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Shopping for meat? Poultry prices rose the least in 2011 compared with other meats.
Higher gas prices are a snap to spot. But how about grocery prices? Higher costs are harder to track because the checkout bill is different every time.
But some prices are jumping. Meat prices jumped more than 8 percent in 2011, the USDA estimated. Eggs were up about the same amount. Fats and oils? Up close to 9 percent.
The rising cost of some grocery items can make one see financial sense in becoming a vegan, even with fresh fruit and vegetables climbing about 4 to 4.5 percent.
Overall, the Consumer Price Index for all food went up last year between 3.25 and 3.75 percent, with the forecast for 2012 looking slightly less steep, between 2.5 and 3.5 percent.
Higher commodity and energy prices, along with greater global demand, mean more money out of pocket for food shoppers. And more people are eating at home because of unemployment, stagnant wages and uncertain times.
As Daily Finance noted:
As families have tried to economize by buying cheap ingredients, they have increased demand. Ironically, prices of luxury foods like steaks and fresh fish -- which consumers have been eschewing in favor of cheaper fare -- went up by less.
The silver lining in this cloud is that restaurant prices didn’t rise as quickly last year – about 2 to 2.5 percent – and are expected to increase slowly this year. (In 2010, Americans spent 47.9 percent of their food budget on chow away from home.)
There are ways to lessen grocery bills by choosing store brands, clipping coupons and sticking with less processed food. Cooking classes can be fun, offering tasty opportunities to become inventive in the kitchen. If you’ve got room, get a chicken coop. Start a garden, tiny or not-so tiny. Or go vegetarian, if not full-time, maybe a few days a week
And depending where you live, make friends with those who like to hunt and fish -- maybe you can barter those fresh eggs or garden-grown edibles.