3 Changes My Family Is Making Due to Higher Food Costs

A woman comparing prices on an item while grocery shopping.

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Here are my tricks for tackling inflated grocery prices.

Key points

  • Inflation has made the cost of groceries more expensive.
  • I'm making changes to my budget and habits to compensate and avoid a financial crunch.

It was sometime around mid-summer when I started to notice that my grocery store bills were really climbing. While I'd normally spend $150 to $200 a week on food for my family of five, I noticed that my bills were starting to top the $200 mark. And more recently, my weekly grocery costs have been coming in around $250.

Now to be fair, my family eats a lot of fruits and vegetables, and that's not something I want to limit or cut back on. I also, to an extent, don't want to stop buying the brands we know and love.

While I'm flexible, as is my husband, trust me when I say that there's only one yogurt brand my kids find acceptable. And over the past few months, the cost of an individual yogurt cup has shot up from $1.00 to more like $1.50. Multiply that by 20 or so yogurts per week, and that alone explains my higher bills.

Since I'm not willing to skimp on quality food, and I don't want to risk a scenario where I'm dipping into my savings account to cover basic supermarket costs, my family is going to have to make changes, at least temporarily, to ride out this wave of higher grocery bills. Here are three specific adjustments we're looking at.

1. Ordering less takeout

Since my husband and I both work full-time, takeout is often a lifeline for us. And yes, we can also admit that we enjoy different cuisines, and that takeout meals are a treat. But because we're spending so much more at the supermarket these days, we're scaling back on restaurant meals.

During busy periods, we'll sometimes do takeout two or even three times a week. We're now limiting ourselves to one night a week, and we're also sticking to lower-cost options that offer better value for our money.

The Thai restaurant down the road, for example, makes a noodle dish I love for $12. If I'm not sharing it, it can easily last for two meals, if not three. And while I can still cook at a lower price point, I don't feel that $12 is such an unreasonable splurge.

2. Spending less on entertainment

Last month, my husband and I signed up for a couple of extra streaming services. The logic there was that COVID-19 is raging, the weather's cold, and it would be good to have more entertainment inside the house.

However, we'll be canceling at least one of those services in light of higher food costs. While having that extra set of programming might give us more variety, the reality is that we can get by without it and still have access to plenty of content.

We also plan to limit ourselves to free activities outside the home, like hiking and sledding in our backyard or at local parks once the snow hits. We were looking at doing some snow-tubing with our kids this month, but at $30 a ticket, it's hard to justify spending $150 on a half-day outing when we live in a hilly area and own sleds we can bust out instead.

3. Doing a better job of meal planning

My husband and I enjoy cooking. The reason we tend to fall back on takeout is that we don't always have a lot of time for it. But since we're planning to hunker down for a good part of the winter anyway, we figure we should have more opportunities to prepare meals on weekends. And if we get savvier about planning those meals out, we might save some money on grocery expenses.

My family routinely shops at a warehouse club and buys items in bulk. If we get better about meal planning, we'll be able to put that membership to even better use and possibly eke out more savings on food.

For example, these days, we mostly buy produce and perishable items at our warehouse club, while we purchase grains and pastas at a regular supermarket. But if we start planning out meals for multiple weeks at a time, it might make the case to buy things like rice and quinoa in bulk, thereby saving us some money.

Soaring inflation has made the cost of groceries more expensive for everyone. Hopefully, these changes will make it easier for my family to absorb those sky-high prices until they start to come down.

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