The Consumer Price Index jumped yet again this week to an all-time high of 6.1 percent over a one-year period, marking the biggest increase in 30 years. Among the goods that consumers are paying more for include groceries and food away from home, which is troublesome for families as they prepare for Thanksgiving meals with loved ones.
All 6 major food groups saw price hikes over the past 12 months as food prices overall have risen 5.4 percent from a year ago, the largest 12-month increase since December 1990.
Although you can’t control these increasing food prices, you can control how much you spend on groceries. Here are tips from consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch to help save on holiday meals and beyond:
Host a potluck—friends and family enjoy bringing a favorite dish and this cuts hosting costs. Coordinate meals with sites like PerfectPotluck.com.
Meal plan and shop with a list—limiting impulse purchases is more important than ever especially for fresh foods that could easily spoil. And, cross reference your ingredient list with your pantry and fridge so you don’t double up.
Use coupons to cut grocery delivery fees—search sites like CouponFollow.com for grocery delivery coupons before checking out as you can save 15 percent off your first order at Kroger grocery stores, $20 off at Instacart and $90 off new auto-shipments at HelloFresh meal kits.
Shop around for the best free turkey deals—there are lots of free turkey deals, but some are better than others. For example, BJ’s wholesale club is giving away a free Butterball turkey when you spend $100 on qualifying items and a $10 reward to use between Dec. 2 to 16.
Map out grocery purchases based on local sales—apps like Flipp aggregate grocery circulars in one place to help you find the best grocery sales in your area.
Opt for frozen produce over fresh to save 30 percent—great for quiches, cheesecake and other sides and desserts.
Cut the cost of convenience—skip pre-cut fruit, vegetables, cheese and other party platters and prep these foods yourself to save anywhere from 40 to 100 percent markup on convenience items.
Bake your own treats or go with a box mix—the bakery section has the highest markup at a whopping 300 percent in some cases.
Stick with store brands for pantry staples—single ingredient items like flour, sugar and spices/herbs can not be produced any differently between a store brand and brand name.
Check the unit price to find the best deal—don’t assume the bigger package is a better deal as smaller containers can be cheaper when you buy multiple on sale.
Serve a festive holiday punch to save on alcohol and snag buy more, save more deals on wine.
Use the right credit card—check which credit cards will give you the most rewards on your grocery purchases or if your card gives you more cashback for a certain big-box chain or grocery store. Otherwise, look for new grocery rewards card at CardRates.com.
Don’t buy everything at the grocery store—you can find better deals on platters, tins, foil, plastic wrap at big box stores like Walmart and at the dollar store. Meanwhile, discount stores like HomeGoods and Marshalls are a great place to pick up cooking supplies for less.
Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer-savings expert, writer and frequent on-air contributor who is passionate about helping families find simple ways to spend less and save more. Andrea has appeared on popular shows like Today, Good Morning America and NBC Nightly News. Her advice and articles have been featured in New York Times, Time, Money, Forbes and Real Simple.