April 25, 2016 / Published 9:00 AM EST / Alyssa Charles
9 ways to save on your next grocery bill
With the cost of food on the rise, many Canadians are struggling with their grocery bills. Almost six in 10 Canadians surveyed said it is more difficult to afford groceries this year, compared to last year1. The increase in food prices is leading people towards making less healthy choices when it comes to filling their grocery carts. It costs about $1.50 US more to eat fruit, veggies, fish and nuts than it does to fill up on processed foods and refined grains. In the U.S. only 30 per cent of 1-year-olds are eating vegetables and 40 per cent have diets consisting of snacks like brownies, cookies, crackers and other salty snacks2.
Healthy eating on a tight budget can be challenging, but with a few frugal tips and some careful meal planning, it can be done. We’ve asked some of our employees to share their tips to help you eat healthier and save money on your next grocery bill:
Buy frozen fruits and veggies. Depending on what you’ll be using your fruits and veggies for, you can skip the fresh produce aisle and head for the freezer section. Unlike fresh produce, the wide selection of frozen fruit and vegetables you can find at your local grocery store will last for months in the freezer. Use this infographic to figure out how long you can keep (almost) anything in the fridge, freezer and pantry.
Buy generic or store brands. Some generic brands are just as good as or better than brand name products and are often sold for less.
Make a shopping list. It sounds basic, but there are studies that show that someone who goes to a grocery store with a list will spend less than someone who doesn’t. Try to make your list as detailed as possible to avoid making any impulse purchases.
Sign up for a frequent shopper card. If you have a favourite grocery store, sign up for their loyalty program. Whether you’re using a credit card or a points card, accumulating points will ultimately help you earn free groceries!
Reduce your food waste. Did you know that Canadians are responsible for 51 per cent of the food waste going into landfills? Overbuying fresh produce, dairy and meat, cooking/preparing too much, not using the food in time and a lack of confidence in using leftovers3 are the primary reason why food ends up in the garbage. Throw less away by investing in a vacuum sealer that will help to extend the storage time of refrigerated and frozen foods. Also, use the ‘best before’ date as a guideline, not a rule (be brave and taste test before throwing something out.)
Leftovers! Leftovers are a great way to save money. There are tons of ways you can liven up leftovers if you don’t want to eat the same thing for days on end. You can stir fry pasta or rice with some soy sauce, add in some veggies and a leftover protein and you have a new meal. On days that you’re ‘stuck’ and have no meals planned, try having breakfast for dinner – it’s quick and inexpensive. Looking for new meal ideas? Check out our wellness teams’ favourite cookbooks.
Use apps like Checkout51, Zweet, Coupgon and Flipp to help you find the best prices on groceries and other items for your home. Whether you’re looking for coupons or hoping to earn cash back, these apps can help you get the most bang for your buck next time you’re at the checkout.
Utilize extra storage space like a chest freezer or pantry to stock up on sale items. Buy bread and meat in bulk and use freezer bags to separate large packages into smaller portions. Also, keep your pantry stocked by taking advantage of sales on your favourite non-perishable staple items.
Shop at a farmer’s market where the fruits and vegetables are, for the most part grown locally, fresher and you can haggle with shop owners to give you a lower price. Remember that seasonal produce is generally cheaper so be sure to pick up items like peaches, strawberries, corn, lettuce and zucchini if you visit a farmers market this summer. Here’s a guide to summer fruits and vegetables that you may find at your local farmers market.