3 Things You Must Do When Grocery Prices Increase

Are you ready for my grocery geekiness to come out in full swing? You know I got really excited about sharing the cheapest grocery store update with you. Now that I have done that price comparison twice, two years apart, I was so curious to dive more into what the numbers were telling me. I wanted to see the grocery price increases.

We’ve all heard that grocery prices are expected to rise this year. Current food inflation for 2021 averages to 2.6%, but some prices are expected to increase as much as 16% this year! Take a look at those inflation numbers, with tips to prepare for food inflation here.

When I was looking at those numbers, I decided I need to redo my cheapest grocery store update and see which grocery store was the cheapest in 2021. In 2019, Walmart was the cheapest grocery store. In 2021, Aldi was the winner of the cheapest grocery store title.

Read all about the cheapest grocery store, and get the pdf ebook of all my grocery charts and lists from this price comparison.

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That’s where I am coming from. You need to know that I am a frugal grocery shopper. I absolutely love getting good deals and saving my family money! I will 9 times out of 10, go where the prices are lowest. I’m still a busy mom with 4 little ones, so yes, I do pick up some items at a more expensive store on occasion if I am already there. That’s life and reality.

Most times though, I am a grocery shopper driven by the dollar amounts, percentage savings on my receipt, and sales at the grocery store. That’s why I wanted to dive more into the numbers.

Here’s what I discovered about the grocery price increases.

Let’s start by looking at a summary of the lowest grocery store prices in 2019. These are the charts from when I compared prices on 178 different grocery items.

 2019 ResultsAldiMeijerKrogerWalmart
  Lowest Price56152697
  Second Lowest3111632
  Total Lowest592642129
  Lowest Price31%8%15%54%
  Second Lowest2%6%9%18%
  Total Lowest33%15%24%72%

Here’s a summary of the lowest prices in 2021.

2021 ResultsAldiMeijerKrogerWalmart
Lowest Price114151652
Second Lowest412445
Total Lowest118272097
Lowest Price62%8%9%28%
Second Lowest2%7%2%25%
Total Lowest64%15%11%53%

Here’s a comparison of those above grocery price charts with the positive and negative increases. I found it interesting that Aldi and Walmart changed quite a bit, while Meijer held very steady.

Lowest Price Change+ 580– 10-45
Second Lowest Change+ 1+ 1– 12+ 13
Total Lowest Change+ 59+ 1– 22– 32
Lowest Percentage Change+ 31%0%– 6%– 26%
Second Lowest Change0%1%– 7%+ 7%
Total Lowest Change+ 31%0%– 13%– 19%

Now, let’s compare and analyze this further.

How have grocery prices increased over the past two years?

I compared the same 178 items during the two years. At Aldi, they didn’t have 37 of the products, so I only compared 141 items. That doesn’t affect the percentages above, but it will make the prices below look lower than the other stores. Just remember that. I totaled every item bought at the store in 2019 and 2021 and came up with these grocery price increases and yes, decreases! Surprise, surprise.

Total Prices in 2019$283.05$510.07$454.58$413.92
Total Prices in 2021$273.22$481.19$477.33$420.97
Price Change in Dollars– $9.83– $28.88+ $22.75$7.05
Percentage Price Change– 3.47%– 5.66%+ 5.00%+ 1.70%

This does not look at specific areas of price increases, but it does paint a revealing picture of grocery price increases. Not all grocery store prices are increasing in 2021! That is the good news.

The bad news? While prices may not seem to be increasing on some items, product sizes are continuing to shrink.

I’m sure you have all noticed that family size bags of chips are now what the regular size used to be. Cereal boxes have been shrinking for years. Peanut butter jars dropped from 18 ounces to 16 ounces (except at Aldi where they are still 18!). Many products are dropping by an ounce or two. It’s a size decrease that most consumers won’t notice, but if the price is the same for a smaller product, we are paying more.

All these numbers tell me that Aldi is still a good place to shop. Remember, that these figures are on the every day prices so they do NOT factor in sale prices. Meijer and Kroger may have high every day prices but they both run some amazing sales. Buying items on sale helps you stretch your grocery budget further.

You will save more money when you buy some things at the lowest every day prices and buy others at the sale prices when they beat the every day low prices.

What do all these grocery price increase mean for our grocery budgets?

This grocery store price increases (and decreases) mean we need to be smart shoppers.

Pay attention to the prices and sizes of products you are purchasing.

Is the sale really a sale? Or can you buy a generic brand cheaper than the name brand sale?

You need to know which is the cheapest grocery story, and what are the best prices. (I have all those lists for you as part of my free grocery store ebook.)

There are 3 things you must do if you want to save money when grocery prices increase.

1. Shop the sales.

This is always true, but it is becoming more true than ever with the price increases. You need to pay attention to the sales and try to buy as many things at sale prices as you can. For those you can’t, purchase them at the lowest everyday price you can find.

2. Shop at more than one store.

You may not want to hear this but it needs to be said. If you really want to save money, you are going to have to shop at more than one store – for a mix of great sales (that’s Kroger for me) and every day low prices (Aldi or Walmart, depending on where you live).

This is how you are going to get the best deals. You don’t have to go to every store every week. You can set up a rotation or just shop at some stores when the sales are really good. Being willing to shop at a couple stores will help you save money. You can schedule a Walmart pick up for an easy and frugal way to stock up on your basics too!

For example, Aldi is great, but I can always get better meat prices with the sales at Meijer or Kroger. Something to think about!

3. Build a grocery stockpile.

I have always believed in the importance of having a stockpile but I believe it is becoming more important. Check out everything you need to know about stockpiles here, but when it comes down to it? Remember this simple trick.

When you see a great sale, be sure to buy 1 for now and 2 for later, to add to your grocery stockpile.

How can I learn more about saving money at the grocery store?

There are so many ways to save at the grocery store, and I should know because I’ve tried most of them!

Here are 10 easy ways to cut your grocery bill without using coupons. These strategies really add up to big savings.

The biggest way to save money on your grocery bill is to have a stockpile. Here’s everything you need to know about building a stockpile to save money on your grocery bills.

If you want to learn more in-depth and practical strategies about saving money on your grocery bill, you also need to read Crystal Paine’s Slash Your Grocery Budget ebook.

Until I find the time to write my own grocery savings book, this is the grocery ebook I highly recommend! Crystal (of Money Saving Mom fame) shares 25 tried and true strategies for keeping a frugal budget. From using the buy ahead principle to becoming best friends with your freezer…Crystal covers it all! I guarantee you can quickly make your money back on this bargain priced ebook with all her tips!

Learn more about Crystal’s Slash Your Grocery Budget ebook here. 

So what do you think of all these grocery price increases? Are you seeing increases or decreases at your grocery store? Is it changing the way you shop? I’d love to know your thoughts on this topic too!

Want to learn more?

If you loved all these facts and figures and grocery budget talk, I’d love to have you on my newsletter list where I talk more things just like this all the time! You can sign up below.

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One Comment

  1. Speaking of shrinking sizes…this week we noticed the bag of Pictsweet frozen cut okra that used to be 18oz is now 12oz!! Size shrank and price went up!! Doesn’t seem fair! The only upside…that means we eat less!
    Anyway, thank you for all your hard work on this topic. Food inflation is hard on everyone that pinches their pennies. It makes grocery shopping harder and staying in the budget harder. Plus right now in our area the shelves are just empty so we are having to go to multiple stores to get what we need (and sometimes pay a higher price for it). It has made it really hard since we have a lot of dietary restrictions.

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