We ran an interesting Associated Press article in yesterday’s Business section about how the rising cost of food and fuel will affect the average summer barbecue this season.
I know it caught my eye, because like many other Americans, we plan to have a few friends over for a cookout this holiday weekend.
From the article: Food inflation is the highest in almost two decades, driven by record prices for oil and gas, mounting global demand for staples such as wheat and corn, and rising costs for proteins such as chicken.
I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve noticed the difference in my grocery bill every time I go shopping. Just about everything on my list is more expensive, and it seems to be most noticeable in the produce department. But maybe that’s just where I’m paying closest attention.
How does it all really break down? Well, that was the most interesting part of the CNN version of the same story, in my opinion. While they say the overall cost of the cookout has gone up about 6 percent from last year, they provided some exact figures for all the individual components.
See below the jump:
(From the Associated Press — New York)
Percent change of average price increase from 2007
1 lb. beef … 1.1 percent
8-hotdog pack …6.7 percent
8 burger buns…16.7 percent
8 hot dog buns…14.5 percent
1 lb. American cheese…4 percent
1 lb. Tomatoes… 8.6 percent
1 lb. Lettuce… 9.1 percent
16-ounce bag of chips…11.8
6-pack of beer… 1.2 percent
Soda, 2-liters… 10.8 percent
16.4-oz Propane cartridge…8 percent
Lighter fluid… 3.4 percent
Salad dressing…6 percent
Jar of pickles…4.9 percent
Paper plates…13.8 percent
Based on this list, it appears as if the grain-based items, such as buns or chips, and the produce have gone up most substantially. But then there’s a 13.8 percent increase in paper plates. What’s that about? And soda has gone up 10 percent, probably because it contains a bunch of corn syrup.
Even the junkiest and least healthy of foods are going to cost us! The good news: apparently beer has only gone up 1.2 percent. But I digress.
How to alleviate the pressure a bit? Well, the AP suggests buying store brands, evaluating unit prices, clipping coupons, using a store card, buying frozen foods and eliminating all pre-cut convenience foods from your list.
That last one really caught my eye. Just yesterday, I was conversing with a woman from the Virginia Department of Agriculture who suggested that those pre-cut fruits and veggies would be the first thing to go in American households feeling the pinch. I’ve been saving money by cutting up my own green peppers and cantaloupes for years now.
Buying locally, while sometimes more expensive, can also be cheaper if you look for the best deals, particularly in terms of produce.
Do any of you have further suggestions for cutting the grocery bill in these expensive times?