Eating Well For LessThis week I needed some ground beef for a family favourite recipe. Normally, I pick up my ground beef from one of my trusted farmer friends but simply just didn’t have the time…or energy to make an extra stop. $8 dollars later with a wee package of meat, I left the store. I’ve been noticing lately that the cost of groceries has been increasing but my paycheck has not been keeping pace. I think it is safe to assume that I’m not alone in this dilemma. While I do think that healthy eating is an investment in my family’s future, I have a grocery budget to stick to!

Several years ago, my husband and I found that we were over spending due to the ease of ‘plastic card money.’ One month, we thought that we would have a little nest egg at the end of the month. We got to the end of that month and it simply just wasn’t there. I thought surely the bank had made an error! Once we started emptying out all the little receipts from our pockets and wallets, we discovered that we in fact were the responsible party. Since then, we try really hard to make our purchases with real money when possible. In fact, just today I made a purchase and surprised the clerk by using cash. Having said that, do you have a weekly grocery budget? The average Ontario family of 4 spends about $210.00 per week on groceries. How does your spending stack up? Setting a budget and sticking to it will help you stay on track with spending. This is my #1 tip for saving money!

Below I’ve shared some other tried, tested and true tips for eating well without busting your budget!

At Home…

  • Read the grocery store flyers before you go shopping.
  • Plan your menu based on what is on sale. I only plan for 5 dinners every week. Yes, I know there are 7 days in a week! When I planned 7 meals, I threw out too much food. Leftovers were tossed instead of eaten and beautiful produce that looked so good in the store, wilted and withered before I did anything with it.
  • Check your cupboards and fridge for inventory. Did you know that North Americans throw out about 25% of their groceries every single week? That translates to about $55.00 right in the trash!
  • Make a grocery list & stick to it. Eat before you go grocery shopping and bring along water. You’ll spend less, I promise!
  • Use a crock pot! It costs about .50 cents to run for 8 hours. It also does a great job of turning less expensive & tough cuts of meat into something delicious!
  • Double your favourite recipe and freeze one portion to use at a later date.

Out and About…

  • Pack your own lunch and snacks. It will be less expensive and a whole lot healthier!
  • Make your own tea or coffee at home and use a travel mug when heading out. Buying coffee 5 days per week adds up to a whopping $520.00 per year!
  • Bring your own water bottle with you everywhere you go. We should be aiming to drink 8-10 glasses of water every day.

Grocery Shopping Tips & Tricks…

  • Buy local! Even here in Canada, you can still get local produce such as carrots, potatoes and onions in the winter. Do what you can to help support our local economy.
  • Shop at stores that do price matching. Either bring the flyers with you or download an app to your phone. (Reebee, Flipp)
  • Do your grocery shopping on a Monday morning. There is often food marked down for quick sale after the weekend.
  • Shop late in the day at our local markets. Usually by 3, vendors are eager to make a deal.

Eating Well For Less:

Produce Basics:

A large portion of your grocery cart should come from this part of the store.

  • bananas
  • apples
  • pears
  • oranges
  • carrots – peel & chop into carrot sticks for snacks
  • potatoes or sweet potatoes
  • leafy greens – spinach, romaine lettuce
  • whatever else is on sale that week

Pantry Basics:

Try to find items with 5 or fewer ingredients that you recognize.

  • whole grain pasta
  • pasta sauce
  • stewed tomatoes & tomato paste – make sure it doesn’t contain added sugar!
  • beans & lentils – black beans are a great thing to add to dishes that contain ground meat – you’ll stretch the dish and get the benefit of additional protein and fibre in your meal
  • brown rice
  • oats
  • natural peanut butter
  • canned coconut milk
  • popcorn
  • raw nuts & seeds

Making Groceries Stretch:

  • Cut up lettuce, wash & spin dry. Store in a container lined with paper towel to preserve freshness.
  • Swirl berries in a solution of ¼ c. vinegar and 10 c. water. This will keep berries from going moldy.
  • Buy a bag of large carrots instead of baby carrots.
  • Store onions & potatoes in a dark, cool cupboard – preferably away from each other. Put an apple in the potato bag to keep potatoes from sprouting.
  • Highly perishable food should be stored in the coldest part of the fridge

Budget Friendly Meal Ideas:

  • Soups & Stews
  • Chili
  • Store bought roasted chicken:
    • Meal 1 – Chicken with brown rice & salad
    • Meal 2 – Chicken salad on a whole grain wrap with veggies
    • Meal 3 – Put chicken bones in crock pot with a whole carrot, a stalk of celery, 2 bay leaves & 1 tsp sea salt. Fill crock pot with water and let cook all day.  Save some stalk in mason jars & freeze.  With remaining stalk, add bits of chicken, frozen mixed vegetables and whole grain pasta to make soup.

Save Money by Making Your Own…

  • Seasoning for tacos
  • Trail mix – peanuts, chocolate chips, a few almonds, unsweetened coconut
  • Popcorn
  • Vegetable dip
  • Hamburger helper
  • Smoothies

Pssst…it is healthier too!

What are some of your favourite ways to save money on your grocery bill? Share below in the comments!