How to Drought Proof Your Grocery Bill

With the U.S. summer drought weighing heavily on crops, consumers may experience the effects at the grocery store. With a reduced number of viable crops, grocery expenses are expected to rise throughout the country, which could put a strain on your wallet. In fact, The Huffington Post said the USDA released a report estimating that the 2012 peanut crop increase by 46% from last year. Although in some cases there may be nothing you can do but to pay the higher rate, you can take a few steps to minimize the added expense.


  1. Image titled Drought Proof Your Grocery Bill Step 1
    Plant an at-home garden. There may be nothing you can do to help with the drought in the Midwest, but you can help your grocery bill by growing your own produce at home. You don’t have to live on a sprawling acre lot either--apartment dwellers can be urban farmers with a nice large pot, good topsoil and some seeds.
    • Determine which crops you can grow in your area and during which season. In some regions, planting season is winter whereas for others the optimal time to grow vegetables and fruit is in the spring.
    • Select an area to plant crops. Designate an area in the yard or on your porch to grow plants.
    • Consider using large pots to maintain plants. Even if you have a sprawling yard, you may want to keep plants inside large pots to maintain order and reduce pests from destroying your plants.
    • Use the endeavor as a teaching experience. Encourage the entire family to get involved. Have the kids fill the pots with dirt and plants the seeds. Make it each family member’s responsibility to water the plants and harvest the crops.
  2. Image titled Drought Proof Your Grocery Bill Step 2
    Consume food that required less water. The Huffington Post recently reported that Cornell professor Dr. David Pimentel said that "chicken meat production consumes energy in a 4:1 ratio to protein output; beef cattle production requires an energy input to protein output ratio of 54:1."
    • Compare produce prices and check for consistency. In some cases you may see price spikes or reduction so keep your eye on trends at your local grocery store.
    • Use Dr. Pimentel’s guide that states, "Grain-fed beef production takes 100,000 liters (26,417.2 US gal) of water for every kilogram of food. Raising broiler chickens takes 3,500 liters (924.6 US gal) of water to make a kilogram of meat. In comparison, soybean production uses 2,000 liters (528.3 US gal) for kilogram of food produced; rice, 1,912; wheat, 900; and potatoes, 500 liters (132.1 US gal)."
  3. Image titled Drought Proof Your Grocery Bill Step 3
    Ditch processed food. Corn and soy crops were hit the hardest by the drought, which means that your nacho cheese Dorito chip prices are going to skyrocket.
    • Enjoy fresh corn or make popcorn from kernels. Processed corn is extremely prevalent in the average American’s diet, so instead of reaching for processed corn products, opt for fresh.
    • Opt for dried vegetable chips if you can’t shake the chip habit. If you need a little crunch, check out dried vegetable chips, often sold at health-food stores. Or you can make them at home by thinly slicing your favorite vegetables (root vegetables work best), spraying them with non stick spray (front and back), sprinkling them lightly with salt and then placing on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 for approximately 10 to 15 minutes or until crisp. s
  4. Image titled Drought Proof Your Grocery Bill Step 4
    Support organic foods. According to the Rodale Institute's 30-year farming study, organic fields out-produce conventional ones during droughts.
    • Slowly integrate organic produce into your diet if cost is a factor. If you are overwhelmed with the price difference, try only purchasing a few organic products at a time.
    • Consider shopping at a local organic farmer’s market. Not only will the prices be better, but also you will be supporting local organic farming (not to mention being able to purchase a higher quality of food).
  5. Image titled Drought Proof Your Grocery Bill Step 5
    Learn how to save food instead of wasting it. Americans are too quick to just toss leftovers when the meal is done. Instead of emptying leftover food into the garbage, conserve and maintain in the refrigerator. Create a new meal from the previous evening’s dinner.
    • Don't prepare more food than you’ll need in one sitting. The typical meal size should not fit more than the size of a salad plate. Take this amount into consideration when preparing a meal for your family or friends. This may be counter intuitive if you are used to cooking a large meal, but you may prepare just enough food for everyone instead of too much.
    • Try new recipes and food combinations--who knows, you may stumble across your favorite. Swap recipes with friends or search online for recipes that involve certain ingredients.


  • Opt for dried beans and legumes, which are grown in areas like California--not as heavily impacted by the drought.
  • Purchase meat produce in bulk and then freeze it until ready. Don’t purchase more than what you might eat in six months. After six months in the freezer, meat may start to lose its fresh taste.

Article Info

Categories: Meal Planning