Food prices continue to go up. Will consumers see relief anytime soon?

Inflation, shortages and other factors have driven food prices upward and upward. 

Expect to open your wallet a little bit wider this year when you go food shopping.

"So overall, in 2024, according to the USDA, food prices are predicted to increase by about 1.3%," said financial educator Jamie Mahlandt. 

Mahlandt says while some of the biggest jumps will be on restaurant menus, there are certain grocery store items that will also come with some sticker shock. 

"Beef and veal prices are expected to increase by about 5.8% and the prices for fats and oils are predicted to increase by about 3.6%. Fresh fruit prices are predicted to increase by about 1 percent," said Mahlandt. 

Dr. David Anderson is a livestock economist at Texas A&M University. He says ranchers have been cutting their herds because of drought, high costs, etc. and ground beef is expected to go up in cost as a result. 

"That's the biggest item in terms of volume that us Americans consume… And so, you know, if you think about it in simple terms, if all of us customers continue to show up at the store and buy the product, that's not a lot of incentive for a price cut or a lower price," said Anderson. 

With those prices going up, some consumers are making changes to their shopping habits. 

"The most common ways we have seen people adjusting is by buying cheaper brands, um, cooking more meals at home. You know, switching to less expensive items. So maybe switching away from things like red meat or seafood," said Maria Kalaitzandonakes, a consumer economics asst. professor at University of Illinois.

She notes with the higher food costs, many food banks and pantries are also seeing an uptick in those needing help. 

"When you can't make your food dollar stretch far enough, government support is there for that reason as well," Kalaitzandonakes said.

So, what can you do to find savings? 

"Making sure you plan to eat your leftovers. The average U.S. family of four wastes about $1,500 in uneaten food and reducing food waste – it can make a significant impact in your budget as well," said Mahlandt. 

Jamie also recommends things like meal planning to make sure you're only buying what you absolutely need for the week. 

"What I'm trying to get people to do is while you're doing your meal planning, do you grocery planning at the same time. You plan what groceries you need to meet the commitments for that meal plan for the week and then in addition, it's just to focus on using the ingredients that you have on hand in your pantry to help reduce your costs," said Mahlandt. 

Mahlandt recently developed a booklet to help consumers not only plan their meals, but also track how much money they are spending on food. 

Another way to cut costs – make more of your meals at home. 

Experts say the important thing to remember if you do make swaps or changes – be careful to make sure you're still meeting your nutritional needs.