California, in its fourth year of a historic drought, produces half of the nation’s fruits and veggies.  Will the lack of water on the west coast mean huge food costs for all?  Keep calm and eat on with this our three-step plan to drought-proof your grocery bill.

Step 1:  Don’t Panic. Plan.

According to the USDA, what and how a drought impacts food prices is hard to predict!  A whole host of elements make up a how much stores charge for produce. And, the effect of a drought isn’t felt immediately. Planting decisions and weather conditions over the long-term impact what is or isn’t planted, and eventually how much is or isn’t harvested. Eventually, those circumstances trickle down to needing to charge more, or less, for a specific crop.

That being said, due to a whole host of reasons, it’s safe to plan on spending more for certain foods due to the current drought:

  • Avocados
  • Lettuce
  • Nuts
  • Beef/Diary-due to cost of hay for milk and cattle production
  • Wine

You don’t have to take these off your shopping list. However, if you still want to buy them, you’ll have to cut back on buying other things to adjust your budget.

Step 2:  Shop Seasonally. Shop Locally.

Consider subscribing to a farm to front door service. Here local farmers bring only what they are growing and what’s in season.  Farmer’s Markets are another place to snatch up things that are currently in season which, drought or no drought, always saves you money.

Step 3: DIY. Grow It Yourself.

Grow food yourself. Regardless of where you live, there are crops that more drought tolerant than others. If you live in a dry area, try planting these arid climate-loving items, such as arugula, Asian greens, spinach, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes, or seek them out at the grocery store, as as their prices may not be as greatly impacted as other produce.

Here’s another tip: cook at home with whole, fresh ingredients. Processed foods, usually loaded with numerous ingredients, are more susceptible to price hikes.  The same goes for restaurant meals, which depend on more ingredients and products for their menu.

Drought-proof your food bill with these three easy steps. They’re good for your wallet and will likely do wonders for your health, too!