More than a quarter of Americans are skipping meals due to the rise in grocery costs 

  • Within the last few years, 80% of Americans say they’ve felt a notable increase in the cost of groceries
  • More than a quarter of respondents (27%) who have noticed an increase in grocery costs say they occasionally skip meals because of rising costs
  • Nearly a third of respondents (32%) say they spend more than 60% of their monthly income on essential expenses, such as groceries, bills and rent

Food inflation has proven to be sticky over the past few years with grocery prices up 25% since the start of the pandemic. As Americans walk the grocery aisles for household staples, they’re reminded that their money doesn’t go as far as it once did. Luckily, there are some glimmers of cost relief on the horizon. New inflation data from the US Department of Labor shows that for the first time in a year, grocery prices dropped in April. This will hopefully help lessen the financial strain for the American households that have been priced out of basic necessities. 

According to a new study conducted by Qualtrics on behalf of Intuit Credit Karma, 44% of Americans report feeling financially unstable, which is especially the case for those with household incomes (HHI) of less than $50K (56%). Feelings of financial instability likely stem from the rising cost of living that has caused more than half of Americans (55%) to take on debt. 

A majority of consumers (80%) say they’ve noticed the most notable increase in cost when shopping for groceries, followed by gasoline (51%), bills (i.e. cable, electricity, internet) (39%), housing and dining out (both 27%).

As consumers grapple with high grocery costs, many have changed their shopping habits by starting to shop at discount stores for their groceries (37%), while others have had to make tradeoffs that could take a toll on their health. Roughly a quarter of respondents (26%) have resorted to buying unhealthy food for themselves and their families because it’s all they can afford. The inability to afford groceries could also be impacting people’s mental health, as 21% of respondents report feeling ashamed about their inability to afford groceries. 

A change in shopping habits isn’t going to cut it for everyone, with some consumers going to great lengths to put food on the table. This is the case for 28% of those who are sacrificing other necessities (e.g. rent, bills) to afford groceries, while more than a quarter (27%) admit to occasionally skipping meals. Another 18% have applied for, or have considered applying for food stamps, and 15% rely on, or have considered relying on food banks for their groceries. 

People having to sacrifice necessities in order to afford groceries isn’t entirely shocking when you consider about one-third of Americans (32%) say they are spending more than 60% of their monthly income on essential expenses like bills, rent and groceries, and another 21% are spending 46% to 60% of their monthly income on essentials. Zooming out, many Americans find themselves in a tough predicament with more than half (53%) saying they earn too much money to qualify for government assistance (i.e food stamps), but not enough to afford necessities. 

“Food insecurity is a major issue in this country as millions of Americans don’t have enough food to eat or don’t have access to healthy food,” said Courtney Alev, consumer financial advocate at Credit Karma. “Over these past few years, a rise in costs for food and household staples have put American households in precarious situations, especially low-earning households who have families to feed. While we’re seeing early signs of inflation relief for food, Americans are still facing rising costs for other necessities such as rent and gasoline, which could be counteracting their journey toward financial stability. For those struggling to feed themselves or their families, your local food bank may be able to help. You can visit and enter your zip code to find food banks in your community.” 


This survey was conducted online within the United States by Qualtrics on behalf of Intuit Credit Karma on May 7 to May 13, 2024 among 2,011 adults ages 18 and above.