Inflation and Groceries. This is a something that I’ve been pondering deeply for the past couple years, and I am diving into all the research today to explain why. If you have too, and if you are wondering what to stock up on before inflation gets worse, keep reading!
I have long been a believer in the importance of having a stockpile. The recent shortages during the pandemic proved my point. And now, as I look ahead, I am more convinced than ever that everyone needs to be building a stockpile.
Whether you have had a stockpile in the past or have never thought about it before, I think now is the time when everyone really needs to consider it.
Think of a stockpile as a practical emergency fund to prepare your family for whatever may come.
If you have a loss of income for a time, or if prices suddenly increase due to inflation (or hyperinflation), having a stockpile will help you through.
Consider it being a good steward. As a one income family, I consider it my responsibility to care for my family by stretching our pennies.
This is why inflation has caused me to rethink a lot of things and work harder to prepare our home, family and yes, stockpile.
So, let’s dive into all this talk about inflation and how it is affecting our grocery budgets.
Note: I originally wrote this post in June 2021 and updated it in October 2022. The most recent update was September 2023.
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Is this really transitory inflation?
Transitory inflation is the idea that inflation is only temporary. You may have heard this phrase floating around a lot lately. If you haven’t heard it yet, listen for it. Many experts are saying that what we are experiencing right now is transitory inflation. Some experts are saying inflation will only last for a couple of months and then it will come right back down again. Really?
My sincere question, based on my own research and watching all this stimulus money being given away…is how can this most recent inflation be only temporary? I am not trying to get into politics here. I simply believe we are going to be seeing more price increases in the months and years to come.
Are food prices going up in 2023?
Yes! That is a given. We’ve noticed the effects on our budget, and the latest research confirms it. Average food at home inflation is currently at 4.9%! But let’s break it down a bit more.
Based on commodity prices as of September 2023, we are currently seeing Year over Year increases as follows. (Year over Year means increases over the past 12 months from this same point in time.)
- Cocoa 48.71%
- Orange Juice 77.77%
- Sugar 42.20%
- Potatoes 11.90%
- Cheese 1.65%
Now, commodity prices are based on actual products used to make the goods we purchase. Just because commodity prices are increasing does not guarantee an increase in the prices we pay but there is a correlation and a very good chance those increases will trickle down to the grocery store.
According to the Consumer Price Index of September 2023, food prices have already increased an average of 4.9% over the past 12 months. While this is lower than the 13% increase that was reported in 2022, when you stack them on top of one another, we are looking at a 17% food increase over the past two years.
What is the current inflation rate for food?
As of September 2023, average food inflation is at 4.9%.
We’ve all seen the prices jumping up here and there, but it is even more startling to see the proof in print. Even more (sadly) amazing?
While this is lower than the 9.9% food inflation average of 2022, this is still another large increase this year.
This chart shows the Food Inflation prices in the United States from 1968 to 2023. It is broken down by year and month. This is the most revealing chart I have seen yet.
Taking all this into account, I believe it is wise to prepare your family and your budget for more price increases to come.
How much have food prices increased over the past couple years?
This is a very important question!
While food inflation might be slowing, the increases are still building on top of another. Let’s look back over the past couple years.
In 2020, average food at home inflation was 3.5%
In 2021, average food at home inflation was 3.5% again.
In 2022, average food at home inflation was 11.4%. This was a huge increase that we all felt keenly!
In 2023, food at home prices are expected to increase at 5.9%. But let’s forget that for a minute and focus on what has already happened.
Over the past 3 years, when you stack the increases on top of one another, food prices have increased 18.4%! This is what our wallets are feeling.
How much are food prices expected to increase in 2023?
According to Research firm IRI, food prices are expected to continue rising 5 to 8% in 2022. In actuality? We ended the year with an average food inflation increase of 9.9% in 2023. (Remember that the food at home increases was actually higher at 11.4%!) They underestimated substantially!
The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) Food Price Outlook originally said we should return to historical averages of inflation between 2 and 3 percent in 2023. Now that we are halfway through 2023, the USDA says to expect food inflation at 5.9%. I have to say that I am still skeptical of this low a number, given where we are now.
These are the predictions from the USDA for the increases we will see over the course of 2023.
- Beef – 4.2%
- Poultry – 3.0%
- Dairy Products – 4.1%
- cereals and Bakery Products – 9.0%
- Canned Fruits and Vegetables – 9.2%
- Fats and Oils – 9.6%
- Sugar and Sweets – 9.3%
We won’t know much prices really will increase until it happens, but I think it is safe to say that prices are going to increase more than we would like.
How can I prepare for inflation with food prices?
There are a couple simple ways to prepare for inflation with food prices. I think it is wise to prepare now and start buying things before you need them. This is what I have been focused on lately. In simplest terms, that is what a stockpile is.
Say that toilet paper goes up by 15% this year. That means that package of toilet paper you pay $10 for every month will soon cost $11.50. That works out to an extra $18 a year, just to buy the same toilet paper you were already buying. Multiple that scenario by multiple items increasing in price and you will quickly feel the impact on your budget.
We are basically paying 20% more for all of our groceries in 2023 than we were in 2020. Yikes. No wonder we are all struggling.
If inflation doesn’t increase as much as you thought it could? Then, you will still be prepared and won’t have to buy some of these items for some time. You won’t be out anything because costs aren’t going to go down. They just not might increase at the higher rates some are predicting. If the hyperinflation predictions are true, then you will have saved your family money by buying things ahead of time, as we wait for the inflation to settle into more typical levels.
Follow the simple advice of “Buy 1 for now, and 2 for later.” Don’t ever let yourself get down to the last item in your pantry.
Always be looking and shopping ahead. When you see a good sale, stock up as much as you are able – especially on non-perishables.
Personally, we are moving some money around from other areas of our budget to focus on buying some extra things right now. You might consider doing the same.
Wondering what to stock up on before inflation? Here are some important items to stock up on before inflation.
Build a stockpile of non-perishable goods.
This is one of the best ways to prepare for inflation. Stock up now on things that you know won’t expire or go bad. Normally, I focus on building a stockpile of food when I find good deals. Right now, I am focusing on building a stockpile of non-perishables.
Here are some ideas of non-perishables to stockpile.
- Toilet paper
- Paper towels
- Laundry detergent
- Dish soap
- Clorox wipes
- Baby wipes
Build a stockpile of things you use regularly.
Similar to the above, expand your stockpile to focus on the things your family uses regularly. Again, don’t think of food just yet. Focus on toiletries and other things you use. Don’t buy things you don’t use, because that is simply money wasted. Think about stocking up on these things before inflation hits.
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Hand soap
- Bar soap
- Over the counter medicine
Build a stockpile of foods your family eats.
The last area of your stockpile that you want to focus on is the perishable items your family regularly eats.
Whenever you see a good sale, purchase extra of the food items you use. If you have space in an extra freezer, focus particularly on buying meat when you can get a good price.
As for canned goods and other packaged items, buy what you can use before it expires.
If you are wondering what food to buy before inflation hits more, some of the best food items to stockpile include:
- Peanut butter
- Canned tomatoes
- Canned meats
- Baking goods – flour, sugar, yeast, etc.
- Cooking oils
- Canned vegetables and fruits
As with all of these things, focus on doing what you can with what you have.
Can you spend a little less this week to buy an extra pack of toilet paper? Or can you find some extra money to buy a couple extra packages of diapers? Can you buy 4 containers of the dish soap that is on sale instead of just 1? Remember that everything you buy now will help you prepare for the future.
If you want to learn more about stockpiling, I just released a printable ebook called “The Quick Start Guide to Building a Stockpile on a Budget.” It is full of helpful tips, handy checklists and more to help you build a stockpile – even with inflation increasing! More information here.
What else can I do to get ready for inflation?
There are some simple things everyone can do, regardless of their family size or income level.
Pay off all your debt.
Paying off debt is always a smart move. I know someone would say that if hyperinflation hits, debt won’t really matter. I still believe it is important to pay off your debt.
Have money in savings.
Yes, when inflation hits, your money won’t go as far as it used to. That means things like home repairs – or a new vehicle – will cost more. You need to save now for these expenses. We have over 20 savings accounts for this very reason.
Buy what you can now.
If you can free up some money in your budget (even a couple hundred dollars), buy those purchases now! This is true for a stockpile, as well as bigger purchases. For example, we are moving kids bedrooms around this summer, but I went ahead and bought their new mattresses earlier this month. For majority of things, we are not going to see prices this low again.
Plan for the future.
We should always be doing this, but I know there are many who live from paycheck to paycheck. Work hard. Build a stockpile. Save money. Be prepared for what may come – and if inflation returns to normal levels, you will still be prepared for the future. You won’t have lost any money but saved yourself worry from the possibility.
Some people might say I’m taking things too seriously and others might say I’m not taking it seriously enough. Whatever side you fall on, I hope you will consider how you can best care and provide for your family. And if these tips help you to build a stockpile that will save your family money, then I have done what I hoped to do.
What are your thoughts on food prices and inflation? Have you started doing anything differently lately as a response or preparation?