- Consumers have been forced to spend extra on food all year.
- Food prices have the potential to come down, but that's not guaranteed to happen.
- To save money on groceries, try shopping with a list to avoid buying things you don't need, and consider buying in bulk for the food items you use most often.
The higher prices consumers are seeing now may not disappear in the new year.
There's a reason so many consumers are grappling with sky-high credit card bills this year. Inflation has driven living costs upward across a range of essential categories, and since the start of 2022, consumers have been paying more for everything from apparel to gas to utilities.
Food costs have also soared this year. In September, the Consumer Price Index, which measures changes in the cost of consumer goods, rose 8.2% on an annual basis. And the food index rose 11.2% over that same time frame.
Meanwhile, there's a good chance food prices will remain high at the start of 2023, and possibly last well into the year. So far, interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve have not done much to slow inflation down, so there's reason to believe we'll be stuck with elevated prices a while longer.
That's the bad news. The good news, however, is that there are steps you can take to lower your supermarket spending -- and eke out some savings at a time when inflation keeps surging.
How to lower your grocery spending
In many cases, the simple act of being mindful of the food items you need versus the ones you already have at home can result in savings. That's why it pays to put a tight inventory system into place. Maintain a list of the various items you have in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. And update that list as items are depleted and added so you don't buy things needlessly.
At the same time, do your best to plan out your meals ahead of time, and make a point to shop with a list instead of just winging it. Doing so might help you avoid purchasing groceries on impulse and busting your budget as a result.
Finally, don't underestimate the importance of tracking supermarket sales. Grocery stores commonly update their circulars weekly, and if you don't get one by mail, you can usually access it online instead.
Consider buying in bulk
Many consumers have turned to stores like Costco this year to save money on grocery purchases by buying in bulk. If you're worried about food prices being high in 2023, that's an option worth considering.
That said, before you rush to sign up for a Costco membership, check out the bulk selection at your local supermarket. Many grocery stores carry a range of bulk items, and since they don't charge an annual membership fee like Costco does, that may be a better bet.
Plus, you may not have a Costco or warehouse club store in close proximity to where you live. And if you have to drive for an hour to access one, what you save on groceries, you might end up spending on gas.
Another good source for bulk food items? Amazon. Consider looking there for non-perishables you use regularly. And remember, you don't need to be a Prime member to get free shipping from Amazon as long as you meet an order minimum (usually $25). So all told, there are ways to buy groceries in bulk to trim your costs without having to take on extra fees in the process.
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