While eating in sounds like a cost-saving step during a recession, Philadelphia-area residents are paying a lot more to bring home the groceries than they were a year ago.

Locally, the cost of food at home was up 5.4 percent over the 12 months that ended in November, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That was more than the 4.2 percent and 0.4 percent increases in the region's grocery prices the previous two years.

The change was driven largely by higher prices for cereal and bakery products, though meat, poultry, fish, eggs, fruits and vegetables contributed, the BLS said.

Nationally, the price increase for food at home was even steeper - 7 percent in the 12 months that ended in November.

Food at home is one part of the bureau's Consumer Price Index, which measures overall U.S. inflation. The increase in that category compares with a 1.1 percent climb in overall prices during the same period.

The higher food prices are generally attributed to increased global demand, growing U.S. exports of agricultural products, some weather-related problems, and the use of food commodities such as corn for energy products.

There was a sliver of good news locally in the bureau's latest report: In November, prices for food at home in the Philadelphia area edged down 0.2 percent from October. Lower prices for uncooked ground beef, canned fruits, vegetables, and ice cream led the decline.

The local area consists of Southeastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, New Castle County in Delaware, and Cecil County in Maryland.

- Paul Schweizer