In fact, animal proteins overall have seen high cost increases this year. The most recent data for March 2014 shows this category was up 5.1%, compared with the same time last year. Eggs, in particular, are seeing a big jump in prices, which were up almost 10%, partly due to large export volumes to Mexico—which experienced an avian flu outbreak—that have squeezed the U.S. supply.
Vegetarians aren’t immune from wallet-squeezing this summer, either. An ongoing drought in California is impacting almost every type of fruit and veggie that makes it to your dinner plate.
According to a recently released Arizona State University study, nine types of produce are likely to see a serious price hike this summer: lettuce (at a whopping 34% increase!), avocados, broccoli, grapes, tomatoes, melons, peppers, berries and corn. Packaged salads are also expected to jump by 13%.
Bottom line for your grocery budget? The USDA expects food costs will go up 2.8%.
In addition to the drought, the growing season has had a slower start due to cooler and wetter than normal weather. And Hurt suspects this could impact grains and oilseeds, which could affect prices for cereals, baked goods and vegetable oils.
Bottom line for your grocery budget? The USDA expects your food costs will go up 2.8% over last year.
How Can I Keep My Grocery Bill From Ballooning?
Now that you know how much prices might go up, you can still work to keep costs down. These 10 hacks from consumer savings experts can help you have your cake (and pork chops and berries) and eat it too.
1. Make Wednesday your food shopping night. Roughly half of retailers update their sales circulars for the upcoming week on Wednesdays, says Gord Crowson, senior vice president at MyGroceryDeals.com. And if you shop on Wednesday, most of the items on sale will be in stock. Sometimes the sales are even posted a day earlier, he adds, so you can do your homework and prepare your list in advance.
Shopping at night also gives you the added bonus of reduced prices on perishables. Prices tend to drop a few hours before closing, so stores can move product quickly.
“These items are perfectly good, as long as you are going to eat them soon or freeze them,” Crowson says. Savings of 50% or more are the norm, so you could score a sweet discount on fruit, veggies, meat, seafood and fresh bakery items.