Have you noticed the price of groceries increasing? In 2022, food prices increased between 9.5 and 10.5%. In 2023, the price of food is expected to grow slowly compared to 2022, but still above average growth rates of 2.5 and 3.5%. Meal planning, shopping, and budgeting for groceries has never been more beneficial than now.
Planning meals before shopping is a great way to know which items you need to buy at the store. Here are some easy to follow tips for meal planning:
Plan out meals you can eat for the next week or two, depending on how often you plan on heading to the store. Planning meals makes it easy to know exactly what you are eating and not having to stress about what to cook for dinner. Plus, you know you have all of the ingredients you need for the meals you choose! Be sure to check out ChooseMyPlate.gov for some sample meal planning menus and grocery lists.
Do you get stuck in a meal rut? With meal planning, it’s easy to add variety to your meals. If you have ground beef one day, switch it up the next day with chicken. This is also a good way to add a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Once you have your meals planned out, start creating your grocery list. Add ingredients you need for the meals you plan to make then add any other essentials such as milk, bread, eggs, etc. Be sure to check which items you already have on hand so you don’t purchase them again.
Cook Once, Eat Twice!
Prepare more than one serving of a meal to have leftovers the next day or later in the week. If preparing in bulk, you can also freeze individual portions that can last a lot longer! This can save time and money during the week.
While at the grocery store, here are some things you can do to shop the best prices:
• Foods in the store can be tempting! Try to stick to your grocery list. Resist the temptation of adding other foods to your cart to help keep your grocery bill down.
• Compare brands to find the best price. Typically, store brands cost less than name brand foods. Name brands cost more because of the expense of marketing the brand. Most store brand products are comparable to the name brand.
• Look at the unit prices. The unit prices is the cost of the product per unit weight, volume, or other measure of quantity. Usually, you can find the unit price listed right on the price label. For example, store brand canned peaches are $1.12 while the name band is $2.36. The unit price on the store brand is $0.07 per ounce and the name brand is $0.15 per ounce. The lower unit price is the better value. At a glance, you are able to see which item is the better buy for the amount you’re getting.
• Use coupons, in-store ads, or the store’s website to search for coupons. Joining the store’s loyalty program is beneficial as you will typically receive additional coupons and other savings in various ways.
• Buy produce when it’s in season. The prices of fresh fruits and vegetables are typically lower when that produce is in season. This is the time to buy fresh, especially because the nutrition and flavor are at their peak! During the off season, when prices typically increase, opt for frozen or canned options.