No, it's not just you. Thanks to inflation being near a 40-year high, everything is suddenly more expensive than it used to be — including groceries. So if you've been noticing that your normal supermarket run is becoming extra pricey, you're not alone.
1. "I chop up a portion of my veggies and freeze them while they're super fresh. So many of my vegetables go bad before I can use them, so freezing them saves money and preserves them for later on."
2. "I live in a place where we have multiple supermarkets, so I try to hit a few different stores in a given week. It's shocking how much prices vary for the same items."
3. "I treat grocery shopping like a sort of challenge. I buy most of my meat and produce from the clearance section, and then I figure out what I can make with it using ingredients that are already in my pantry, featuring a cheap filler like rice, lentils, or potatoes."
4. "I buy dry goods from the bulk section at the market and refill containers at my house. You’d be surprised how much you can save if you’re not paying for packaging, especially when it comes to seasonings and baking products."
5. "I've found that local specialty markets tend to have great prices on the essentials of that particular cuisine. Noodles, rice, meat, produce, and sauces are far cheaper at an Asian supermarket, and tortillas, meat, salsa, and produce are a much better price at the local Hispanic store."
6. "These extreme prices are a bummer, but they have forced me to get more creative with my cooking. I've also become more grateful for the things I can no longer eat all the time. If I get steak once a month instead of one a week, I appreciate it even more."
7. "For the first time, I started a vegetable garden. I freeze anything that I don't eat fresh. I generally hate canned vegetables, so having homegrown produce that tastes even better than fresh, store-bought vegetables is a huge win for me. Plus, it’s a great new hobby."
8. "I live with a couple of friends, and those who work in an office have started packing a lunch and taking it with them instead of buying lunch downtown or at a food truck. It's just leftovers or a sandwich, but not going out for lunch all the time makes a huge difference."
9. "I watch the grocery store sales, comparison-shop by checking each store’s app for prices, and then plan meals based on whatever meat is cheapest that week. This week, one store marked pork shoulder down to 99 cents a pound, so I’m going to cook a big pork shoulder in the slow cooker, shred it, then portion and freeze it. It’ll go into tacos, chili, BBQ pork sandwiches, beef bowls, pot pie, and fried rice. I do a lot of bulk cooking and freezing things. That way, I can buy something in quantity when the price is good, make several days’ worth of meals, and enjoy them later."
10. "I only shop online, even for groceries. I can do a much better job of finding the cheapest price per unit if I can see all of the options on one page. It also makes it much easier to buy individual items at the stores they are cheapest at without wasting gas riding around town."
11. "Learn how to cook whatever is on sale — like beef roasts, a new cut of pork you haven't prepared before, etc. You might need to learn a new cooking technique (for example, tough cuts of meat, like chuck roast, are best when braised). Having the right appliances and equipment can help, like buying a Dutch oven. It's a one-time investment that will serve you well."
12. "I will plan out a few dinners and then look at remaining ingredients to make into another meal. For example, if I only need a cup of chicken broth for one meal, half a bag of Parmesan for another meal, and half an onion, what can I do with the remaining ingredients? It helps me cut food waste and also pushes me to get more creative."
13. "Store-brand items are usually just as good as — if not better than — the name-brand version."
14. "If your grocery store allows it, try price-matching. Apps like Flipp let you view each grocery store's flyers so you can price-match and get the same items for cheaper."
15. "I've completely stopped buying precut vegetables, meat, and shredded cheese. These convenience items are so much more expensive than the whole item. Same goes for those pre-bagged salad kits."
16. "Adjust your proteins and rely on what's on sale. Chicken breast is so expensive now that I switched to thighs. Turns out, they actually taste way better."
17. "I've been taking advantage of a lot of freezer cooking. My go-to lasagna recipe yields four 8-by-8-inch, or two 9-by-13-inch, pans. I'll make the recipe per usual, leave one pan out to eat, and freeze the rest. I've found myself relying heavily on blogs and recipe sites with freezer-cooking tips."
18. "I make a menu for the week, and then I make my grocery list from the menu, trying to reuse ingredients here and there. Once I get to the market, I stick to my plan and don't deviate from what I need."
19. "I keep myself very flexible. If I go into the grocery store hoping to buy cauliflower but broccoli is on sale and looks good, I buy that instead and make an adjustment."
20. "I keep a pretty loaded pantry, stocked up with dry items, so I really only need to buy meat and vegetables. When my pantry runs low, I buy things like rice, beans, nuts, and spices from the bulk bins."
21. "One thing that has been a positive life change for me is that I've started eating more plant-based meals. I just couldn't deal with meat prices. I still buy it on occasion, but I eat it way less often. Instead I rely more on ingredients like beans, chickpeas, and eggs at the center of my meals."
22. "I look at the sales and then base what I'm cooking for the week on that. For example, I made three different recipes with chicken leg recipes last week because my local market had them on sale for 69 cents a pound, sold in 8- to 10-pound bags. I wasn't passing up that bargain, so I found ways to cook them."
23. "I watch for sales on meat specifically. My grocery store has 3-pound packages of ground beef, so as soon as those go on sale, I buy several, break them down into 1-pound bags, and freeze them for future meals."
24. "Familiarize yourself with produce seasons and buy produce when it's in season. For example, cherries are locally grown during the summer but imported in the winter, so they'll be more expensive during the colder months."
25. "At the grocery store, look high and low on the shelves. Most people only ever look at the middle area of shelves, and that’s usually the most expensive stuff. For the things you typically buy, check similar items on the top and bottom shelves (use that 'cost per unit' in the top left of the sticker to truly compare prices for what you get!)."
26. "I've learned that you can really stretch homemade soups if you don't mind leftovers, or you can freeze them in preportioned containers. I have also started to rely on recipes that tell you the expected ingredient costs."
27. "I make sure to never grocery-shop when I'm hungry. When I’m hungry, I crave every single thing and spend way more money than I should. If I eat before I go to the market, I stick to my list and am not tempted to buy unnecessary items."
28. "If you eat meat and own a slow cooker, one of the best ways to save money is to buy whatever cut of meat is on sale that week and then find a slow cooker recipe for it. It's especially great for making tougher cuts of meat taste tender and delicious."
29. "I focus on meals I can make using grains and legumes. They offer more variety than you might think, and they will be a big help to your budget. Try out a few different grains (quinoa, rice, farro, etc.) and a few different types of beans/legumes (cannellini beans, chickpeas, etc). Season them nicely and you'll discover a whole new array of affordable, tasty, and, not to mention, good-for-you meals."
What are some ways you've been dealing with inflation when it comes to grocery shopping, cooking, and food in general? Tell us in the comments below.
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.