Are you feeling your budget tighten a little more each year?
Does it feel impossible to transition to more healthy and anti-inflammatory foods?
Food prices have continued to rise over the past three years. Here is a snapshot of the past three years, with part of 2023 completed.
2020: Grocery prices increased by 3.5%
2021: Grocery prices increased by 3.5%
2022: Grocery prices increased by 9.9%
2023: Grocery prices expected to increase by 5.8%
You weren’t wrong when you thought your total seemed higher at check-out, especially in 2022!
Keep reading for 2023 and 2024 price expectations and tips for saving money to allow for more anti-inflammatory foods in your diet.
Food Price Expectations 2023
- Eggs (up 0.1%) – prices have dropped 38% since January 2023 as production has stabilized
- Beef (up 3.7%)
- Poultry (up 3.3%)
- Fish and seafood (up 1%)
- Dairy products (up 3.9%)
- Fats and oils (up 9.2%)
- Fresh fruit (up 0.1%)
- Fresh vegetables (up 1%)
- Processed fruits and vegetables (up 8.6%)
- Prepackaged bakery items like crackers, cereals, and bakery items (up 8.8%)
- Sugar and sweets (up 9.4%)
I see some positives as I look at this list. Several foods on the anti-inflammatory food lists are only increasing marginally (beef, poultry, fish, fresh fruits, and vegetables)!
While some foods are increasing drastically (fats, oils, prepackaged bakery items, sweets, snacks, processed fruits, and vegetables), most should be limited or avoided.
There is an opportunity to reduce food costs by reducing how often you eat sweets, snacks, and prepackaged foods (ultra-processed foods) while increasing anti-inflammatory foods.
It’s a win-win for your budget and body.
Processed Food Spectrum
You may have noticed processed fruits and vegetables on the food price expectations for 2023. We often think of processed foods as fast food, pre-packaged food items, or chips.
In reality, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines processed foods as raw food items that have been:
- Washed, cleaned, milled, cut, chopped, heated, pasteurized, blanched, cooked, canned, frozen, dried, dehydrated, mixed, packaged, or any other process that alters the food from its natural state.
Processed foods fall on a spectrum from minimally to ultra-processed:
- Minimally processed: bagged lettuce, cut vegetables, dry roasted nuts
- Next would include canned or frozen foods processed at peak ripeness and nutritional quality, like canned tomatoes, frozen fruits, and vegetables.
- Foods with added sweeteners, oils, or colors are included next (cake mix, pasta sauce, salad dressings, yogurt).
- Ultra-processed foods comprise half of the foods eaten in the USA, including sweetened drinks, candy, chocolate, ice cream, pre-packaged buns, bakery items, cereals, pizza, nuggets, sausages, burgers, hot dogs, and instant soup.
Monthly Food Budget and Food Price Expectations 2024
For 2024, grocery prices are expected to increase slower at 2.2%. That is potentially good news. We will have to wait and see what happens.
According to the USDA, monthly food costs for one person range from $300 – 450.
Based on data from USDA Food Plans and Cost of Food Reports, a family of four can expect to spend $1,050 to $1,450 per month for a nutritious and balanced diet.
Don’t despair, you don’t need to switch to a diet of Ramen noodles. You can still eat healthy on a budget.
How To Eat Healthy on a Tight Budget
Start by evaluating your monthly food budget. Look at what you currently spend on food.
Where is most of your food budget going? Look at what you spend eating out compared to foods for home.
What types of foods are you purchasing?
Are you purchasing lots of pre-packaged and convenience foods (ultra-processed)?
Where can you make changes? Think about where you want to make a change, too. Maybe buying prepared vegetables and fruits helps you eat more anti-inflammatory foods. That may not be the best change for you.
8 Tips to Save Money on Food
- Buy frozen products, when possible, for fruits, vegetables, or fish. When bought fresh, these items have a short shelf-life. Frozen lasts for much longer, leading to less food waste. While fruit prices rise at the grocery store, the frozen fruit in your freezer is locked in at a lower price from purchase. Use frozen fruit in smoothies. Use frozen vegetables in soups, casseroles, or stir-fry.
- Swap protein choices. Consider canned tuna or salmon for salads. Eat a smaller portion of beef or chicken and add protein-rich nuts or beans to get enough protein.
- Use my meal planning tool to build a balanced plate with your budget in mind.
- Don’t just look at the total price of the item. Make sure to check the unit price. This is listed as price per ounce, per unit, or per pound. You may have to do some math yourself, but many stores list this on the price tag in smaller font. Unit price is a game-changer when trying to decide between similar products. See the image below for an example. While dry beans are cheaper, store-brand canned beans are inexpensive and quick.
- Buy on sale when you can. When foods you commonly eat are on sale, stock up. Shelf-stable or foods that can be frozen can sit in storage for several months and even years. As you trim your budget with these tips, you should have some extra wiggle room to stock up when sales happen.
- Try online grocery ordering. Most stores don’t charge a fee for purchases over $35. You can plan your meals shopping online while simultaneously looking in your pantry and fridge. No more forgetting or buying something you already had. No more surprises at the cash register. No more (well, less) impulse buys.
- Save money with DIY snacks. Make your snack packs with cheese, meat, dried fruit, nuts, or whole-grain crackers. Hard-boiled eggs stay fresh in their shell for one week in the fridge. Pair that with an orange or banana. Pick a protein source and a fruit, vegetable, or whole-grain carbohydrate.
- Grow some of your vegetables. Start with the ones you like. Grow cherry tomatoes or lettuce in a pot or container. The taste of freshly picked vegetables can’t compete with store-bought.
Increasing grocery prices are a reality for all of us. You can make simple changes to offset the inflated prices and still eat a balanced diet. Use the tips above and see if you can save money at the grocery store this week.
Your budget can limit your ability to increase the amount of anti-inflammatory foods in your diet. Making some swaps will help you move some money towards anti-inflammatory foods. You can check out my printable anti-inflammatory food list to see what foods you already consume and some new foods to incorporate.
Let’s get UNstuck and stay UNstuck!