Shop Smart as Costs Soar

July 17, 2012

The country is experiencing drought conditions and that is driving up the price of food.

According to the National Climatic Data Center, 61 percent of the continental U.S. is in a moderate to extreme drought. That’s the most since December of 1956, when 58 percent of the country was in a drought.

“Crops, pastures and rangeland have deteriorated at a rate rarely seen in the last 18 years,” said the group in a recent report.

Two-thirds of Illinois is experiencing severe drought conditions, and 33 counties have been declared eligible for emergency aid by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Crops are going down and food prices are going up, and that could continue well after this scorcher of a summer is over.

So what is a shopper to do? Here are a few tips for surviving in the new age of grocery shopping.

Shop from your Chicago real estate: There are several sites that allow you to order your groceries online and have them delivered. One of our favorites is PeaPod.com, which includes weekly specials, a large organic section, budget-friendly recipes and cooking videos. Chicago train commuters can even place orders from Union Station.

There’s an app for that: Your neighborhood grocery store might have an app that will help you save on everyday essentials. Search for it on your smart phone’s app store. Also check out these apps:

*CardStar: Available for the iPhone, iPad, Android and BlackBerry, this app stores all your savings cards and gets you automatic coupon discounts.

*Pushpins: Find digital coupons and nutrition data on grocery items, and receive push notifications when coupons are about to expire. Available on iPad and iPhone.

Local in-store savings plans

*Dominick’s: The Just for U program lets you download personalized coupons to your Dominick’s card. Register online and save on things you most tend to buy.

*Jewel: The new Jewel-Osco Rewards Card allows you to save eCoupons, get additional discounts in store, and save 5 to 10 cents off each gallon of gas at the pump for every qualifying $50 you spend.

Make your own food: Of course, the cheapest and healthiest way to get food on the table is to plant a garden and grow it on your own. Even apartment dwellers can grow herbs, fruits and vegetables in containers, and some neighborhoods offer community gardening spaces.

Of course, growing food is going to take extra effort right now: We just happen to be in a drought.

Check out the September 2012 issue of ShopSmart magazine, from the publisher of Consumer Reports, for a guide to the new world of grocery shopping.

Categories: Economy

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