A recent survey pointed out what we’ve been saying all along – groceries prices are hard to handle, and quality food has become a luxury that few can afford. The survey was sponsored by Lean and Fresh, a food delivery service, which sought a case study on how inflation was affecting American diets.
The survey respondents weren’t the people you might expect to be having trouble being able to afford groceries. It is not just poor, non-working people with a dozen children who are struggling.
Instead, 65% of the people who responded to the survey earned more than $75,000 per year. More than half of the respondents were from the biggest locations/economies in the country = California, Illinois, New York, Florida, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Georgia. The majority of those polled were either working or self-employed people, and nearly half of them had no children.
Here’s what the survey found.
The results of food affordability were alarming.
87% said grocery prices are too high
65.93% take fewer trips to the store due to inflation
82% dining out less for the same reason (so it’s not a swap of spending, money itself is the problem)
50-55% of people shop less, buy less stuff, and spend more time at home
57% have to stop buying organic or premium ingredients
74.60% would eat healthier if they could afford it
57.5% are buying less meat and poultry
Given those statistics, it’s probably no surprise that around 50% of those responding feel unhealthier now than they did a year ago. When good food is not available, your health suffers.
Americans are losing buying power hand over fist.
Heritage.org released the alarming calculation that Americans have lost a whopping $4,200 of spending power per year during the Biden administration.
To put it in perspective, that’s just over $80 per week we don’t have for groceries and other necessities.
According to the website:
Heritage experts calculated this shocking number based on different sets of data. Consumer prices have risen 12.7% since January 2021, significantly faster than wages, so that the average American worker has lost $3,000 in annual purchasing power. Further, as the Federal Reserve implements tighter monetary policy to reduce inflation, interest rates are rising. Higher rates have in turn increased borrowing costs on mortgages, vehicle loans, credit cards, and more. The higher interest rates and borrowing costs have effectively reduced the average American’s purchasing power another $1,200 on an annualized basis.
Interestingly, American buying power increased by $4,000 during the Trump administration, which could make the drop feel even more dramatic.
Paycheck to paycheck isn’t working anymore.
More Americans than ever are living paycheck to paycheck, and as expenses rise while spending power decreases, even that is too much of a stretch for many. Obviously, we’ve always recommended emergency funds and not living by the skin of our teeth, but these days that’s easier said than done for many.
I’ve written before about how this is causing life-altering changes to occur.
While preppers have expected this kind of economic breakdown for a long time, the reality of it is still not easy. The past three years have really seen our system’s chickens come home to roost.
(What will you eat if there’s a winter power outage? Check out our free QUICKSTART Guide to learn more.)
What can you do if you can’t afford groceries?
If you find yourself in this position, try to keep your chin up. While it might be tough, there are still steps you can take to improve your situation. Not all of these steps will work for every person, but I hope that at least one of them will assist you during a difficult time.
Reduce the quality of what you’re buying. Of course, nobody wants to go from a healthy organic diet to one filled with the least expensive conventional food. But if your situation is dire, you have a choice: eat better stuff once a day (or every other day) or make the best choices possible on a limited budget and keep your tummies full. As a formerly flat-broke single mama, I’ve been in this situation, and every single time I chose full bellies over occasional premium foods.
Find ways to increase your food production. We have a wealth of articles on producing food on this website. Everything from gardening (even in small spaces or indoors) to foraging to scratch cooking for the basics can be done relatively inexpensively and can help a lot.
Learn how to cook tasty food inexpensively. I just finished a book called What to Eat When You’re Broke. It’s not so much a cookbook as it is a philosophical guide to getting the most out of the food you have on hand. I talked about such things as shopping frugally, stretching food further, using cheap ingredients to make tasty meals, and how I managed to keep my family fed when times were at their worst for us. My beta readers said great things about it, and I hope you find it helpful. Also, this weekend, I’ve put it on sale at a pay-what-you-can price so that everyone can get access to it. It’s especially important for books like this to be accessible.
Don’t waste food. Food waste is practically criminal these days, with prices as high as they are. Reduce waste by using all your leftovers, dishing out small servings and allowing seconds instead of throwing out what’s uneaten, and making sure to use your food up before it spoils.
Get help. Sometimes all the strategies in the world aren’t enough. If there’s no money, there’s no money. When it comes down to a choice of having something to eat for yourself and your family, you may have to swallow your pride and accept some help. Your church, community center, or food bank may be able to assist you with some groceries. As well, we’ve all paid taxes for umpteen years. If you qualify for food benefits like SNAP or WIC, take them. It probably won’t be much, but it might be just enough to get you over the hump.
And don’t let the naysayers make you feel bad. Many hardworking people are finding themselves in a situation in which they have to decide whether to keep the heat on or buy food. They’re making choices between needed medication and groceries. If that’s you, please, let others give you a hand up. I had to do it myself for a couple of months many years ago when it was a choice between my discomfort at taking charity or my children going to bed hungry.
You can return the favor when you get your feet back on the ground. I know that I do every chance I get because I’ll never forget how powerless I felt.
Here’s how you can help when others can’t afford groceries
If you’re in a good situation right now, consider helping out others who are struggling. You could donate to your local food bank, to the giving pantry at your church, or if you know somebody personally who is having a hard time, drop a few things off directly or invite them to dinner and send them home with leftovers. Obviously, I’m not suggesting you give away all your preps – but if you are able to spare some things to help others, now is the time.
And if you can’t help? Remember that kindness goes a long way. The person in front of you at the store using a SNAP card might be going through things you couldn’t possibly know about. Her tattoos might be five years old, gotten during better times. His expensive car might be about to get repossessed. It’s easy to judge people when you don’t know the whole story of how the person’s circumstances changed. Chances are, they’re already embarrassed to be accepting help. I know that when I was in that position, I certainly was. Don’t make it worse.
Reprinted with permission from The Organic Prepper.
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