More than half of the United States is in a severe draught and there is no sign of relief. I was shocked to see this image of a midwest corn field and wondered how the framers must be feeling these days. Anyway, what caught my eye was the news that food prices were expected to rise because of the draught across our nation’s breadbasket. With the economy still depressed, I wonder how much additional stress this is going to cause on a family’s food budget.
It is important to note that the draught is mostly impacting corn production, which is a staple for processed foods and animal feed. Not saying it is good at all, but this is expected to result in beef prices going up by 4-5% with slightly lower increase for pork, eggs and dairy products.
I think we can use this information to our advantage to combat the expected rise in food prices. Similar to the ideas I wrote about in my post 5 ways to by organic on a budget, here are some ideas for you to consider.
Cut down on processed food and snacks
Corn ends up in nearly all processed foods and snacks. If corn supply is reduced, you can bet the prices of processed foods and snacks will also go up. Even if you don’t see the actual price of the product go up, one way manufacturers will pass on the cost is by reducing the amount you get in the box. Either way, you will end up paying more for these products. You can save quite a lot of money by cutting down on these processed foods. Here is some expert advice on how to move from excessive snacking to healthy foods!
Cut down on animal products and frozen foods
Corn goes into animal feed, which is why beef prices are expected to rise. Even though, the average price is expected to go up by only 4-5%, it can put a big dent in your weekly food bill. Unless you go for grass-fed beef, which happens to be expensive anyway, you will feel the effect of this price increase if you are used to beef and beef products on a weekly basis. Sure no summer barbecue is complete without a juicy hamburger, but cutting down on beef in this situation will not only help your pocket book but also help you cut down on saturated fats and cholesterol. As for frozen foods, they tend to be more expensive because of the processing, transportation and energy costs. Plus they usually have a lot of sodium. Cutting down on these foods is also a good way of saving money and improving your health. Frozen vegetables don’t fall in this category unless they are processed in a sauce.
Try vegetarian sources of protein
You might think that cutting down on beef and animal products will cut down on your family’s protein intake. In general, a typical American diet is already quite rich in protein due to heavy use of dairy products and protein-rich processed foods. However, if you are concerned, you could consider a variety of vegetarian sources of protein such as beans, lentils, quinoa, tofu/soy products, nuts (unless there is an allergy issue). Here are 5 sources of vegetarian proteins you can try.
Buy fresh and prepare meals at home
It may seem like fresh produce costs more at the supermarket, but the overall cost of a home cooked meal is still lower than processed food or eating out. Family meals are a powerful way to raise a healthy eater at home, which is not only good for nutrition but also strengthening your family ties. Check out the recipe section for ideas on simple, kid-friendly recipes! Want to make it more fun? Get your kids to help out!! Here are tips from the USDA for smart shopping of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Buy in bulk
If these ideas require you to make a big change in your lifestyle, you can try to reduce the impact of high food prices by buying in bulk at a Costco or Sam’s Club. Keep in mind though that sooner or later, even they will have to increase prices or raise their membership fee to pass on the extra cost. We try to use these discount stores for household supplies not for food products.
Bottom line – the processed food industry is going to be most impacted by the shortage in corn supply due to the draught. If you reduce your consumption of processed foods, you can easily avoid this situation!