One of the trends we saw through the end of 2010 — and one that is continuing in 2011 — is food prices inflation . Food prices have been rising. From floods in Pakistan to drought in Russia to rising demand for food in emerging market countries, it seems as though higher food prices are inevitable. The USDA  reports that food prices increased 0.8% in 2010, and that they could rise 3% to 4% in 2011. That means you had better be ready for what’s coming.
Among the foods expected to see an increase in 2011 are grains like wheat and corn. Wheat is used a great deal in cereal and other staples. Corn (or corn syrup) is used in a number of food items as well. On top of that, corn is used in livestock feed, and that means the cost of raising different animals for consumption is on the rise. Retail prices  for beef rose 10% between February 2010 and February 2011, and pork prices are up as well. While meat prices rose in 2010, they are expected to increase at a faster rate this year. Because of the increased cost of feed, and the fact that a rising middle class in China and India are looking to add more beef, pork and poultry to their meals, meat prices are expected to rise at a fairly rapid pace.
Dairy prices are creeping up as well. CNBC  recently reported on month over month inflation, finding that butter, coffee, potatoes and bread are also on the rise. Commodities in general are seeing an increase in price, and recent events can’t be helping, especially in terms of global supply chains. Even produce is starting to catch up. According to some news outlets, lettuce has doubled  in the past few weeks, and other produce is rising as well.
What can you do?
Of course, with food prices rising, you need to be ready to come with strategies to help reduce your costs. Rising food prices can really affect your household budget, and you probably need to take action. There are some things you can do to help reduce your risk from food prices inflation:
- Stock up: Buy some items in bulk. We buy meat on sale and freeze it. Depending on the meet in question, it can last six months to a year in the freezer. There are many food staples  that can be frozen, bottled and bought by the case and stored. When something is on sale, buy more of it, and store it for use later. You can use a leftover calendar  to help you use up items.
- Grow your own: Consider which items you can grow in your garden . Seeds — and even starter plants — are fairly inexpensive. You can grow your own produce, and eat fresh foods for less. You can use container gardens if you have limited space. If you have you have more space, and a bigger garden, you can bottle or freeze your produce. If you are feeling really adventurous, many towns will allow you to raise your own poultry. You can save by butchering your own chicken , even if you don’t raise it.
- Less processing: Look for foods that aren’t processed as much. While some foods might be cheap, there are a number of processed foods that cost more — and processed foods are likely to increase in price this year at any rate because many processed foods are made from corn. Plan your meals so that you can make more without relying on prepackaged foods. There are many 30-minute recipes, as well as slow cooker recipes, that can be used to help you prepare healthier meals when you have a tight schedule.
Food prices inflation is coming. With a little creativity, you can reduce your food costs, and protect yourself — at least a little.