Shopping for Food on a Budget? Tight for time and money?
Try these tips for making your food money S-T-R-E-T-C-H...
Plan a Menu
Jot down key items for each meal * Don’t forget the basics!
- Use Canada’s Food Guide to plan
- Check the fridge – use leftovers and food you already have
- Snacks should be on your menu too!
Make a Shopping List
- Don’t forget the basics!
- Put a list on the fridge and add to it as you run out
- Watch for sale flyers
Make your shopping list according to the menu you have planned – make sure to get all the ingredients you need!
Organize your shopping list according to how the grocery store is laid out. For example, put all milk products together on the list.
These grocery store tips will help you stick to a tight food budget.
Do not shop when you are hungry, in a hurry or under stress. Shop after you have eaten. A hungry shopper will often buy things on impulse. Try getting to the store when it is not busy to avoid the crowd and allow yourself enough time to shop at a relaxed pace.
Make a list. Plan some meals for the week ahead and include items you do not have on hand in a grocery list. This will help you avoid buying foods on impulse.
Use the sale flyers when making your grocery list and include items that are on sale. Use coupons for foods that you normally eat. Avoid buying foods just because they are on sale if you do not plan to eat them.
Look for sales. Sometimes there are unadvertised sales or manager's specials in the store. If foods that you normally eat are on sale, take advantage of the discount.
Choose "no name" or store brands. They are often cheaper and taste as good or better than "brand name" products.
Shop the outer aisles of the grocery store. These foods are usually less expensive and less processed and therefore are often healthier than the manufactured foods such as cookies and candy that are found in the inner aisles.
Select foods from higher or lower shelves. Often the brands that are easy to see and easy to reach are more expensive.
(for tip box at the side)
Buy food in bulk. For example, you can buy meat in large quantities when it is on sale and separate them into smaller portions and place them in a zip log bag and freeze them for later use. Another example is buying yogurt when they are on sale and freeze them for later consumption.
Nutrition for Less $$$$$
Limit your use of pre-prepared meals. "Ready-to-go" foods are usually less healthy and cost more because they have been prepared by someone else. It often costs less to buy the ingredients and make the foods yourself.
Stock up on dry goods when they are on sale. Things like rice, pasta, flour and canned goods will last for months in your cupboard. Choose whole grains more often, such as whole wheat flour and brown rice.
When buying meat, remember that a serving of cooked meat is about the size of a deck of cards. We need 2-3 servings of meat or alternatives each day. Meat alternatives such as eggs, tofu, legumes, nuts and beans are healthy and less expensive options compared to meat.
Frozen produce is a nutritious option when fresh fruits and vegetables are too costly.
Compare Costs Using “Unit Prices”
When buying foods in bulk, look at the “unit price.” You will find this on most bulk foods, including meats, vegetables, fruits, and dried goods such as grains. The “unit price” is the price per unit of food – for example, $ per kilogram, $ per pound, or $ per 100 grams.
Protect Your Food Dollar
Milk, eggs, and meat should be put in the fridge right away. Use fresh meat within 2 days – if you want to use it later, put it in the freezer. Put bread in the fridge so it will keep longer. Wash vegetables and fruit right before using them – produce may spoil faster if it is washed before it is stored. Refrigerate apples in a perforated plastic bag – they get soft faster when kept at room temperature. Store potatoes and mushrooms in paper bags, not plastic. Make grocery shopping the last errand you do before heading home and shop for fresh meat and dairy products last – that way fresh foods will not spoil.
Shop wisely and eat healthy – your body and your budget will thank you!