Tips and Tricks for Grocery Shopping on a Budget
Save money on groceries and learn how to meal plan on a budget
With inflation rising and increasing food
prices in grocery stores, are you looking for ways to save money while eating healthy?
Rising food inflation has been a concern to many Canadian households. The researchers at Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab reported the food inflation rate to be close to 5% in Sept 2021.
As a result of climate change and pandemic-related logistical challenges, shoppers have noted increases in prices across every category of meat, dairy, fruit, vegetables, and groceries, with the highest spike in meat products.
I lead supermarket nutrition tours in the community, and often share money-saving tips in grocery shopping with the tour participants. Other than looking for coupons or deals, how do we stretch our dollars on foods in the grocery stores?
Tips Before Hitting the Grocery Store
1. Check your pantry or fridge
Are there any soon-to-expire canned or packaged foods that you need to use up first? What about fruits or vegetables that are “forgotten” in the produce crisper?
2. Check printed or digital flyers for sales, coupons, or deals
Use the Flipp.com app to see what’s on sale this week at stores near you. Some stores also offer price matches. You can save time and gas by just going to one store instead of making multiple stops
3. Use a printed or digital grocery list template
Mark down what you need after checking your pantry or fridge, and your recipes if you have a meal plan. This will minimize impulse shopping when you buy only what you need.
4. Eat before heading out to the stores
Shoppers with empty stomachs tend to buy foods that appear delicious and convenient to eat, but not what they intend to buy originally.
Tips at the Grocery Store
1. Get yourself familiarized with the supermarket layout
Know where the healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables, bread, eggs, dairy or non-dairy nutritious beverages and the foods in your grocery list are kept.
2. Buy the store brand or no-name brands
They are often cheaper than branded products but with similar qualities. Their costs are lower as they often don’t need fancy packaging or marketing fees.
3. Look for products on higher or lower shelves
Products at eye level on the shelves often cost more so look for those items that are higher up or on the bottom of the shelves
4. Stop by the “clearance” sections
You can save quite a bit by picking up close to Best Before Date items that are reduced to clear if you know you can use them up quickly. Be creative in using the “reduced” produce in your food preparation or recipes. Make soup or stew using reduced vegetables and bake with overly ripe fruits
5. Buy local and seasonal produce
Fruits and vegetables in season are usually cheaper. Local produce is also much more affordable than imported ones
6. Buy frozen or canned produce
They are as nutritious and much cheaper than produce that are not in season.
7. Visit the Bulk sections
If you only need small amounts of foods such as dried herbs, spices, grains, nuts or seeds, or flour that your recipes call for. That will also minimize food waste and storage space.
8. Stock up on staples or your/your family’s favorite items when on sales
Stock up on the items that have a long shelf life, and store them properly in the cupboard, pantry, or freezer. Label them properly with the dates of purchase.
9. Share bulk items with friends and family.
Buy and share with neighbors or friends when the items are cheaper in the bigger sizes or when purchased at multiples.
10. Avoid snack temptations at the check-out counters!
They are often snacks or convenience foods with little nutritional values and higher profit margins for the store.
Store foods properly at home
Lengthen the shelf life of foods by storing them properly. Wrap leafy greens in paper towels or vegetable green bags to keep them fresh longer.
What are other ways to cope with the rising food costs other than using the above tips at the grocery stores? Whether you cook for yourself or your families, another great way to save money on foods is by doing meal planning. Depending on your preferences, meal planning doesn’t have to be time-consuming or complicated.
5 Tips on Meal Planning on a Budget
- Collect your or your family’s favorite (digital or printed) recipes: stock up on the required ingredients when they are on sale.
- Plan your meals around whole foods and ingredients that are in season or on sale
- Cook once, eat at least twice. Save money and time with leftovers.
- Substitute more expensive food items with more affordable foods in the recipes. Meat alternatives such legumes, beans, or tofu are much cheaper than meats.
- Use similar ingredients for various meals in the week to minimize food waste
If you have a garden or balcony, grow your own vegetables and herbs!
From spending less on groceries to reducing restaurant meals, there are plenty of ways to save money while eating well! With these tips and tricks, you can stock your pantry and fridge with healthy foods without breaking the bank!
Interested in more resources to help with meal planning?
Our team at Health Stand Nutrition help our clients to do the meal planning and get enough nutritious foods to boost their health as well as enjoy foods they chose for taste and social fun rather than nutrition.
Print digital copies of our most popular nutrition resources for ideas for healthy meal plans, shopping and meal prep. Once you order a resource kit you will instantly receive our PDF download to begin using immediately.
Looking for more information on nutrition in menopause?
When you meet Amy Yiu you can’t help to be drawn to her infectious enthusiasm, optimism and sincere care for her clients. She loves teaching and mentoring and is known for her kind, reassuring and lighthearted nature. Her clients enjoy the balance of her detail oriented understanding of nutrition wrapped with the ability to offer simplified and practical ideas that can work for any family situation. Since 2008 Amy has worked as a private practice Dietitian as a nutrition counsellor, author, media expert and workshop facilitator. Amy has extensive experience in education for weight concerns, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, bone health, seniors health and family meal planning. She offers nutrition support in English, Mandarin and Cantonese.