4 Tips to Help Cut Grocery Costs
Submitted by Registered Dietitian and Mom, Brooke Bulloch, RD
In 2021, we saw meat, poultry, and fish costs increase ~6-10% and overall grocery costs were up in most provinces. According to the 12th edition of Canada's Food Price Report grocery costs are expected to rise another 5-7% in 2022. A family of four can expect to pay $1000 more for groceries next year, compared to this year.
Why are food costs rising? Reports include issues of energy shortages worldwide, supply issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and inflation. While these are real issues, so too is food insecurity with people having to allocate a higher proportion of their living wages for food.
First and foremost I feel that food insecurity is a government issue and that our government is not doing enough to correct this. However, as I look at my own reality in the coming year, I wanted to share 4 tips that I'll be using to help keep my grocery budget manageable:
1) Check Digital Flyers. I like to use an app called Flip. It allows you to search items of interest and compare costs at various grocery markets in your community.
2) Make your Meat go Further.
- Note, the cost of bone in meat is less than boneless meat. Buying meat in bulk and breaking it down at home into single meal portions is also more economical;
- Consider other foods that you can incorporate into meat dishes to make them go further. Lentils, for example, can be added to ground meat dishes such as soup, pasta sauce, lasagne, shepherds pie and tacos. They mix in well and add additional protein, iron, fibre and folate. Just 1/3 cup of canned lentils can stretch your meat dish enough to make another meal or have extra to freeze for later use;
- Replace meat-based meals (e.g. Meatless Monday) with lower cost iron and protein rich alternatives like chick peas, beans, tofu or even eggs.
3) Prioritize Meal Planning.
- Meal planning doesn't have to be a big ordeal with spreadsheets and nutritional profiles. I practice something I call micro meal planning. I take 15 minutes, once weekly to plan 3 supper meals for the following week. It's low effort but a HUGE help on busy weeknights. This also helps to:
- Better manage my current inventory. It triggers me to check what I already have in the fridge, freezer, and pantry. I aim to incorporate foods that I have into my new meal plan (especially those nearing expiration);
- Contribute to the grocery list and creates intentional use of the food purchased for the week;
- Prevent over-zealous purchasing of fresh items. While I may have good intentions for fresh food purchased, without a plan for its use, that food is more likely to end up spoiling before I can get to it;
- Overall, this helps to reduce food waste. Less household waste = more money in my pocket.
4) Add Fruit and Vegetables to Meals and Snacks.
- Fruit and vegetable costs decreased in 2021. They're rich in fibre and other nutrients that can help to fill your plate and keep you satisfied. The goal isn't to replace protein foods with fruit and veggies, but to add them more often to meals and snacks;
- Choose fruit or vegetables in season to cut costs. Right now in season we can access pears and oranges, cabbage, potatoes, brussel sprouts, and beets;
- Buy frozen fruit and veggies - they're less likely to spoil, nutritionally dense (because they're picked at ripeness), and they're more likely to go on sale.
I want to point the privilege that goes along with even accessing these tips. As a community we can help others by donating to food relief programs, and advocate to government to make food security for all people in Canada, a priority.
Watch my recent segment on Saskatoon Global News Morning!