Jul. 3—Soaring food prices don't have to dampen backyard cookouts as Americans celebrate the Fourth of July.
"Inflation is impacting us all, and it's leading to increased demand at the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and its partner agencies," said the nonprofit organization's spokesman Jennifer Sands who offers some tips on planning a celebratory meal without breaking the bank.
Many families will be looking to cut costs as a new survey reports that Americans will pay nearly $70 more for their favorite Independence Day cookout foods such as hamburgers, chicken breasts, pork chops, potato salad and ice cream.
The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) marketbasket survey found that the cost of an average cookout for 10 people is $69.68. That's 17 percent, or $10, higher than last year due to inflation and supply chain issues.
The largest price jump is for ground beef, according to the survey.
The retail price for two pounds of ground beef is at $11.12, a 36 percent increase since last year.
"The increased cost of food and supplies is a very real concern in our country and across the globe," said AFBF President Zippy Duvall.
Despite higher costs, Sands said holiday revelers shouldn't have to miss out on their favorite foods this Fourth of July.
"There are some important ways you can stretch your dollars and still enjoy a delicious barbecue meal in celebration," she said.
Tips she offers include hosting a potluck barbecue to lower the financial burden on one individual or family; buying bone-in, skin-on, chicken thighs which are less expensive and remove the skin if desired; swapping soda for water infused with fruit by freezing chunks of a favorite fruit in ice trays and creating small snacks by filling tortillas with leftovers, meats, cheeses or vegetables.
"Eating healthy can be delicious, fun and inexpensive. We eat with our eyes first, so the way healthy food is presented goes a long way," she said.
At the grocery store, search out store-brand products which are often less costly than brand name items.
Weis Markets offers nearly 9,000 store-brand products. The Sunbury-based grocery chain has also enhanced its Low, Low Price (LLP) program on 2,060 grocery and produce items by launching a LLP Frozen program on hundreds more brand and private brand food products.
"These lower prices are designed to be extremely competitive," said Weis spokesman Dennis Curtin. "We have made a multimillion dollar investment in this program to help customers save money."
All of the food items in the LLP program are marked with tags.
Weis offers thousands of electronic coupons through its website at WeisMarkets.com where customers are able to load the ecoupons selected onto their Weis Club card and redeem them when they purchase the item using the card.
Curtin also encourages shoppers to take advantage of the Weis Rewards for gas discounts at the chain's fuel and Sunoco stations by earning 10 cents off each gallon for every $100 spent using the Weis Club card.