Grocery and housewares prices are expected to rise by up to 15% over the course of the summer. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Average American Household Budget, the combined spending on groceries, household chores, and household items in 2019 was $ 10,505. A 15% increase in that number means the average American household will suffer about $ 1,600 a year, or $ 130 a month, from just buying the same groceries and housewares that they previously bought.
Why is this happening? Most of the time, it’s an aftermath of the pandemic. In the past year, the demand for many deliveries has been relatively low, so prices have remained constant and many companies have shortened their supply chains. As the world normalizes again, demand normalizes and we are playing to catch up.
How should individual households deal with it? As always, frugality is the best tool in our financial tool belt for dealing with short term financial changes. Since in this case the price increases occur with the prices of food and household goods, it is the most effective instrument that we have to direct frugality towards these areas.
Strategies for dealing with a large increase in food and household prices
Cook at home as much as you can
Eating at home saves about 80% compared to eating out, according to Forbes. This coincides with our own experience. Going to a local Mexican restaurant with my family of five costs about $ 75 (like just last week!), But with the prices of our local grocery store, we could make a pretty similar meal at home for about $ 20.
Many of us have become much more comfortable with our home kitchens during the pandemic, and those skills should persist even as things return to something like pre-pandemic normalcy. Keep your own kitchen as the source for most of your meals. When your life gets busier again, start adding lots of cheap and easy meals to your repertoire and using smart strategies to cook at home even on busy weekdays.
Our family’s favorite home cooking techniques for when the going gets busier are preparing lots of meals in the slow cooker, prepping lots of meals ahead of time and freezing them on the weekends, and doing lots of meal prep steps on the weekend or simpler days of the week ( Things like boiling rice or boiling beans).
Focus on staples
When you go to the grocery store, you buy fewer convenience foods and more staple foods. For example, instead of buying Green Giant Simply Steam Seasoned Toscany Flavored Broccoli for $ 2.49 for 9 ounces of frozen broccoli at my local grocer, I can buy a 16-ounce bag of unseasoned frozen broccoli (almost twice as much) for 2.48 Buy $ and a sprinkle of salt and Italian seasoning on top (only costs pennies) before serving.
Basic foods like dry rice, dry beans, unprocessed fruits and vegetables, whole chicken, etc. are far cheaper per ounce or per pound than processed and pre-cooked items. Most of these items are extremely easy to prepare in a slow cooker or microwave with minimal effort (put in a bowl or saucepan, turn on the microwave or slow cooker for a set amount of time, add some salt, and pour in). some spices, go away) and save a lot of money.
Try out lots of private labels
According to Consumer Reports, private label grocery and household products save an average of 25% compared to functionally equivalent branded items. The strategy here is simple: buy everything You can switch to a branded version as a private label and only if there is a specific and clear reason to do so, and not just because you think the name brand could be better.
Empty this pantry
There is no better time than now, especially after a year of preparing a lot of meals at home and throwing some used items in the cupboards and fridge and freezer. Do research what you have on hand and make sure you use it before it expires.
A great trick is to take items approaching their expiration date out of your refrigerator and pantry and use them as the center of a meal plan for the week. Come up with meals that use these items along with Items for sale in the grocery flyer to help create some extremely affordable meals for the week ahead.
Another great tactic is to just “flip” your cabinets and freezer every now and then. From the back, pull everything that’s not easy to see and slide it forward in your cabinets, fridge and freezer, forcing you to use the older stuff.
Use reusable household items
Instead of just buying and re-buying household items, consider using as many reusable options as possible.
For example, instead of buying endless paper towels, buy a bundle of absorbent towel and start simply washing them. Get some microfiber towels that you can put through the wash with other clothes and some sponges that you can put in the dishwasher.
Another option is to skip buying most of the household cleaners and hang on to a couple of spray bottles that you can mix up your own household cleaners in. If you mix 1 part vinegar with 8 parts water in a spray bottle and add a drop or two of dish soap, you have a great multipurpose spray cleaner for pennies that works really well with the reusable cloth.
When you’re ready to be more adventurous, consider options like cloth diapers (which saves a lot of money if you have multiple children) or a bidet (replaces toilet paper).
Try to minimize the things that you have to buy again. The more you do in this direction, the less you will be affected by soaring household item prices.
Do not let up the momentum
These strategies provide effective short term solutions to price increases. To make these effective in the long term, take the savings and do something smart with them. Pay off high interest debts, build up an emergency fund and invest in the future. These are the tools to translate smart frugality into lasting wealth. That way you are in a better place no matter where the economy goes.
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