If you've stepped into a grocery store lately, there's a high probability you'll be intimately familiar with just how darn expensive food has become lately — and I'm not just talking about eggs. As a price-conscious shopper myself, I've had to make some pretty significant changes to my weekly meal plans to stick to my food budget, but I only realized how many people were in the same boat when I came upon this Reddit thread where u/Gdayyall72 asked folks to share the ingredients they've "cut back on or stopped using" thanks to inflation.
Lots of folks responded with the foods they've sadly had to forgo, and I could relate to nearly all of them. As a result, I decided to compile the most common foods that folks are cutting back on and share how I've personally been finding cheaper alternatives to them (or justifying the expenses) lately.
1. "I miss buying certain cheeses. They hopped up in price not too long ago, so now I try to avoid dishes with a lot of cheese."
WHAT TO BUY: Blocks of cheese will always be cheaper than the pre-grated or pre-sliced kinds, and though I'll probably get some Foodie Hate Mail for saying this, your recipes will still be delicious if you opt for "cheaper" cheeses than what your recipes call for.
2. "Here in the US, the cheapest generic brand butter is $5 a pound. Not long ago, that used to be what you paid for the GOOD stuff."
WHAT TO BUY: For most everyday purposes, oils are cheaper to cook with, easy to buy in bulk, and impart a similarly rich flavor to whatever you're making. But if butter is a necessity, make a mental note to buy it in bulk when it goes on sale (and then hoard it in your freezer for up to a year).
3. "I don't know if it's because of inflation, but heavy cream jumped in price a few months back and I stopped buying it."
WHAT TO BUY: Half & half is, well, half the cost of heavy cream, and in most scenarios, you can swap it in for the latter at a 1:1 ratio.
4. "I've given up salmon. My favorite fish."
"I noticed the quality go down a lot during the pandemic, too. It's 'fishy' tasting half the time I do get it now."
WHAT TO BUY: In this economy, frozen salmon will always be a better choice than the "fresh" stuff.
5. "Fruit is so prohibitively expensive! Strawberries are $8.99 here right now. Only bananas are still available at reasonable prices. I understand fruits and vegetables go up in price throughout the winter, but for the most part, they are too expensive for regular purchases."
WHAT TO BUY: If it's not in season, buy it frozen.
6. "It's now over $9 for 18 eggs where I am. I looked today, but didn't even end up buying them."
WHAT TO BUY: There's no getting around the fact that eggs are just...ridiculously expensive right now. But listen, even at close to twice their usual price, eggs are still one of the most cost-effective proteins out there.
7. "Lunch meat is $15 a pound! That is double what lean ground sirloin costs! I call BS — since when is a turkey sandwich a luxury meal?"
WHAT TO BUY: Make your own deli turkey meat for a fraction of the cost of store-bought. (I know it sounds "extra," but it's easier than you realize.)
WHAT TO BUY: "Stew beef," or any other cut of beef that's tougher than what you'd buy for steaks, offer more bang for your buck than you probably realize.
What's your best money-saving tip or hack when it comes to grocery shopping? Tell us about it in the comments below — we all need them!
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.