Coping with cost of groceries, advice for stretching household budget

MERIDEN — Though the inflation rate dropped in December 2022 to 6.5 percent for things like appliances and gasoline, food prices are still up 11.8 percent compared to a year prior in the U.S., causing grocery prices to rise.

“Money is tight,” said Demetria Armour of Meriden, who was recently doing her grocery shopping at C-Town Supermarkets at 160 Colony St.

“I mean, everybody seemed like they were struggling,” she said. “And it's just not good out here. You know, you work and you still don't have nothing. And it's really sad and only God is able to make it better.”

According to CNN Business, the deadly avian flu in poultry flocks, specifically turkeys and egg-laying hens, and extreme weather causing delays in food distribution are two of the causes for the increase in certain grocery items like eggs.

Roughly $5 trillion in stimulus bills approved by Congress beginning in 2020 went to households, restaurants, airlines, hospitals, local governments, schools and other institutions, unleashing the largest flood of federal money into the United States economy in recorded history. According to some experts, cites by Forbes, this can cause price increases because stimulus checks also come with more money going back into the economy causing an economic expansion.  

In addition, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 was another cause of inflation in the prices for gas and food in the U.S.

“Before we buy (groceries) for $100 but now everything comes out to around $200,” Virgen Morales of Meriden said. “I think it has affected everybody.”

Migdalia Alicea of Meriden explained that the increase in prices affected her shopping habits and reflected on how her grocery budget has increased. 

“I don't have any small children, but I think now I can’t imagine raising my three kids with the kind of money we have to spend on groceries right now,” Alicea said. “It's just me and my husband now so from maybe a budget of like $100 a week, it’s gone up to $150 to $160 a week, easily.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, other grocery items that have increased in price as of December 2022 include canned fruits and vegetables, which have gone up 18.4%, lettuce, which has gone up 24.9% and milk which has gone up 12.5%.

Jackie Allen of Meriden explained that with the increase in prices for healthier options in grocery stores, comes some health risks.

“It's harder to eat your proteins and your nutrients when it's so expensive,” Allen said. “And also what's cheaper for people to buy the amount of sodium in it, it's intense — blood pressure goes up, people swell up, you know, the increase in products causes more health problems.”

Some tips to save money while grocery shopping 

1. Have a game plan

While grocery shopping it’s very easy to buy what you don’t need, creating an inflated bill that surpasses your budget. Make a grocery list of the exact items you need before making the trip to the grocery store so you don’t overspend. Also, never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach because you’re more than likely to buy grocery items you don’t need out of hunger.

2. Utilize discounts

Most grocery stores offer senior discounts. For example, some CTown Supermarket locations in Connecticut offer a 5% senior discount on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The location on 160 Colony St. in Meriden doesn’t offer a senior discount but rather offers a certain discount when you spend more than $50 a few times a year. You can view that deal and more on their weekly ad on the CTown Supermarkets website.

3. Use a store loyalty card

Most grocery stores offer a loyalty card where you can build up points and save some money on your groceries. For example, CTown Supermarkets offers a customer program where participants earn one point for each $1 in-store purchase. During the Redemption Period, participants may redeem accumulated points on the next purchase. Learn more about the program on the CTown Supermarkets website.

4. Use a shopping app

Many grocery stores have an associated app that customers can download and stay up to date on the latest deals and coupons. CTown Supermarkets has an app where you can easily find deals, create your shopping list and add your store card. Stop & Shop offers digital coupons on the company's app that can be redeemed at checkout. 

5. Purchase store brands 

According to Consumer Reports, store brand foods and beverages can cost 20 to 25 percent less than name brand products, which is another great way to save some cash while still buying your favorite items.


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