Over the past 12 months, food prices for major grocery items like meats, poultry, fish and eggs rose 5.9%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ food index report for July 2021.
Money expert Clark Howard says despite those increases, you can maneuver around the price hikes if you know where to look.
4 Ways You Can Save Amid Rising Grocery Prices
In this article, I’ll go over some fresh tips from Clark on how you can pay less for the items you buy at the supermarket.
“I’m obsessed with looking for ways to save money,” Clark says.
1. Buy the Store Brand
Generic brands are not seen in a favorable light by many shoppers, but according to Clark, that’s because of a lasting misconception.
“A lot of people who grew up in the era I did in the 1970s have this idea that a store brand is just rotten terrible, and it’s not the way it is now,” he says. But back then, “store brands used to be pitiful. They used to be pathetic.”
A lot of supermarkets have invested in their own private labels. Store brands such Great Value (Walmart) and Kirkland Signature (Costco) have worked to improve their generic items.
Clark says both the quality and the prices are better these days.
“The store brands are so much cheaper, typically 20-30% cheaper,” Clark says. “And those store brands have changed so much over the decades.”
2. Stock Up on Sale Items
When you run across an item on sale, buy several of them.
“When non-perishable or semi-perishable items go on sale, I’d love for you to stock up on those items,” Clark says.
3. Abstain From Buying Expensive Items
When you get a good deal on one item, that doesn’t mean you should turn around and splurge on something else.
It sounds simple, but one of the easiest ways to save money when you shop is to resist the marketing jargon associated with pricey things.
“When something’s expensive, don’t buy it,” Clark says. “All of us who’ve lived through the galloping inflation of the late ’70s … prices in America were going up over 1% a month due to general inflation.”
4. Comparison Shop
Check prices at other stores while you’re in the store (use your phone) or shopping online. That’s the only way you’ll know you’re getting the best deal.
“We have the most competitive grocery markets we’ve ever had in the United States,” Clark says. ”People on the East Coast, in addition to whoever the regionals are, have both Lidl and Aldi beating each other up for market share.”
Give Aldi a Try
Clark is a big fan of Aldi, which keeps its prices low by stocking its shelves primarily with products from its private labels.
“Around the country, Aldi is almost everywhere now,” Clark says, “and they are absolutely the lowest priced place to buy groceries.”
If you know anything about Aldi, you know that it keeps some of its best deals in the same place at every store. Here’s a roundup of Aldi middle aisle deals.
With no price relief in sight, consumers need to be savvy in finding ways to reduce their grocery bills. As a recap, here are some new ways to save:
- Opt for the Store Brand
- Stock Up on What’s on Sale
- Don’t Buy Expensive Items
- Comparison Shop (and Try Aldi!)
“In a time when prices are rising, a lot of people are willing to try new things, break old habits,” Clark says. “And this is one of those times that you will make a change that will save you money, day after day and year after year.”