Your wallet will thank you.
Food prices have greatly fluctuated since the early days of the pandemic, and knowing what grocery items are going to be priced appropriately, or be wildly marked up, can sometimes feel like a guessing game. Thanks to labor shortages, supply chain issues, climate crises, inflation, and more, America’s food supply and pricing can feel more volatile than it has in decades. The 2020 meat shortage, turkey shortage of 2022, 2023’s egg shortage, and more have left shoppers more aware that supply and price consistency can no longer be assumed in supermarkets.
This summer, some grocery items have already decreased in price, and the government is helping track the average prices of popular foods. The USDA’s monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI) Food Price Outlook tracks the changes in price between standard American grocery items, also looking at annual cost changes. The latest report, published July 25, 2023, doesn’t show much decrease in price for common items, but luckily, many items haven’t increased too much either.
Groceries may still seem expensive, but preparing your own meals often leads to significant savings over dining out, or buying prepared foods. Overall, the cost of buying food to eat at home, i.e. from the grocery store, increased by 4.7 percent since June 2022. The price of food away from home, i.e. restaurant purchases, increased by 7.7 percent in that same time period. While plenty of factors can change the price of groceries or ready-made food, know that you’re paying about 3 percent more every time you buy a meal rather than make it yourself.
Ready to save a few bucks when filling up your shopping cart? Here are the most affordable foods to buy right now, based on CPI’s findings on monthly and annual price decreases.
Remember when eggs were a coveted commodity? Luckily, the price of these precious orbs is dropping. Retail egg prices decreased 7.3 percent from May 2023 to June 2023, falling 7.9 percent below June 2022 prices. Overall, retail egg prices have declined almost 35 percent from their peak in January 2023, when Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) affected commercial egg producers thanks to a December 2022 outbreak of the disease. Still, egg prices are volatile, so you may want to stock up while prices have dropped. You can absolutely store eggs in the freezer to use at a later date.
Prices decreased 1.1 percent for fresh fruits from May 2023 to June 2023. This is due to fresh fruit being more widely available in the season. Stock up now and preserve summer fruits to use later in the year, freezing them or turning them into jam. Not a prepper? No problem. Prices for fresh fruits are only expected to increase by about 0.4 percent through 2023, so hopefully fresh fruit won’t be too pricey for the rest of the year. Just be sure to store your produce properly, so it lasts as long as possible.
Bring home the bacon without breaking the bank. A 0.8 percent decrease in pork prices from May 2023 to June 2023 is just the beginning of a predicted 2.9 percent decrease for the rest of 2023. Wait to stock up, but if you’re looking for lower cost animal protein, pork roasts, pork chops and pork ribs may be a nice affordable go-to.
Poultry hasn’t decreased as much in price as eggs, but it’s only up 0.8 percent in cost between May and June. Since last year, the price has increased 1.4 percent, and with a recent monthly inflation rate of about 3 percent in the United States, poultry isn’t increasing in value as much as your dollars—that’s a deal. Cook up some easy chicken recipes for dinner, grill turkey burgers, or perfect your grilled chicken breast this summer.
Now may be the time to begin your alternative meat journey. While beef and veal increased in price by 1.1 percent between May and June, and 2.7 percent over the year, other meats are down in price by 0.1 percent. Sure, that’s not a huge savings, but it’s not an increase either! Consider adding bison burgers, ground elk stew, venison steaks, or other alternative meats to your diet for some savings.
Fish and Seafood
Fish and seafood are only up 0.7 percent in price between May 2023 and June 2023, and down 0.9 percent since this time last year. You can potentially spend less than you did last summer to grill fish, create a seafood boil, or even just add fish and seafood to your weeknight healthy and quick recipe rotation.
Fats and Oils
Now may be the time to stock your pantry with cooking oil, EVOO to drizzle, and more. The price of fats and oils dropped 0.8 percent from last month’s calculations, but has increased by 8.7 percent since last year. Prices are forecasted to increase until 2024, so now may be the best time to buy your oils. Olive oil prices are especially predicted to soar, so you may want to get a nice bottle now before the next pressing gets a markup.
Cheese, butter, and ice cream lovers, we have some good news. Dairy products are down 0.5 percent in cost this month, though overall, they’re up 2.7 percent for the year. Refrigerated or even frozen dairy doesn’t last forever, but August may be an ideal time to build an epic cheese board or make the homemade mac and cheese you’ve been ogling, before a predicted price increase.
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