In recent months, many a trip to the gas pump or walk down the grocery aisle has resulted in sticker shock. According to Statista, the annual inflation rate in the US exceeded 9 percent in June of this year—that’s up from 0.6 percent in June 2020.
Groceries are one of the main rising costs affecting households, with prices increasing due to supply chain disruption and shortages in transportation, food, and labor supply. According to the US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, grocery prices rose 11.9 percent between May 2021 and May 2022. The largest price increases in 2021 were seen in meat, poultry, fish, and eggs, rising 12.5 percent, while vegetable prices increased another 5 percent, with costs expected to continue rising.
Eat well for less
In these financial conditions, what can you do to keep eating well, and in turn, protect your health? We asked an expert for some advice to help us all stay healthy while managing our budget.
Discover just how much you spend on eating
If you feel stressed about money, money coach Danielle Corcoran of The Corcoran Coaching Group’s first piece of advice is to get a clear picture of your finances. Start by looking back over the last three months of bank and credit card statements and categorize where that money is going.
“Almost 100 percent of the time, people are shocked at how much goes to food, both groceries and eating out, along with alcohol and day-to-day coffees and quick snacks,” says Corcoran.
Develop a plan and keep track
Next, Corcoran advises clients to allocate a specified amount to say, eating out or buying groceries, and keep track. “Once you use up that amount, then that’s it until next payday,” she says.
It’s easy to tap your card and forget about it, says Corcoran. “When you physically have cash, you see it deplete more quickly, and when you can see the amount dwindle, then you’re more careful about how you spend it,” says Corcoran.
Plan your meals
Take stock of what’s in your fridge already, and use it up first, recommends Corcoran. “I know many people who throw out food because they forget they have it and then re-buy it,” she says.
Plan your meals around what’s on sale. You can shop flyers or go to discount stores. It’s important to know which sales are cyclical says Corcoran, so you know when you have another chance to take advantage of the same deal.
Buy in bulk
You can certainly save money buying in bulk, but Corcoran cautions against buying in bulk blindly.
Just like when you’re shopping at your local grocery store, you need to crack out your calculator. That way, you can compare the unit price—the cost per oz, lb, and so on—and find out whether you should buy a product in bulk, or if you’re better off grabbing it at the local grocery store.
Limit your trips
Corcoran recommends a trip to buy in bulk only once a month. The more you go shopping, the more you spend, she says.
Go organic for less
If you can, grow your own organic produce, and you’ll save a lot of money on vegetables! You don’t need a huge plot; all it takes is planting a few of your favorite vegetables in a few pots, on a windowsill, or on your porch.
Buying organic—or any—produce in season is also helpful. You can find seasonal produce guides online. Frozen organic produce may also be available at a better price than fresh.
Lemons, yogurt, potatoes, vegetables, herbs, and berries can all be bought either on sale or in season and frozen until you’re ready to eat them.
Corcoran says you can also score savings by cooking dishes such as chili and lasagna ahead of time, alone or with friends, and freezing them, too.
The power of eating well
A healthy, well-balanced diet protects against many chronic non-communicable diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.
Beyond that, it helps to boost your immunity; keeps your skin, teeth, and eyes healthy; supports muscles and strengthens bones; supports the digestive system; and helps with healthy weight maintenance. It may even help you live longer.
In fact, unhealthy eating is responsible for more deaths globally than any other risk factor.
The implications of treatment wait times
Unfortunately, long wait times, now exacerbated by the halt on non-emergency medical procedures during COVID, will affect multiple aspects of our health, whether we’re awaiting treatment for ourselves or our loved ones. These wait times could impact the cost of living through …
- lost wages
- lowered productivity at work
- the cost of caring for a family member
- increased risk of mortality or adverse events that directly result from long delays for treatment
This is why now, more than ever, a regular herb and supplement schedule, in addition to a nutritious diet, is essential for good health and prevention. As is, most Americans don’t meet the daily requirements for
- vitamins D, E, A, and C
Other supplements worth thinking about include
- vitamin C