Did you know buying in-season superfoods are a great way to fight food inflation?
Going to the grocery store keeps getting more expensive. Grocery prices across the United States have risen nearly 15% over last year, the largest annual increase since 1979. And while inflation is expected to level off in 2023, experts say food prices rarely go back down.
While many consumers have cut back on grocery spending, you can only eliminate so much.
“Food, at its basic level, is not discretionary,” Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com, told CNBC. “That’s the challenging aspect of the circumstances we are in.”
Shoppers who are keen to find the cheapest foods on the shelves will benefit from the following tips.
In-Season Produce Can Save Money and Boost Your Health
While fresh produce prices have undoubtedly increased this year, nutritional expert Stephanie Yates from Bulk.com shares a handy tip for saving money and staying healthy.
Not only does seasonal produce taste better, it’s also lower in price than other fresh goods that aren’t easily sourced at this time of year.
“Understanding seasonality can be useful when planning meals ahead or budgeting for weekly shops. However, it can be difficult to know exactly what is in season and for how long,” Yates explained. “A simple way to keep up with what’s in season is keeping an eye on the prices of produce in stores. When the prices drop, that’s usually a sign that the food is coming into season, whereas high prices are a good indicator that the food is out of season.”
What Foods Are in Season During Autumn?
As we move into autumn, if you’re looking for fruits, opt for apples, pineapples, and kiwi fruit. Not only will they be at their most affordable, but they’ll also be much brighter and taste better because they haven’t traveled long distances before reaching your plate.
When it comes to vegetables, look out for price drops in sweet potatoes, mushrooms, squash, and beets. It’s no wonder many favorite fall recipes incorporate many of these foods; they’re all in season during autumn.
Benefits of Eating Seasonally
According to the nutritional experts at Bulk.com, eating in-season has many benefits beyond just saving money.
Many nutrients in fresh produce decline over time. Eating fresh, ripe produce optimizes the concentration of most nutrients.
Seasonal food will also appear much brighter and vibrant in color, often more plump than non-seasonal produce, which can often look a little lackluster. The variety of eating seasonal produce also provides a wider variety of nutrients – offering more and more potent health benefits.
Seasonal food is also fresher and naturally at its best, so it tends to have much more flavor. It hasn’t traveled as far, and tastes better. Certain produce items are selectively bred for a longer shelf-life and transportability. When produce is grown and picked in season, it tastes fresher, riper, sweeter, and more delicious.
Eating in-season also reduces the energy and associated carbon dioxide emissions required to grow and transport out-of-season produce. Demand for out of season produce requires shipping and importing items from other countries or even from one end of the US to the other. When you avoid imported foods, that means less transportation, fuel, refrigeration, and irradiation of produce.
Other Ways To Save Money on Groceries This Fall
Besides eating in season, there are many other ways to fight inflation and save on your monthly food bill.
Whether it’s finding the cheapest grocery store near you, such as Aldi or Trader Joe’s, or buying generic items instead of name-brand, you can save a lot of money by comparison shopping without sacrificing quality. Many stores like Aldi are less expensive than traditional grocery stores because they carry mainly store-brand products and keep operations lean.
Another idea to save money is shopping sales ads and buying in bulk. Many items go on sale on a somewhat regular basis. One supermarket or the other seems to almost always have a cut of chicken, pork, or beef on sale in any given week.
If you have extra freezer space, stock up on low-priced protein and plan your meals in advance. That way, you can always buy what’s on sale, not what you need for meals that week – or day.
On the flip side of watching in-store sales, getting money back on every purchase is another way to control your budget. Ibotta and Fetch are two popular coupon apps that help you earn cash back for scanning receipts or using digital coupons. Many store apps also have digital coupons that can be automatically applied to your purchases. Gone are the days of scouring the newspaper to clip coupons. Digital apps make it easy to save money on things you were going to buy anyway.
Back to Basics
With no signs of backing down, food inflation hits consumers where it hurts most – their daily necessities. Knowing which foods are in season allows you to eat healthy while still balancing the budget.