Stick to your list and be wary of features marked “special.”
You run into the grocery store to pick up a few essentials, only to experience sticker shock at the checkout. With everyone talking about rising food prices, you know how easy (and frustrating) it is to rack up a hefty grocery bill. The good news is that healthy eating doesn’t have to be expensive or stressful.
Here are 23 economical and simple ways to eat well on a budget.
Choose healthy, affordable items
- Imported, exotic fruits and vegetables tend to be expensive, so stick with local items. In winter that means squash, sweet potatoes, cabbage, carrots, beets, apples and pears. Use these staples to prepare Carrot apple soup.
- Frozen no-name vegetables are usually a good buy, especially when they’re on sale.
- Since grain products have a long shelf life, stock up when the price is low. Invest in a large bag of rolled oats instead of single oatmeal portions, and try oat pilaf as a savoury side dish.
- Cook with economical whole grains such as pot barley, whole wheat pasta and brown rice. Try Easy tilapia tomato pasta.
- Save on bread with day-old whole grain loaves.
- Save on cereal by choosing store brands.
- Larger containers of milk cost less per serving, but only buy them if you can finish the contents before the expiry date.
- Buy bricks of reduced-fat cheese instead of shredded or pre-packaged string cheese.
- Opt for large containers of yogurt instead of smaller multi-pack containers.
- When purchasing meat, less tender cuts are more affordable, and taste great when cooked slowly in stews, soup or chili. Try pork shoulder, stewing beef or chuck steak, and trim any visible fat.
- For poultry, dark meat is less costly than white and has more iron, so choose thighs over breasts.
- Meat alternatives like canned fish, eggs, peanut butter, tofu, lentils and beans all cost less than meat, so make a few meatless meals every week. Bonus: You’ll be reducing your saturated fat intake, which is linked to better heart health.
- Arrive at the grocery store with a shopping list in hand, and stick to it.
- Buy no-name or store brands, which are as good quality as the branded items.
- Remember that the most expensive brands are kept at your eye level, but great deals can be found if you shop the upper and lower shelves.
- Watch out for the word “special” – it may mean the grocer has a deal with the manufacturer to promote or display a product, but the price may not be any lower than usual.
- Canadians throw out an enormous amount of food, to the tune of $31 billion each year. There is no bigger waste of money than buying food that rots in your fridge.
- Buy only what you need and make a habit of using leftovers. Try our Cabbage and potato mustard roast then make the leftovers into a yummy soup – the recipe is included.
- Buy frozen vegetables if you find fresh ones rot too often.
- Instead of tossing out food waste, consider composting
- Check grocery store flyers to compare prices on the items you use most.
- Use manufacturer coupons from flyers or couponing websites such as save.ca.
- Spend more time at discount grocers rather than premium chains.
And remember, no matter how sweet the deal is, an unhealthy food that’s high in sodium, sugar or trans fat is never a good buy.