Deal Finder: Ways to save on rising food costs in 2022

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By LATINA EMERSON, The Weekly Deal Finder

As we usher in a new year, consumers are still faced with rising food prices. Unfortunately, buying food at the grocery store isn’t expected to get cheaper in 2022. A number of food items are anticipated to become more expensive this year.

According to CNN, factors such as pent-up demand, high shipping and fertilizer costs and inclement weather could cause products like corn, cocoa and sugar to be more pricy and keep global food prices elevated. 

Food prices are expected to rise 5 percent in the first half of 2022, though the increases will vary by grocer and region, according to research firm IRI. The Wall Street Journal reports a grocery store executive said no item is immune from price increases. Consumers can expect higher prices on produce, dairy and packaged foods such as bread and juice. Food manufacturers have announced plans to raise prices on cookies, candy, jello, mayonnaise, mustard, soup, frozen meals and more. 

To save money on groceries, consumers will need to search for deals and implement some changes in their shopping habits. Here are some ways to save on rising food costs:

Plan a weekly menu. Planning your weekly meals in advance can help to make the most of the money your family spends on food. Before going to the grocery store, make a shopping list to guarantee that you’re buying all of the necessary ingredients and staying on track with your spending. 

When searching for coupons and deals in weekly sales ads, it’s helpful to have an idea of the items you need to purchase. This will also help to avoid wasting food and ending up with miscellaneous items that don’t make a complete meal. 

Buy in bulk. If you’re shopping for a family and need large quantities of items, buy in bulk from wholesale clubs, such as BJs Wholesale Club, Sam’s Club or Costco, to get the most for your money. Note that wholesale clubs generally charge an annual membership fee.

Shop at discount stores. ALDI, a discount grocery store, reports that its low prices are difficult to beat. More than 90 percent of store items are ALDI-exclusive products. ALDI has been named Value Leader among U.S. grocery stores by Market Force Information for the last nine years.

Use coupons. Use coupons to save money on a variety of items, including food, beverages, cleaning and household items, and beauty and personal care items. Grocery stores, such as Kroger and Publix, have digital coupons available on their websites. 

Kroger customers should log into their Kroger.com account and clip digital coupons. All coupons are loaded onto the customer’s Kroger Shopper’s Card, which is scanned at checkout.

Publix shoppers can create a Club Publix account at Publix.com and clip a variety of coupons to add to their account. They will enter their 10-digit phone number at checkout to receive the savings. In addition, Publix accepts manufacturer and competitor coupons. To learn more about Publix’s coupon policy, visit https://www.publix.com/pages/policies/coupon-policy. Publix also offers BOGOs, or weekly buy-one-get-one-free offers. 

Major retailers (Target), drug stores (Rite Aid and Walgreens), and discount stores (Dollar General and Family Dollar) also offer digital coupons on their websites. In addition, shoppers can clip printed coupons from newspaper sales ads.

To boost savings, shoppers should research the coupon policies at stores they visit frequently, such as if the retailer allows double or triple coupon values or accepts manufacturer’s, competitors’ and Internet coupons.

Purchase store brands. Most grocery stores offer a wide variety of store brands. Store brand products can be a great deal because they’re often cheaper than brand name items and have a similar taste.

Get a rain check. If a store sells out of a featured sale item, shoppers can request a rain check for this item at the customer service desk. A rain check allows customers to purchase the item at the advertised sale price at a later time. Rain checks often have an expiration date, so don’t forget to take advantage of these savings before the deadline.

If an item is out of stock, Publix can issue a rain check good for 30 days for up to eight units of the item at the sale price. Shoppers should visit the customer service counter to request a rain check.

Look for deals. To find deals and compare prices, shoppers need to review weekly grocery store sales ads. 

Track food prices. The book “The Coupon Mom’s Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bills in Half” recommends tracking food prices for at least six weeks, ideally 12 weeks, to get a sense of the best prices for items on your list and identify a true sale. However, tracking average food prices might be more challenging with recent price hikes.

Based on how much effort you want to invest, track prices at several stores or stick to your regular grocery store. Check advertised prices once a week and record them in a notebook. By determining the pattern for when prices on preferred items are their lowest, this will help to reduce spending.

Compare unit prices. The unit price tells how much an item costs per unit of weight or volume, such as ounces, pounds or quarts. Shoppers can find this information posted on the shelf below the food next to the price display. To get the best deal, compare the unit price of similar products of different brands or packages of varying sizes. Then, choose the food item that has the lowest price per unit.

Stock up when items are on sale. By tracking prices, consumers will know when their favorite items go on sale. They should stock up when prices are at their lowest. Nonperishable goods can be kept in the pantry. Meat and some fruits and vegetables can be stored in the freezer.

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