Unless you haven’t gone to the grocery store or to a restaurant in the past six months, you may have noticed that the price of food has continued to rise. In fact, because you’re a savvy Queercents reader, I’ll bet that you already knew that food inflation is twice the rate of inflation overall. A few weeks ago, the Nation’s Restaurant News remarked that we are facing “the perfect economic storm” as far as food prices go.

The cost of fuel is now solidly above the $4 mark, which makes both food production and delivery more expensive. At the same time, more and more farmland has been diverted to the production of corn for ethanol. This has caused the price of corn and other grains, such as wheat and barley, to rise because ethanol production directly trades off with the production of other crops. Furthermore, the switch to ethanol has inflated the price of meat since most factory farmed cattle and chicken are fed a corn-based diet.

The third contributing factor in this economic storm is global climate change. The combination of droughts and floods has also affected the amount of food that America produces. And while we haven’t seen the level of devastation or experienced the food riots that have hit developing countries, Americans are feeling the crunch.

How, then, can you make your food dollar stretch? In the coming weeks, I’ll be offering simple tips for making your food budget more flexible. Today I offer this one suggestion: make slight substitutions in your diet to get a better deal in the check out line. For instance, try switching to soy milk instead of cow’s milk. A price comparison at Trader Joe’s is illustrative. A gallon of cow’s milk costs $3.19. But a gallon of soy milk costs $2.29. In future pieces I’ll be offering recipes along with food budgeting tips. Who knew that saving money could be so delicious?