I just got a letter in the mail yesterday from the Food Bank in our area. Because a neighbor works there, we've been donating both food and money to the association. From talking with her, she thinks the increase in people using the food bank has spiked in our area.
From the letter, it appears that more people are using the Food Bank because of rising costs. But I don't think that's the whole story. Where we live, people will pay for heat first, then go to the food bank for food. Since last year there was a 40% increase in natural gas, which translate to an appropriate raise in that budget category. Where to cut? Food.
But food prices according to this letter have skyrocketed. The letter says that in 1 year food prices in our are have gone up 5.7%. The largest 1 year increase in years. Milk is now $4/gallon and eggs are up nearly 50%.
I was pretty sure that food prices had risen since January 2007. But seeing it calculated in black and white mad me worried. A 5% increase in food is a lot when you consider other budget areas are rising faster. Usually food is the first place people try to cut, but what happens when they are not able to cut because the prices have caught up to their cuts?
Do you think you'll be able to cut your food budget by 5%/year? If this keeps up, and budget areas like heating, fuel, health insurance increase 10-20%/year where would you cut from?
My goal this year is to keep our food costs about the same as last year. We spent on average $300/month, but so far this year I am trying to get us down to $250/month. I have no idea if this is realistic or possible. But last year I started coupon shopping again, and while I saved $50/month in toiletries, cleaning supplies, etc, I feel the $50 went straight back into the grocery budget.