20 Popular Foods Many Americans Can't Afford to Buy Anymore

Has your grocery bill gone up lately? You’re not alone. Here are the items that have been the hardest hit by inflation.
Updated April 3, 2023
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It’s not news to anyone that things are hard out there. From the highest inflation level in 40 years, desperately low wages, and pandemic-driven supply chain issues, it seems like we’re all struggling to find ways to boost our bank accounts.

Unfortunately, that means the majority of us have had to make some tough decisions when it comes to what to cut out of our budget. What’s extra unfortunate is that for many of us, that means some of our favorite foods.

It’s not just you — here’s a list of many of the popular foods that people are finding impossible to afford right now.

Potato chips

Piman Khrutmuang/Adobe crispy potato chips snack

Bad news for anyone who loves to munch on a bag of potato chips when they’re feeling hungry. These classic salty snacks have seen an unbelievable cost increase.

More specifically, potato chip prices have increased by just over 6% (across all brands and flavors).

Fresh vegetables

Liliya Trott/Adobe fresh colorful organic vegetables

Unlike potato chips, fresh vegetables are good for you. So it’s a big shame that the price of them has gone up so substantially.

It’s estimated that, in March 2022, the cost of fresh veggies was 10.1% more than the year prior. Ouch.


geargodz/Adobe fresh eggs for sale at a market

Eggs are one of the most versatile foods in the supermarket. You can eat them scrambled, fried, hard-boiled, or poached. Plus, they’re an important part of baking many recipes and cooking many dishes.

Unfortunately, even the price of “cheap” eggs have surged this year. In fact, egg prices have doubled year-over-year.


Alexander Raths/Adobe meat

Some estimates state that beef prices have risen as much as 20%. Steak was never the cheapest meal that you could make, but what used to be a special occasion is now something that families are forgoing altogether.

Ice cream

anaumenko/Adobe pastel ice cream in waffle cones

Say it isn’t so! Ice cream prices have increased so much that some people are going completely without. This is especially the case for an ice cream cone that you get at a specialty shop.

It's estimated that the price of an ice cream cone from an ice cream parlor has gone up 30% since 2016. Bummer.

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Frozen dinners

Tatiana/Adobe hands are taking a plate of frozen food out of the freezer

Frozen dinners are hardly most people’s ideas of a treat, but there’s no denying that they’re convenient in the middle of the week.

During 2021 alone, frozen food prices went up 3.6%. That frozen pizza and frozen chicken wings just got a bit less economical.

Fresh fruit

Liliya Trott/Adobe healthy raw fruits and berries

It’s not only frozen vegetables that have seen a large price increase. Unfortunately, their healthy cousin, frozen fruit, has been hit by inflation as well.

Fruit of any kind will cost you an average of 10% more than it used to.


bukhta79/Adobe fresh fragrant bread on the table

Did you ever think you’d see the cost of bread rise (pun intended) to $10 a loaf in your lifetime? Okay, so it was only selling for $10 a loaf at an artisanal market, but the prices in the grocery store aren’t really all that better.

In fact, white bread prices hit a record high in June of 2022.


Rawpixel.com/Adobe colorful soda drinks

Whether you call it soda or call it pop, you’ll be paying more for it. Major soft drink producers increased their prices by around 5% in 2022.


New Africa/Adobe tasty fried bacon on black wooden table

We’re just going to give it to you straight: the cost of bacon has gone up 40%! Who knew that going out to eat breakfast at your nearby greasy spoon would be considered a luxury?

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Barbara Helgason/Adobe assorted variety of sour candies

If you have a sweet tooth, you might have been finding it harder to get your fix lately. The price of candy has gone up around 13.1%. And right before Halloween, to boot!


exclusive-design/Adobe butter sliced on cutting board

Whether you spread it on your toast or use sticks of it in your baking, butter has become a luxury. This already pricey staple has gone up 24.6% over the last year.


Laurence Nozik/Adobe milk pouring over a bowl of cereal with a spoon

For many of us, adulthood meant that we could finally eat sugary cereals without somebody telling us not to. It’s too bad that cereals have become too expensive to buy on a regular basis. The cost of cereal products has gone up an average of 17%.


Vacilando/Adobe avocados

Okay, so we know that avocados are technically a fruit. But this price increase is so bothersome that we thought it deserved a slot all on its own.

The price of an avocado has gone up 44%. It’s hard to wrap your mind around that number — its cost has nearly doubled.


chayathon2000/Adobe coffee latte in coffee shop cafe

Many of us can’t live without coffee. This means that our lives have gotten much more expensive recently because the price of coffee has gone up — wait for it — 76%!

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Sebastian Duda/Adobe dark chocolate with milk and candy sweet

Chocolate is a favorite treat of a lot of people. Sadly for their wallets, the price of chocolate has gone up 8.2%.


fahrwasser/Adobe grilled chicken on a cutting board

Beef and pork products aren’t the only meats that have gone up in price lately. The cost of chicken — generally one of the most economical meats — has been going up too.

Across the country, the cost of chicken has gone up by around 16.4%. Maybe it’s time for us to all become vegetarians.


bit24/Adobe seafood on wooden table

If you thought that you could eat seafood as a way to save on meat prices, think again. The cost of seafood has gone up substantially as well.

At least, the price of shellfish and finfish has gone up. It’s estimated that prices are up 18.8% compared to June 2020.

Granola bars

Evrymmnt/Adobe mixed gluten free granola energy bars

Granola bars are well known for being a cheap and healthy snack to have on the go, but it appears that now only half of that is true. It’s estimated that the price of a box of granola bars is up around 21%, largely driven by the increase in the cost of oats.


conzorb/Adobe flour

The fact that the price of flour has gone up is bad news for us. 5.3% might not seem like a lot compared to some of the other items on this list, but this price increase has a cascading effect since flour is in just about everything.

Bottom line

WavebreakmediaMicro/Adobe groceries in shopping cart

If you thought looking for ways to beat the rising cost of groceries was the only thing you have to be aware of, think again. Another problem facing shoppers is “shrinkflation”.

As you can probably figure out, “shrinkflation” refers to the reduction of the size of a product without a reduction in its price. It can be sneaky, so pay close attention to the size of the groceries that you buy.

With all of the bad news above, you might be wondering if there’s an end in sight. The good news is that some economists do predict that inflation will even out by mid-2023. We can only hope they’re right.

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Author Details

Rachel Cribby Rachel Cribby is a personal finance writer from Canada. Once a terrible math student with a fear of numbers, Rachel has embraced the world of personal finance and is passionate about empowering others to do the same. She especially loves taking topics that seem complicated and boring and making them interesting and easy to understand.

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