- DeShena Woodard is a blogger based in Texas who tracked her grocery bill over the last few months.
- With rising prices on everything from meat to milk, Woodard says she's finding ways to cut back.
- Here's how much her spending increased and what she does to save, as told to writer Robin Madell.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with DeShena Woodard, a personal finance blogger based in Missouri City, Texas. It has been edited for length and clarity.
As a work-at-home mom from Texas, I try to limit my grocery spending to between $75 and $125 per week to feed my family of four. But since the beginning of January, that number has increased to between $175 and $225 for the same items that I usually buy.
I actually started noticing prices going up before Christmas 2021. First it was the price of bacon, then I began noticing that beef, chicken, and milk prices were shooting up as well.
My Kroger receipts showed an uptick in prices on a few of my favorite items that I buy regularly
I've noticed I'm paying approximately 33% more on some of the items I routinely buy. For example:
On Jan 7, 2022, I paid at total of $21.79:
- Lettuce: $3.99
- Two bags tortilla chips: $4.53
- Milk: $4.69
- Two packs bacon: $8.58
On Feb 26, 2022, for the exact same items, I paid at total of $28.94:
- Lettuce: $5.49
- Two bags Tortilla chips: $5.98 (2.99 ea.)
- Milk: $5.89
- Two packs bacon: $11.58
Here's an additional price comparison from my Walmart purchase history from November 2021 through March 2021:
So, between November 2021 and March 2022, the costs of some of my frequently purchased items went from $35.41 to $41.14 for the exact same items.
To cut costs, I've been buying less meat. I also switched from buying organic butter to regular butter.
On a recent trip to the grocery store, I noticed there was a section of reduced-price meat. I found a couple of 1.5-pound packs of pork chops that were normally $2.69 per pound and reduced to $2.88 for the entire pack because it needed to be used or frozen by the next day. That was an awesome find to really help offset the rising cost of meat.
I also started scouring my fridge and pantry to cook things that I forgot about. For instance, I found a bag of shrimp, a half bag of frozen chicken nuggets, two cans of Pillsbury French bread loaves, and a bag of mixed vegetables that all had been buried in my fridge. The "best by" date on the chicken nuggets had faded, but my family said they still tasted great and they weren't even freezer burnt.
In my pantry, I also found a few cans of corn and green beans, some fettuccine noodles, some mini packs of raisins, and a box of popcorn packs, among other things.
Another thing I do to save money on groceries is buying more frozen vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli and canned vegetables like green beans. This helps me prevent food wastage and unnecessary costs. I also keep a bin at the front of my fridge for leftovers so they don't get hidden, forgotten about, and ultimately thrown out due to spoiling.
I tend to shop at a few different stores to get the best prices
I get certain items at the stores that I know will have the lowest price. For instance, Walmart's grocery prices tend to be cheaper on many things, so I get many of my staples there. However, there are some organic things that they don't carry, so I get those items from Kroger's.
I always create a shopping list, and I often shop online and pick up at the curbside. This also helps me save money since I'm less likely to grab spontaneous items when I'm not walking around the store.
I've tried couponing in the past but for me, it takes too much effort. That's why I prefer rewards cards.
When I shop online with Kroger, I don't have to search for coupons because the app automatically shows you which coupons are available. All I have to do is click "clip" and the coupons will be automatically applied at checkout.
Plus, since I have a Kroger loyalty card, I get extra discounts on their store brand items — I'm a big believer in buying store brands to save money.
For example, on February 26, I received $10.27 off my total using online coupons that I clipped on the Kroger app
I received an additional $4.95 off my purchase just for being a loyalty card member. On top of that, the Kroger loyalty card also earns fuel points, so for every $100 I spend on groceries I get 10 cents off per gallon on gasoline. Sometimes you can even earn double rewards — I saved 20 cents off per gallon on a recent fill up.
In the past I've also earned 3 to 5 cents off gas at Walmart when I use my Walmart credit card. Plus, I pay for the groceries with a points-earning credit card as another way to maximize my rewards.