Saving Money as Inflation Pushes Up Food Costs

A woman grocery shopping.
A woman grocery shopping. She's probably thinking, "Wow, that's expensive."

As I noted in this yesterday’s Prepper News Update article, they reported food inflation at 11.4 percent for the past year. That’s according to government data. According to my wallet, many foods are up 30, 50 or even 100 percent.

As a result, my wife has changed her shopping habits and is buying whatever is on sale, even if we don’t need it. For example, she bought two boxes of coffee today because they were marked down. Did we need coffee? No, but better to strike while the iron is hot. It isn’t the blend or even the brand she prefers, but she’ll drink it, and we both expect coffee prices to keep rising because of the recent drought in Brazil that hurt coffee production. As a prepper, I have no problem with having extra coffee on hand, so it didn’t bother me a bit.

Salvage Grocery Stores

We have also started going to a discount or salvage grocery store when we are in the town that has one. It’s akin to a treasure hunt because you never know what you might find. These stores buy items that are considered seconds by main stream grocers. That can include dented cans, items close to or beyond their expiration dates, seasonal goods (like buying Christmas candy in January or Valentine’s Day candy after February 14), items from damaged cases, etc. They have a surprisingly large number of items, including OTC medicines, but if you find a good buy, better snap it up. They may never have it again.

What’s interesting is that you can find a box of Cheerios or Quaker Oats next to a box of cereal from store brands you’ve never heard of. They even have a selection of refrigerated items and frozen foods. You just have to be careful with the expiration dates.

I find you also have to know what items sell for at the dollar stores. Something might be a good by compared to a big grocery store, but it might be more than the $1.25 you would pay at Dollar Tree. So it pays to be a savvy shopper.

The last time we were there, we bought one-pound packages of Jimmy Dean sausage for $2.49. At our grocery store, it is $5.98.

Buying in Bulk

We continue to buy in bulk. This is an excellent way to save over traditional grocery store prices. We do freeze meat and other items and always look at expiration dates for goods that don’t require refrigeration.

We have cut our monthly trips to Sam’s Club down to every other month, although I do sometimes order something and have it shipped to me in between visits. One thing I have learned is that when shopping online, Sam’s Club is much less expensive than Costco for basic food items and canned goods. If you have access to both, go to Sam’s if you are looking to save money. Go to Costco if you are looking for a specific item that Sam’s doesn’t offer. I also like their Kirkland brand products, which can be cheaper than the name brands.

Eating Our Older Preps

We continue to eat food from our prepper pantry to rotate food and keep our costs under control. We’ve been eating raisins, canned beef stew, Spam, canned chicken, canned soup, oatmeal, grits, crackers (which you can’t keep too long or they go stale), spaghetti sauce, and pasta, just to name those that spring to mind.

One way to manage this is to have two pantries. We have a traditional pantry upstairs in our kitchen and our prepper pantry in the basement. When we run low on something in the upstairs pantry, my wife heads downstairs and “shops” our prepper pantry. She always lets me know when something is getting low inventory. Then we add it to our list and look for an opportunity to pick it up at Sam’s Club or when it is on sale.

Because we live in the mountains and often get snowed in during the winter, having a store of extra food is a good idea even if we weren’t prepping for the end of the world.

Garden Produce

Although our garden was quite small this year, it continues to contribute side dishes to our meals. I know that eating squash or zucchini doesn’t provide many calories, but it does make a nice looking side dish and fills the stomach. I am thinking of adding onions to next year’s garden.

Of course, we are continuing to enjoy fresh eggs from our chickens.  I had a three-egg omelet yesterday with some leftover Swiss cheese and ham. Making sure your leftovers don’t go to waste will also save you money.

If you are practicing other methods to stretch your food dollar, please share them in the comments section.