Will grocery prices skyrocket because of the 2012 drought?

With knowing that food prices are going to increase, it’s wise to recognize that some savvy grocery shopping is in order.

The ongoing drought in the Midwest has affected approximately 80 percent of the U.S. corn crop and more than 11 percent of the soybean crop. Because of the 2012 drought, will our grocery bill soar to a new high?

You will probably see some higher-than-normal increases in meat, poultry, eggs and milk. That's because the animals that produce those products eat so much corn, and corn prices are increasing because of the drought.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects the drought to raise the cost of beef and dairy products just one percent higher than the 2.5 to 3.5 percent hike normally seen due to inflation. On the other hand, much of the produce grown in the country is irrigated and likely won't be affected too much by the drought.

Because food prices are going to increase, planning ahead is wise. To get more food for your money consider the following practical advice:

  • Buy produce that's in-season. Now is the time to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables that are in quantity and preserve it for the cold winter months ahead.
  • Beans are good sources of lean protein and fiber, and are low-cost all year round. Plan at least one meal, if not two, each week that has beans as the main dish.
  • Consider having one or two meatless meals a week, or cook small amounts of meat with a wide variety of vegetables. This is not only a way to save money, but also a way to eat more vegetables and still get that meat flavor without so much meat.
  • If you purchase smaller apples, bananas and other fruits, you will get more servings per pound. Smaller fruit helps save some money and helps in calorie and portion control as well.
  • Buy dry milk and use it in cooking to save money. It will last several months in a tightly sealed container, or keep it in the freezer in a resealable zipper storage bag to last even longer.
  • You pay for convenience. You have to decide how much you are will to pay for that convenience. Compare the price of buying a head of lettuce to a pre-bagged salad, which usually spoils faster than a head of lettuce. You will pay more for instant rice, puddings and oatmeal.
  • Check the store ads in newspapers and go online to the places that you don’t get an ad for and see what is on sale. Then plan your meals around what's on sale.
  • Don’t forget the discount and dollar stores. Shop at discount and dollar stores and you will likely find that you can save money on items that you regularly use.

Knowing that we are facing rising food prices it is only sensible to start now and figure out the best ways for you to save money and still feed your family well.

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