In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a pretty big drought across much of our nation.
While we haven’t seen any significant grocery price hikes in awhile, I’m pretty sure we will higher grocery bills six months to a year from now. It’s not just corn products that will be affected: We’ll see increases in grains, beans , milk, oils, salad dressings, and many meat products. Anything that escapes a price hike will most likely get zapped by a product shrink ray. Jenn at Frugal Upstate has even more information on the drought and its effect on food prices.
I’m not sharing this observation in order to discourage you. I’m sharing it because I want you to be mentally and physically prepared for a much bigger grocery bill next year.
Start stocking up.
With less corn crop available to feed cattle, farmers will be first to thin their herds. So before we see higher food prices, we’ll see beef drop a little bit in price. When the price drops, make room in your freezer and stock up as much as you can.
Watch the sales and stock up whenever you see significant savings on things like pasta, beans, cereals, flour, and frozen and canned vegetables. Remember, you don’t have to go out and buy $300 worth of pasta and beans today. Just be conscience of prices and budget $5 to $10 a week extra just for stocking up. When prices start to rise, you’ll have the satisfaction of being able to “shop” from your own pantry.
If you’re an area that hasn’t been as hard hit by the drought (we seem to have had plenty of rain in northern Minnesota), visit your local farmer’s market and stock up on locally-grown fruits and vegetables. You can can or freeze any extra fruits and veggies.
Plant a garden.
Take good care of your garden this year, and freeze or can as much of your harvest as you can. If you don’t have a garden, consider planting one next spring. You can do container gardening or take advantage of community gardens if you don’t have much space to plant. You’ll appreciate the tasty deliciousness of homegrown produce when prices start to rise in stores.
Rethink your meals.
Keep close tabs on what types of food go up in price, and adjust your menus accordingly. Save money by eating more meatless meals. Instead of beef, consider fish. Give the most expensive food items on your shopping list a supporting role instead of making them the star of your meal.
Make more things from scratch.
Making things from scratch always saves money, and you get the added perk of knowing exactly what is in the foods your family eats. Make your own pancake mix. Bake your own bread and buns. Create your own freezer convenience meals. You’ll be amazed at how much smaller your grocery bill is and how much tastier your meals become.
Rising prices seem to be a bit like death and taxes these days – hard to avoid. But with a little preparation, those price hikes can create less damage to your budget.
Your turn: How will you prepare for higher grocery bills?