Expert Alert

How to Grocery Shop Amid Inflation

Professor Joe Redden in the produce section of a grocery store.
Professor Joe Redden

Shoppers are looking for ways to stretch their dollars further amid rising inflation.

Food prices are up 8.8 percent compared to March 2021, according to the latest Consumer Price Index report.

Carlson School of Management Professor Joe Redden is an expert in marketing strategies and consumption. He shares five ways to be a savvier shopper as stores respond to inflationary pressures.

Joe Redden, Ph.D.

“As prices increase, shoppers’ overall budgets are going to tighten. Some items, like fresh produce, will be harder to replace with cheaper options, so shoppers will need to find ways to save money in other areas, like processed food. Here are some tips:

  • Check unit prices. There’s often a belief that larger package sizes are cheaper per ounce, but that’s not always the case. Looking at the unit prices will help find the real deal on the shelf.
  • Taste Test. You may be paying a lot more for a brand-name item that you do not enjoy much more (or perhaps even less) than a generic product. Some generic and brand-name products are even made in the same facilities, but with different branding. Doing a blind taste test may surprise you and could lead to big savings.
  • Shop in-store rather than online. Grocery store websites or apps may not be conducive to your shopping goals. Online, a store may have the incentive to show you higher-priced items that the store makes a greater margin on and it may be harder to find the value product. In-store, all the options are in front of you.
  • Be patient. Name brands often have agreements with grocery stores to give trade dollars if they promote their products in the store. A promotional sale will eventually happen. Wait for the right time to fill up on your Oreo fix.
  • Mix it up. Stocked up on your favorite food when it was on sale? Research shows repeatedly eating the same thing can lead to less enjoyment or satiation. Switch it up to keep it fresh. Pair your yogurt with different fruit or granola, or find a way to incorporate it into other recipes. Also, reduce your portion sizes of more expensive foods, while increasing those for less expensive foods.”

Joe Redden is the Curtis L. Carlson Chair In Marketing Analytics Professor of Marketing at the Carlson School of Management. His research focuses on how to help consumers extract more enjoyment without changing the product, how to reduce consumer boredom, and how to encourage healthier eating. 

About the Carlson School of Management
Located on the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus, the Carlson School of Management exemplifies a commitment to excellence through a focus on experiential learning and international education, and by maintaining strong ties with the Minneapolis/Saint Paul business community. Through its undergraduate and graduate programs, the Carlson School offers access to world-renowned faculty members and an alumni network of 55,000 people. Learn more at

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Carlson School of Management, Twin Cities