Should You Stock Up On Groceries In Advance Of Inflation?

Written by  //  February 4, 2009  //  Consumer Tips  //  23 Comments

In 2008, consumers were shocked to see gas prices spike, hurtling past the four dollar a gallon mark and forcing many families to rethink their vacation plans. But gasoline wasn’t the only commodity to increase in price as food prices surged as well, in part because delivery costs increased while demand for some items, such as certain grain products, outstripped supply. Budgeting is crucial during times like these.

supermarketThough gasoline and food prices have retreated from last summer’s highs, there is something else that could threaten costs, possibly putting undue pressure on millions of families. Inflation, which hasn’t reared its ugly head in more than a generation, is poised to make a come back. The culprit? Government debt, including the $700 billion TARP bail out last fall, the proposed $900 billion “stimulus” bill and the likely multi-trillion dollars in additional expenditures coming our way.

All debt must be repaid and it is often left up to succeeding generations to pay off what they’ve inherited. In the meantime, that debt will have to be handled meaning that more monies will go toward servicing that debt than what you have been paying thus far. Likely, by 2010, we’ll see taxes increase across the board which will put pressure on prices to start moving upwards. No one knows how much of a hit we’ll be faced with or when it will kick in, but it will happen.

Stock Up And Save

One way that families can prepare for higher prices is to purchase some of their goods now in advance of price increases. When it comes to food, certain items have a long shelf life and can be kept for many months. This means that you could purchase food items at today’s more reasonable prices and use them many months out when food prices begin to rise. Regardless of when the impact of the federal debt kicks in, higher gas prices this summer will start to move food prices upward as well.

The Virginia Cooperative Extension of Virginia State University has published guidelines for food storage, but we’ll only take a look at long shelf life items, the foods you’ll want to buy in bulk now for later use.

Dried Fruit – If never opened, dried fruits can last for up to six months. Meanwhile, canned fruits and fruit juice have a longer shelf life, up to one year. You’ll want to follow temperature guidelines as extreme temperatures can ruin or shorten the lifespan of what you are storing.

Dry Milk – Fresh dairy milk will last 8 to 20 days, though it is possible to freeze milk and thaw it out months later for consumption. Dry milk, which is often a good alternative to fresh milk, can be stored under cool conditions in an airtight package for up to one year. Evaporated milk has a longer shelf life, 12-23 months.

Corn Meal – At room temperature, corn meal can last for a full year while refrigerating it extends its life to eighteen months, or two full years if frozen. Flour can also last for a full year and for two years if frozen.

Pasta – One of the most popular meals in many family households is one that includes pasta. And for good reason too: pasta is filling, wholesome and has a long two year shelf life.

Rice – Last summer, there was a huge worldwide rush on rice as people who rely upon this staple thought that there was going to be a shortage. Prices spiked and stores such as Costco and Sam’s Club began to limit the number of bags customers could purchase. Brown rice lasts six months; white rice for a full year.

Meats – Besides refrigeration, having meats on hand can be a challenge, unless you are willing to go with the canned variety. Canned ham will last a full year as will corned beef and chili. Most other canned meats will also last a full year including everyone’s favorite mystery meat, spam.

Fish – Like meat, fish has a one year shelf when canned. Includes tuna fish.

Of course, anything that is opened will see its shelf life drastically reduced, perhaps down to just a few days for some items. If buying in bulk, you can transfer items to new, sealable containers, and mark the date on them when it should be used.

Save On Groceries

Besides storage, there are some other ways you can save on groceries, perhaps trimming as much as 30-50% off of your food budget:

Buy Sale Items – You don’t have to be a coupon clipper to save at the grocery store, in fact some items are “clipless” requiring only a store program card to reap savings. Take out your weekly circular and choose those items which are on sale. In many cases, you’ll be limited to four of each, but you can still come away with significant savings.

Shop Wholesale – Sam’s Club, BJ’s and Costco offer wholesale savings on food items, especially big bulky foodstuffs. If you live in an area where there is a food co-op, consider joining for additional savings. At one time in our nation’s history, food cooperatives were the rage. Likely, we’ll see a comeback in them as prices climb.

Shop Discount – The largest discount store in the country is Aldi’s, a German owned food store that also owns Trader Joe’s. With Aldi’s you can find the similar items to what your grocer offers at prices which are far lower than the supermarket. A full 95% of the items are Aldi branded items, some of which compare quite well to name brand foods.

Clip Coupons – Coupon clipping was popular all through the post-WWII era and beyond. Sunday papers and Wednesday inserts make buying your local newspapers worthwhile. Some families buy multiple issues of the Sunday paper, scour for coupons, and then head off to the store for significant savings. Couponing takes a lot of work, but the savings can be phenomenal.

Relying On Yourself And Others

Relying on the government to provide for you could be a strategy that brings you much grief. America has always thrived on self-reliance (with neighborly help) and innovation, two attributes we’ll all need in the months and years ahead whether we’re buying food for our families, saving money, or paying down our debt.

Resources

27 Ways To Save Money On Food

Building A Family Budget

Food Storage Guidelines For Consumers

Tips To Reduce Family Living Costs

Why You Should NOT Eat Out and 20 Easy Recipes

23 Comments on "Should You Stock Up On Groceries In Advance Of Inflation?"

  1. Calvyn February 4, 2009 at 1:02 pm ·

    mostly i will buy extra when the discount or offer… and wait for another sales only get those need

    Calvyns last blog post..Cisco Command Dictionary, Cisco Pedia

  2. News Today February 4, 2009 at 1:35 pm ·

    Everyone afraids from this economic crisis but this was the most serious reading about it. Inflation is an economic parameter only. No need to stock up foods. (May be a few months later)

    News Todays last blog post..NEW YORK DOLLS Putting Finishing Touches On New Album Recordings

  3. Matthew C. Keegan February 4, 2009 at 1:55 pm ·

    @ Calvyn — That is the best way to shop. Just about everything in the store is on sale at some point, so if you can wait until an item has been reduced, then you can buy extras to keep you well stocked.

    @ News Today — Waiting a few months can be a problem, because when inflation comes it often arrives unannounced. Suddenly, prices begin to surge and with it demand. These two factors work jointly to push prices ever higher.

  4. Stephanie February 4, 2009 at 7:58 pm ·

    I buy in bulk and buy sales products on sale to stock up. It seems like you are spending a little more at the time but in reality you are saving in the long run.
    Great post!

    Stephanies last blog post..We Are Having Refrigerator Problems!!

  5. Matthew C. Keegan February 5, 2009 at 6:44 am ·

    Thanks, Stephanie!

    Yes, if someone is new to this practice, they will actually spend more in the short run as they purchase multiples of each item. At some point they’ll “catch up” and have what they need and be able to scale down their shopping order.

    Meanwhile, over many months they have saved a significant amount of money, something many stores are only too happy to share at the bottom of their receipt. For example, “You’ve saved $356.91 so far this year” is what our supermarket will print out.

Trackbacks for this post

  1. SayEducate - MyBlogLog
  2. Matt’s Musings » Blog Archive » Wrong Punctuation Usage Gains Government Backing
  3. Should You Stock Up On Groceries In Advance Of Inflation? - Mixx
  4. newest submissions : reddit.com
  5. Your page is now on StumbleUpon!
  6. Your Small Business: 3 Ways To Take Advantage Of Being Small | MyWifeQuitHerJob.com
  7. Wordless Wednesday: Love You | Chica & Pumuckl - 2 Egyptian Cats in Germany
  8. The Junk Drawer | Humor for the Masses » The Day After: I Said What?
  9. Look what we got! | Beetle's humour - Memories of 50's & 60's
  10. We Are Having Refrigerator Problems!! - fromhuskiestohusbands
  11. On The Bricks: Some Give All!
  12. A1-Webmarks - User MattK
  13. Expired Coupons | Half Price, Full Pantry
  14. Groceries // BlogCatalog Topic // BlogCatalog
  15. Say Recession | Food Storage
  16. Managing Your Food Storage Space Wisely
  17. Comments on Considering College? Try OpenCourseWare First! | SayCampusLife
  18. stock up on food inflation - Dogpile Web Search

Comments are now closed for this article.