Americans feel the pressure as prices reach a new high and inflation surpasses 11% for food. The Army has gone as far as telling soldiers to apply for food stamps.
As people struggle to make ends meet, many are learning ways to save money and shop smart. Prices started going up during the pandemic and grocery shopping hasn’t become more affordable since. Food prices rising made the rate of inflation go up, despite a drop in gas prices. This is the largest jump since the year 1979, according to CNBC.
Food inflation explained
For food, there is a food-at-home index which measures the cost of goods at grocery stores. The rise is 13.5%, the highest in 43 years. This has forced Americans to change how they shop, including cutting back.
The following foods have seen the biggest inflation rates
- Eggs, 39.8%
- Butter, 24.6%
- Frankfurters, 18.3%
- Lunch meats, 18.2%
- Fresh and frozen chicken parts, 17.8%
- Fresh milk other than whole, 17.7%
- Flour and prepared flour mixes, 23.3%
- Roasted coffee, 18.7%
- Cereals and cereal products, 17.4%
- White bread, 16.4%
- Sugar and sugar substitutes, 15.9%
- Rice, pasta, cornmeal, 15.7%
- Peanut butter, 15.2%
- Prepared salads, 17.3%
- Canned fruits and vegetables, 16.6%
A lot of companies that produce food or drinks have been forced to not only raise prices, but make packaging smaller. This is known as shrinkflation. Both Coca-Cola and Pepsi have increased prices on products. A lot of companies are using this tactic because customers are more likely to notice an increase in prices than a decrease in size.
There are various ways you can help save yourself some money on groceries. First, be sure to pay attention to prices during sales. While generic brands appear to be cheaper, if there are sales running on name brand products, it may be cheaper. It also makes sense to plan out meals ahead of time. This way you will be less likely to deviate from a list when grocery shopping.
Buying things you know you will use a lot of in bulk will help lower the cost overall for you. By buying more all at once from places like BJ’s or Costco, you’ll see cheaper unit prices. Using cash back apps like Ibotta can also save you some cash. Finally, paying with a credit card that gives you cash back or specific rewards for things like groceries.
Other ways people are making ends meet
According to TribLive, other ways people are making ends meet is by visiting food distribution centers. One major distribution center is located in Pittsburgh. It’s offered through the Allegheny Valley Association of Churches. The distributions manager has said that around 350 to 400 families are served each month. This is more than last year.
Other families are also starting to purchase less food and food they do not need. This means families are really only able to afford necessities. When grocery shopping, people are spending more time picking out less food. People are going on less vacations, or none at all and have entirely cut travel out of their budgets to afford food.
Some people have started working harder and longer hours, while others have picked up side jobs. Those working for places like DoorDash go as far as turning down some deliveries because they cannot afford the gas.
While many food prices have risen from inflation, prices of other things have gone down
Food prices have become virtually unaffordable for millions of Americans, but prices of other things have dropped. Some of these items may even be surprising.
One major change in price is the cost of smartphones. According to KTLA, the cost of a new iPhone is about $800, but the overall cost of a new phone has dropped 20% since Aug. 2021. With COVID restrictions loosened, the prices have dropped. People also stopped buying phones at the high rate they were when the global lockdown began.
Televisions have dropped in price by 19% since August of 2021 for the same reasons. Jewelry has dropped by 1.2% in price because people were spending their money on that instead of traveling.
When it comes to food, tomatoes have decreased in price by 0.2% because they’re so accessible in places like gardens. Other random things that have dropped in price include the rental of cars and trucks, entrance to sporting events, and telephone hardware.
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Samantha edits our personal finance and consumer news section. Have a question or lead? Send it to [email protected].