7 grocery staples more expensive this summer

Summer may not have arrived according to the calendar, but it sure seems like it's arrived based on the weather.

7 grocery staples more expensive this summer

The sunshine and balmy breezes may have you dreaming of backyard barbeques, luscious produce, and fresh salads. But your grill's charcoal might not be the only thing on fire this year. Some food prices are heating up too, so watch your food budget.

Beef

After planning your menu for your backyard barbeque, your guests might be tempted to ask, “Where's the beef?” Why? Almost every single cut of beef has a beefier price this year, compared to last year. (source).

Droughts (one of the factors in higher beef prices) in prime grassland areas of the U.S. drove beef prices up due to higher feed costs. Recently, Texas and Oklahoma received lots of rain, but it will take time for lower beef prices to be seen in supermarkets. So for now, enjoy beef sparingly — or replace it with something less expensive. Instead of a Black Angus burger, maybe consider a black bean burger.

Poultry

Before tossing white meat on the grill, you should know that poultry costs are also higher than last year. Yes, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the retail price of chicken went up; however, turkey's price is lower, although customers haven't been gobbling it up as a replacement to chicken too frequently.

If you are not a fan of turkey, the other white meat (pork) has lower prices on almost all retail cuts.

Eggs

If you haven't noticed higher egg prices, you probably will soon. An avian bird flu affected over 46 million laying hens in the U.S. (source), around 10 percent of the laying hens. Because these chickens must be destroyed, egg production dropped. This has suppliers scrambling to find enough eggs to meet the supermarket demand.

If prices continue to climb, you may want to try less expensive egg substitutes in baking, such as flax meal and water, or vinegar and water.

Lettuce

Animal protein isn't the only thing that is commanding higher prices at the supermarket. Again, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, iceberg and romaine lettuce are up 10.8 percent and 19.1 percent, respectively, since April of 2014. Prices are no doubt influenced by California's drought as California, along with Arizona, produces over 90 percent of the lettuce in the U.S.

Instead of lettuce salads, consider eating cabbage in the form of coleslaw or similar salads. If you must have your salads, eliminate food waste of this perishable product by adding it to soups or to smoothies before it must be thrown out.

On the other hand, growing your own lettuce, especially if you live in a region with slightly cooler weather, is an easy, cheap alternative.

Bananas

What is the most popular fruit in the United States? If you initially thought about bananas, you are correct. Handy to take in lunches, deliciously creamy and sweet in fruit smoothies, and a good source of potassium — no wonder they are popular.

If you like bananas, they are irreplaceable: Nothing else tastes even close the same. But you could always grab for the second most popular fruit in the U.S. … the apple.

Unfortunately, the price of bananas has increased substantially over the last few months, most likely due to a fungal disease that is threatening the global banana crop — and it's nothing to monkey around with.

If you still get your hands on some bananas, don't waste them either. If they ripen too quickly, make banana bread. Another great idea is to peel and freeze them on a cookie sheet (then place in freezer bags) to add to smoothies later.

Strawberries

Strawberry shortcake, topped with a dollop of whipped cream, is an iconic early summer dessert. But guess what? Strawberries, again according to the average retail food and energy prices data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, are more expensive this year than last year at this time.

But strawberries have an advantage: We are in the middle of strawberry season. Search farmer's markets, pick-your-own-produce farms and, yes, even your local supermarket. It's possible to find reasonably priced strawberries with a little bit of effort.

Wine

And if all this talk about higher food prices makes you want to grab a glass of wine, be prepared for a little bit of sticker shock here too: White and red wines are also more expensive this year. (Of course.)

What drives food costs

There are multiple reasons behind rising food costs — and they don't even consider what you can spend on food. Droughts or other natural disasters, disease, animal feeding costs, and labor all influence the price of food.

But there is another cost too. Transportation costs also influence the price of food. Any increase in fuel costs impact wholesale food prices … which then influence the retail prices you pay at the supermarket. While transportation allows year-round consumption of most foods in most the country, it does come with a cost that is difficult to quantify.

Here is some good news, though. Fuel prices are lower than last year. And also? Many regions in the U.S. are in the middle of their growing seasons. Offset the higher cost of some of the previously mentioned foods by growing your own or contacting local farmers.

Tips to lessen the impact

Other ideas to keep your food budget in check, even though prices of some popular summer foods are higher? Make your purchases carefully and plan your meals. When planning your meals, center the meal around inexpensive foods and use smaller portions for more expensive foods. Eliminate your food waste by using up food before it spoils.

You may need to shop more frequently, for smaller amounts of food, particularly for perishable produce. If you are unable to use up foods quickly enough, freeze them. Be creative with leftovers. (Soups and smoothies are great ways to disguise foods when the need arises.) Share your food with a neighbor or family member.

Whatever your method for keeping your budget in check this summer, may your plates be full of good food and may you have plenty of time to enjoy the weather and your friends.

What grocery items have you noticed increasing in price this year? What is your strategy to contain your food budget, and how much do you estimate you have saved?

More about...Budgeting, Food

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Ali @ Anything You Want
Ali @ Anything You Want
5 years ago

This is really good to know. I buy meat relatively infrequently so I hadn’t noticed an increase in the price, but I have noticed that produce (particularly berries) have gotten more expensive at my market.

I find that meal planning and shopping at a discount grocery store are the best ways to curb my food budget. Buying what is on sale also helps!

Michael
Michael
5 years ago

How much do bananas actually cost in the US? I ask because here in the UK they are just about the cheapest snack – we pay 68p/kg, which converts to $0.47/lb. Because most of them come from Latin America I always assumed they would be super cheap across the pond.

Rosa
Rosa
5 years ago
Reply to  Michael

In NY, we’re lucky if we get them on sale for 69 cents a pound.

rosarugosa
rosarugosa
5 years ago
Reply to  Michael

Bananas are still $.19 each at Trader Joe’s and they are typically good ones!

Lisa Aberle
Lisa Aberle
5 years ago
Reply to  Michael

My normal price is about $0.55/lb, but I used to be able to snag them on sale for $0.29/lb. I haven’t seen that price for a long time.

LeRainDrop
LeRainDrop
5 years ago
Reply to  Michael

In Atlanta, $0.59/pound at Kroger or $0.69/pound at Publix.

Harmony @ creatingmykaleidoscope
Harmony @ creatingmykaleidoscope
5 years ago

I’m actually excited to read about the increase in lettuce prices. We planted a big garden to save money this summer and the first thing that we harvested was some lettuce. I just posted about using it for some yummy tacos (http://creatingmykaleidoscope.com/2015/06/08/monday-medley-a-summer-of-savings/)

Maybe we should use turkey or pork in our next batch of tacos.

Carla
Carla
5 years ago

Because my diet has to be so specific (there is a lot I can’t eat), I rarely buy or not buy items based on price, or else I wouldn’t have much else to eat. I buy produce that’s in season, as local as possible and the least contaminated. The same goes for meat and fish. We are only buying and cooking for two so that makes it easier than folks with children.

Sharon
Sharon
5 years ago

So if prices go up when fuel prices go up, why didn’t prices fall when fuel prices fell dramatically? There was no price decrease that I could document. It seems that as soon as we’re used to paying a higher price for a product, the reason behind the price increase is ignored in favor of profits.

Lisa Aberle
Lisa Aberle
5 years ago
Reply to  Sharon

I wondered about this, too. Maybe it’s due to food contracts, but it still seems like food prices should have been affected eventually by lower fuel costs.

Beth
Beth
5 years ago

Good to know — we’re seeing similar trends here north of the border.

My challenge is not wasting food. Sometimes it’s beneficial to buy small quantities even though the price per unit is higher. It’s not a savings if I have to throw something out and I hate being wasteful.

partgypsy
partgypsy
5 years ago
Reply to  Beth

I agree. For example organic romaine at my store was 2.29 a head versus 1.99. but as long as I eat it and don’t waste it, any produce we eat is a good value for our money. We do buy expensive berries like blueberries, strawberries, raspberries. At this point they will have to be a treat as our children can go through them in one sitting. I do like this time of year though, as more produce at a lower price is available compared to other times of the year.

Kelli B
Kelli B
5 years ago

Thanks for the heads up on these more expensive food products. Unfortunately with beef, poultry, and eggs all going up it’ll be difficult to simple avoid these products and hope that prices go back down soon. However, I do try to do at least 1 meatless dinner per week for my family to help cut down on the cost of groceries.

For more groceries shopping secrets, check out these 26 tips: http://www.freebiefindingmom.com/save-money-groceries-shopping-secrets-revealed/

Chella
Chella
5 years ago

Am lucky because i try to avoid beef as much as possible, and I rare chicken in my small garden, plant my own vegetables and this cuts down costs a big deal since i do not have to buy any poultry and vegetables throughout summer. My advise even to those with no garden is to try use their kitchen to plant these vegetables. My strawberries usually grow in the kitchen too!

Super Safeway
Super Safeway
4 years ago

This is surprising to me. I watch grocery prices weekly and would agree on the price of eggs, but honestly haven’t seen any of the other prices go up at all. Bananas have been $.59 a lb in Colorado for years, Romaine and other lettuce is always $.99/lb. RIght now organic strawberries are on sale at Safeway for $2.99 for 16 oz. NY Strip steaks are $5.88/lb. Perhaps if the wholesale costs have gone up the retailers have absorbed it as I haven’t seen an increase. Anyone else?

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