Yikes,… the fridge looks empty, your tired, you forgot to take something out of the freezer, the kids have a soccer game and there’s no time to cook, classes start in a half hour and you slept in…. So many reasons to turn to fast food! It seems like many people admit to overspending on drive thrus or dinning out, and who knows how much food Canadian’s throw out due to spoilage? What I do know is that the price of food seems to be on everyone’s mind these days. Prices go up while product and package sizes shrink. Fortunately, food is one of those “variables” in our budget and often the only budget item where we can find some savings if we really need to. Or, use your savings to go to that new restaurant you just Gotta try!
Dining out is fun social treat, but meals at home and make your own lunches are packed with nutrition and delicious fresh flavors at a fraction of the price. Cooking at home just feels good; and so will the savings. I surveyed some generous people who were willing to share their money saving grocery tips with me, and added some of the best ideas generated in workshops with Credit Counselling over the years, and came up with this great “starter” list of ideas worth trying.
- Shop from home first. Use up what’s in your freezer and cupboards and keep foods circulating, just like they do in a grocery store! Plan your menus around what needs to be used up first.
- Make a menu for the week’s meals, lunches & snacks on the go, and any staples needed.
- Read flyers, clip coupons and price match. Try money saving and meal planning apps (see resources below)
- A frequently mentioned app is Flipp.com which allows you to browse & compare local flyers
- Try no name products – you pay more for brand names, yet no name or house brands are often just as good
- Stick to one grocery store – this lets you get to know the stores sales, cycles and reduces impulse buying
- Watch flyers and “co-shop” with friends and family who shop at different stores, buy bulk & share costs
- Buy bulk foods that can be portioned and froze, like hamburger which can be cooked in advance with onions and seasonings and freeze for fast meal prep later in spaghetti, chili, tacos, etc.
- Stock up on items that you by regularly when there is a sale if you can, without harming your month’s budget
- Never go to the grocery store on an empty stomach and shop alone to reduce spending pressures
- Avoid middle isles – boxed and prepackaged foods are often more expensive, and may not be a healthier choice.
- Shop at farmers markets, or road side stands and buy as “local” as possible in your grocery store
- When planning meals, try using the same item (lettuce – plan 2 meals – salad and tacos for example)
- Make your own tea or coffee at home! It’s much cheaper than purchasing coffee each day
- Avoid expensive beverages: flavor your own water bottle with cucumbers, berries, citrus slices or pomegranates
- Purchase chip clips – to avoid items from going stale, and lasting longer
- Go to the store with a calculator and a clear budget, and don’t go over it.
These are just some of the great ideas I heard. Thanks to everyone who shared. I know you have great ideas to add to this list so please email them to email@example.com and I will post as many as I can to our website blog. To aid your meal planning, I’ve found some reliable resources online that I just love, and if you know of others, please share!!
http://www.peterboroughpublichealth.ca Peterborough Public Unit links us to healthy eating information, support and safe food preparation. They also have links to many helpful websites including some listed below.
Dietitians of Canada offer a variety of online resources including:
https://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/Vegetarian-Diets.aspx food ideas for vegetarians, vegans and also special needs diets. http://www.eatracker.ca/ - personalize it just for you! http://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/default.aspx offering options to consult with a Dietitian, and meal planning around special diets or health concerns, and don’t miss http://www.cookspiration.com/ easy fast recipes with nutrition guides for each recipe
http://nourishproject.ca A wonderful “home grown” website with links to tons of information on finding, growing and eating local foods. Learn more about community gardens, gleaning programs, growing your own or buying locally grown and/or prepared foods.
http://www.pfrc.ca/easy-ways-teach-kids-cooking/ The Peterborough Family Resource Centre has lots of ideas for engaging kids with healthy eating habits and a special section for picky eaters!
http://www.harvestontario.com Harvest Ontario has a must see chart that tells you exactly what is being harvested every week throughout Ontario’s growing season
With a little meal planning and a lot of fun in the kitchen, home cooking will be your Gotta go to place!