I’m most reminded of the rapid pace of inflation at the grocery store. It’s no secret that nearly everything I consume has gone up in price over the last year, but as I walk the aisles of the supermarket, this reality hits home. However, a few key grocery items—many of them kitchen staples—went down in price.
According to the March 2023 Consumer Price Index (CPI), a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) metric that measures “the average change over time in the prices paid by urban consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services,” inflation may be slowing down, but grocery prices remain high.
Food Categories With Higher Prices
The BLS releases a new CPI every month, and this month’s report, which measures changes in consumer goods and prices from March 2022 to March 2023, shows that inflation was at 5% for this period, but food prices went up 8.5%.
Luckily, the BLS breaks down consumer goods by category, and not all food items went up in price at the same rate, while some went slightly down in cost. Cereals and baking products increased by 13.6%, while beverage products increased by 11.3%.
The category that experienced the slowest rate of inflation? Fruits and vegetables saw a modest 2.5% increase over the last year. Now that spring is in full bloom and produce is bountiful, now is the time to explore those fruit- and vegetable-forward recipes you’ve always wanted to try.
But be careful: the CPI further breaks down inflation rates by type of food and shows that while fresh produce has seen a modest price increase—with some categories like citrus even being cheaper than last year—frozen and canned vegetables experienced a 15.1% and 10.2% increase respectively.
Find a Good Deal on Beef, Veal, and Bacon
But you don’t have to rely on fruits and vegetables to anchor every meal. The meats, poultry, fish, and eggs category experienced a 4.3% increase—and when you take out eggs, that percentage drops to 2.4% (the price of eggs increased 36.0% this year!).
Instead, look for items like beef and veal (down 1.9% in price) and bacon (down 5.5%), and perhaps reconsider chicken for the time being (up 7.5%).
Recipes To Celebrate Lower Grocery Prices
Since spring is on my mind—and it feels like the season went from freezing cold to wonderfully warm in seconds—I’ve been into quick recipes that require little or no heat (although energy prices are one of the only categories that actually went down in price over the last year—energy costs experienced a 6.4% shift downward).
- Spring Vegetable Salad with Asparagus, Peas, and Radishes is a perfect way to celebrate the first-of-the-season vegetables. It can be amped up by adding protein for a more substantial meal.
- Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry can be made in 30 minutes to allow you to enjoy more time soaking up rays and out of the kitchen.
- Truly welcome the season by pulling out the grill and making Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Orange Marmalade Glaze.
- Of course, don’t forget dessert: celebrate the simplicity and vibrancy of spring fruits (and stay away from flour, whose price has gone up 17.5%) by making Berry and Banana Terrine or Rhubarb Sorbet.
Whatever you choose, there are hundreds of options to make creative and budget-friendly recipes that sidestep some of the most expensive and costly grocery products—here’s to celebrating the season with beautiful, delicious, and affordable food.