mom did that to me with “horror” stories of lids exploding and such. Any good sites with clear and good directions on that one? What things can really well??? Thanks for your blog, it’s great!

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9 Merissa August 1, 2012 at 5:58 pm

I agree. me and my husband were on food stamps during the first year we were married and the amount we got was unbelievable. I had way more than I ever needed! As for canning things I know it’s scary to get started because I’m pretty sure everyone has some kind of horror story but it’s so worth it and really not as scary as you think it might be. I’m not sure what’s the best site to look for canning tips but I’ve got quite a few posted here and several youtube videos about it and am currently working on more!

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10 Teri August 9, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Canning isn’t hard, but it takes some time. It’s so much better for you. Get the Ball Blue Book. It is full of all the information you need for canning high and low acid foods, freezing and dehydrating. You won’t be sorry to learn a new skill and also have yummy food on your shelf. :)

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11 Emma's Farmhouse October 28, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Your local gov’t extension agency will give you lots of info on canning etc. Start with basic dill pickles if you are nervous, they are hard to mess up

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12 Annie April 19, 2013 at 7:49 pm

I also started canning with jams. You can’t really mess that up. Measure & mash the fruit. Measure out the sugar in a separate bowl. Pour the fruit in the stockpot & boil. Pour in the sugar & the pectin (I believe it is in this order; the pectin may go in with the fruit) and bring to a boil, continually stirring, for 60 seconds. Then remove from heat and ladle the hot jam into sterilized jars (aka, boiled jars or hot jars run through a sterilize wash in the dishwasher), using a funnel to make it easier, and leave 1/2 inch room between jam & rim (check recipe for exact “head space” room). Then you boil in a stockpot of water for specified time and you pull them out to cool and listen for the beautiful ping. And jam has so much sugar in it, it is unlikely to be bad! If it doesn’t ping/seal, you just use that jar first and stick it in the fridge.

I hope this helps; I promise it really is this easy!

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13 Dakota Ways August 1, 2012 at 10:23 am

Im in the central southern part of North Dakota enduring this heat wave without a/c. I enjoyed reading your blog on keeping your house cool without a/c. Most my produce comes from my garden. I have been avoiding turning on the stove to can, but just couldn’t put it off any longer and picked up a small, old, used kerosene stove to use outside. Auctions, especially farm auctions are great places to pick up items like that, including a large canner and glass canning jars for next to nothing. Local farms stands are a great place to pick up local produce including eggs. (I wish I could find raw milk for cheese making) In my rural neck of the woods not many people or businesses have websites. How did you find a local coop to obtain dry goods in bulk?

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14 Merissa August 1, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Azure Standard(my co-op) also delivers to North Dakota, you can look them up at http://www.azurestandard.com they are AWESOME! I love that you have a second stove! I would love to have one outside for canning so my house doesn’t heat up.

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15 Cynthia August 1, 2012 at 6:33 pm

As a saavy grocery shopper, and using SNAP in Midwest, we get the max amount, and it does not give us enough to last 30 days. I use coupons, in-store/online cpns, sales, farmer market but all items have increased in price. I can’t turn our friends or family away if they are hungry. I need to learn or relearn how to can foods, as we have a small refrig with a tiny freezer. I also hit up the farmers market & marked down aisle,,,if i get a whole bag of older veges, I split the cost. Lots of our farmers markets don’t accept SNAP, so I use cash, if I get a 10lb bag of potatoes, I split the cost w/ a friend I take along. We don’t go to the mall anymore for fun, grocery shopping is our fun. Amazing how life changes. Tell me how to do a stockpile, and how do I begin canning or freezing veges & fruits? Someone tell me, we live somewhat rural, how can I buy chickens for egg producing? How much work is it? How does the chickens survive in the winter, upper midwest area? Thanks !

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16 Merissa August 1, 2012 at 10:03 pm

Cynthia, to have chickens you just need a spot to house them and that’s really about it! They aren’t too much work, just need to clean up their house. I’m in South Dakota so we have some pretty nasty winters. We put a heat lamp on in our chicken shed in the coldest days. Usually anything below freezing.

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17 Kris @ Attainable Sustainable August 2, 2012 at 6:15 pm

One way to “cut” grocery costs is to stop wasting food. I think we’ve all been guilty of a head of lettuce gone bad before we eat it – by avoiding this misstep, we waste less and need to spend less. I read somewhere than Americans toss out something like 30% of their food before it’s even cooked! Crazy.

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18 Jackie August 3, 2012 at 8:21 pm

40%?! Holy crap! Everything I’ve seen has said that the price increase will be between 3-5%, with the highest increase being seen in beef prices.

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19 Michelle August 6, 2012 at 9:42 am

Beef prices will be low the next couple months as farmers cull their herds as they are going to be too expensive to feed this winter. We contacted the farmer we buy our side of beef through and he is still selling at the price we got last fall. We buy grass finished at a pretty good price, but these deals will be coming to grocery stores soon. Now would be the time to fill your freezer.

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20 Rosey August 8, 2012 at 4:29 pm

One way to save on future beef/meat prices is to buy it on sale, then can it. Can just the meat or make your own soups and stews. This also gives you access to prepared food in the event of power outages and there is no loss of food in the freezer. (Make sure to use a pressure canner.) There are even instructions for canning bacon should you find it at a good sale price.

I’ve just this year, invested in building several square foot gardens and have non stop put my time into learning and doing to become more self sufficient The learning process is interesting and the gardening is fun. I’ve already learned a few things that I’ll need to change next year for better yields. Growing and canning my own produce may not actually save any money, but at least I know where my food is coming from and what’s in it. Furthermore, I have the skills to do it, should groceries and supplies go off the grid. I plant only heirloom seeds for seed saving, also on my agenda. I’ve started farming my own worms for fertilizer and my vegetable wastes either go to them or into the compost pile along with my coffee grounds.

Unfortunately, I can’t have chickens since I live in town limits, or I would have them too. I might be able to get away with rabits though, since I believe they are considered pets. (Yeah, I know, but . . . ;)

Thank you Michelle, for the heads up on beef. However you stock up on your food supplies, I agree, now is definitely the time to do it.

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21 Connie Clare May 13, 2013 at 6:20 pm

can I put coffee grounds into the dirt in my garden? I have terrible dirt (couldn’t call it soil) and no place to compost as my garden is a small spot of the shared space behind our apt bldg. I already can what i buy at farmers mkt to help my tiny income as I am 64 and finally had to give in to disablity I’ve had since 13. I also sew table linens and sell at farmer/flea market to add to my income and just to enjoy people. (this is 7th season for me) Which reminds me gals the cost of cotton has gone crazy in the last 2 yrs and that means all my thread and mtl. I love to cut up old clothes into squares and make quilts in the winter . Great blog info here and glad I found you.

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22 Merissa May 14, 2013 at 7:45 am

I think I’ve heard that is good for your garden, just don’t add in too much otherwise it might burn the plants from being too rich.

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23 Barb @ A Life in Balance August 9, 2012 at 11:03 am

I’m glad I noticed this article on your site when I came for the Green Living linky. I heard quite a bit on the Weather Channel this morning about the drought and the subsequent increase in food prices. Your point about making every penny count really stuck with me. I am having to adjust our food budget, both because prices are increasing and we’re eating more organic and grassfed meat. I know I’m going to have to make some compromises and just do the best I can.

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24 Cheryl August 15, 2012 at 7:06 am

Canning at 1st may seem intimidating , however it really isn’t-it just takes time.Good source of info is the Ball Blue Book, also contact your local Extension Program at your state university. I also go directly to the farm for some upick. Gotten tomatoes .35 per lb. made/canned spaget sauce, salsa, stewed tomatoes. Another place we shop is at restaurant supply store. Like anyplace you need to watch for sales. A 25lb of carrots cost me about $8. I then used these in my homemade veggie soup that we canned, also sliced up and canned 8-9 pints of carrots. Have found “jam” berries for jelly; but instead made pie filling and canned that. There is so much that a person can do if they are willing to take the time/effort. I believe that w/prices going the direction they are everyone needs to look for ways to extend food budget!!! I also pack my lunch for work everyday, saves a bunch. Don’t drive to wk, but take the bus. I qualify for a “honored citizen/handicapped” mthly pass that cost me $28, I can’t drive to wk for a mth at that price!! Be willing to explore your options to do what you have to save. Talk w/friends, neighbors, co-wkers they may want to split cost of some of that “bulk” stuff, this may get you an even better price on some things. Good Luck!!!

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25 jon August 29, 2012 at 11:38 am

I read an article that lends to what you’re saying here. It talks about planning for increased prices :

http://blog.clearpointcreditcounselingsolutions.org/blog/bid/207210/Prepare-a-Budget-for-Higher-Grocery-Prices

I think another good way to help is starting a good backyard garden and canning some items. But if you don’t live in an area where that s possible, how about visiting local farmers to buy produce..

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26 Penny September 9, 2014 at 6:55 pm

We worked to reduce our consumption *and* invest in food that works harder for us (ie; less empty calories)

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