New York, July 19 (Reuters) – If you have a secret suspicion that your food bills are rising and rising, you are not crazy.

In fact you are probably absolutely right.

Just ask Hollie Pollard. The freelance virtual assistant from Toronto is surprised every time she walks into the grocery store.

“I went to get a steak last week because it’s grilling season and I wanted to make a nice BBQ,” the 57-year-old said. “Then I realized it was almost 50% more than what I was paying last year.”

Instead, Pollard bought chicken.

All told, Pollard estimates her food bills have risen by about a quarter since the pandemic began.

Indeed, food prices continue to rise. In the United States, for example, food costs (including both home and away) have risen 2.4% in the last 12 months, according to June figures from the Consumer Price Index.

Divide it into categories, and some of the numbers adjusted each year are quite appealing. Bacon: up to 8.4% Milk: 5.6%. Fresh fruits: 7.3%. Lettuce: 5.1%. Fresh fish: 6.4%.

GOBLIMI BUDGETS

Given our extraordinary pandemic of more than 15 months, it is not surprising that food prices have been affected. Supply chains around the world have been disrupted and the workforce is in turmoil due to the ongoing global pandemic, which has affected prices on store shelves and restaurants.

This means that people have to revise their monthly budgets. When Personal Capital, a well-known investment website and app, surveyed professionals in their top spending categories, the only area that got the most mention: food. This was true for every demographic, from millennia to General Xers to the boomers.

An analysis of user data from Personal Capital shows that food accounted for up to 15% of individuals’ monthly spending during the height of the pandemic, compared to only 7% pre-pandemic, according to Craig Birk, Personal Capital’s chief investment officer.

When Personal Capital asked people where they tend to spend the most, category no. 1 was dinner, with 39.1%. Nr. 2: Foods, by 32.2%.

Sure, there are several ways to minimize food cost damage, but you need to be thoughtful and intentional about it.

Here are some ideas:

PLANI PARA

The more times you visit the grocery store, the more chances you have to drive shopping and get everything that catches your attention. That’s why Hollie Pollard does the work of planning her meals a few weeks in advance. She only makes a few big business trips a month – and wholesale purchases help lower her overall bills.

MAXIMIZE YOUR REWARDS

If you have to pay more for food, you can at least increase the rewards you get for doing so. “You’re losing savings if you don’t pay with the right credit card,” says Trae Bodge, a smart shopping expert and founder of TrueTrae.com.

Bodge recently used GigaPoints, a credit card tool, to analyze spending and learned that it could have earned almost $ 2,000 more in 2020 with another credit card.

“Since my family and I spend most of our money on food, GigaPoints recommended American Express Gold,” Bodge said. “Now we earn four times as many points in food purchases.”

FIND ANY DISCOUNT

This may sound labor intensive, but it really is not. “If you are doing in-store shopping, be sure to join the loyalty program in order to get exclusive discounts and earn points towards free food,” says Bodge.

Furthermore, she recommends a savings app like Dosh: You combine it with your credit card and when you come out with that card, you automatically earn cash if there are offers available for the items you have purchased.

Another tip: buy online without asking for savings. Bodge recommends using the browser add-on from Coupon Cabin.

“(He) notifies me of available refund offers and coupons as I browse,” she says.

RETOOL YOUR BUDGET TO BE COMPENSATED

If the harsh reality is that your food bills have increased, you may have to look elsewhere in your budget for places that could be cut.

Since Pollard’s food costs have risen to about 15% of her monthly budget, she decided to cut out meals only once or twice a month.

“If there’s one thing I know, it’s how to shop for groceries and save money,” says Pollard. “And I had to use each of those skills to keep food bills from rising more than they did.”

Edited by Lauren Young and Dan Grebler Follow us on @ReutersMoney or at http://www.reuters.com/finance/personal-finance.

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Principles of Trust.

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