Here's What Foods Just Got More Expensive—and Which Got Cheaper—at the Grocery Store
The COVID-19 pandemic has created waves of change in nearly every aspect of daily life. Over the past several months, we've acclimated to social distancing, working from home, having kids out of school, maintaining a social life over video chat, and of course, cooking nearly every meal in our own kitchens.
One of the most difficult aspects of feeding ourselves and our families at home has been navigating the grocery store aisles—following the CDC's recommended safety guidelines, arriving at the crack of dawn in hopes of finding toilet paper or canned beans (who have we become?), hunting down (but not hoarding!) plenty of provisions to avoid multiple trips in a week. We're pros by now, and as restaurants begin to open and takeout options expand, food shopping has gotten easier.
But even as we got accustomed to the whole cooking-constantly-at-home thing, we saw silver linings. A chance to improve your culinary skills, for instance, and being able to spend more quality time with family. One of its biggest appeals, however, was the idea that we would all be saving money.
Eating out is unquestionably pricey, especially if you do it often. One meal for a family of four at a nice restaurant can cost upwards of a week's worth of groceries. However, according to a monthly consumer report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the cost of several pantry staples has spiked significantly in the past couple of months. Families that go ham in the meat aisle likely noticed.
The BLS data reported that grocery store prices rose by 2.6 percent on average in April (the biggest increase since February 1974) and 1 percent in May. Here's what foods rose—and which fell—in cost last month.
What Spiked in Price
Meat saw the biggest increase due to shortages caused by COVID-19-related plant shutdowns (and rising demand). Beef and veal prices rose by nearly 11 percent on average, which is the largest monthly increase ever. Uncooked beef roasts rose 20 percent, and uncooked beef steak prices rose by close to 12 percent. Pork chops prices increased by 8 percent, and whole chickens cost 2 percent more.
Dried beans, lentils, and peas rose 5 percent in price.
Ice cream costs increased by close to 3 percent.
Breakfast cereal, potatoes, tomatoes, and frozen vegetable prices all went up between 1 to 2 percent.
What Got Cheaper
Egg prices dropped by 5 percent (though this followed a 16 percent rise in April).
Soup and cookie prices both fell over 3 percent.
Bread and coffee costs fell by 2 percent.
Canned vegetables and citrus fruits dropped 1 percent in price.