It doesn’t take a big government study to know that food prices are going up — just look at how much money you’re forking over at the grocery store compared to last year.
In case you like the government studies, here are some facts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service: Beef prices are 10.2 percent higher than they were in January 2011. The cost of dairy products rose 9.9 percent in 2011. In that same period, fish was up 6.2 percent, cereal and bakery items rose 5.3 percent, and fats and oils went up 12.7 percent. Only fresh fruit and vegetable prices went down, by .3 percent and .2 percent respectively; processed fruits and veggies increased 5.4 percent.
Michelle Snow, of Kaysville, says one way to save money is to eat less.
“Portion sizes have increased over the years,” she wrote in her book, “Queen of Common Cents: 1001 Tips & Tricks to Save Time and Money” (Harmony Press, 2012, $11.99).
If you don’t want to cut down on food, just costs, here are five more palatable tips from the “Queen of Common Cents”:
1. Shop on Monday. If you’re looking for a better price on fresh meat, look for stores that close on Sundays. The meat is usually marked down Monday, according to Snow.
2. Eat your fill. Hamburger goes further when you add healthy fillers like oatmeal, barley or wheat, says Snow. You can also stretch hamburger with bread or cracker crumbs.
3. Fill your tank, and your fridge. Check the price of milk when you fill up your car’s tank. Advises Snow: “Milk at gas stations typically is cheaper than grocery store prices.”
4. Make a deal. Snow says some stores will give a discount of 5 percent to 10 percent when you buy food in bulk, so it’s worth asking if they’ll make a deal.
5. Freeze. “Remember that some fresh items can be frozen,” Snow said in the book.
Her favorite fresh pasta is expensive, so she buys only when the price is lowered because the expiration date is near.
“Every week, I check to see if it is reduced. When I find that it has been reduced, I buy all that are marked down,” she wrote. “We eat one package for dinner and then I freeze the remaining packages.”