Americans Turn to Gardening and Hunting to Fight Rising Food Prices

Americans are coming up with creative ways to combat rising food prices.
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  • Americans are fighting back against rising food prices.
  • US consumers are spending more on food than they have in 30 years. 
  • Some are relying on the hunting-gathering instincts of our ancestors to keep food on the table. 

Americans are increasingly relying on unorthodox cost-cutting measures to ensure they continue to eat amid ongoing inflation and rising food prices.

Recently, US consumers are spending more money on food than they have in the past 30 years, The Wall Street Journal reported last week, citing data from the US Department of Agriculture. Americans spent 11.3% of their disposable income on food in 2022 — more than they have since 1991.

Restaurant prices were up 5.1% in January 2024 compared to the same month last year, and grocery costs jumped 1.2% in the same time period, The Journal reported, citing Labor Department data. 

Even as the inflation that rocked the economy last year begins to settle, food prices are continuing to climb, Business Insider previously reported, with common ingredients such as beef and sugar reaching sky-high prices on the grocery shelf.

Dining-out options are also on the spendy side as restaurants raise prices and cut portion sizes to stay in business.

Meanwhile, WK Kellogg CEO Gary Pilnick and PepsiCo CEO Ramon Laguarta are urging middle-class Americans to eat cereal for dinner and use Doritos as side dishes to combat price hikes.

Elevated food costs are likely here for the long haul.

But as exorbitant food costs become the new normal, consumers are fighting back and coming up with their own ways to keep food on the table.

The Journal collected hundreds of reader responses and compiled several cost-saving tips into a Tuesday story about how Americans are responding to rising prices.

Many said they had taken a strict no-eating-out policy, while others are relying on couponing during their weekly grocery trips. Buying in bulk can keep prices low, as well as purchasing non-spoilable food, people told the outlet.

A Las Vegas woman said she and her husband have scaled back their creative cooking ideas in response to inflation. The couple has gone from regularly making ingredient-heavy meals like chicken cacciatore to relying on staples like tuna noodle casserole, she told The Journal.

“It’s just egg noodles, canned tuna, canned cream of mushroom soup, onions and garlic,” Sarah Smith told the newspaper. “It’s not healthy, but it’s food.”

Bernard Brothman, a retired HR executive, told The Journal that he has upped his crop production in his community garden to supplement grocery store produce.

He spends about $200 on fertilizer and seeds for the food he grows but ultimately ends up saving hundreds of dollars on groceries when his kale, carrots, squash, and tomatoes are in season, Brothman said.

Other people are going back to basics, relying on the hunter-gatherer instincts of our ancestors.

Nancy Randall and her Houston family of six save money by harvesting their own food. They eat the deer they hunt and the fish they catch, typically bringing home eight deer a year, which they freeze and process into venison and tamales, Randall told The Journal.

The family can typically sustain themselves on the meat for the year and don’t have to shell out for protein at the grocery store.

Other respondents said they combat rising prices by maximizing senior discounts and making a spreadsheet of their groceries and meals.

Earlier this month, BuzzFeed collected and published several Reddit responses and cost-saving hacks from frugal foodies. People suggested eliminating non-water beverages entirely, purchasing only store-brand or generic items, cutting out premade meals, creating a weekly menu, forgoing items like paper towels and ziplocks, using grocery store apps and online shopping to stay within budget, and only buying items on sale.

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