Food Costs Are Up 11.2% Since Last Year. Here Are 4 Ways to Save

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  • Inflation has driven the cost of food up.
  • There are steps you can take to spend less on feeding your family.
  • Planning meals in advance and buying in bulk can help you save, and so can avoiding recipes that call for costly ingredients.

With the right strategy, you can spend less at the supermarket.

It's hardly a secret that inflation has been wreaking havoc on consumers's finances for well over a year now. In fact, recent data shows that consumers are spending an extra $445 a month just to get by. And if you've been racking up an enormous credit card tab just to put food on the table, you're not alone.

In October, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an 11.2% year over year increase in food costs -- specifically, those related to food at home, also known as groceries. And so if you're tired of spending an uncomfortably large portion of your paycheck on food, here are some key steps to take.

1. Plan your meals in advance

The simple act of being more organized around meal planning can help you save money on groceries. This way, you can buy items strategically based on sale periods, and you might also reduce the likelihood of ending up with wasted food you toss in the trash.

That said, be realistic when deciding on meals. If you work full-time and normally don't get home until 6:00 in the evening, don't plan to whip up a meal that comes with 75 minutes of prep time and another hour in the oven. Rather, save those time-consuming endeavors for the weekend -- and freeze leftovers if need be.

2. Buy in bulk

If you have a larger family to feed, buying staple items in bulk could be a nice source of savings. And you don't necessarily need to join a warehouse club like Costco to be able to buy things in bulk. Many supermarkets carry their share of bulk items, so take a look around and see what's available to you.

That said, buying in bulk is a practice best reserved for items your family also likes and consumes regularly. You may want to try a new brand of cereal -- but stick to a single standard-sized box until you have everyone's approval.

3. Skip the costly ingredients

There's nothing wrong with getting creative in the kitchen and trying new things. But that doesn't mean you have to spring for a recipe that will require you to spend $16 on spices or $14 on a tiny block of high-end cheese. Instead, play around with less expensive ingredients so you can stretch your grocery budget.

4. Pay attention to expiration dates

The less food you end up throwing away, the more money you stand to save. When shopping, pay attention to expiration dates -- not just for perishable items, but for shelf-stable ones as well. Sometimes, simply digging to the back of the shelf will give you a few more weeks or months until a product's best by date comes up.

Food prices could stay elevated for quite some time, so it's important to do what you can to spend less at the supermarket. These tips could result in a nice amount of savings -- and free up money for other bills during these ridiculously expensive times.

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