The good news: Groceries have been about 1.6% cheaper in 2016 than they were last year.
The bad news: They’ll be back on the upswing come 2017.
The USDA predicts the average cost for many food staples will rise by around 2% in the new year, reports Kristin Wong at Two Cents. Here are a few of the estimated price changes in the USDA’s Food Price Outlook, 2016-17:
- Beef and veal (up 2.0% to 3.0% in 2017)
- Pork (up 0.0% to 1.0%)
- Poultry (up 1.5% to 2.5%)
- Eggs (up 1.0% to 2.0%)
- Dairy products (up 1.5% to 2.5%)
- Fresh fruits (1.0% to 2.0%)
- Fresh vegetables (-0.5% to 0.5%)
- Cereals and bakery products (up 1.5% to 2.5%)
- Fats and oils (1.5% to 2.5%)
- Nonalcoholic beverages (up 0.0% to 1.0%)
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to save money on groceries, even as costs are rising. Here are 10 of our favorites:
1. Use Coupons
Couponing doesn’t have to be a laborious endeavor. Thanks to the magic of the internet, there are tons of guides on how you can make the most of those little golden tickets.
Follow coupon sites like The Krazy Coupon Lady and I Heart the Mart to learn about the latest deals and the best ways to maximize them. Get all the coupons you could possibly need from this list of 100+ places to get free coupons.
Keep everything handy by using this simple binder system for organizing paper coupons.
2. Make the Most of Cash-Back Apps and Sites
Your smartphone can provide a wealth of grocery savings if you load it up with the right apps. Here are 12 of our favorites, like Ibotta, Checkout 51 and Receipt Hog, which are super easy to use and can shave several dollars off your bottom line.
3. Avoid Sneaky Retailer Tricks
Grocery stores are just like any other stores; their goal is to get you to purchase as much as possible. But once you’re wise to their strategies, you can resist them.
You can also get insider intel by checking out which day of the week certain stores offer new sales and store-specific tips like these Target money-saving secrets.
4. Plan Ahead
Make the groceries you buy stretch further by getting into the habit of planning your meals ahead of time.
Not only does meal-planning save you money, it also saves you precious time (and sanity) by preventing those busy-night panicked scrambles through your pantry when you’re trying to figure out what on earth you can make for dinner.
Really cramped for time? Try cooking a big batch of something over the weekend so you have quick-and-easy freezer meals you can reheat on weeknights.
5. Cut Back on Waste
You could be losing hundreds of dollars a year by throwing away food that goes bad before you eat it.
Use these five strategies to cut back on food waste and you’ll immediately put money back in your wallet.
6. Change Your Habits
Mix up your grocery-shopping routine and you could score some serious savings.
7. Skip the Circulars
Don’t waste time cross-checking all those store ads that come with your Sunday paper.
8. Use Rewards Credit Cards
Just make sure you don’t fall into the credit trap of spending more than you would if you were paying with cash.
Never charge more than you’ve budgeted, and pay off your balances in full each month. No rewards are worth paying credit card interest!
9. Use Discounted Gift Cards
While you can’t change the cost of certain items, you can change how much you pay for them. Snag some discounted gift cards from one of these sites and you’ll start off ahead of the game.
(And buy those discounted gift cards using your rewards credit card!)
10. Grow Food at Home
Skip shopping altogether and grow (or raise) some of your staple foods yourself.
Your turn: What are your favorite tips and tricks for cutting back on grocery costs?
Disclosure: Here’s a toast to the affiliate links in this post. May we all be just a little richer today.
Kelly Gurnett is a freelance blogger, writer and editor who runs the blog Cordelia Calls It Quits, where she documents her attempts to rid her life of the things that don’t matter and focus more on the things that do. Follow her on Twitter @CordeliaCallsIt.