It's impossible not to notice food prices rising at an extraordinary rate these days.
Canada's Food Price Report for 2022 says We should expect the average family to spend an extra $966 this year on their annual grocery bill.
WHAT?!? I can think of a lot of other things I'd like to spend that money on!
I was at the grocery store this week and could not believe what I saw! A head of lettuce was $5 and a pound of ground beef $7.50! Even if you're not a penny pincher like me, you may want to start considering how to save a few bucks on your food bill.
Here are my top 10 best ways to save money on your groceries:
1. Limit the number of times you go to the store
The more you go to the store, the more you will buy. Somehow, extra items always end up in my cart, and I'm sure I'm not alone! Not only will you save money on impulse buys, you'll save on gas too.
2. Plan your menu, based on sale items
Planning a menu saves money because you'll buy only what you need for that week rather than haphazardly buying what looks good at the time and what you think you'll eat. This creates fewer thoughtless purchases and less food waste (see below for more on food waste). I'm all for spontaneity, but when it comes to grocery shopping, it's not the way to go!
Take it one step further and plan meals using store flyers and what's on sale. If ground beef and canned tomatoes are on sale, then put chili on your menu.
There's no shame planning meals based on cheap food. When put together creatively it can taste like a million bucks!
3. Make a grocery list and stick to it
Sometimes it's hard not to get sucked into clever sales tactics, especially if you're hungry. The best time to shop for groceries is right after a meal. If you've just eaten, the package of cinnamon buns (that's $9.00 and not on your list) won't be quite so enticing. Remember to stick to that list and buy only what you need.
You could also try a grocery pick up or delivery service. This way, you won't have the opportunity to pick up a few extra things along the way.
WHAT'S FOR DINNER? - Download this tool and use it to create your menu and grocery list.
4. Don't get stuck on one brand
Don't be afraid to try a different brand when it's on sale. Generic brands are often cheaper than well known brand names and often just as good.
5. Compare unit prices
The little price tag on the shelf usually tells you how much the item costs per 100ml or 100gm. You may need to bring your glasses...the print is usually very small! This allows you to compare the cost of different size packages.
You can see here that the larger container of salsa (1.85L) is $0.351 per 100ml, whereas the smaller container (650ml) is $0.46 per 100ml. The larger package is often, but not always, cheaper (per unit) so if you're looking for the better deal, check the unit price.
6. Look for discount stickers or 'reduced' items
Discounts can range from 25%, up to %75 off the original price. They are often found on produce, meat and dairy. These short dated items are still edible. Be sure to eat them right away or freeze for a later date.
7. Be aware of food waste
On average Canadian families waste approximately $1300 worth of edible food every year. The most wasted foods are vegetables, fruit and leftovers.
If you buy something, make sure you have a plan to eat it ALL. This is when it helps to have a plan and stick to it.
Follow me on Instagram or Facebook for ideas on how to upcycle your leftovers @reallifenutrition.rd and avoid throwing them in the trash.
8. Buy in bulk
If you have the money upfront, and the space to store or freeze it, buy multiple sale items for later use. You can also buy larger or 'family' size packages, which are usually a better deal.
TIP: when you buy larger packages of meat, freeze in meal size portions.
9. Save on protein foods
Meat is usually one of the most pricey items on our grocery bill. Chicken breasts, steak and deli meat can break the bank.
Find recipes your family likes that use less expensive protein foods, like cheaper cuts of meat, eggs, tofu, beans and lentils. Download my meal guide for simple, low cost recipes to get you started.
You can also swap out half the meat in a recipe for tofu, beans or lentils. Next time you make tacos, replace half the meat with a can of black beans. It's delicious, nutritious and saves you money! Can't beat that!
10. Save on vegetables and fruit
Another expensive item at the grocery store is produce.
To save money on vegetables and fruit:
buy what's on sale or in season
grow a garden if you can
try frozen or canned veggies and fruit - especially in the winter. They've been picked and preserved at the peak of their freshness meaning they're just a nutritious as fresh, if not more! AND...they are already washed, chopped and ready to go! It's a win-win!
BONUS: many of these actions not only save you money, they also give you a nutrition boost AND reduce your environmental impact.
Have questions about any of these tips? Leave a COMMENT here and ask me!
If you learned something or enjoyed reading this post, I'd love it if you would leave a comment and hit the ❤️
Janine LaForte, RD
REAL LIFE NUTRITION