Watch CBS News

Colorado experts explain why grocery prices keep rising, provide tips on saving money today

As grocery prices keep rising, consumer can follow some tips to help make ends meet
As grocery prices keep rising, consumer can follow some tips to help make ends meet 02:27

Inflation is cooling right now, but the prices of groceries and food are still rising. The latest consumer price index data shows that grocery store prices are 25% higher than in January 2020.

A Metropolitan State University of Denver professor explains why that basket of food from the grocery store has not seen any relief when it comes to your wallet. Plus, a local woman who used to teach couponing classes shares how you can save a few bucks on your grocery store bill.

Dr. Kishore Kulkarni, an economics professor, said many people's spending habits have changed since the pandemic started, and that's the new norm we're living in. Plus, prices of food and groceries are always the reflection of supply and demand. However, the demand has increased while the supply has not.

"Because the supply is increasing at a slower rate than the demand is, and that's why prices are going up," said Kulkarni.

Food prices rising, and Colorado professor says spending habits have changed 01:55

 Kulkarni also mentioned people are still not going out to eat at restaurants as much as they used to. Instead, they're going grocery shopping or ordering their food online.

He said, too, that the pandemic is still having an impact on the supply chain. Imports from other countries and food deliveries across the country are also still impacted because of labor shortages and not enough workers, which also contribute to a higher prices.

"The demand is obviously going up, because we have a larger population and people have more income and pandemic recoveries are still here. So people are actually spending more on groceries."

He also added there are a few staple grocery store items where price increases are felt the most.

"The meat, eggs, and milk and and all these prices, which we will call them necessities, those necessities are not really having a large decline. The prices in these items is actually increasing faster," said Kulkarni.

We all know just how expensive groceries have become the past few years. The latest data from USDA shows Americans are spending more of their income on food at grocery stores and in restaurants, than they have in 30 years. The data shows that in 2022, consumers spent more than 11% of their disposable income on eating at home or at a restaurant, which is the highest percentage since 1991.

Meanwhile, Leah Ryan used to teach couponing classes in the Denver metro area.

Ryan said 10 to 15 years ago, grocery stores would accept double coupons leading to big sales. For example, buy five for $5 and you could put coupons toward that. Unfortunately, trying to find deals and sales nowadays is getting harder and harder. Ryan said that's because many stores now have their own digital apps and coupons online. Now you have to go to the weekly ads and find coupons online that go with the items that are currently on sale. Plus many stores don't double down on coupons anymore, so you have to put more work in to get the sales.

"You have to do a lot more work to find what stores have and what items are on sale, and apply those coupons," said Ryan. "You can compare prices digitally from store to store to see who has milk cheaper at Walmart versus King Soopers versus Safeway. And then applying digital coupons that the apps have can increase your savings."

Colorado expert provides tips on how to look for deals when grocery shopping 02:07

Ryan recommends keeping an eye on what you're consistently buying and be flexible with brands; pay attention to the ads every week instead of just going to the grocery store and buying whatever you need; plus sale cycles repeat themselves every three to six weeks.

"It's really good to keep an eye on the different ad sales, ads and the cycles that the sales come. So, in the summertime there's a lot of condiments and barbecue sauce and mustard and things like that, that go on sale and might have a coupon that's associated with it," said Ryan.

Ryan also said another example is that cereal goes on sale every six weeks or so. Plus, during the summer, or a month before back to school, school supplies go on sale at different stores.

"Don't try to buy items when they're not on sale. You can always stock up on things, or buy a few items that are more non perishable or canned goods, and when they are on sale so that way you have them for a while until they go on sale again." said Ryan.

Ryan also mentioned stores like Walgreens and CVS have a lot of sales and coupons options to get cash back at checkout.

Plus don't be afraid to ask for a rain check, if there's a sale on something and it's sold out. Instead of paying for convenience, try to put forth the effort to save some money.

"It's just a lot of strategy, making your list of the groceries and the items that you need for your house beforehand, and then going through the app and scrolling and scrolling to see what items you have and where you can find coupons," said Ryan.

Ryan also runs a nonprofit organization called Be the Good Ones. She said one of the biggest needs they see are people asking for help with groceries and how to pay for them. She added they give people the tools and resources to save as much money as they can at grocery stores.

There is some good news about inflation. It's sitting at 2.8% this month, which is lower than 3.2% last month. It's slowing down and that's exactly what the Federal Reserve wants.

Kulkarni said he believes prices of gas and even groceries will begin to stabilize this year.

"Assuming we have a stability in economy, and then then people will probably find different options and things to spend their money on, and then they won't be spending as much on groceries," said Kulkarni. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.