With inflation rising at rates not seen in over 40 years, Americans are feeling the pinch in all aspects of their household budget, but perhaps none more immediate than the weekly grocery bill.
The latest report from the USDA predicts that average grocery store prices will rise 8.5% to 9.5% year over year. If the current forecast holds, that would be the highest inflation rate since 1980, when food costs rose 8.1%.
With no end in sight to rising costs, consumers are turning to other ways to rein in their grocery spending. From cash back apps to reducing food waste, here are five ways to beat inflation on every shopping trip.
1. Use a Cash Back App Like Fetch Rewards
Why not get money for spending money? Fetch Rewards is a free-to-use app you can download to your cell phone. Voted the “#1 Best Cash Back App for 2022” by The Motley Fool, Fetch Rewards has over 13 million active users and has paid out $73.3 million in gift cards over the past year.
Anytime you purchase from a grocery store, restaurant, pharmacy, or gas station, you can scan the receipt and earn points. One thousand points equal $1 in rewards. Once you work up to 3,000 points, you can redeem your points for gift cards to Amazon and many other retailers. You can even share with friends to get you both a sign-up bonus.
You can also connect your email address to scan digital receipts in the app and earn even more cash back. With the price of groceries increasing seemingly every day, getting money back on every purchase can be a great way to soften the blow.
2. Shop Rotating Sales
If you plan your grocery list around what food items are on sale, you can save a significant amount of money.
For example, meat products will often go on sale – chicken one week, beef the next – and will be half the price compared to what you usually pay. If you are strategic with your meal planning, you can often save $5 or more per pound on meat products.
You can buy in bulk and save even more if you have extra storage space in your freezer. Meat can be stored in the freezer for up to 12 months, depending on how it is packaged. By taking advantage of sale prices, you can purchase several weeks' worth of food and keep the items in the freezer to enjoy later.
Another way to shop sales is to keep track of the seasonal growing cycles. Local produce rotates throughout the year based on what is in season. While it has become customary to expect every kind of fruit and vegetable to be available year-round, importing off-season items from abroad makes them much more expensive than eating what is in season. The trend to “eat local” is good for the environment and your wallet.
3. Shop at Aldi and Other Discount Stores
Consider where you shop if you're looking for a simple way to fight inflation in your grocery budget. Aldi, WinCo, and other discount grocery stores are often cheaper than typical grocery retailers due to their ability to limit overhead costs and offer predominantly store brand products.
You can buy similar food items and pay less than you normally would at your local grocery store, although selection can sometimes be more limited. Shopping at discount stores can be easy to save money on groceries without sacrificing anything, and you may even find new foods that will become weekly staples.
4. Save 33% By Tracking What You Eat
Americans throw away about a pound of food per person per day, the equivalent of about a third of daily calorie intake. So can you imagine the grocery savings if Americans stopped wasting all that food?
If you're concerned about saving money on groceries, tracking what you eat, or more importantly, what you throw away, can significantly lower your grocery shopping budget.
One tip to help avoid food waste is to look for items that can be used in multiple ways. Soups and salads are easy ways to throw in any food items that are about to go bad. You can creatively combine flavors and textures and create a savory meal while using up what you have in the refrigerator.
5. Order Online To Avoid Buying Unnecessary Extras
If you plan ahead, make a list, and still find yourself leaving the store spending more than you expected, then there is one more strategy you can employ.
Many grocery stores now allow you to order online for curbside pickup or will even deliver groceries to your front door. This simple change prevents you from wandering the aisles, tempted to add “just one more thing” to your cart.
Ordering your groceries can also save you from extras your kids may ask for while at the grocery store. It can be eye-opening how a few new boxes of cereal or a couple of extra snacks can add up week after week. By ordering online, you can be intentional about what you buy.
While there is not much the average American can do to curb rising inflation, there are still steps you can take to control your personal costs and stay on budget. By strategically earning cash back through apps or credit card rewards or planning ahead and shopping rotating sales, there are several relatively simple ways to cut your grocery budget and fight inflation on the home front.
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Andrew is the founder of Wealthy Nickel where he writes about all things personal finance. He has a passion for helping people pursue financial freedom through saving money, making money, and building wealth. Andrew documents his family’s journey to financial independence through side hustles while raising 2 kids on a single income