Grocery Shopping on a Budget: 10 Ways to Keep Rising Food Costs in Check

Christine Ryan Jyoti

save on groceriesAs the heat index rises, so will your grocery bill this summer.

It’s all thanks to Mother Nature, who has been doing a number on our food supply. Ongoing droughts have bumped up prices for produce and produced a trickle-down effect on meat, since feeding cattle has become costlier. At the same time, a virus has been plaguing pigs across the nation, spiking prices on pork.

It’s not a pretty picture just as barbecue season goes into full swing. But you can still find ways to grocery shop on a budget, especially if you know where to expect the hikes.

So we tapped an agricultural economist to help us figure out which food prices will be on the uptick—and then asked a pair of consumer experts for tips and tricks on how to keep spending down on summer food staples.

Grocery Price Creep: Which Foods Will Cost More?

If your backyard barbecue normally includes a few T-bones and filet mignons, you may have to rethink picking up those pricey cuts. According to Dr. Christopher Hurt, an agricultural economist at Purdue University, beef supplies are expected to drop 5% in 2014—and the number of beef cow herds is at its lowest since 1962. Add to that a five-year drought in the central and southern plains that raised cattle feed prices, and you have a recipe for a costly steak.

“Retail beef prices at grocery stores averaged a record $5.29 per pound in 2013,” Hurt says. “I expect that to be $5.63 a pound this year—nearly a 7% increase.”

O.K., so you’ll just throw some hot dogs on the grill instead. Not so fast. A porcine virus has resulted in the deaths of more than 6 million young pigs since it was identified in 2013. “Last year, [pork] prices were $3.64 a pound,” Hurt says. “I expect those to average $3.90 a pound this year, which is also a 7% increase.”

RELATED: 14 Steps to Saving Big at the Grocery Store

  • ksgirl73

    I have to disagree with #1. I’ve never seen reduced prices on perishables on a Wednesday night.

  • Valerie

    Great article! There has been a lot of press about meat prices going up, but not a lot of discussion explaining why (droughts and sickness) and not a lot of discussion on produce going up in price even more significantly! Thanks for being well rounded and giving us some hints!

  • elisha reverby

    ummmm it’s not all thanks to mother nature that costs have gone up – it is thanks to human consumption, bad habits and climate change due to those bad habits. dont blame nature. we all need to take responsibility for this mess!

  • elisha reverby

    and p.s. you can blame the disgusting and inhumane practices of factory farms for the viruses and disease that lingers on our meat supply. whoever wrote this article needs to face reality.

  • Lara Rosenblum

    I think this is fine for people who have a lot of time to dedicate to grocery shopping (e.g. prep the night before for a sale the following day to know what’s on sale) – but as a working mother who is trying to feed her family healthy, non-antibitically enriched, pesticide-free foods, this is not helpful at all. Where is the advice on knowing the difference between sustainably farmed vs. organic food (and the fact that USDA ORGANIC labeling is pretty much a scam, since KRAFT is on the board of USDA ORGANIC?) – this is not mentioned here. Also, when I shop at Trader Joe’s, it is already deeply discounted and generally has a good selection. Some stores are better than others – where is the advice on the 5 best nation-wide supermarkets?

  • angela1a

    Excuse me but right off the bat, you sound very ignorant. it isnt Mother Nature wrecking havoc with the food supply, better read some more.