Rising costs due to inflation have affected all of our lives, most notably when it comes to our weekly grocery bill.
The reasons for increasing costs at the grocery store are numerous and complicated. Rising fertilizer costs are causing some farmers to increase their crop prices. Consumer demand, workplace conditions, the pandemic, and food shortages have all contributed to the soaring prices at the grocery.
According to the USDA, 2021 grocery store food prices had increased 3.5% from 2020, which was 75% above average from the 20-year average inflation rate. In fact, food inflation prices from 2017 to 2021 are only slower than increases in housing and transportation.
The current data for 2022 looks even worse. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, food prices are up 10.8% for the year ended April 2022, the largest 12-month increase since November 1980.
You probably don’t need official studies to know your dollar is not going as far during your weekly grocery run. But you may be curious how your spending compares to the national average.
Average Monthly U.S. Grocery Bill
The personal finance company SoFi recently provided a breakdown of the average monthly grocery bill for single, two-person, and four-person households.
Of course, there are a number of factors that influence these numbers, such as age, gender, and region. For example, the most expensive city for groceries was listed as Honolulu, Hawaii, while Manchester, New Hampshire averaged the least expensive.
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SoFi also noted that men and younger people tend to have higher average bills. Additionally, the age of children in the household can have a big impact on the monthly total. For children under 12, an additional $143-$357 may be added to the monthly bill. For teenagers, the estimate ranges from $233-$344 additional per child.
As noted above, the average gets more complex based on the age of those in the household. For the figure tied to a four-person household, the estimate is based on two adults (ages 20-50) and two children (one 6-8, one 9-11).
Additionally, these figures only look at prices for meals prepared at home and snacks and don’t include meals eaten out. Depending on the person or family, it’s not surprising that in 2020, Americans spent an average of 8.6% of their income on food according to the USDA.
If you’re worried about your monthly grocery bill, things like making a clear budget and consulting with a financial specialist can ensure you keep your spending manageable. There are other more creative ways to save as well.
Ways To Save On Your Grocery Bill
Most people know not to go shopping on an empty stomach, that’s obviously a rookie move. But figuring out creative ways to save on your grocery bill will help you in the long run.
1. Make More Frequent Trips
If you live close to a grocery store or there’s one on the way home from work, you could make more frequent trips to the store. Instead of stocking up on perishable items that might go bad before you consume them, just grab what you need for the next few days.
2. Keep Your Kitchen Organized
Finding a kitchen organization method that works for you, your family, and your lifestyle is another way to keep money in your account. Having effective organization techniques can ensure that you don’t overbuy or double up on food that you already have. A functional kitchen will also ensure that your food is visible and used before the expiration date.
3. Make Sure You’re Storing Food Correctly
For perishable foods, how you store these items can be the difference between them ending up on your table or in the trash. Remove berries from their plastic containers and store them in mason jars instead. Only keep butter you plan to use in the next day or two on the counter and the rest in the fridge. Invest in a herb saver or produce savers to keep items fresher, longer.
4. Get Creative With Leftovers
Have a bunch of leftover celery you bought for that one recipe? Turn it into a creamy celery bisque! Made too many deviled eggs for that dinner party? Smash it up into a quick egg salad and serve on crusty bread. A little creativity (and help from a quick internet search) can also ensure you aren’t throwing your hard-earned money away.