Studies show that eating whole foods and less refined or processed foods fill you up better than those convenience foods. Cooking from scratch, in the long run, is more economical as well as healthier, you just need to follow some steps to ensure you are shopping smartly.
The number one way to reduce your food costs is to stop wasting food.
Food waste is the biggest expense to you as a shopper. On average most Canadians households throw away $1755.00 worth of food a year. With the biggest waste, by weight, being fruits and vegetables. Not only are you throwing away your hard earned money but think about the impact on the environment food waste affects. Farming, transportation, shipping, man hours, natural resources, all are affected when you throw out that head of lettuce you let to turn to slim in your vegetable drawer.
Here are my top tips for saving money at the grocery store:
Arm yourself with your favourite cookbooks and websites that are trusted sources. Money is tight right now for the majority of us. The last thing you want to happen is to put the time, effort and money into a recipe that doesn’t work. I am cookbook author, and I’m not recipe developing right now because I don’t want to waste food either. Some great Canadian cookbooks and sites are:
How to Eat with Erin and Dara both RD’s and a ton of fabulous recipes.
Ceri and Laura over at Sweet Potato Chronicles
Greta at Yum and Yummer
Andrea over at Andrea Buckett Cooks
Marion Kane’s Facebook site Sittin’ in the Kitchen
Jennifer at The Lemon Apron
Suzie at Just Crumbs
Getty at Getty Stewart
And of course my cookbook, my love letter to your immune system and your colon Peace, Love and Fibre. Which was just short listed for a Taste Canada Cookbook Award! Have a list of go to family favourites to choose from every week and rotate in new ones, weekly or bi-weekly.
- Shop your fridge, freezer, and pantry before you start your grocery list. Check to see what you have on hand. Then plan out your weekly menu. Planning is key. You don’t want to shop multiple times at a grocery store in any given week, and grocery shopping isn’t rally about browsing the aisles anymore. Organize and plan.
- Check out your local grocery stores flyer either delivered to your door or online for weekly specials.
- Write out everything that you need. Including spices, broth, pasta, cereals, including snacks. I am a big fan of veggies and humus as a snack OR apples and nuts. Both will fill you up better than a handful of chocolate chips or a bag of chips and your body will be happier in the long run. Popcorn is our other go to snack.
- Try incorporating the pulses: beans, lentils, chickpeas, soy or split peas to your weekly menu. They are economical and can help extend other protein sources like beef, poultry and pork when combined. I add lentils to my meat sauce to add extra zinc, to extend the meat sauce and to add fibre. I add chickpeas to a chicken curry for the same reasons. Or eat as is. The summer weather is approaching and having bean salads as a dinner option is a great way to reduce our food dollar and get a big hit of fibre. I keep a can of unopened chickpeas, white beans and black beans in my fridge during the summer months. That way if I want a bean salad that night the beans are already cold. Here’s my recipe for Black Bean Succotash Salad.
- I love frozen fruit and some frozen vegetables. When frozen blueberries, pineapple or mango are on sale I buy doubles. They are great in smoothies or pureed with plain Greek yogurt as an alternative to ice cream. Check out my recipe for Pineapple Whip. I always have frozen peas in my freezer. I add to salads. A quick rinse under warm water to thaw and I toss into green salads. Frozen edamame is a great protein source and you can find them in your frozen vegetable department. I thaw, cook, chill and add to summer salads.
- Choose generic or house/store brands to save money as well. Most large grocery stores have their own house/store brands. Check the labels to see if you are getting the same as a popular more expensive brand. Some generic brands aren’t exactly what I want (they may have more sodium or sugar) in those cases I buy the brand that better suits my needs.
- Include protein sources like eggs, tofu (if you can find it) nuts, nut butters, canned fish, ricotta or cottage cheese on your weekly menu. Salmon sandwiches for dinner are a staple at our house. I serve it with a side salad. Ricotta or cottage cheese with fruit and flaxseed is a great lunch. Eggs with beans, tomatoes and salsa turns into a great Mexican style breakfast for dinner. Scrambled eggs with whole grain bread and a salad are another easy healthy dinner option.
- Whole grains like barley, wheat berries, farro and spelt fill you up providing fibre and nutrition versus white rice. I cook up a pot of one of these grains every week. I freeze half so I always have a whole grain handy and at the ready. Just thaw and reheat.
- Head off to the grocery store. I go when I am NOT hungry, because we all tend to over buy when you are hungry.
- For Covid care, use hand sanitizers and wear a mask. Follow the arrows on the floor so you are going in the right direction. If you touch it you buy it. No handling the produce willy nilly. I also put my credit card in my pocket before I get into the store, so I don’t have to fish through my purse at the checkout.
- Check out the meat counter for any beef, poultry, pork or fish that is labelled “Use Tonight”. I either use it tonight or freeze it for another dinner. The exception is fish, serve that tonight. These are usually 50% off and a great deal if you can find them.
- Look for seasonal local produce, it’s usually cheaper than imports and you are supporting our Canadian farmers, always a win.
Here’s a segment I did on Breakfast TV