The cost of groceries keeps rising, and it looks like it's going to stay that way.
Food-at-home prices are expected to increase between 3% and 4% by the end of 2022, according to a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture forecast.
This is in addition to the inflated prices you've likely noticed already: Grocery prices were 7.9% higher year-over-year as of February 2022, according to the Consumer Price Index's most recent data.
What's less obvious is which items have become the most expensive, as the rate of year-over-year inflation ranges from 1.1% to nearly 15%, depending on the product.
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The cost of meat, poultry, fish and eggs is 13% higher since February 2021. Fresh fruit has gone up 10.6% in price in that time, while the price for vegetables has remained much more stable, increasing just 4.3%. The price of pre-packaged cereals and baked goods has increased 7.7%.
Here's a look at how much a sample cart of groceries has increased between February 2021 and February 2022. CNBC Make It used data from price-comparison app Basket to determine the national U.S. average price for each product in Feb. 2022, then used CPI's most recent inflation data to estimate prices for those products in Feb. 2021.
The inflation rate for each item varies based on how supply chains have been affected by the pandemic, as well as consumer demand, weather-related events and worker shortages.
As one example, bacon has risen 17% year-over-year. This stems from pandemic-related meatpacking plant closures, worker shortages and shifting consumer demand, as people have been eating more pork because they're making more meals at home, according to Farm Journal.
The big takeaway: Although individual inflation rates may vary, the overall cost of groceries has gone up.
How to save on groceries, despite higher prices
Unfortunately, with more inflation on the horizon, it will be hard to avoid escalating grocery prices this year. But it's possible to try and mitigate some of the costs. Here are a few tips.
1. Use the right credit card
Use a credit card that offers a good cash back or rewards rate for grocery shopping. Some cards offer 6% cash back, which can help combat inflated prices.
But make sure you can pay off the balance in full each month to avoid interest charges.
2. Try a cash-back app
Apps like CouponCabin.com, Ibotta, Fetch Rewards and Checkout 51 offer coupons or cash-back rewards for shopping at your favorite stores.
Ibotta, for example, says its users save $10 to $20 a month on average. However, the amount you actually save will vary based on your shopping habits and willingness to seek out deals.
3. Buy in bulk
Bulk-sized items sold at places like Costco or Sam's Club can offer greater savings than regular-sized items because they typically cost less per serving. But to get the most of them, it's important to plan ahead so you're able to use everything up before it expires.
The good news is, planning ahead also gives you more control over how much each meal costs and helps avoid waste. Plus, most meat, bread and cheese can last up to three months in the freezer.
4. Swap out expensive items
Consider food substitutions in your meals. For example, if you're feeling the pinch from beef and pork prices increasing this year by about 15%, you might want to substitute something cheaper, like ham, which has only increased in price by 7.1% year-over-year, according to February's CPI data.
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