Posted on Friday 17 September 2021
Lockdowns are lifting and kids are back in classrooms, but the pandemic is far from over. Without a doubt, one of the biggest impacts of COVID-19 is the economic impact of the virus. Everyone has been financially impacted in some way, whether through unemployment, decreased income, or simply the fact that goods and services are harder to get.
Not only are goods and services limited, but they’re also significantly more expensive, too. You may have noticed that your grocery bills are steadily becoming higher, and you’re not alone.
The entire continent is facing supply chain difficulties, and increases in inflation certainly don’t make it easier. That’s why bacon, whole milk, eggs, ground coffee, and bananas are all significantly more expensive this year than they were last year.
How is inflation raising your grocery bill, and what can you do to save money? Let’s dive into how inflation is causing you to spend more on daily necessities – including how you can preserve more of your hard-earned cash when it comes to groceries.
Before diving into how inflation is increasing your grocery bill, let’s talk about how inflation works. Inflation refers to widespread price increases across the economy. Prices increase gradually over time, which means that the value of a dollar is slowly worth less and less.
Inflation is the reason why gasoline may have cost a dollar in 1990, but costs twice as much (and then some) thirty years later. And it’s not just gasoline – groceries are affected by inflation, too. From farms to meat processing plants, to shipping companies and food manufacturing, there’s a complex infrastructure that supports each and every product on grocery store shelves.
For example, some farms and meat processing plants may not have had the cash flow to continue operating through the pandemic. That means there are less fruits, vegetables, and meats in circulation, driving prices higher naturally due to supply and demand.
And as gas prices rise, so do transportation costs. Farmers and food manufacturers pass those higher costs onto grocery stores and to you, the customer.
For example, let’s say you bought the same basic set of items every week (like bread, milk, and butter) and kept track of how much you were spending. Over time, you’d see that your grocery bill is steadily increasing.
In fact, over the past year, overall grocery prices have increased 2.6 percent. And because inflation increases costs for grocery stores as well, cost-cutting promotions and sales are few and far between.
Sadly, there’s not much that we can do when it comes to solving or controlling inflation (that’s a task that belongs to the Bank of Canada and the federal government). But there are certainly ways that we can make inflation a little more manageable!
See below for three easy steps that you can take to keep your grocery bill as affordable as possible – no matter how inflated prices are becoming.
One of the biggest mistakes that anyone can make when trying to manage their money is failing to keep track of where it’s going. It’s great advice for starting a budget, for learning how to save, creating an emergency fund, or even just instilling better day-to-day spending habits.
When it comes to offsetting the costs of inflation, while you might not be able to control the cost at the grocery store, you can make better decisions on what you’re buying.
Stay on top of your spending by getting better at paperwork (cringe, we get it). Once the groceries have been stored away in the fridge, freezer and pantry, don’t throw away your receipt! Start holding on to all of your grocery store receipts and find a safe place to store them so that you can refer back to them later on.
The idea here is to keep track of how much you are spending on fresh produce, meat, frozen foods, household items, and packaged goods. After a few weeks, you should be able to recognize overspending before it gets out of control.
For example, if you notice that the cost of your fresh vegetables has been steadily increasing from one week to the next, don’t keep overspending! It might be time to switch to frozen vegetables for a few weeks to offset the cost. (They are just as nutritious and last much, much longer!)
Being flexible and learning how to make small adjustments to your spending habits can be a huge cost-saver during the ebb and flow of inflation.
Meat is pricey during normal times, but particularly so during periods of inflation. Cutting back on meat can be a great way to decrease your grocery costs (and as a silver lining, it can also help support a healthier lifestyle, too!).
On average, vegan grocery shoppers spend $23 less each week on groceries than those who eat meat. Now, of course, you don’t need to go full vegan or vegetarian in order to get the benefits of a lower grocery bill! But substituting for meat even just a few times throughout the week can make a big difference.
Instead of meat, try using plant-based sources of protein, such as tofu, beans, lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, and brown rice. And if you can buy them in bulk, do it – you’ll end up saving even more!
Supermarkets don’t always have the lowest prices, particularly when it comes to fresh produce. After all, there’s a lot of overhead that gets wrapped up into grocery store costs – like transportation, utilities, and salaries, to name a few.
Instead of paying higher prices at a grocery store, opt for a local farmer’s market for your fruits and vegetables! You can easily find a wide array of fresh, in-season produce and even extras such as meat, cheese, and bread.
Not only will your fruits and vegetables be more affordable, but they’ll also be much fresher. Rather than wilting away after a day or two on your kitchen counter, the fruits and vegetables that you get at a farmer’s market are much more likely to be freshly picked – which means they’ll last longer at home.
Let’s face it: inflation can put a strain on budgets, and during a pandemic, every dollar counts. Don’t let your grocery bill cut into your bank account! Keep an eye on costs, spend wisely, and look for opportunities to get creative with your weekly shopping trips.
One last tip: as you learn to fine-tune your grocery shopping, don’t forget to keep an eye out for shrinkflation to ensure that you are getting the most out of each and every dollar. Trust us: your wallet will thank you!