Grocery Store Prices Expected to Skyrocket from Summer Drought, Coupon Mom Stephanie Nelson Challenges Shoppers to Take Action Now

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Stock up and save - fight drought price increases.

U. S. Consumers are expected to see a 2.5-4% price jump at the supermarket in the next year due to this summer's drought. Coupon Mom Stephanie Nelson says now is the time to stock up and save on food before the price increases hit the cash register.

Nelson says the items with the greatest increase initially will be chicken and turkey, which are expected to rise 4.5%. In addition, many other items are expected to increase including milk, fruit, beef (4-5%), eggs (1-2%) and cooking oil (4-5%) due to the hit to soybean crops, she adds.

"Although the prices of many items will likely see a slight increase, the highest-impact items in most households’ budgets will unfortunately be some of the most expensive of main dish ingredients like chicken, beef, turkey and pork," said Nelson. "Economists predict that meat and poultry prices will initially go down slightly as farmers take livestock to market sooner, due to the increase in corn/feed costs. Shoppers can watch for low prices and stock the freezer then."

She suggests now is the time to start using Strategic Shopping strategies. These strategies include never paying full price for chicken and beef, only buying the featured half-price sale on these meats and stocking the freezer to avoid paying full price in future months. She says saving 30-50% now clearly combats the expected 3-5% increase later this year.

In real numbers, if a family of four uses six pounds of boneless chicken breasts per week,says Nelson, and they purchase the chicken at the going price each week, their average cost would be $18, at $3 per lb (since it's full price one week and half price the next week). If that same family bought two weeks’ worth of chicken on the sale weeks at $2 per lb. and stocked the freezer, the weekly cost for the same chicken would go down to $12 at today’s prices. If we expect chicken prices to go up 4%, the weekly cost of sale-priced chicken would go up $12.48.

This example shows that the projected price increases could actually be a money-saver for families if it gets them to start stocking up on sale-priced chicken, since their weekly cost would go from $18 to $12.48. On an annual basis, they’d save $287 on chicken alone.

For the family that has already been using this smart strategy, the projected price increase could be an annual increase of $25 on one item alone.

To save more, Strategic Shoppers can work to reduce their chicken/meat costs in these ways:

--compare prices of frozen versions to the fresh versions. For example, individually frozen boneless chicken breasts may be 10% less expensive than fresh when purchased in a larger bag.

--compare the cost of store brand versions of any item to the name brand version, even when the name brand is on sale. Look for coupons for any grocery items and be brand flexible if that means the shopper can get a large discount on a new brand for the same type of item.

--compare prices of frozen versions at discount stores like Aldi’s and wholesale clubs like Costco and Sam’s. The shopper may pay a lower price per pound in exchange for having to buy larger packages, but can divide the package into smaller packages for the freezer.

--compare prices of different cuts of the same item, such as using whole chickens rather than boneless chicken breasts, or buying a less expensive cut of beef.

--experiment with new recipes that use a lower amount of the main ingredient such as stir-frys, salads, casseroles and soups.

--stock up now: To delay the impact of the projected price increase, stock up on these main dish ingredients if there is freezer space. Be sure to stock up at low sale prices because it doesn’t make sense to stock up at full price. From now on, only be buy these items on sale! Consider the freezer life of various cuts and buy the items that last the longest. For example, whole chickens can be frozen longer than chicken parts, and whole or steaks can be frozen longer than ground beef.

Stephanie Nelson is the Coupon Mom. With more than 6 million members, Coupon Mom gives members access to thousands of printable coupons for groceries, restaurants and more. As the nation’s top expert in couponing across the country, Stephanie has been on every major national television talk show and taught millions how to save money for the past 11 years. She has been called ‘”the rock star of the recession” by the Washington Post and her book, The Coupon Mom’s Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bills in Half, is a New York Times best seller.

For more tips on strategic shopping and coupons, go to http://www.CouponMom.com.

Drought Statistics: http://www.hlntv.com/article/2012/07/26/drought-means-higher-grocery-bills-you

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