Going to the grocery store takes a bigger chunk of your budget.
Consumers saw food prices rise 1% in February from the previous month and 7.9% from the year-ago period, marking the biggest 12-month increase since 1981, according to the consumer price index.
It’s not just basics like fruit, milk, eggs and meat that are getting more expensive; inflation has led many food and beverage companies to also increase the prices of your favorite packaged products (or reduce the actual size of the package).
Tyson Foods, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo announced price increases, citing more supply chain and labor issues. Even Oreo cookies, Ritz crackers and Sour Patch Kids cost more, thanks to a 7% price hike earlier this year.
To avoid getting ripped off at the grocery store, here are some pro tips to cut costs or get more cash:
1. Use a cashback app
Ibotta and Checkout 51 are two of the most popular apps for making money in-store, according to Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst at DealNews.com. The average Ibotta user earns between $10 and $20 per month, but more active users can earn up to $100 to $300 per month, a spokesperson told CNBC.
You can also earn money for online grocery orders with CouponCabin.com (there’s a free app, as well as the browser extension), which offers up to $6 back on Instacart, 2 % return on Vons, 1% return on Kroger and 5% return on Seamless, advised consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch.
If you’ve ever shopped, take pictures of your grocery receipts using an app like Collect rewards to earn points that are good for free gift cards at stores such as Target or Walmart and can offset future grocery purchases, Woroch suggested.
2. Plan your meals
This proven technique helps you narrow down your shopping list to your weekly essentials and save big bucks along the way.
When you plan your meals ahead, you’re more likely to buy only the things you need, says savings expert Lisa Thompson of Coupons.com. If planning isn’t your thing, at least go shopping with a rough idea of what you’ll be cooking in the coming week to help you stay on track and avoid impulse buying, she said. added.
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Give your budget an extra boost by planning out weekly specials, advised Ramhold of DealNews.com. “It will help you save money and may even help expand your recipe repertoire and get you out of the mealtime rut.”
Generic brands are usually much cheaper than their “premium” counterparts and just as good, according to Ramhold. “If you don’t have a preference, it’ll be an easy switch, but if you do, consider trying a few generics at a time to see if there are any you won’t mind.”
Be open to trying new products, even if it means taking a break from your favorite laundry detergent or coffee creamer, Thompson added.
“Perhaps you will discover new products that you like that will cost less in the process.”
Hass avocados are displayed in the produce section of a United Market on February 7, 2022 in San Anselmo, California.
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images
As for the rest of the items on your list, you can save more by buying in bulk, choosing frozen vegetables over fresh or non-organic vegetables when you can. Joining a wholesale club like Costco or BJ’s will often get you the best unit price on items you can stock.
Next, keep your pantry organized, with foods closer to their expiration date out front so you know how to cook or eat them before they spoil, Woroch said.
You can even use a site like Cooklist.com find new recipes using ingredients you already have at home, she says.