crops drought
While we've been lounging poolside and enjoying our summers, the sun has been putting in a lot of overtime -- which has U.S. crops and farmers suffering horribly as a nationwide drought persists.

Many crops have been burned, including grains such as corn and wheat -- grains that are precursors to many foods such as sodas, cereals, baked goods, dairy products, chicken and beef.

Experts predict rising commodity prices will result in up to a 5% increase in food prices in 2013 -- and perhaps even into early 2014 -- leading to higher grocery bills and restaurant tabs for consumers.

What This Means to a Family of Four

The Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion estimates a moderate weekly grocery bill for a family of four with school-age children at roughly $236.60, which translates into an annual family budget of approximately $12,300 for food consumed at home.
Assuming the anticipated 5% increase in food prices next year, a family of four is looking at an additional $615 on their annual grocery bill in 2013.

For dining away from home, if we assume the average American family of four's typical weekly restaurant bill is $100, or $5,200 per year. That 5% increase will add $260 to a family's restaurant spending next year.

All told, the unrelenting national drought could add up to an extra $875 on food spending for an average family of four. But you can avoid getting hit by that entire bite by adopting some smart shopping strategies.

Four ways to offset rising food costs

In the face of increased grocery and restaurant costs, families have two main choices: Scale back food expenditures or cut spending on other places to free up more money for food. Here some strategies to help you save.

1. Shop generic in certain categories: According to Discovery Channel's TLC, store-brand products thought to be the same as their pricier name-brand cousins include milk, flour, sugar, staple cereals, baby formula, bottled water, salt, bleach, aluminum foil, antacids, and pain relievers. Grab store-brand staples for these items. Doing so at the grocery store each week is a painless way to free up some cash.

2. Crunch the numbers in the checkout line: You already know that sticking to your shopping list will keep impulse spending under control. So when you're tempted to toss an unnecessary $5 item in the cart each weekly trip to the store, think about the extra $260 that amounts to annually. Another tip: Avoid the temptation to buy prewashed and pre-chopped bagged veggies -- the "convenience" costs you a bundle. (For more ideas, check out The Motley Fool's "4 Simple Rules for Supermarket Savings.")

3. Don't let what's already in your fridge go to waste: We've all been there. It's Thursday night. You're racking your brain for dinner ideas. You open the refrigerator, and everything looks bland and boring. You think, "A decent meal could never materialize from this stuff!" As tempting as it is to pick up the phone and order takeout, there's a cheaper option. Sites like bigoven.com, allrecipes.com, supercook.com, and recipematcher.com allow you to enter the list of ingredients staring at you from under the fridge bulb and, voila, out pops a recipe for a meal from food that would most likely get pitched. Assuming $8 worth of food is tossed weekly, this trick saves $400 in a year.

4. Dine out on the cheap:

  • Go out for lunch instead of dinner. Since lunch entrees are significantly cheaper than those at dinnertime, alter your dining-out clock and save big.
  • Look for restaurant deals on Groupon or apps for cheap eats and drinks like happy hours or Nationwide Happy Hour Finder.
  • Bring your own wine. Restaurants typically buy a bottle of wine for what they charge you for a glass of it. Buy your own wine at a discount retailer, like Costco, and bring it to the restaurant. Even after the restaurant's corkage fee, you'll still save.
  • Skip the beverages altogether. Instead, order water with lemon. A family of four can shave roughly $10 off a restaurant tab by doing so. Assuming your family dines out once a week, this can save you more than $500 annually.




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bltodd

Prices are going up but the moderate grocery basket being used by thisa author is what USDA says a completely balanced diet would cost. In actuality, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, average families spend closer to $8,700 a year on food at home and away from home. Thus that 5% increase works out to $437, not $875 -- still significant however.

August 07 2012 at 2:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sparky5229

How about the gas prices going through the roof again.

August 07 2012 at 7:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mom and Dad

Tip #5 - Don't tip. Let the restaurant owner use his revenue to pay for his own employees. What kind of scam we got going here anyway.

August 07 2012 at 2:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
nxston08

Look on the bright side. Maybe this will help reduce America's obesity problem.

August 07 2012 at 1:58 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to nxston08's comment
sal60f

are u aware that some over weight people is due to poor nutritional food, they are financely unable to buy. have you every been on the beans and potatoe diet

August 07 2012 at 5:19 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to sal60f's comment
Sina B

Wrong, poor nutrition is more expensive! I am a health freak and manage to spend less than "the average" cooking my own healthy meals. I look at others spending their money on processed food, lots of it and there is no surprise!

August 08 2012 at 12:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
yipesss

Thank you Monsanto, for perfectly genetically manipulated grains, that only grow in a perfectly genetically manipulated world. Natural species are hardier, they have "learned" to cope with drought/weeds/bugs your poor manufactured seeds just can't stand up to the real world. Call us when you can control the weather - meanwhile please step away from our food supply.

August 07 2012 at 12:18 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Matthew

I might as well just throw my hands up and DIE!

August 06 2012 at 10:22 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
dappergq

Welcome to Obama's America! Where everyone has to pay an extra $875 for food in 2013 unless they change their habits. By the way, when are his supporters going to get their free cars and houses?

August 06 2012 at 8:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dappergq's comment
dickbambam

I'm no Obama fan but I doubt he has the power to control the weather. The rise in food prices is due to the drought in the Midwest and not political views. Just sayin'

August 06 2012 at 11:46 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
ragtopdaz

I see a reality TV show for the Obama's in the making after his failed reelection called the Kenyan Hillbillies,
Holder can play the greedy arms broker, Obama's illegal Aunt can play Granny.
Pelosi can play Jane Hathaway, Joe Biden can play Uncle Jed.
Moochell can play Elly May andBarack can play Jethro Bodine double naught spy.
And Obama's drunk uncle can make guest appearances as a drunk neighbor that contributed to his campaign reelection and always asking for his money back to buy booze..

August 06 2012 at 8:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ragtopdaz

Well Folks, let those pictures of them there crow/bug infested ears of corn be a warning to all you farmers out there.
You should have invested in the Nancy Pelosi look alike scarecrow protection company.
Now we all are going to have to pay more for food..
There is one drawback thought, I use to have one of those in my front yard.
It kept away all the dogs,little kids, as well as the skunks and rattle snakes.

The sad part was I had to many knocking on my door looking for a free hand out..

August 06 2012 at 7:45 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
ragtopdaz

Obama's Country is the place for me.

Free livin' is the life for me.

Tax payer money being given out so far and wide. You can keep my old rat hole country, just give me that Obama countryside.
Free Health insurance is right for me , just keep those free benefits coming and I will vote for thee.

August 06 2012 at 7:29 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ragtopdaz's comment
N Loves Sharon

That was really good. I will sing along with it.

August 07 2012 at 8:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply